Can I be a Designer?

By Incbald School,Design Education,December 3, 2018

By Alan Hughes, Principal. 

Alan Hughes, Principal of Interior Design School discusses how Inchbald can equip you to become a designer and answers the most common question he is asked at interview; can I be a designer?

Every year, in the course of my work, I interview a lot of students; young people starting out on their career and older ones who wish to change the pathway of their work, who would like to concentrate their energies on “something I have always wanted to do”. And all my interviewees have the same concern – do you think I am good enough to earn my living as a designer – am I creative enough to justify aspiring to success in this profession.

There is much uncertainty around the issue of creativity, and the methodology of communicating and implementing creative ideas. One of the problems is that artistic skills of any kind have too often been subject to elitism. This has a great deal to do with early education, when artistic children must demonstrate a high level of talent in order to be taken seriously as contenders for any artistic profession. This is a selective process which in itself downgrades the natural talents and possibilities of those who could so easily excel with more informed encouragement.

Put more simply, if you have a flair for maths then you are perceived as having the potential to be a successful accountant and encouraged accordingly, but creativity is a more elusive talent and the artistic professions are seen to be more rarefied.

The fact is that we all have an inbuilt reaction to our surroundings in terms of our personal choices of dress, food, comfort and more specifically environment; thus the average person in the course of their life makes thousands of selective decisions which are dominated by knowledge or education – or the lack of it. Those reactions are halfway to the point when we actually wish to improve, and begin to design.

However, students aware of the challenges need to know if they can be sure their natural talents will be sufficient in a professional situation; and this includes those who may have had considerable success with their own houses/gardens or those of their friends. Without the benefit of disciplined study, such minor success does not necessarily convert into professional achievement.

Often the next uncertainty may be voiced as “I can’t really draw”. This is a skill which is much easier to learn than my students anticipate. We teach students to draw far quicker than they anticipate, and of course, we teach them the magic complexities of computer aided design. Once mastered, CAD is almost too easy; equipped with these two systems of communication everyone will find it simple and rewarding to translate their ideas smoothly onto drawing board or screen. Drawing, like CAD, is a tool, not an end in itself, and in realising this the worry about the skill involved will evaporate.

With those initial fears conquered comes the freedom and exhilaration of design reality together with the pure pleasure of expressing ideas and implementing them. Students who doubt their ability can take heart from the fact that good and concerned education supporting their own talent and discipline will take them into a successful and very rewarding career.

Any career is a challenge but good education equips us all to face those challenges and overcome them.