Drop academic school and go to a design school instead.
It sounds crazy, right?
But if you’re looking for a career change, why not try it?
You’ll learn new skills, meet people who share your interests, and get paid to do what you love.

​​​​​​​You don’t have to feel like a black sheep?
It’s maybe the time to refocus on your life goals, and join a Design school, where all sheep are all kinds of colors!

5 reasons to drop Academic for Design School.
5 reasons to drop Academic for Design School.

5 reasons to drop Academic for Design School.

  1. You want a career you love, not a job!
  2. Art and design school are not risky as people say.
  3. You are not a machine. You are a creative person!
  4. You have the rebellious mind of a Designer.
  5. You love to discover, study, and learn all your life!

When parents, friends, and teachers all tell you:
“Get good grades, get your diploma and you’ll get a good job”.

But your inner voice says opposite:

  • What if I get a job I hate for 40 years and then become old and grumpy?
  • I don’t want to become a sad accountant, doctor, salesman, or programmer…
  • Having a title, but not happiness. Is what we call ‘Success’?

The first step towards success is to find out what you love doing.
You may need to try many things before you find something that makes you happy.
But once you do, stick with it.

It will take time to build up a career around your passion.

Mathematic adult class
I was learning things at academic school without knowing how I would ever use them one day…

A bit about how I drop academic school

I didn’t always know what I wanted to do with my life.
I just knew I like skateboarding and drawing.

After my Baccalaureat, I tried stuff.

I studied business and marketing at university.
I narrowly pass, then I changed to Information Technology studies.
I passed too, but as a very average student.

It was boring to me… and I was drawing in class. : P

I realized I was “allergic” to doing stuff I don’t feel passionate about.
I did not want to fit into the mold and work only for a salary.

In French, we describe this boring routine as saying: “Métro – Boulot – Dodo”.
That means: “Subway – Work – Sleep”.

  • Within a day, we are awake for let’s say 12 hours – and we work for 8 hours.
    (excluding transportation)
  • Imagine hating that 8 hours…
  • Then repeat this for 40 years?
  • Should we fight harder to find a position we love? Isn’t it?

I wanted to wake up every morning starting something meaningful.

Ok but, “What work could I do”?

Beginner sketches of Product design phone
I made this drawing a while ago, before my design school.

After 3 years of academic university, I still tried to figure this out.

I dropped that boring path and I enroll in a design school in Paris, CREAPOLE-ESDI.
5 years later, I successfully graduated with my master’s degree in Product Design with honors.

I was 27 years old and excited about the future!


If you think you’re too old to learn something new, please think twice. 🙂
It is worth giving multiple shots if you need more time.

let me give you the 5 reasons
why you should consider a Design school, instead of academic education.

5 reasons to Drop Academic for Design School.

1- A Career you love, not a job!

In my 3rd year of IT university, a classmate told me:
“It’s the first time I meet an Asian guy who doesn’t get good grades.”
(I’m Chinese-born in France).
Great… I was compared to the cliché of that perfect Asian dude good at math and playing the piano.

It is not that I was an “idiot” or something.
I was just not in the right environment.
I felt like a fish trapped in a fishbowl.
I was bored studying JAVA coding on a black screen or studying other IT stuff.

Men listening music coding on computer
Men listening music coding on computer

Some people love coding JAVA!
I do understand it could be fascinating for them.

But that was not ME.

  • I could not project my future self,
    sitting in an office cubicle coding JAVA or fixing a computer’s network.
  • I could not imagine my future self
    going home from work exhausted, and feeling meaningless.

(What example of ‘future’ would I give to my future kids about working?
I wish my future kids to feel excited to build their future.)

I went to school “in zombie mode”, till I graduate.

Hurray, I got a certificate. So what…?

What’s the real worth of a “Degree certificate”
if it doesn’t mean anything to you?

It is like a VIP ticket for a concert in which you hate the artist…
It has value for someone else, but once again, not for me.

I could get a job, and “be a good boy”.
But with 0 motivation to make a career.

  • I would give the minimum service.
  • I might end up with a meaningless role forever
    and create my own “Bullshit job”.

This is why I jumped into Design school!

For the first time,
I took a decision related to my self-interest!
I choose a path about what I want, not what others may expect from me.

I discover an ambitious version of myself ready to move mountains!


Because I could finally project a happy scenario for my future.

If you are happy, your creativity and work will outperform like crazy!
Take a minute, and imagine how would you feel living the designer life you dream of?

2- Who says Art schools are risky?

Have you ever heard:
Studying art and design is riskier than a regular education”.

Use at your own risk

First of all, anything we do is risky.
If we want a life that is not risky, we better do nothing in jail and sit.
(“Life is risky” – Jim Rohn)

The world needs designers.
Design is everywhere around us.
We may not even have enough designers.

