Graphic Design: Degree Or No Degree?

Through my design career I have come across many job adverts for a graphic designer 'with a degree'. It always made me feel a little frustrated – "If I do not have a degree do you automatically assume I will not be good enough to join your company?". Surely a designer's portfolio and / or experience should say more than a piece of paper with a qualification on it.

I studied for a higher national diploma in graphic design at college and when the course finished I had the chance of pursuing a degree in graphic design or go for an advanced diploma in art and design. One of my lecturers told me that the degree contained more theory work where the advanced diploma was more practical. I opted for the practical work … after all that's what graphic design is.

The advanced diploma was only a year of study but most of the work was project based even if the deadlines were a bit too generous at times. However, since leaving college (armed with my qualifications) I admit that I learn more during my first design role and by teaching myself. That kind of education never stops with the design world and technology continuously changing.

This led me to question the importance of a degree as a designer and I know that I'm not the only one to ask this. In my honest opinion a degree does not automatically make someone more creative and successful than a designer who is self taught or who has learnt on the job. Their portfolio should be the strongest reflection of their skills and abilities especially when it comes to finding employment. Do companies advertising for a designer 'with a degree' honestly think that they are going to employ a better designer or is it a status thing?

Now I know that things have changed since I was at college so I thought I had a look at what degree courses my local college offers and found that they offer a BA in Art and Design. Here are the modules:

Year 1: Visual arts; applied crafts; digital arts; site specific design; graphic design; performance related design; web design; animation; self-employment; video production; community art; textile design; teacher or lecturer.

Year 2 : Creative skills and concepts; integrated project; visual literacy; digital applications; specialist options: skills development; contextual studies; personal development planning.

Year 3: Creative practice; contextual practice; specialist options: skills application practice; research skills; critical and contextual studies; pathways and concepts; professional and studio practice; professional and contextual studies; creative futures.

I did not study most of this stuff and I've spent 9 years in design studios working on a wide variety of projects of all sizes and with good feedback. I'm now working full-time as a freelancer trying to grow my own business. I like to think that I turned out okay without a degree.

So I guess my question is … does a degree make a better designer or is it all down to natural creative flair, experience and keeping up-to-date with the latest trends?

Birthday Gag Gifts

A gag gift for a birthday is way cooler than an ordinary, useable gift. Give the following gag gifts to your loved ones, and see how the person will love you more.

For the always late officemate, give him a backwards clock. Written in reverse, this clock will definitely drive your officemate nuts in no time.

For your conceited teenage sister, give her the laughing mirror. This is the mirror that will laugh every time someone grabs hold of it and looks into it. Your sister would definitely love you more when she gets laughed at by the laughing mirror!

Give fake cat poop to your obsessive-compulsive friend. Scatter it all over her bedroom floor, or, better yet, on her mattress to make her birthday complete.

For your love-sick aunt, give her the art of kissing book. So when she reads it, she gets to crave someone to do the kissing with. For additional fun, include the barf-scent breath freshener so she can enjoy her kissing moments even more!

Your long-haired rocker friend describes the bald head wig. This way, he can have the feeling of having a shaved head for a little while. Or maybe he can even pretend to be a hard-core punk!

The exploding lighter coupled with the exploding cigarette pack is perfect for your buddies who incessantly smoke every time you are together. Nothing will make their day better and your day more hilarious than playing this great prank on them!

If you want your loved ones to love you even more, make sure you give them meaningful gifts that will stick in their memories for the longest time. For that to happen, gag gifts are your best choice.

Honeymoon Vacation Packages

Newlywed couples derive immense thrill from honeymoons in exotic destinations. Honeymoon vacations give them an opportunity to spend intimate time together far from the world of anxieties and worries. Hotels and resorts in renowned and much-sought-after honeymoon destinations offer special honeymoon vacation packages to their prospective clients. The packages ensure a hassle-free time of comfort and leisure for honeymoon couples who do not have to take pains to arrange for different services, since they are generally included in honeymoon vacation packages.

A typical honeymoon vacation package in the enchanting island of Hawaii begins at $510 per night for a honeymoon couple. This exclusive package includes a premium ocean-view room, convertible rental car, a chilled bottle of champagne upon arrival, a daily breakfast buffet for two, and dinner for two one time during your stay ($100 value)

If couples are contemplating a honeymoon vacation in San Francisco, rates start at $245/night for a club level room, and from $315/night for a club level suite, and include a club level room or suite, champagne upon arrival, complimentary continental breakfast buffet in club level lounge, handmade chocolates at turndown, and special bath amenities.

Las Vegas is one of the favorite destinations for honeymoon vacationers, and most of the renowned hotels and resorts in Las Vegas promote premium and economical honeymoon packages.

