A More Thoughtful Approach to Graphic Design

The last couple of months have been the most stressful time in my life. Changes, deaths, and stress at work combined with being a full time student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, compounded by the fact that I was getting ready for my MFA Candidacy Review… all of this was on my shoulders and I barely told anyone, not even my boss. I found myself yearning for a change either in job, location, lifestyle… or maybe I just needed to change myself.

I talked to a couple of friends of mine recently, both who have their MFA in either Creative Writing and Painting, and we were discussing pursuing a MFA. My friends both told me that earning their MA was easy, but pursuing the MFA was more about changing themselves as people.

When I inquired more to this, they said that pursuing a MFA really changed the way they thought about themselves, their work process, and how they perceived themselves as artists, designers, writers, etc. A MFA they said was more about self-awareness and self-refinement, and not just about going through motions or teaching oneself a skill set like researching or a thought process.

This struck a cord with me because I was feeling the same way too, and I explained that the way I perceived my work, how I work, and my consciousness of my work was changing and becoming different.

So, at the same point I was gearing up for my MFA Candidacy Review for the Savannah College of Art and Design, I also started a new job, and had many changes going on at once. I lost sleep for almost three weeks in preparation for my review, and still had to go through the stress of my day job to finish out my two weeks notice to launch a couple projects, and to leave my former employer in a good place. I had so much emotion and stress building up inside of me, that I felt like I was going to burst at any given moment.

The day of my MFA review was a very emotional, and my review committee stated that I had technical expertise, design experience, advanced researching, thinking, and design skills, but then compared me to someone who had been in the workforce for so long that they forgot how to be passionate, take design or typographic risks, play with their work, and have fun with what they were doing.

I immediately started thinking back to the reasons I started a MFA, and that I wanted to reinvigorate myself because work was pretty much boring, not creative, and pretty much unchanging; my workplace had sapped most of my creativity and passion, and my review committee obviously could tell it from my work.

So, we talked about my work, why I was pursuing my MFA, and about my job change situation; it was a fantastic conversation, very cathartic, after which it was as if a great ball of stress was lifted, and I had real focus for the first time in years… focus on me and my work.

I know now that I’m an artist and a designer first and more than anything, and the fact that I spent the last four years being an information technology person, not being creative, and not doing what I love or what I’m passionate about was creative suicide; sufficed to say, I did pass my MFA review, I did change my job, and I’m a better person for doing so.