If only we could look into the magic 8 ball and know in an instant what the future of technical illustration will be. I know some have seen it develop from the strictly traditional execution of the past to the now multi-functional digital aspects of today.
Yesterday evening, I attended the graduate show for the Bachelor of Applied Arts in Illustration program held by the 2014 class of Sheridan College students, my alma mater school. It’s interesting to reflect back on where I used to once be, starting out as a professional after completing my degree, with no idea what the future would hold. To now be able to see how far a career can progress, just by getting out there and doing.
Doing what? Creating, designing, marketing a skill set, keeping current with ever-changing trends and always new and improving software programs, creating and never ceasing to ask questions about how better to visualize information not only from a technical standpoint, but from a perspective where any viewer just “gets it” in one look.
This led me to ponder how the educational institutions play into what’s really going on in our industry and how this shapes the future as we professionals know it. Sheridan College in particular when I attended educated students in the Technical and Scientific Illustration stream with a focused vision on what types of illustrations you could be creating out in the world. Now, this stream is no longer going to exist, as they move towards a more University style approach, allowing students to choose which courses they want to explore. The courses that were previously within the niche of the technical and scientific stream will still be available, however as a student, you would not be getting the end-to-end experience as I once had to hone the skill set in this ever-evolving field.
We have to ask: Are the educational institutions shaping the technical illustration industry properly, if not at all? Have they looked into the Magic 8 ball and know the answer, or are they assuming they know what the future will hold?
I believe there is still a successful career to be had in Technical Illustration, as the work I do daily reflects the need that clients still have. So, I should be jumping for joy that major competition is being cut out, right? I think not. The biggest reason I love competition is that is makes me better at what I do. It pushes me creatively to do more and go further. So, the real loss to the industry would be a lack of competition to keep those of us that have been doing this for years “on our toes”.
On the other hand, I know that technology is a driving force to how clients hire, whether freelance or in-house and that the other side of the coin, as a professional you always have to be improving upon the foundation of skills that an initial education brought. A continual growth in knowledge of software, now even more into 3D modeling and animation, web design or even design of info graphics will allow for a more well-rounded approach for dealing with any and all clients that come along, now or in the future.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to get a pulse on an industry when we work in our own little bubbles, more now with online media. But some of the indication of that pulse has to come from the education that future Illustrators would be receiving.
Inevitably, from where I stand today and where I stood years ago when I graduated from Sheridan, I choose to embrace the future. If we don’t, we’ll be left behind. The future may change, but there will always be Technical Illustration. It may just be executed differently down the road.
A big Congratulations! goes out to the 2014 class of Sheridan Illustration students. Good luck and embrace your future! If you are in the greater Toronto area and want to check out the up-and-coming talent of illustrators, the illustration show is on until Friday, April 11, 2014 at 9pm. You can find more information on http://sheridanillustration.com/
What do you see where you live? Is there a large school nearby that teaches the Technical Illustration skill set if you were to get into the field? Or has a program that you knew previously existed been pushed to the wayside?
Have you been in the industry so long and have a different take on where things are headed?