This is a guest post from Murtuza Ali
Hello everyone who is reading this blog. I want to start by thanking Prasanna for giving me an opportunity to post on his blog, which I have come to realize is a haven for many design aspirants looking for some direction as far as admission to design institutes goes.
I am studying Animation Design at IDC, IITB. I will give a little back-story in the hope that I may connect on some level with what some of you may be going through. To those who want to start reading straightaway as to how to prepare for CEED or NID or MIT or any other exam, jump ahead by some paragraphs.
A small deviation:
I did my engineering from a 'reputed' engineering college, with an atmosphere unlike most other colleges in India. For quite some time, I believed that engineering was where I was meant to be, otherwise how else would I land up there? (Ours was the first competitive entrance exam batch). Later though, I came to realize that I was never meant to be an engineer. Everything I liked in the field of engineering was part of that subset which is common to Design. That is not to say my days of engineering were a complete waste, and neither should you feel the same (if that is what you are thinking, you engineers who are reading this), because a lot of that logical thinking is essential in the field of design. (It is design after all, not just art)
After my college, I was stuck again, this time in a low paying IT job. My frustration knew no end, and I gave CEED for the first time with an air of confidence. "CEED and NID are easy I will clear easily" I thought. This confidence was nourished by constant comments about how 'awesome' my drawing is, and comparisons to art greats and other stuff. On some level, that got to me, let’s face it, it happens to most people.
I did not clear CEED nor NID.
My bubble burst. I came to realize I was not ready at all. So i stayed in my frustrating job for another year. That is when I really started preparing for CEED and NID, and I finally got through in my second attempt. Even in my second attempt it was not easy, I can safely say I was the last admission of our batch, I knew no one with a lower score in CEED, and I got through in the 3rd list. Written below are some pointers that I think I would want to share with you folks, and I think if you think about these pointers, you will derive probably deeper insights into what you need to do to sail through.
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All that is fine, but what must I do?
Pursuing a Masters course in Design is a big decision, and I think the thought that should go into it is far more important than the preparation for the exam itself. Ask yourself these questions all the time:
Which field of design?
Believe me, once these two questions are clear, I think you need not read the rest of this post, especially which field of design. You should be extremely clear which design field you want to pursue because two years is a very short period of time, and the learning curve is very steep if you want to come out of your degree/diploma course with belief in yourself. I use the word belief because that will be the true indicator of your progress over that time spent. Maybe you are not the best of the class, but how much you have grown and learnt will be your real grades, your exams, and the results will be just that one word: your belief in yourself. And your work will speak for you, you need not say a damn word to prove yourself.
How to I find the answer to these two questions?
Unlearn everything you have learnt so far, start afresh with an open mind and eye for all design fields. Yes, all of them. Start with no preconceived notions about anything, no fear of any lack of ability, no affinity towards any one particular stream, no prejudice against any stream either.
Excavate ( I just like this word ) everything you can once you are 'unlearned'. Read about design. Talk to people. Visit studios. Intern. Make friends who are designers or aspiring to be. (This was such a big setback for me, no one I in my peer circle had done this before, or even knew other designers). Be as aware of design around you as you can be, be it typography, animation, films, product design, toys, furniture, vehicles, photography, UX, UI, graphic design, ad films, posters, apps, games, fashion, music, etc. The list in endless.
That is because design is everywhere, so analyze everything with whatever you have found out. Believe me, this is the biggest learning we got here as designers, it is like a nuclear reaction, once it begins, it explodes exponentially and there is no stopping it. This step is SO VITAL that I cannot even stress in words how much you need to do it. Just do it all the time. Design is thinking.
You WILL arrive at the answer to your questions if you follow this. The affinity that you have initially renounced will announce itself to you automatically. The fear you have renounced will be replaced with love for some one particular thing. THAT is the stream you should apply to.
I want to use the word ideate here and not 'sketching'. Here's why:
While you are successfully completing introspection as I mentioned above, you will feel the need to ideate.
By that, I mean, you will start having ideas, you will become an active participant from a passive observer. Maybe you will only think about it, but you will experience that phase where you see some design in some object/film/photo/etc, appreciate some things about it, criticize some other things about it, and eventually see your better version of it in your head. This is the moment to jot it down. On paper with pen. Or in a sketchbook. Or make a 3D model of it. Whatever may your medium be. This is where I want to talk about 'sketching'.
Sketching is important. It is not just important, it is indispensable. You just have to do it, there is no escaping it. Sketching is not taking the photo of your favorite movie star and rendering it nicely so its maximum likeness and realism. NO. Sketching is not make a beautiful painting of a landscape. NO. Sketching is learning. It is rough, it is quick. A sketchbook is a visual diary for a designer. What a notebook or a diary is to a writer, a sketchbook is to a designer. It is about writing your ideas down, visually. Your medium could be anything.
But for the sake of clearing CEED or NID at least, you MUST sketch on paper. And loads.
Your sketches must be quick, illustrative, should say everything that need be said, without getting into 'rendering' details. Your sketchbooks (I say in the plural now, because you must have dozens of them) when picked up by someone (or even yourself), should tell them what you think, how you think and it should say it very very lucidly.It should record your ideas.
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Do this for all the time that you have until you clear the first entrance exams.
I could write a hundred other things you need to do, but I have come to believe that these two points are the skeletal points. These are the core questions that need answering; the core training that is needed to be developed. How the musculature fits on this skeleton is specific to every individual. Animation students will start doing more gesture drawing; product design students might start doing more product concepts and renderings. Visual communicators might design their own 'rupee' symbols. Someone will use 6B steadlers, someone will use pen and ink, and someone might mess with clay sculpture. Someone might even travel or play music to get their ideas. I can only give the skeleton; you will build the muscle on it. Nonetheless, I have shared this thought with my peers, and it has some level of universality to it.
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I hope this post helped you all. If you have some other doubts, if you want another very specific post, you could request Prasanna (thanks once again) or even contact me via email.
Murtuza Ali is a currently a student of Animation Design at IDC, IIT Bombay. He does 2D animation, digital illustrations and is trying to get his hands dirty with game design lately. He loves traveling, is a foodie, and is also hoping he will learn to play the guitar soon!
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
We would thank Murtuza for sharing his experience about his life and learnings. These surely will help many aspirants