Sunday, March 9, 2008


I wanted to blog about my experience in design school today since I get a lot of questions about that. After typing 3 long paragraphs about the situation with maybe 4 more to go, I decided all that wasn't necessary. Let's just say it was interesting. 2 years into the program, I was beginning to feel like my creativity had been sapped. My confidence in my work was pretty low, and when I graduated in May 2005, I didn't even consider that I could be a designer.

My relationship with the head design instructor was pretty shaky a lot of the time. We just butted heads a lot. Ironically enough, we have the same birthday, ha ha!

In the end though, I must give her the props she deserves. I was pretty much forced to teach myself to sew since the program was to teach design, not sewing. She told us that the first day and never wavered, If you didn't know how to do something with the machine, you'd better either figure it out, read a book on it, or pay for private lessons. Between trial and era and occasionally referencing Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, I eventually worked myself up to where I am now. And I must say, I think I'm pretty darn good where actual sewing is concerned. Y'all couldn't even imagine how far I've come, lol!

Although she wouldn't teach sewing, she knew her stuff when it came to designing. Despite our tension, I picked up a lot from her on the subject. The functionality of clothing. Which materials will and won't work for various designs. Design aesthetics. All that type stuff. The basics are so essential. You can have the most gorgeous drawing of a garment that you want to make, but If you can't figure out how you're gonna get in it or what type of fabric you'll need to make it drape the way the picture looks, then it's just a pretty picture. She was excellent for that type of guidance. And over time, as I grew in what I was doing, I'd break some of the rules of designing. But when you've got it down, you can break some of the rules and still make it work. That's the main thing I learned from her: how to break the rules and still make it work. :-)

So now I'm in a very comfortable place with this. I'm still learning new techniques all the time via trial and era. It's an ongoing process.

I was moved to write about this today because of something I was told last night. One of the models who was in my style show is currently in the design program at the university. She informed me that my former design teacher's oldest daughter was recently killed in a car accident and that she's been out of class for weeks. I just can not even imagine. She spoke about her (3) daughters often in class. One was even in the program. Even though the one that died lived out of state and we'd never met her, it's like our class "knew" her through her mother.

The model was telling me how the program is basically in a state is disarray. She didn't even have to say it, cause Dr. Robeck is that program...aside from the students of course. There are only 2 design teachers, and she does all the actual hands on design courses. I know there's mass confusion over there right now. Supposedly the other professor is attempting to fill in, but it's just not the same. Not at all, and without even being a part of the program, I know that for sure. I was looking on the job board last week--the thing I do sometimes when I'm annoyed with this whole "struggling designer" thing--and noticed there is an opening for a a fashion design teacher. I was curious about it, but didn't really give much thought. So now I know that's why that opening is there. My model suggested that I should apply for the position, since I know the program. My response was like, "Uuuuhhh, no." lol! For one I don't have all the qualifications and for two, the responsibly level Dr. Robeck has is something I'm not sure I'm ready for. Check out her resume! I mean, I could teach a course, but the "professor" title would be a bit much at this time.

I just wish her all the best, cause I know it must be hard.

After a little searching, I discovered that she still has pictures of our class on her site.

From the 2004 costume project for draping course. I was a Kemetic queen. For whatever reason I look a little stiff there, so here ya go.

draped project

Not as clear but a better pose.

And if you look at the picture on the top here, you can see me at the computer in the back with the afro puff. CAD. Cool stuff but tedious as ever.

Sometimes I wish I hadn't gone to school for design, because at times I do still struggle with the restrictions education can sometimes place on you where creativity is concerned. In the end, though, a lot was obtained from the experience. And perhaps some day a book will come out of it all.


Anonymous said...

I would like to hear more about your design school experiences. Lately, I've been wondering whether or not our educational system helps or hinders creative pursuits (especially since I've been thinking about the fashion program at my local university). Thanks for sharing!

flytie said...

(just found this comment)

yeah. i've got a lot to say on the subject as it relates to *my own* experiences. after being out of the program, for nearly 3 yrs. i *still* find myself struggling with trusting my creativity. i'm definitely not going to blame it completely on school, but i know for a fact that what i dealt with played a role in those insecurities that arise from time to time.

i do think some sort of book or article is in order. i'll have to do a little research and put something together...