Your Graphic Design thesis: Strength in numbers, or the power of one?

Inside the Moskito Design office, team members work at rows of computers.

Your Graphic Design thesis: Strength in numbers, or the power of one?

Choosing your graphic design thesis is an important moment in the life of every graphic design student. There are lots of variables, including your choice of topic and supervisor and managing the various deadlines, that contribute to making the moment particularly crucial.

But what many don’t know is that graphic design students often find themselves before another choice. A crossroads where the right road is just as difficult to choose. Should you work on your thesis as a team or go it alone?

This is the question that my sister, Diana, asked herself last October when she was in her third and last year at Milan’s European Design Institute (IED). And for several days she agonized over the decision before finally making her choice.

Go it alone or work in a group? Let’s look at the options:

The advantages of going it alone:

  • You can decide the pace, deadlines and organization, from the research to the final submission
  • You’ll come to know yourself better, because you’ll have thrown down the gauntlet and taken on, independently, this important moment of your life
  • You won’t have to compromise on a decision you’re not 100% behind
  • You’ll have full control of every aspect of the project

The disadvantages:

  • If you run into creative block or have technical difficulties you’ll have to handle it all by yourself
  • You might get bored, your lessons will be finished and you’ll only set foot on campus for meetings with your supervisor

Work in a group? The advantages:

  • Working in a group can stimulate your creativity
  • Sharing information can help you learn new things
  • You get used to working in a team, a skill necessary for work in a creative agency
  • You’ll have others to share the feelings, anxiety, doubts and worries that typically accompany such an important moment
  • You’ll be able to produce a final project that’s a richer, more complete treatment of your chosen topic

The disadvantages:

  • If the group doesn’t work well together, it may cause arguments and the stress and the tension will mount
  • Your professors’ expectations increase in direct proportion to the number of students involved in the project. You’ll have to work extra hard so as not to disappoint them.
  • If your teammates don’t put in as much work as you, you’ll have to work much harder to pick up their slack

So here’s my recommendation ― what I told her not only as a big sister, but also as a professional with 10 years’ experience in the field:

Your thesis is the last and most important of all the projects you’ll take on before you enter into the workforce. Agencies will judge you based on that project because your thesis will be the biggest project in your portfolio, and everything depends on that.

If you want to go to work for a good studio, you have to remember that you’ll have lots of competition from young graduates and it’ll be your thesis that weighs most heavily on your future employer’s choice. And often your first job may determine the rest of your future career ― so don’t underestimate its importance.

Look at it as a great opportunity to give the best of yourself and show what you’re worth. Opt to work in a group if, and only if, your teammates are people you’ve already worked with and you’re certain you see eye to eye with. If, and only if, you have the luck to work with someone like Giulia Salvioni.

Giulia was the person I did my thesis project with so many years ago. We chose each other because we knew each other well and we’d already worked together on many occasions, both at high school and at unversity. Our fellow-feeling only grew with time, and 10 years later we’re still business partners as co-founders and co-owners of Moskito Design. What’s more, we’re friends.

But if you’re not lucky enough to find your Giulia, make no mistake: go it alone!

Evelina is CEO and co-founder of Moskito Design.