graphic design at orita

It’s no secret that I have a major thing for graphic design. I’m not exactly sure how it crept up on me, but around 2005 or 2006, I remember trying furiously to make myself user icons for my livejournal account using what software I had on the house desktop PC, MS Paint. Suffice to say the results were terrible. I do remember trying to keep things simple and just putting quotes or bits of song lyrics onto squares, thus making icons, but not long after that, I was introduced to Adobe Photoshop and that’s when things started to get funky.

Forward several years later, and I realised that graphic design was something I seemed to have a genuine interest in, and it was considered to be ‘cool’ to be able to use Photoshop. Thank goodness for student discounts on the software (that is very important, all things considered). So I liked knowing what kerning was, and how to deal with layers, and edit photographs. Somehow, that grew into something bigger, to a point where I started designing things: a set of items for a class meal that was part of our home economics exams (it was a pirate themed meal-party, and I made the invitations, menu cards and place mats that all followed the theme of finding pirate treasure) Once I learned some basic html coding, I started making my own headers for my blog, and images that were part of the entries. All that stuff that I did without really thinking much about it, it all somehow led me to where I am today, I guess.

And that’s a place lots of people may find themselves in. They enjoy graphic design, and all things digital art, but aren’t exactly in that field. It’s a hobby that stays a hobby. It’s surprising how big a part design plays in our lives without even really realising it, and this is a big reason why I feel like learning these skills properly in a school would be great because it’s skills that are so transferrable that they could be relevant to so many jobs in so many industries. I’m working my way towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management but more specifically, in Marketing and Corporate Communication, and design skills, come in real handy every now and then when it comes to the industry. They’re not a pre-requisite or anything, but I have realised that telling potential employers and/or your current bosses or supervisors that not only can you come up with great copy or churn our statistics from mountains of data, you can also design using Adobe tools, is something that is always a good thing. I’ve never had a negative response to that.

I’ve just completed half my time at college, and I’ve loved graphic design for such a long time now, I decided to spend my summer picking up skills like these and brushing up on what I already know. After doing some research, I found a lovely place by the name of Orita Sinclair School of Design, conveniently located near Bugis (which is walking distance from my university, not that I’m there a lot considering it’s summer break). It’s a privately-run design school, but has a vibe that comes off to be as something similar to Shillington College in that it’s not just your average design school, it’s got that real hip vibe to it, and it’s grounded in teaching you skills that will help you find work, and help you in your work. I don’t know too much about Shillington myself, other than what I’ve heard from some friends, and Shillington is one of those places where I’d love to be able to do a three-month full time course, but getting there isn’t going to be easy, so local schools will have to do for now.

Orita has a couple of full-time and part-time Diploma programmes, but since I’m already a full-time student at a university, what I was looking for were short courses, which Orita seems to have plenty of! From the whole range of short courses (they call them professional development courses) I thought the Certificate in Graphic Design course would be a good place to start as it teaches you software skills and through that, some design concepts. This was what the course is about: as per the school’s website.

orita cgd

I was a bit nervous to join a class like this, as it is not something I have done in quite some time. I’ve been so incredibly busy with all kinds of different things, joining extra classes was never even a consideration. However, I have three and a half months on my hands now, and zero travel plans, which means I really need to keep myself real busy, otherwise I’d probably drive myself nuts in the summer heat in Singapore. The course runs over eight weeks, twice every week, and each class is three hours long. The timing’s great as it’s after work hours which makes it possible to work and then go for these classes. Everything seemed to work out for me, and with my fingers crossed I went for the first class.

Class sizes are pretty small, and our instructor, Vanessa Ban, knows her stuff. She’s laidback which is great as most people don’t need someone yelling facts at you or piling insane amounts of work on you when you’ve already spent eight hours of the day at work (where there is sometimes yelling, and sometimes insane amounts of work, but all is good). I think that was a nice surprise. For the first class, I was all prepared in usual student style, armed with my laptop, a notebook, and a pen to take notes if necessary. I soon realised that the class is almost completely hands on, and requires little note-taking if not none, and that makes a nice change from lectures and classes at uni.

I’ve had two classes so far, and they’ve both been lovely, and I guess this is the start of a short series of posts documenting the process of learning the ropes of different design software, and the general experience of being in a short course class in a small design school in Singapore. You’ll be able to access these posts easily from a tab on my blog’s homepage, and I’d love for this series to be interactive in a way that if you’re interested in these things (graphic design, design school, short courses, things to keep you busy over your break) and have any questions about anything, leave a comment and I’d be happy to give you my honest opinions to the best of my knowledge.

Before I leave, have some photos of what I’ve accomplished over my first two classes!

orita lesson 1-1

First class was learning how to create vectors out of photographs using the Pen tool. Honestly, this is something I’ve always never been able to master…and somehow with Vanessa’s help, I managed to get the hang of it within three hours! That’s the difference between trying to teach yourself something and having a professional teach you.

orita lesson 1 - 2

Look! A CHAIR! We used simple images for a start, but I was immensely pleased with this chair. It’s progress!

orita lesson 2 - 1

Over the second class we got to bring in a bunch of our own sourced images, and create vector images of them with some details. This was great fun (and oh look, my wallpaper matches the theme of my set!)

orita lesson 2-2

Again, I worked through several images before attempting to vectorise a beach chair. With Vanessa’s help (and motivation) I managed to do a reasonable job, I think. It’s not perfect (far from it, actually), but again, it’s progress!

orita lesson 2-3

From not being able to control the Pen tool to creating a image set of vectorised images in two classes. This set is so happy and summery it pleases me very much.

Orita Sinclair School of Design
7/7A/12A Pahang St, Singapore 198613
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One Response to “graphic design at orita”
  1. Highly energetic article, I liked that bit. Will there be a part

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