In many academic institutions of the creative arts, web design still is considered as some secondary specialist discipline which there is no reason for introducing students to and students are even encouraged to use digital work made by others and presenting it as personal work.
In the academics, students are taught that copying even a sentence written by someone else without acknowledging the original author is a serious academic misconduct. For art- and graphic design students found cheating, the consequences are even direr as there is an unwritten law in the creating industries that plagiarizing creative work is a deadly sin and any creative artist found plagiarizing ideas or work by others most certainly will be stigmatized. This also was very visible in Sweden 2012 when the Swedish press noticed that Prince Carl Filip who is a graphic designer had “stolen” the idea behind his fire screen (Eldskärm CPB 2101, 2017) from the Italien designer Matteo Mocchi. The press called it an atrocity and the creative community in Sweden turned its back against Carl Filip (Ahlborg, 2017; Leva och bo, 2017; Oldenburg, 2017). This incident not only illustrated how shameful it is regarded to steal creative ideas but also that even a prince doing so will lose all his credibility as an artist.
With the academic community in unison condemning plagiarization of ideas and work; when starting to write my second masters at the University Of Hertfordshire where it was suggested- and even encouraged that students should use ready-made web templates in their creative work, I was least to say surprised. The official explanation to this was that “students can’t be expected to knowing how to design web pages and therefore it is acceptable for them to use web templates made by others and presenting it as personal work.”
Such statement from an institution teaching design is remarkable for a few reasons. First; very few marketing campaigns of today do not include the production of digital assets such as websites, banners or social media content; and arguably the number of graphic designers which in their careers will work exclusively with print is infinitesimal. Still, many prominent academic institutions of graphic design do not teach students even the basics of web design which put graduating graphic designers from universities like Hertfordshire in a weak position when entering the job market.
Considering the major role digital has in today’s media market; arguing that students cannot be expected to know how to create web design and also that it is acceptable for students to use web design templates made by someone else in their work, make about as much sense as claiming that graphic design students can’t be expected to know how to design magazines, books or package design as not all designers will work within these disciplines.
Graphic designers entering today’s job market need to know how to read and write web code for the simple reason that most will work with digital media. Learning how to code also is no different from learning InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop; it is a tool for creative expression. Arguably; it is more important for design students to learn how to design for the web than learning how to design books and magazines, which unfortunately is a dying art.
Educational institutions of design need to stop treating web design as some secondary specialist discipline which there is no reason for introducing students to. The web is here to stay and academic institutions of the creative arts who do not adapt the curriculum to reflect today’s creative- and marketing landscape, not only neglect to take their responsibility in making sure students are well prepared when entering the job market; but also, most certainly, will have a very hard time to survive in the increasingly competitive market of education.
- Ahlborg, K. (2017). Har prinsen snott sin design?. [online] Aftonbladet. Available at: http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article14278585.ab [Accessed 6 Sep. 2017].
- Eldskärm CPB 2101. (2017). Eldskärm CPB 2101. [online] Available at: https://www.svenskttenn.se/sv/sortiment/dekorationer/eldskarm-cpb-2101/105973/ [Accessed 6 Sep. 2017].
- Leva och bo. (2017). Prins Carl Philip blir anklagad för plagiat. [online] Available at: http://www.expressen.se/leva-och-bo/prins-carl-philip-blir-anklagad-for-plagiat/ [Accessed 6 Sep. 2017].
- Oldenburg, L. (2017). Prins Carl Philip anklagas för plagiat – igen. [online] Metro. Available at: https://www.metro.se/artikel/prins-carl-philip-anklagas-för-plagiat-igen-xr [Accessed 6 Sep. 2017].