Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of emails from students… many of them trying to decide which path to take on the college route.

It seems like yesterday I was going through that exact same thing. Of couse, I knew I wanted to be in the arts… but I wasn’t quite sure which way to go. Fine Arts, or Design… which by the way, I had NO clue what a ‘design’ degree meant back then.

When I visited the college that would eventually grant me a diploma, Carnegie Mellon University, I was walking through the design hallway and saw a project they were working on- designing watches. My mind was made up. I wanted to be an industrial designer! I mean who doesn’t want to go to school and learn how to make cool products that you want to buy yourself? Actually, I’m sure alot of people don’t… but I sure did.

So, I left the fine arts world behind, and went full force into the design world. Alot of you ask about going into fine arts… how to avoid the ‘starving artist’ stereotype, etc… and well, I’ve got a lot of personal opinions about that. No offense to anyone studying fine arts, but for me… it just didn’t seem like the right path. Part of me feels like fine art prepares you for being good at … art. but not necessarily making money (unless you’re part of the 1% of artists who hit the goldmine and become famous before you are room temperature). I’d love to tell you money doesn’t matter, and in the end it really doesnt, but in order to live you need to eat, and in order to eat, you need money. I’m not saying I sought out to be a billionaire, I just wanted to make enough income to live comfortably.

I also feel that experiencing other parts of life can inspire art more so than actually studying art. Again, that’s just my personal opinion- but put me in a room and talk to me about how Dali’s painting ‘Persistence of Memory’ meant this and that, and I’ll be thinking… how do you KNOW he meant that. What if he just wanted to paint melting clocks? Call me naive, but these thoughts constantly went through my head in art history. I love and enjoy art history, but it never inspired me to go make great art.

Part of me feels like if I focus on other artists’ work too much, I lose track of my own sense of style. I’d much rather go out, experience something new and be inspired by that. For example, the illustration above… that was a result of me venturing out of the industrial design world, and trying a few theater set design courses (which were amazing!). Experiencing new things and putting yourself out there to try things you never thought you could do are the most inspiring and eye opening parts of life.

Yup… I’ve completely lost track of what this post was about. I think what I’m trying to say is, if you’re on the fence about going to college for fine arts- go with your gut of course, but I personally think art is something you will always do if you are passionate about it. Is it really necessary to pay someone to tell you how to be an artist? You don’t have to be the best artist in the whole world to be successful at it, you just need to find your unique voice. You also need money to eat… so you can spend some time finding that voice.

Whether you study Fashion design, Fine Arts, Design, whatever… be creative, passionate, and hardworking.

P.S. this post is soooooo long… but I’m going to keep going.

I want to share something personal with you… from way back in the day! I found an old blog of mine online a while back (not a chance I’m sharing that link!). I wrote alot about my struggles through school, and this part really choked me up a bit.

I’m starting to realize that maybe this is the wrong major for me? Maybe I’m not cut out to be an Industrial Designer.

I know it sounds like every silly girl’s dream, but I wish I could be a fashion designer. I can’t tell you enough how much I LOVE sketching fashion ideas. I could do it all day. Then again, who knows if my ideas are any good in that either. I just don’t know what I’m best at.

And there you have it. I struggled too! and look at that… I now do fashion sketches all day everyday!

Make your dreams come true people!!

Posted in Fashion Illustration | 9 Comments | Share:

9 Responses to CHOOSING A PATH

  1. Charlotte says:

    Thanks for that post. It really helped my a lot. Right now I’m preparing a portfolio to study fashion design, but suddenly there is a block in my head. I have so many ideas but am not secure enough to get them on paper as I imagine them. Besides drawing a lot. Is there anything I can do to improve my technique?

  2. sarah says:

    sound advise! I think it is hard finding out what you want to do in the arts/design industry.
    I always loved drawing but for some reason, i choose not to study art at school for my final exams , i then went on to study fine art at college and as much as I enjoyed it it just didn’t feel like it was really me, at the same time I was found myself being drawn towards fashion, not so much the design side at first but sewing, eventually I studied fashion and clothing, and whilst I still love to sew I finding myself increasingly drawn to the design/illustration side. I think that I will always jump between, art, design and creating(sewing) but I’m not afraid to try out other areas in the art/design world too.

  3. Ashley says:

    Wow, thank you so much for this post! I appreciate both your honesty and your insight. Great point, too, about studying other artists too much. I may begin to look at my own “intake levels.” Thanks!

  4. Bostonista says:

    This was such a great post! I wish I had known what I really was passionate about back then because I would have chosen a different college (even though I had an amazing college experience and I loved my school passionately it didn’t prepare me for a “fashion” career at all.) so its great that you’re giving advice to people just starting out! I wish I had someone in my field giving me advice back then!


  5. Allison says:

    I can’t hear enough of these sorts of anecdotes! Honestly, there is enough moments of doubt out there to combat, no matter what the field. Bravo :)

  6. Synthetic says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I had some of the same thoughts when I went to study Architecture. I do still feel that many of the design disciplines share the same design process.
    Having moments of doubt is what makes us human. You are great and thanks again for sharing!

  7. Pryta says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing this post. You know, it’s funny when I read other people’s blog that has almost exactly the same thought as me. :D
    FYI, I just graduated from industrial design and have a passion for fashion too. And I am so glad to know that you did feel the same way that I had back when I was at school. I guess every single person would have hesitation at least once, and questioning for what they do that time. But I believe that choosing a path is just one moment of your entire life.
    We could get our dreams by fight for it, so whatever path that you choose, just keep on fighting for your dreams! :)

  8. anne m bray says:

    A wonderful post. I hope lots of creative students find this.

    For those not sure WHAT to go into, it’s OK to take a year off! Travel or get a job! School is hideously expensive now! Consider Continuing Ed classes – they are usually cheaper.

    Here is my path:
    After high school in upstate NY, went to College of Creative Studies @ UC Santa Barbara.
    Culture shock!!!
    I studied fine art + dance.
    I quit after Fall Jr year and moved to NYC with my boyfriend.
    He was going to be the next Great American Novelist and I was going to be a Painter.
    Fashion seemed more and more interesting (I sewed a lot).
    A few years later I moved back to SoCal and applied to OTIS as a fashion designer.
    They made me start as a freshman again.
    After graduating, got a design assistant job.
    2 years later, started working at Mattel Toys as a Barbie designer.
    It was REALLY FUN at first, but after a couple of years, realized I preferred doing textile design.

    Quit Mattel, started painting and hit the road.
    Started picking up freelance surface design jobs.
    Started teaching Digital Fashion Design at OTIS.

    Toyed with the notion of returning to school for Masters in Fine Art. As you say, too much BS in that realm.

    Currently I
    am a member of TAG Gallery in Santa Monica (going on 14 years)
    am a part time Surface Designer for a mass-market loungewear/underwear company
    teach Digital Fashion and Digital Surface courses in OTIS CE dept
    blog avidly

    I still wish I could study textiles at RISD.

    As you say, go for your passion. It really is the most important thing.

  9. FashStudent says:

    This blog post means so much to me! I was majoring in industrial design for 2 years until I realized that fashion design was what I really wanted to do. I thought it was a “silly girl’s dream” too. I decided to take a chance anyway and I’m majoring in fashion design now. I’m so much happier doing what I love now. It feels so nice knowing that someone had the same thoughts as me :-)

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