by Richard Bird
A graduating designer who wants to work at R.BIRD asks me what software she should learn. This is how I respond:
Would you believe that our library of software approaches thousands of applications? Yes, it is true.
It is interesting that you characterize Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop as “simple”! We’ve been using both applications since versions 1.0 and I have never met anyone that I consider to be a master of either. There is a great disparity between academic curriculum and real-world situations.
I do not mean to discourage you, rather, to awaken you to the challenges ahead.
Alright, let me answer your question with something more useable.
If I was to recommend software studies to any student of graphic design, my list would be in order of importance:
Typing - learn how to do it well (and spelling, too). And use more than one finger on each hand.
Font Creation - design and deliver your own digital font. Fontlab.
Word, InDesign, Quark, Pages - It doesn’t really matter, you must master a tool to design useful pages of information. After 30 years of this, I keep coming back to InDesign for its ease of use and great handling of typography. All other times - I am using TextEdit or BBEdit. Understand the grid.
Adobe Illustrator - most universally applicable throughout creative to production workflows. Attempt to master this one.
Adobe Photoshop - complements AI and can mask other technical deficiencies.
Motion - Flash, of course. At least understand how it works. Beyond that: Motion, Final Cut Pro… and the list becomes increasingly intimidating.
Web - Dreamweaver, Dreamweaver, Dreamweaver (and BBEdit).
3D - to expand your vision. In my own order of preference and accessibility: SketchUp, Modo, Lightwave, Vellum, SolidWorks - with FPrime, Vray and Maxwell for rendering.
There you have it.
I started my involvement with the convergence of computers and art in 1973. I wrote my own software in Fortran to take in topology coordinates that I measured in the field myself with a transit, converting the data to 3D coordinates and mapped the results to a series of overprinted typewriter characters on paper in such a way that when viewed from across a room… an image of land mass became recognizable and meaningful.
I’ve learned a little about everything and mastered nothing. Guess what? I think that’s a good thing. I see far too many resumés where the applicant claims to be “proficient” in a short list of graphics application software. I don’t believe it. Better to say:
“Familiar with many… Master of none.”
As long as the statement is true, I will select this one for the interview.
Photo above?: Artist’s CG workstation circa 1983. Artronics’ PC2000 paintbox to be exact - and yours truly at the tablet.