Reflection on Bootcamp

It’s been eight years now since I’ve been outside of formal learning experience and I was a bit nervous before orientation week.  I’ve known design by browsing the web, taking online courses from design practitioners back in Russia, and exercising my creative juices by doing things in Sketch/Photoshop.  However, AC4D is an entire new chapter in my life since, for the first time, I’ve got a chance to work together with a group of fellow students and get the feeling of the rigorous process that every designer has to go through in real life.

I’m mostly introverted person and a not-an-easy conversation starter. Sometimes I can be shy and awkward but in the first day Ruby welcomed us to AC4D community with her introduction story and I felt “oh, I can do this, I can also share my story in a similar way”. It felt a bit therapeutic (in a good way) when we all shared our stories before AC4D and got to know each other surprisingly on a  genuine level.

During the Bootcamp there were ups and downs that every designer has to go through. For me personally the synthesis and generating  insights sessions were the most difficult part. While words would come out of my mouth they felt more like butterflies; wisping away what I truly meant. The goal is to come up with concise & sharp phrases that serve as a foundation for future sense-making and idea generation.  Exploring this unknown territory where you follow your intuitions, with no defined right or wrong, can be disorienting. Purposefully, design strategy does not give the tools to prove or disprove designer’s prepositions at this point.

I always thought my strengths were in visuals but surprisingly during the drawing vignettes exercise I felt lost at first recognising that my drawing   techniques has never changed since I was a 7-year old kid. There are three things to consider when drawing this exercise. The first is how to pick the subject matter so it communicates the core of your idea. Second is to keep in mind the composition choices ahead of time and the third is an amount of detail to put. My vignettes were not as effective as I expected and I hope that I can speed up my workflow in the future and become a better visual communicator at the end of the course.

I particularly enjoyed the ethnographic part of design research. It was fun to be outside in spite of 103 degrees and talk to strangers. I liked the humanity of it when you force yourself to be present, open to another individual and try not to over judge or overthink what is happening in front of your eyes.  I also found that idea generation is not as difficult. It is exhausting sometimes but stretches you in a good way letting you think of every existing technology and cultural experiences to provide a context and get an inspiration for a next idea.

Overall, I feel inspired to continue to explore what it means to see and think like a designer. I hope that this coming year will be challenging and  productive so I can grow professionally and personally.