Post-IDI Reflections

Since we have concluded our year as IDI, I thought it would be nice to write some final reflections about the whole year, what I gained from it and how was it in correlation to my expectations. I should have written it earlier, as that was my plan, but oh well, summer.

At the beginning of the year our course responsible made us write our expectations down, and we gave it back on one of the last days. (I’ll post a picture of it once I find the paper….) Writing this list I kind of had an idea of what we will be doing, from briefly talking to previous year IDI students and having one course at the school before. In the end most points got realized, not all, but also a few ones that I haven’t expected.

First, my big big expectation was to learn to sketch. I still remember the first week which I think was probably one of the hardest weeks of the entire year. And that was the sketching week. We weren’t given any clear rules about how things work, just told to practice. As a person with no prior experience with sketching/drawing or any sort of experience with art I was completely lost. I wanted guidelines with would help me kickstart what otherwise I knew would be weeks or months of practice, because there must be some of those, right? I was very frustrated and lost, and it seemed like I was the only one, and that thought for sure didn’t help. Most people had some sort of art/design background or liked to draw or paint as a hobby, so for them being told to practice wasn’t as horrible of a task. I did try to practice, but it never really become a pleasant thing, and I wasn’t seeing any results, which of course didn’t motivate me further. So in the end I did not learn to sketch. I know the blame is on me, but the amount of time and effort I would have to put in that discouraged me too much.

Then came some training projects, we spent A LOT of time in the workshop making, sanding, drilling our models. Two months later I hated that. We barely had weekends at that point. I was usually taking a Saturday off and back in school on Sunday, with most of the classmates actually. Working with foam models was pretty fun in the beginning, it was a bit frustrating, but not as frustrating as sketching, because the progress there was so much more visible and overall it was much more satisfying. Still, not having weekends and working with the same thing all the time became tiring, and eventually I got to dislike it.

However, what I learned from that is those initial weeks was that I can make things with my own hands. It sounds obvious, but I never really did much of that. And right now, even though I still can’t sketch, I became MUCH more confident in just doodling some idea rather than trying to describe it with words. That absolutely wasn’t a thing I expected to learn that year.

During the year we went through a number of various software and creativity methods. We learned some 3D modelling with Rhino, but a little bit late in the year and at that point it couldn’t be used that much for our upcoming projects. It was fun and definitely great to learn that, but I never got enough motivation to develop the skills.

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At this point I also started realizing that what I know is somewhat enough, my knowledge from before I started IDI would allow me to finish most project at a quite good level, without overworking myself and ending up too frustrated at things I don’t know. When the previous year IDI students told me you’re allowed to choose how you work I didn’t really understand that very well. But in the end it was exactly that. I came to IDI with quite big knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, webdesign, and some Illustrator. And that’s what I mostly relied on. I “cheated” my way through sketching projects by correcting the bad sketches in Photoshop, tracing photographs instead of drawing by hand or modelling in 3D software. Photoshop was my main tool, because I knew it, I was comfortable with it, and it was going fast. And what’s important – no one told me it’s wrong. Teachers just emphasized working in the most effective ways for oneself.

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But not to say I haven’t learned anything. I learned a lot of InDesign through making the school magazine Wozzop at least once a month. I never knew InDesign before, I wanted to learn it but there was never enough opportunity. I always liked editorial graphic design, so I invested a lot of effort in that, even though it wasn’t part of the curriculum. I got a glimpse of 3D software and movie-making so that next time at least I won’t be afraid of having to learn a completely new thing.

I was also invested in the student union. I organized a game jam and a library lecture on web design. And like I said I was working regularly on the school magazine. I was doing a lot of additional things, and that not necessarily taught me to organize my time better, but it showed me that I really can cope with managing several things at the same time, having quite hectic, but also satisfying life. I never had my priorities on commonly-expected so-called more-important-things. It’s like in games, I prefer the side quests rather than the main quest, but those side quests turned out to be so much more fun, surprisingly rewarding, and definitely keeping me in better mental health, despite the work load. In the end it is really about having the freedom of  doing what you’re most comfortable with.

My plan, apart from learning to sketch and make stuff was definitely about getting the credits to classify for Interaction Design Masters Program. Which in the end happened. I was quite confident in my previous educational background, so I knew I don’t have to work all that much, and I really did focus more on the developing skills and projects which were more profiled towards interaction design, while disregarding others. Not fully right approach, but I was never punished for it. In the end I did get into Interact Design Masters, I didn’t overwork myself in IDI, I still did learn some things, and overall my grand masterplan worked out pretty well.

The thing I expected the least from that year though was the amount of social interaction I had. Never in my life, in previous schools have I had such great classmates. We were from 15 different countries, but that never really mattered to me. We were just a group of friends, I got to meet some great great people, which definitely helped to survive that otherwise very tiring year full of hard work. Our WhatsApp group is still bustling with new messages, even though we finished the studies 3 months ago. Some people retreated to their life, I think me included, but I think everyone still has the feeling they are part of the group and they contact any of the classmates if they want to.

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So in the end it was a really good year, I think I learned more about myself, my ways of working, weaknesses and strengths, got cool friends, and definitely became more socially open due to the great classmates, while the actual learning from educational point of view wasn’t really the center point, what I expected. But it’s good, I definitely don’t regret studying IDI. And everything really depends on your own priorities and goals you want to achieve, since you have the freedom to work in whatever way you prefer.

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