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JF Col : The Joy of Teaching

Jean Francois has always been fond of drawing and painting, and for that reason, he chose Arts as his main subject for his HSC. He was inspired by his elder brother, who was a gifted artist. On his way to school, Jean Francois used to be in admiration in front of the giant billboards in the streets, but he had no idea at that time that there were the artworks of a Graphic Designer.

One day, Jean Francois met a friend who was a few years older than him and learned that the latter was doing Graphic Design at IVTB. He immediately became curious about the discipline when his friend told him about the logos and the designs he was creating. Back home, Jean Francois started doing research on the Internet about the job of a Graphic Designer and grew more and more fascinated. In the end, he was convinced that this was what he wanted to do.

After Jean Francois completed his HSC, he was determined to pursue further studies in Australia, but he quickly became disillusioned when he found that the costs were prohibitive. He then learned about DCDM Business School that was recruiting its first batch of students and decided to join. The Graphic Design course was way more complicated than expected. There were a lot of assignments, and he often had to work late into the night to complete his projects. He also learned that when you involve yourself with your work, you are in a vulnerable situation because every design work is bound to have some critics. You thus had to learn to detach yourself from your work.

In 2002, Jean Francois finished his diploma course and joined on an internship at Circus and got immediately thrown into the thick of things. He had to brainstorm and propose ideas for a pitch competition and got home at 1 a.m or 2 a.m. When the internship period was over, he was offered a permanent job and stayed at Circus for five years, working on many exciting projects. Some of the most challenging tasks were the design of annual reports where you had to work fast and learn to pay attention to details. Over that time, he had the opportunity to work with people like Thierry who brought a revolution in the advertising world in the country and was always willing to listen and encourage you to give your best. He further considers his senior, James, as his guru and one of the most talented in the design field.

Working in an advertising agency enabled him to understand the different steps of the design process that you follow to get to a design solution. A good brief is the ignition of the design process. It enables you to understand what your client needs by getting to understand his background, the objective of the communication, and to whom you are going to talk. The way you reach out to a teenager is not the same as the way you speak to an adult. After you read your brief, you put it in your own words and proceed by doing a lot of research. Every info you get brings you closer to a big idea. Once you get all the info, he tries to fit all the info on a map and work with keywords to create a mood board and use a guideline in the creative process. You then try to put on paper what you have in mind and do some sketches.

Now you can go on the computer. The software JF Col uses is Illustrator to digitalize the idea. He will do some trials and ask others what they think of the design solution. It is good to work three solutions before presenting it to the client. And it is also essential to try to explain the idea because the person may not understand the concept the first time. You use a few pointers to guide the client to understand the design because creativity is not something that you can explain, and give a rationale for the choices you made. The best way to deal with critics is to listen to it, then analyze, then maybe give it a try.

In 2008 got the chance to go back to DCDM Business School that has since changed name to Charles Telfair Institute. This time he did not go there as a student but as a lecturer. Jean Francois had always wanted to teach and share knowledge. Teaching taught him patience, taught him to listen and pay attention, to open himself to others, and to overcome his shyness. He learned the importance of studies and sharing. This phase of his career brought a lot of joy in his life.

A production of XTM Mirror; 2019

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We share authentic creations by teams within the XTM Agency ecosystem. Our work as project managers for marketing-related tasks and remote teams exposes us to content and stories that deserve attention. Read about these real-life experiences at XTM+.

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