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Making the Most of University

An interview with
Diane Gibbs


To get a job as a designer it’s always your portfolio that matters, and not your qualifications. So is it still worth attending university? In this weeks interview Ian chats with Diane Gibbs to find out the answer to this question.

We discuss why university matters, what you should do before you attend, how you can make the most of your time studying, and the importance of networking with, and getting to know designers in the industry.

Diane is a graphic designer, entrepreneur, business owner, consultant, and a college professor at the University of South Alabama. She’s best known for her highly acclaimed Design Recharge interview series.

Diane Gibbs Interview Transcription

Ian Paget: One of the main topics I’d like to discuss with you is university and how designers can get the most out of the experience to get the job that they’ve always dreamed of once they finish their studies. Now, I’ve met and interviewed designers who have been self-taught and those who have studied at university. So I know that there are different options out there now. So from your perspective, what do you feel is the benefit of attending university if you do want to become a graphic designer?

Diane Gibbs: So I think, I’m like you, I’ve interviewed plenty of people who also are just self-taught. So I think here’s the difference, and I’m not saying that people who go to university or lazy or anything like that, but it takes a unique person to be able to be a self-taught in the drive and motivation that it takes. And sometimes people need their hand held a little bit longer and without YouTube, without all the books that we have now, I think it was much more difficult. And also I believe that at some point, there was this, and I still think there are jobs out there that say, “Hey, you need this degree to proceed,” and not necessarily at an ad agency or at a design firm and definitely not freelance.

But to get some positions they’ll say, “Oh, you have to have a BFA, Bachelor of Fine Arts, not a BA, a Bachelor of Arts. So they wanted a focused degree and that’s in more corporate work I think, you know what I mean? And thanks for having me on the show by the way. I just wanted to make sure to get that in.