So I’m sure when you read that this blog is by a student in an MFA program in Visual Communication Design, you probably wondered what on earth it was doing in the Archinect school blogs. I actually graduated from the USC B.Arch program in 2005, and despite having interned at a number of firms during undergrad, discovered rather quickly that the business of architecture was not something that I could see spend my life doing. After taking a look at what it was about architecture that was not thrilling me (being pigeonholed, long projects with decreasing amounts of variety, egos, and drafting, in no particular order), I felt like the industry that would best suit me was graphic design. So I am participating in the school blog project with the hope that it might help or inspire those people who don’t feel like architecture is working out for them, or simply help answer that eternal question of how one goes about recovering from architecture, and what recovering/recovered architects do anyways. If I can help increase the respect some of you have for other design professionals while I’m at it, I’ll be a pretty happy person.
So, back to how I got here… once I made the decision to switch over to graphic design, I enrolled in night classes at a local art school while I researched and applied to graduate schools (as chronicled in this now-notorious thread). I thought these classes were pretty darned easy, and had a 4.0 for the first time in my life, but a lot of that was probably due to the fact that the night classes had a real mixed bag of students, of which I was one of the few serious ones. Despite this preparation, I was having a hard time finding schools that really supported my switch- several top schools would require me to take an extra year, and some would not consider me for a graduate program at all. This was a real blow, because in architecture school I had acquired a real sense of entitlement. I thought I was in the best, most comprehensive, most disciplined of the design fields, and naturally if I could do architecture, how could anyone question my ability to design some silly things in print? They asked why I wanted to do an MFA program, why not do a certificate, a second bachelors, a non-degree portfolio program, or just try to get a job and learn as I go; but the truth was that I had always planned to go to graduate school at some point, as I had a latent interest in teaching, and love the more theoretical realms in which graduate students get to work. I figured I would do just fine if only someone would let me in.
Boy was I conceited. I was willing to work hard to make up for any lack of previous education, but somehow in the back of my mind I still thought that if I could make it through a B.Arch, I could do anything. I’m not saying I don’t still think that a little bit, but I took it too far. I think maybe a lot of architecture grads do. Anyway, thank goodness, some of the schools I applied to actually decided to take a chance on me (my tally was 5 acceptances, 1 waitlist that never came through). I see now that it was a chance, because I look back at the portfolio I submitted to them and I cringe. Well, actually I haven’t looked back at that portfolio in a long time, it’s that painful.
I chose to come to the University of Washington because they supported interdisciplinary work (hallelujah!), offered me the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant one quarter per year, offered me money to do so, and had faculty whose work really interested me in the areas of print and information design, and were in the process of hiring someone who does amazing work in environmental design. So last September, I left my life in Los Angeles behind and drove up to Seattle to start this crazy grad school adventure. I’ve been there for a year now, and have learned a ton, but still have a long way to go. I hope you enjoy reading along for the rest of the journey. Next post will recap the last year, and maybe give you a hint of what is going on right now while I’m abroad in Rome.