Thought: The Art of the Workaround

Working at the Learning Zone I have also been able to deploy and improve my problem-solving skills, especially workarounds.

From a recent example:

  • A student comes with a PDF file that will not print on the computers and the ‘media is not supported’.
  • I open the file in Adobe Acrobat and lo and behold it is entirely blank.
  • Open the same file in Photoshop and the assets are all there but in front of a transparent background.
  • I create a new plain white layer underneath for both files, save as PDFs.
  • Open in Acrobat to combine the two and save the final, two page PDF with all the elements correctly showing in Acrobat.
  • Place this file on the USB stick and send the student on his way.

There may have been other ways to do this, but this seemed the most logical to me, and I go by the theory of ‘If it works, it works’.

Workarounds are an invaluable approach to problems, as it often involves approaching the issue from a whole new perspective and trying very unconventional routes to try and get things to work. And, well, if it works, it works.


Similarly, I was once working on a Premiere Pro File where the soundtrack that someone in the group had painstakingly created and matched with the video clips across multiple channels, suddenly was not making any sound. The eventual technique that worked, select every single video and audio clip in the timeline with cmd+a and copy and paste them into a new project file. It worked a charm.

Knowing how to achieve the desired result quickly is often better than working out how to do it correctly in time-sensitive cases. Working with the tools more and more will allow for eventual working quickly and correctly but while I’m gathering enough knowledge to make that happen, getting the best result possible will work just fine.

Thought: A Scientific Approach

I work in the Learning Zone at Central Saint Martins, which accommodates a staggeringly disproportionate amount of student printing, especially so towards deadlines.

Frustrations run high as the pressure mounts. When a student has spent the last 4 or 5 hours staring at a monitor often making minute changes to their work, and then when they send it to print and it doesn’t reproduce on paper how it showed up on screen nor how they were expecting, they can be understandingly devastated.

Beyond the basic logistical issues people come up against – which printer to send to, accidentally setting double-sided or mono when it should have been colour, there is a lack of appreciation into the work that must go into a successful print.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut there is a fault shared by the majority in their approach to printing. One should not simply think of all the work as done in the software, and then printing simply as a case of hitting the button and being done – a thoughtful, considered approach that can adapt will necessarily produce a better print, that looks closer to how you wanted it to look.


One must learn about colour, and ink, and colour spaces.





It’s not enough to think in-depth¬†about the bulk of the process, it must be thought in depth the entire way through. A commitment to the end result.