Professional vs. Amateur…Hard to Tell the Difference

I’m clearly no design critic, but at the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Spring Show (Industrial Design, Illustration, Material Culture, Visual Arts and Technologies, Integrated Media and Foundation, etc.), it was hard to imagine that what I was seeing was student art and not the professional, polished work of major design companies. If not for the blurb on the flashy eye-candy posters “Sponsored by Hummer” or “Sponsored by Proctor & Gamble” I doubt anyone like me walking through could ever have figured out that these were actually created by 20-somethings who still party ’til 2 am most nights.

Is this the “state of things” now at design schools? That students are all as polished as professionals? (Or is CIA just “that good?”) If so, then that’s great. It must be hard for design/ad/engineering companies to choose from such a talented field. (Also makes it that much harder for students graduating to get a job.) But on the flip side, if student work IS as good as that you see splashed all over glossy magazines, then does that mean that graphic design/ad companies aren’t stepping it up to the next level? Once these students get jobs, do they peter out? I have no idea, just throwing that out there. I guess I just haven’t seen a case or a media where the student/professional similarity was so striking.

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