There we were, 25 lecturers on a five-day D&AD course designed to bring
us up to date on current thinking in design and advertising.
It was an exhilarating and exhausting week; a bit like being plugged
into the national grid. I, for one, felt I had had my ideas turned
upside down, been given a good slapping, told to smarten myself up and
then had a shot in the arm of something that made me feel euphoric.
We covered a lot of ground, looking at present and future trends, the
uses and abuses of market research, new media and the international
Again and again we were made to realise just how much of an edge good
advertising and design can give the client in a competitive market. We
were shown lots of examples of the power of a good idea to transform
markets and change people’s thinking. This was inspiring stuff and we
were part of it.Then they started firing shots at us.
‘Whatever happened to the old traditional training art colleges used to
give?’, Tim Mellors asked. No one, it seems, learns their trade from the
ground up any more. We were producing students who were all style and no
substance. Paul Weinberger didn’t even want to take creative teams
direct from college any more, he was so unimpressed with the quality of
Next, a group of young designers and art directors gave us their
experience of college and how it prepared them for work. This was
uncomfortable - some of them got their first jobs in spite of their
education, not because of it.
But we got a chance to put our side of the story and the force of it
caught us all by surprise. We spoke of courses quadrupled in size,
lecturers virtually running courses single-handed and massive cuts in
part-time lecturers’ hours - the very lifeblood of design education.
This last session generated a lot of discussion and the panel seemed
shocked to realise how bad the situation is.
Suddenly, it’s Friday and it’s all over - or we think it is.
Graham Fink arrives and stays just long enough to tell us we can make a
difference. His enthusiasm, like that of all the speakers this week, is
palpable - clearly, you feel, some teacher made a difference to him.
Was the experience worth it? You bet. If every lecturer went on this
course every student would benefit, but perhaps a bigger issue has been
raised here, and that’s the state of design education today.
David Morris is the head of advertising at Buckinghamshire College