Why starting school as a beginner may give you an unfair advantage?

First of all before starting this article: every school has their own policy and criteria for selecting their students. This article is about the school I went so my experience may not reflect the one you may apply for. I recommend any student to meet the school, actual students or alumni to get more information about their philosophy before applying.

Being a beginner is often intimidating. The trick is that instead of focusing on all the incoming obstacles. We should just enjoy the present moment and appreciate that a beautiful journey is on the way. Why? Because we have already been through the hardest and most important step, the first one.

I remember at my first day of Design School, I discovered that most of us had no clue about how to draw! I always thought I would be surrounded by expert students in drawing. That was a total assumption.

Most students drew like a child (like the drawing I did – I show you below), and a few only could already draw. We, as beginners saw them like superstars! We thought they will most probably become the most succesful students of the school – that we had no chance to reach their level or get better than them. That was an other assumption.

“Your past does not equal your future.” – Tony Robbins

Because many of you may be impressed like how I was before starting your Design school, I wish you could take it easy and see your actual beginner weakness as opportunities. Let me share you more about it.

drawing admission test design school.png

A sketch I did for my Design school admission test

First of all, my school didn’t believe in the innate talent. Sketching is a skill that can be acquired they said. Of course, I was not yet really convinced about it…

There was students who was more beginner than me. Somehow, my brain tried to comfort myself telling me: “At least, I am not the last one…” : /

It was a mind mecanism of defense. But thinking that negative way, I would never be among the top! And that was bothering me.

I enrolled that school because I believed in my passion. I would not let that fear “sabotage” my dream!

“Reality favours the one who are passionate and take action toward their goals, no matter who started first.”

I wanted to wake up every morning  with greatness and feel of confidence, smile, going to school ready for the next challenge! I am beginner, yes so what? If I do what it takes, I won’t be a beginner forever! That’s logic!

That’s how I started to learn from the one I admired and who was more skilled. I also had pleasure to encourage who was lesser skilled so we could all grow together. 

 Starting with an empty mind is an unfair advantage.

Your level at start has no correlation with your success at your graduation day or your professional life. If you are keen on following your passion, there is an exciting journey in between waiting for you to progress. 🙂

In fact, people who start a Design school with no clue about how to draw have an unfair advantage. I can already hear you wondering: Really?!?!

Yes, if you have an empty and fresh mind, you are ready to be filled of good things! (The same thing applies for some companies who prefer to hire fresh graduate, so they can train them easier)

“You are an upcoming designer. Not just a pretty picture maker.”

What I mean is that “advanced” students starting their first year of school may be polluted by their pride, polluted by their skills. Some take success as granted (as there is so many other students around who can’t draw). But they will soon get new projects from school and face their own limits – this is when they will be tempted to censore their risky ideas to make nicer and safer sketches. (i.e If you already good at drawing cars, you will try putting cars in every project you do as a product designer…)

The one who was considered gifted may not build a good relationship with the notion of risk. Which is to me one of the most exciting feel as being a designer. Innovation is about discovering new and unknown territories. 

Meanwhile, a beginner has nothing to prove and can “afford” to be more adventurous and dare to go into unknown territories. It doesn’t matter much if he get lost, as he already feel lost anyway! And that’s your unfair advantage! Haha.

The school will give you a compass teaching you techniques of creativity. You won;t know yet how to sketch at beginning. So whenever you have new ideas, your goal as a designer is to find ways to communicate them visually – even if you are making clumsy sketches.

Keep up, sketching techniques can be learned with good dedication and method. Work on both your sketching skills and creativity, assemble them together and you will grow much further than you thought!

Do you agree, disagree with me? Let me know in the comments! 🙂


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About The Author


Hello! My name is Chou-Tac. I am a Product Designer from France. If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my industrial design career, I believe that they can also help you reach your design goal as a student or professional. My aim to help you all along with your design projects and journey. Anytime, feel free to leave a comment in the blog or send me an email at choutac@thedesignsketchbook.com : )

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