Connecting dots #2 - Style

Good morning everybody

I have been thinking recently about how people, for the most part, seek the good and are generally honest in doing so. I know this may seem a little bit out of the blue, but its a perspective that I find helpful when solving issues that pop up along the way. By understanding that people in general are acting to achieve an ends, a good of some form, it makes the unknown knowable. My experience with education have been greatly informed by this perspective, something I would like to share with you today.

Style. Style is this word that tends to pop up quite a lot and is certainly a key focus for a lot of the students I meet. This word 'style' can be a bit of taboo between educators though, in that it can be a consideration that blocks students from delving into their full potential. All too often, before really exploring their ability to communicate or explore modes of production, students settle on an arbitrarily chosen approach to image making and stump their opportunity to develop an innovative profile. However, over the course of my experience in education, I have begun to relax on the term, I have come to think of it instead as an indicator as to what students are looking for from a degree.

Students asking about style are not looking to short-cut effort, instead I like to think of this as an honest, sincere inquiry. A signal to educators as to the kind of practical knowledge these students think they require to become illustrators. By style, students are simply referring to what they have observed of a developed practice, and they ask because they have seen a connection between an Illustrators established style and a commercially successful practice. To some extent students see that a system of process determines production times, applicability to end user contexts and branding etc. By having made initial observations they conclude that style involves or at least is somehow connected to practical factors, they ask with the intent to transition there efforts into something real, into something that makes sense in the world and will lead them to success.

In this situation the role of the educator is to pick up on this indicator and reveal to students that the way the work looks, the type of content they see, how they see it and the manner in which they experience it are all unified by one key factor; Process. By moving the students focus from the everyday concrete details of methods used, tone or themes applied by specific illustrators - to an integrated view of process, the educator attends to the source of the initial inquiry, allowing students to focus on personalisation of practice without sacrificing the observed practical requirements of the professional realm.

Once students understand that the development of a rich, conceptually competent and grounded process is what informs style, they can, in the pursuit of professional development and objective results, commit in full confidence to an overhaul of existing habits that short-cut meaningful study. Most students understand that effort and commitment is part-traded for success, but not every student is aware of the absolute foundational role of process to a successful commercial practice. That the means to achievement is the construction of a methodology grounded to ones own existing skills, knowledge and future potential. Thats the kind of insight we as educators can provide.

High five.

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