What I've Learned

Graduation Show '18 Design Team

Willem de Kooning Academy
Wed 4 Jul

The honour of doing this is a blessing and a curse because you have to deal with millions of opinions.

Tell us about the project you are working on and the concept you came up with.

Stella: It is designing visual communication for WDKA's Graduation Show 2018, which is my first project that is going to be out there in the real world. Our concept is simple. It mainly focuses on the notion of ‘turning point’, which represents the event as a milestone in careers of all the graduates.

Ricardo: Together with a lovely team, I am designing WDKA’s and PZI’s Graduation Show of 2018. We have heard that the honour of doing this is a blessing and a curse because you have to deal with millions of opinions. Thus we tried to approach something that every graduate experiences: their lives change after the academy.

What did you learn so far?

Laura: I have learned to use everyone's personal talents within a team in order to come to an end product. I have also learned to just start working and not to ponder on what I would want to do for too long, that can sometimes provide the best results. Next, I have learned to discover my own assets as a graphic designer within a team and to use them. There is so much that I have learned and am still learning thanks to this project.

Fianda: Working on a project this big together with a client. Knowing what kind of steps you have to take during both the process and realisation.

Ricardo: I have learned to collaborate with the same colleagues for a longer period. In the beginning, we were all very shy to share our opinions, but now we are getting so ambitious - we tend to end up having intense discussions. Sometimes, our team has to deal with a lot of different opinions and feedback. Of course, we were not able to grant every wish. This is where our strong bond comes in handy because if you are unanimous about a certain decision, it is easier to stand your ground.

Stella: Clear work division is essential. Everyone knows what they are better at. When it comes to collaboration, it is important that everyone finds a proper position for themselves. Show your trust. Instead of being blindly supportive of each other, be critical, be on point, but always be loving. Rebuild your mood on time after each mental crash. Frustrations are normal.

What didn’t you expect to learn but experience as a bonus?

Laura: I had never expected that a project like this could have become so personal.

Fianda: The group contains designers who are all different. You can really see each other's strengths and different approach to designing. Seeing other designers working helps me to try other ways of designing, that might lead to a surprising outcome.

Ricardo: That we as a team work very intuitively while dividing the tasks. For example, I felt like doing more digitally involved design, and thus started doing animations. However, in order to do something, you actually have to learn it first. Never thought that I would have ended up doing animations as a graphic designer!

Stella: The strategies of how to do a proper and efficient presentation to a client. And that is being direct and supportive, as a designer, to your first preference and leave out options that you do not even feel anything for. Another great bonus is learning to compromise.

Did you gain any insights that can be used in your further life, study or artistic practice?

Laura: I have learned to work with a real client. There is a lot to be kept in mind in a large project like this, which can make creating difficult, partly because of all the different target groups you have to consider. We have to pay a lot of attention to small details, that I would have missed in normal school projects otherwise. In addition, working on this project has also made me more critical and has taught me not to be satisfied quickly even though it might seem the best I have made so far.

Fianda: That a concept/design can completely change in five seconds. During the process, we have made a lot of sketches. Never made this many before. You could see the transformation and evolution of the concept/design in a five-second sketch.

Ricardo: I have learned that creating a concept is a never-ending process. You can tweak and change till you drop, and it will eventually get better, but it will never be finished.

Stella: A healthy relationship between work and life. Words to live by.

What keeps you awake at night?

Laura: Nothing really, but my life does go on in my dreams. The Graduation Show has taken place in my dreams for about 200 times by now, and all the possible scenarios you can think of have occurred at least once.

Fianda: The amount of work keeps me awake every night. Every day we are asked to do more and more. Especially those tiny details are haunting me. Some days I can talk about nothing but this project because I am working on it all day, every day.

Ricardo: Speaking in a literal sense, I honestly cannot sleep because of all the information I have to process during the day. I feel like a sponge that absorbs everything that comes its way. My head is so full all the time! My theory class teacher advised me to start doing yoga to clear my head. Do you readers have any recommendations?

Stella: Perfectionism and control issue haha.

What do you experience as the greatest obstacle at the moment?

Laura: I have never done such a big project where so many different opinions play a role. Everyone has something to say. It is important to stay true to yourself because, in the end, it is our design. Our client(s) must have faith in us, but we also should believe in ourselves! Sometimes it is difficult to work in a team, we are so different. Working in a team has advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes a conversation escalates into an extreme discussion and we think we’ll never agree, but in the end, we still manage to.

Fianda: This project is so big and you have to keep different target groups in mind. Everyone has a different opinion about the work. You, your group, the graduates to be, the client, the target groups etc. Sometimes finding a balance between the opinions is tough. Filter every feedback and still stay true to the choices you have made as a designer is a challenge.

Ricardo: Trying to pay equal attention to different things is a huge obstacle. Combining the Graduation Show with the regular lessons seems not to work out very well, I find it hard to split my focus. I also have to maintain a social life, and YES, if I plan it correctly, I am still able to do so.

Stella: Miscommunications & frustrations. Miscommunications happen often when you are being so over-supportive for one idea that you neglect all the other possibilities from others’ opinions. Miscommunication cost more than you imagine. It is not only about time, it also affects the working atmosphere. It sometimes consumes trust and vitality between you and your team members.

Graduation Show '18 Design Team are:


Please keep an eye on this item, this project is far from finished yet!

Photography: Mauro Colarieti, Menno Boer