Las Vegas hotels offer a great deal more than just betting activities to couples spending their honeymoon holidays in the enchanting tourist locale. Most of the resorts are known for their characteristic appeal and elegant swimming pools, shopping, health spas, nightclubs, restaurants, and other amusements.

Flat Motorcycle Tires – Roll Hard!

Motorcycles with flat tires. . . roll hard! If your motorcycle is cruising along at 55 mph and your rear motorcycle tire suddenly deflates [has a blow out!] You now have a tremendously dangerous challenge ahead of you. Aviding other vehicles, controlling the steering, a swaying rear-end making everything unstable makes for a sizable victory when you roll off the side of the road and come to a stop. Congratulations, job well done! More riders than not end in an accident or something worse. All because of their motorcycle tires. Who knows your thoughts if it is the front tire to blow? You better be prayed up.

We all want a sharp looking bike. Once you select your make and model, your interest is on chrome, color, accessories, personal appearance, dress etc. but let us not forget about the importance of the rubber motorcycle tires that get us around. Frame, structure and engine all work together and hopefully are worry free for years. Motorcycle tires keep moving and we need to often watch for wear and safety.

There are two critical places that motorcycles need to be checked before each ride or at least once a month. Both are easy to do and both are many times overlooked. One area is brake fluid. If the pedal is mushy, bleed the lines or have someone else do it. Two, motorcycle tires need to be inspected. Why do we forget these?

Our safety depends on it. We trust our life to the two motorcycle tires under us that have at best two patches of rubber in contact with the ground the size of our two hands at any given moment. Move that along at 55 mph or even at 15 mph and each of the motorcycle tires is taking on a serious responsibility. The attention and care we offer towards our motorcycle tires can help us tremendously with our safety and enjoyment of biking.

Here are some areas where things can go wrong with your motorcycle tires:

– Tire Pressure: Under-inflation may cause uneven wear, loss of control [stability], wears the motorcycle tires out faster and increases the chances of the motorcycle tires failure. Over-inflation allows motorcycle tires to heat up, limit traction [although a slight 10% over-inflation may actually increase traction in wet conditions] and affects the wear. To correct these, use a good tire gauge and check the motorcycle tires when it is cool. Keep the motorcycle tires pressure at the recommended PSI.

– Fluids: Brake fluid, gas and lube spills need to be cleaned immediately. It deteriorates the rubber. Many of the cleaner protectors used on motorcycle tires harm the finish rubber. The best way to clean is to use old-fashioned soap and water.

– Bumps: Potholes, curbs and stones may slash or crack the tire. Look for any problem.

– Accelerated wear: Everyday use may be a potential hazard. Spinning motorcycle tires on take off or holding the brake on emergency stops need to be checked.

– Nails, screws etc .: It is better to find them before you ride than to discover these nuisances 20 minutes down the road. Motorcycle tires that use a tube may "pop" from a nail / screw or sharp object, where a tubeless tire may have the nail / screw actually plug the hole they created which gives you a little more time for repairs.

– Valve stems: Make sure the cap is on. It helps to protect the valve stem from leaking air and protects the stem valve from opening by centrifugal force and leaking air at higher speeds. When you use motorcycle tires with tubes, the valve stem should be straight out. If it is on a slant, the tire has been under-inflated and the tube has moved around the rim. Often this damages the tube and creates a leak.

– Tire weights: Weights need to be firmly fixed to the rim. If they fall off it will throw the tire out of balance and cause uneven wear.

– Rim: Cracked or deferred rims are potential problems. You may want to replace wire fired wheels when they became damaged with a cast or billet wheel that uses tubeless tires. Check with your dealer on this.

– Worn / torn: Thin tread is easier to detect. Flat wear is due to leaning very little and driving mostly in a straight line, resulting in a ridge at the edge of the flattened middle of the tire. This causes motorcycle tires to become unstable in a leaning turn. It wants to warble. The tire may have more wear but it should be replaced. [It is good to replace both front tire and rear tire at the same time.] Sidewall punctures, cracking, cord separation are an alert.

– Tread: Check the grooves called "sipes" making sure that the tread is still sufficient. The lack of having tread affects the cooling of the tire when in use, wear, stability, traction and can cause hydroplaning on wet roads.

When doing your inspection of motorcycle tires get a friend to roll the bike while you check the tread and sidewalls. You may need to get a work stand if alone. Obstacles to having a good inspection are long pipes, saddlebags, fenders etc. making it hard to see the rear tire. Front motorcycle tires are a bit easier to examine. This sounds like a lot but it goes quickly and is easy to do. Make it a habit to check your motorcycle tires frequently.

Some miscellaneous information you need to know. You will have better handling and get more out your motorcycles tires when you keep the rear tire aligned and balanced. Consider having this looked at approximately every1000 miles. Be careful when you have new motorcycle tires it takes the first couple of rides to get traction working well.

So! Happy riding and remembering to check your motorcycle tires often.