The Future of Design Requires Free thinking and ‘Free’ Software

Or at least, very cheap software.

The creators of the visual world of tomorrow are in schools now. If we want an amazing visual world tomorrow then we’ve got to nurture them today, we’ve got to build their confidence and let them practice. We’ve also got to show all the kids that this is for them; I don’t mean that they should all do it, or even want to do it, but we’ve got to show them that if they want to then they can.

The problem is that the digital tools for this are expensive. In some cases very expensive. I’m not going to name names here but some software, while still sold much more cheaply into schools than it is into industry is still very expensive in the constrained budgets for education. If we want top flight and excited visual creatives in the future we’ve got to give them time to play with the tools now (the lack of time to play in the crowded modern curriculum with the multitude of targets and grading is another issue). I’ll will name-names and praise Autodesk for biting the bullet and giving schools and their students free access to their stuff saying “The challenges of today will be solved by the designers of tomorrow. That’s why Autodesk gives students, educators and educational institutions free* access to professional design software, creativity apps and real-world projects. Autodesk Education helps to inspire and prepare the next generation to imagine, design and create a better world.” – okay so the folks at Autodesk have twigged it, you want designers tomorrow you’ve got to let them play with the toys today.

Sure, there are brilliant free tools out there like GIMP and Blender, but you come up against the issue that most people have only heard the name of one piece of graphics software and will use it generically, like we do ‘hoover’ for a vacuum cleaner, and believe that you have to use that. And frankly much as I love GIMP if you want to let kids play with the pro tools for graphics and web design now there is one game in town…but that’s an expensive game to play for a school. Then there are all the programs used by VFX companies which lots of kids in schools would love to use – now under the Autodesk package they could have Maya or 3Ds  but there are others which would be great to let kids use, even just to play on in extra-curricular clubs, but which are expensive. The core business of these companies is selling into the graphics industry, wouldn’t it be an investment in our visual future, and also their future businesses, to either let schools and their students have free use of it, or price it at a peppercorn level?

In ten years I want to be blogging on Visupulse about exciting stuff being produced – I reckon that will be so much more exciting if all the kids in all the schools could play with all the toys

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