I haven’t got a shred of formal qualification to do what I do. Shock horror! I studied accounting and finance, with a smattering of computer programming in my first year of university (C++, Java, object-oriented theory etc), but that’s about it.
I’ve always loved design, problem-solving, systems and processes, so I’ve largely “taught myself” by researching what I need, when I need it.
As a youngster, I would contact local businesses in my hometown, Christchurch, to get work experience/exposure to what they do. Phone calls made, doors knocked on, and you know what? I was almost never refused an opportunity. I absolutely frothed over every opportunity I has given to get a “look in” at what each business did, and the insightful and inspiring conversations I had with the generous people that gave me the time of day. From memory, this includes:
- Caxton Press – an offset, and old-school letterpress, printing company who showed me the entire printing process and introduced me to Photoshop and QuarkExpress, the forerunner to Adobe InDesign
- CTV (Canterbury Television) and TVNZ – who opened their doors on many occasions to allow me to be part of the production of news segments, the Jason Gunn show, Telethons and more
- MoreFM – a local radio station who let me sit in the studio and operate some of the broadcast equipment while they were live on air
- Yellow Pencil – an ad agency who let me spend time observing various aspects of their design processes
- The Christchurch Press – the local newspaper who let me spend an entire week sitting in different departments doing actual production work including operating the huge web offset printing presses, operating various pre-press systems, preparing advert designs, editorial and proofing, graphic design and infographic design AND web design. In 1996, this was the first contact I had with “web design” and their web designer was doing the newspaper’s website on the side as a very minor project (in a studio just under “The Press” sign – see photo). If only they knew how much that particular role would grow!
I share this for a few reasons: this is where my interest in web design comes from, I have an appreciation for a wide range of media and how they work and it proves that curiosity opens doors. My personal learning journey is heavily influenced by the opportunities I was given and the possibilities I imagined while spending time with people doing stuff that was interesting and exciting. I was never particularly brilliant at school, I think I was a little preoccupied on my own learning journey that was very organic and freeform. There are dozens, if not hundreds, more examples of ad-hoc learning opportunities I’ve had over the years. And this continues now, always learning, always curious.
(Photo credit: Dave Jackson – Christchurch Press Building – as it once was – alas no more – CC BY-SA 2.0)