VA: Degree Project Initial Thoughts

I’ve found myself guilty of extreme apathy. For the majority of my life and up until recently, I had nearly no principles that I held close. I thought this was a great way to live (guilt free, open-minded, etc.) because it allowed me to listen better and reason without any preexisting bias. This value-free state, I believed, opened me up to ideas and influences that I would otherwise tune-out. This is often the case I’ve noticed with opinionated people: fighting ideas that run contrary to their own, and I’ve always thought people who were too sure of anything couldn’t truly be trusted; Therefore, I had placed myself somewhere else, on the outside—protected and uninvolved.

This passivity had served its purpose in the beginning of my education, but as a maturing designer I feel that I can see its end in sight. For the first time in my life I’ve began to care deeply about pressing social issues, building educated opinions and slightly flexible principles that I will use throughout my career—and life. While using these ideas to move me in the right direction (rather than fumbling through everything mindlessly) I will always remember the saying, “Hold on to your beliefs lightly.” As far as design’s place in all this, I’m ready to create in light of these principles, building and improving upon them. I want to make meaningful things that improve communication and change the world around me. I want to design things that not only allow me to sleep at night, but also rouse me from bed.

In order to live everyday of the rest of my life without going complete insane, I’ve got to get job with a company with similar active morals, or find a niche where I can use my abilities to better something. I absolutely refuse to create banal purposeless work that only furthers a system that doesn’t work (one that fills our lives with things we don’t need, and sells us things we can’t afford). A project like this should potentially aid in my job-finding as well as attract those people interested in similar things. The project, whether completed or not, should exhibit to future employers that I can solve problems, understand the worth in people & ideas, and care deeply about creating with positive change in mind.

And above all, I want my final year to demonstrate what the Kansas City Art Institute—specifically the Design department—does to its students. Besides the awesome work ethic and the intrinsic vie for excellence, there is something to be said about design education. Attempting to explain to family and acquaintances I’ve often stumbled through this question, “What it is I’m being taught in school,” I have concluded: I’m being taught how to think. Beyond the media often associated with design (logos, websites, typography, etc), good thinking should be at the root of them all. Media ought to be seamlessly integrated into the project, rather than seen as the project itself, and the importance of our thinking should be apparent, beyond simply framing the projects in a question.