I receive emails from young Indians studying engineering
but felt miserable not joining a design school instead.

While there are already too many engineers
since we promised young students the eldorado.

Today, so many engineers go to work in “zombie mode”.
I do not wish that for you.

Go for what you love.
It will give you a higher chance of success giving remarkable results!

Your passion is your best asset to success!

Do not be an average person.
But an extraordinary designer!

Don’t make decisions listening to ‘fear’.
Follow what makes you feel excited.

Do not measure your chance of success on how easy or hard is a degree.
Feel how much love you feel towards it.
Doing so, your perspective will change.
Every problem will become a game you want to solve!

3- You are not a machine. You are a creative person!

A regular student spends years at school learning stuff you can find on Google.

  • They are asked to memorize and deliver info without making mistakes.
  • Making mistakes is bad. We get penalized if we do so.
  • Some more, most of this data will be forgotten after a few days…

Knowledge was power, but it’s now a “Commodity”.
I personally believe the best asset is now “Creativity”.

Product design sketches on paper
Your design needs your personality, your stories.

A design school will teach you to make plenty of mistakes, learn from them, and grow.

When you start drawing with Iteration.
You learn to think like a designer.

  • A design student wakes up, eats, sleeps, and breathes design…
  • Anything you see, hear, or taste… could be an inspiration for your projects.
  • Anything you experience becomes a part of you, a story you can use for your design projects.

A designer makes the world more beautiful, easier, better environmentally friendly…

When you design,
your life experience brings a positive impact on people’s life.


Carry a notebook everywhere you go.
Doodle stuff you like as a memo.

4- Rebellious mind of a Designer.

Parents often want to know if a design school is legitimate.
So they ask if the state recognizes their degree.

My design school was not.
And that was great! Because they were independent.

Learning design from professionals with field experience
Learning design from professionals with field experience

Our teachers were Professionals.
They do not have any teaching licenses, but they had ‘EXPERIENCE’.

They may not have all the qualifications an academic school requires.


We had outstanding teachers sharing their real-life and work experiences with us.
So we know that what they teach us, is what is really happening on the market.

I really liked the class held by Miss Gérard about innovation.
She was a Designer for Decathlon, the French sports brand for all.

Decathlon design research for KIPSTA Footwear
Decathlon design research for KIPSTA Footwear

She pushed us to think out of the box.
Even though sometimes our ideas were crazy, she loved them!
Because that craziness may be the beginning of amazing products.

We were rewarded with questioning the status quo.
We had to be rebellious to push the boundaries.

Being bold in our ideas was a strength. It felt great!
We could express ourselves,

and not try to be small and invisible like following blindly the rules of an academic school.

How to choose your design school

When you choose your design school, look for a “rebellious direction”.
Some design schools adopt an academic framework that may block innovation.

Every design school is different.
Some have the best computer lab, but make sure their teaching is not dusty.
Do not hesitate to visit the school, and talk to current students.

It is also very important to know which schools are recognized by the industry.

What matter is not the state’s recognition of a Design degree, but the market’s.
Ask where the students go to work for internships and after graduation.

Also, do not underestimate the network effect
where alumni tend to recruit new students from the same school.

If the alumni are now in the best design companies,
you may have “access to some ladders”.

5- Discover, study, and learn all your life!

Most people stop learning new things after graduation.
They get a job and do the same thing day after day.

They are stagnant.

Actually, they regress…
Since the world evolves, they get behind.

Learn new technologies!

Designers learn all their life!
They keep evolving.

Just think about your sketching skills.
It’s an art that you will keep grinding all your life.

Think of the new software and tech tools you can use.
I see more and more creations made with the Oculus using Gravity sketch
– where you can sketch in 3 dimensions!

Drawing a shoe using Virtual Reality technology.

Keep learning.
Be connected to the world.

  • Take projects that push you out of your comfort zone.
  • Embrace new projects like the next season’s episode of your favorite Netflix show. 😛
  • Solve problems.
  • Try to predict what problems are we gonna face in 20, or 30 years.
  • Keep learning and draft your skills and your style.
    That is how you’ll stand out, and nobody could replace you. Become UNIQUE.

Who do you want to be?
Which version of you would you like to become?

Remember, YOU decide for your life.
The decisions you make or let other people take for you will define you.

It takes courage to follow our passion.
I wish you a wonderful creative career.

I like the expression “Write your own story”.
For us, it would be about “Draw your own story”. : )

Feel free to share with me your fear, worries, or any questions
in the comments below,
or by email at choutac@thedesignsketchbook.com.

I am always happy to help!

PS: Here is an interview with David Salow, from Art Center College of Design Pasadena.
He shares with us plenty of tips and advice to create a great design portfolio.

PPS: The wonderful interview with Michael DiTullo, who might inspire plenty of aspiring designers!


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