Disclaimer: Some private school may try to impress you with the latest technologies and software while the school may be an empty shell of design knowledge.

If you hesitate to join a design school like I did, and you do not dare to apply thinking you are too weak, let me help you.

You don’t have to be great in sketching to enrol in most design schools. There are other essential skills to be taken in consideration to apply.

That is how I myself succeed to enrol and graduate with honours in mine (Creapole-ESDI in Paris) despite of my initial low level in sketching. If I did it, you can do it too !

Don’t get me wrong,
I am not saying you should wait to enrol a design school to learn how to sketch. Earlier you start, ealier you show your motivation to express your ideas, rise your chances to get in the design school of your choice and build a quality portfolio.

“The priority of a quality design school is to offer the best graduated designers to the industry as a Creative leader.” 

TIP : With each school will come a different philosophy. It’s good to phisically visit the school and ask question to students to take the tempearture. Visiting the school’s website is not enough. However, every good design school will have this trio in common:

First WINNER is: Passion
Second: Creativity
Third: Only after come the Sketching skills

Zollverein Design School

Winner skill 1: Passion

To understand how to succeed in a design school, I always liked that old fable of the tortoise and the hare. Let’s do a parrallel with design school competition.

To apply in a design school:
You will have to compete with more skilled candidates in sketching who learned faster and earlier than you. If so, your strategy should be “betting” in somethingelse that is deeply unique to you: Your passion.

Because of the tortoise and the hare. Hehe.
When you start considering to apply a design school, the race begins.

You may start without any sketching skills, passion will give you the determination to overcome obstacles in order to become that “best graduated designer”.

While the top candidate(s) will be more likely to rely on their existing skills (like the hare) and grow stagnant or take new knowledges as granted, you will keep making progress being fueled of a high and durable energy.

You will be a happy and tenacious tortoise !
This is how you will reach first at the end of the “graduation race”. 🙂

TIP: Your fellow camarades are not your ultimate competitors.
They are first of all your allies. They are your camarades, your friends with whom you will practice and grow together. Share your passion and drive, and all of you will improve in skill and abilities. The hare has a lot to learn from the tortoise. Vice-versa.

Hang out with the most motivated schoolmates you love being with, and target being in the top 10% of your school. That is how I do encourage my VIP students from my course Sketch Like The Pros to cheer each other to grow together.

Creativity & Sketching Skills

When we say “design”, the first thing that pops in mind is drawing.

False. >> It should be creativity.

If you already know how to draw, it is great. But this won’t be enough. A design school will also want to see your passion and creativity in action.

You could be the best of the world at drawing highly realistic portraits or anything you see, it doesn’t make you a great designer.

Drawing realistic things is a great skill I do admire. But to become a designer, drawing should serve your purpose, your imagination. What you need is the abilty to sketch your ideas.

A Product designer solves problems. He also communicates emotion and tells awesome stories through his creation via storyboards for example.

Can you feel how proud you could feel at night falling asleep with the ability to bring happiness to people with your creation and ideas ?

Sketching is an amazing tool. It serves your purpose.

Fidm-hardworkIf you aspire to be Graphic, Fashion, Product, Transport, Architecture or Game designer, sketching skills and creativity walk hand in hand.

The better your sketching skills are, the more effectively you’ll convey your creative ideas, and hire chance you have to “sell” your projects and yourself.

Remember this: Don’t think you absolutely need to know how to sketch before hand. If you have the willing to express your ideas, you will find the motivation to learn how to sketch to communicate the awesome ideas you have in mind.

The more you can show your aptitude to create to serve people, the better chance you’ll have to pass your design school interview.

FIDM  Hard at Work in Graphic Design School

BONUS: Good communication Skills

FIDM Graphic Design School Student Shows His WorkA sketch can speak a thousand words, true. Still, candidates with good communication skills are appreciated by design schools and the design industry.

A designer is in the middle of multiple departments such as marketing, engineering, and production.

He or she doesn’t have to know everything, but will need to be able to speak the jargon of each group. If you’re not good at communication yet, don’t worry.

The school will train you for this.
If you have difficulties with communication, go back to your passion and draw strength from it. You’re not applying to become a banker. Be yourself and show your enthusiasm.

FIDM - Graphic Design School Student Shows His Work


I want to apply for a design school but I need a portfolio. How ?
How do I know if a design school is good?

You may have questions. Share with us in the comments below !


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