Wednesday, October 6, 2010

London Journal - It's not so big

When I first came to London I spent my days job hunting, painting and exploring. I tried to visit at least one museum a week, if only to get myself out of the house. One of the first museums I went to was the Tate Britain, which is actually extremely close to the office where I now work. I also discovered that, walking just up the Thames no more than fifteen minutes, I can reach Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. From there it's another fifteen or so minutes to Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. They're walking distance to Leicester Square, Soho, China Town, Covent Garden and the shopping districts of Piccadilly and Oxford Circus.

When people told me London was the same square footage of Calgary I didn't really believe it at first. Once you start walking it, however, you begin to see how connected everything really is.

When I signed up for my course at Chelsea College I had no clue where the college was. I had the expectation that it would be similar to getting to post-secondary establishments in Calgary. Mount Royal and the University of Calgary have never been particularly convenient to me, even by car.

Imagine my absolute delight when my course confirmation comes through with a map to Chelsea and I realise it's just across the river from the Vauxhall Tube station, next to Tate Britain and therefore about seven minutes from my office. This is ideal as it's an evening course, conducted from six until eight-thirty.

I was happy enough to wander around the scenic roads that surround the college, popping into the museum for a light dinner at their cafe before I had to go check in. As is usual for me, I was early for the class. I walked through the small clumps of young adults that were collected outside the entrance. It instantly reminded me of my mandatory school years and how such groupings made me uncomfortable even then. They puffed their cigarettes, trying to look as angsty and brooding as they could.

Inside the corridors smelled of chalk dust, clay and paint. It was a mix of stark white walls, fresh for displaying the work of the new year, and old brick-work, full of character. I took a seat in the foyer and waited. At exactly six the instructor for the Digital Design course strode in and rounded us up. There are ten of us on the course and after we'd selected seats in our classroom we went around and explained a bit about why we were there and what we were hoping to achieve. Some wanted the skills for work, other were looking for the creative side of it.

I'm there for both. I want to be able to have creative jobs and have skills that are desirable to employers. I'd also like to be able to use what I learn for my own projects so I can improve my self-marketing skills and create more opportunities. The instructor told us we were all on the ball with our reasons for being there but I had my affirmation as soon as the brief came out.

As it's only a six week course there's a limitation to how much we can learn. This is a taster and in order to get a good taste of InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator we will be making our own magazine. It can be about anything we want.

How exciting!

More exciting was the initial experimentation with InDesign, the first program on the roster. I found myself picking everything up extremely quickly. Whilst this was frustrating in that I felt I spent a lot of time waiting for everyone else to get some one-on-one explanations and support, it did mean I have extra time to discover some things on my own. I began to muse about the possibilities for designing promotional materials, graphic novels and maybe even a book. I was buzzing by the time the class was finished and that buzz hasn't really gone away. My next class is on Thursday and already I'm mulling over just what my magazine will look like, what it's purpose will be and what might be the next course in the coming months.

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