If you follow me on twitter or have read this blog before you will know that I have just finished my BA (hons) in Graphic Design. During the three years of the course I learnt a few things: graphics is expensive, time consuming, and at times frustrating.

But it doesn't have to cost a fortune, take up all your time or drive you insane when a project just. won't. work. These are some tips I picked up during the three years that can be useful and helped me to become more professional about my design career.


I find books and essential part of my design process as they can give so much inspiration from simply flicking through them. As I have said before, I love adding to my expanding collection with new examples of great design that I can come back to over again. The usual staple for online book purchasing is Amazon, but I find Play.com is equally extensively stocked with  great design books, usually a few pounds cheaper than Amazon, and always with free delivery. This doesn't sound a lot, but when I come to order five or six books the difference can mount up.


I take a lot of photos when i'm out and about (see here & here). Instead of leaving them languishing in files on my desktop I get them developed and stick them into old sketchbooks. This is another inventive way of providing yourself with some inspiration from exhibitions or places you have visited. I have a number of scrapbooks with photos from 2011 and 2012 degree shows I visited to remind me of the most influential pieces.


My DSLR is used for many things; photographing final pieces, blog posts and just taking my own photos. The quality and vibrancy of the images far our weighs that of my compact camera, which isn't quite up to taking good final piece shots. But with them both being Sony the memory card is can easily be swapped between the two without having to purchase a second, which is extremely convenient when you are a poor student.


Admittedly my printer is a beast and takes up most of my desk (annoying) but it is probably one of the most useful things I have ever bought so I can forgive it. I have a Brother MFC-5890CN which is capable of printing anything up to A3 and anything as small as a 4" x 6". This was amazing as at uni we had A3 sketchbooks so I could print my pages straight out instead of faffing around with glue/scissors/paper/trying to make it look professional. Along with this it scans, faxes, copies and can link directly to a USB or memory card. This meant that I could complete most tasks myself without having to out source more equipment and just focus on my work.

Although it is not advised by the manufacturer, I tend to use recycled ink for day to day printing. The quality is comparable and recycled ink is SO much cheaper. I get ink from INKcredible, an amazing site where you can get C, M, Y and K for £10 and the speed, service and quality is awesome. If you print as frequently as I did during the three years then this will definitely persuade you to swap to recycled ink.


My last bit of good advice would be to always carry a sketchbook with you to note down or sketch down ideas. Some of my best ideas just dropped into my head when I was on a bus or walking somewhere. It helps clarify ideas, keep records and develop concepts into a functioning solution to a brief.

These are just a few things that I find useful to inspire me when i'm stuck with a project or just save some money on things that I use all the time like printing. Either way I hope somebody finds it useful.

Read more from Alice Vaughan at http://alicevaughan.blogspot.co.uk/