I’m now halfway through my time as a knitwear student and I’ve realised that I have learnt a few important things already. Some are important bits of advice that all tutors will tell you time and time again, whereas some are little things that I have picked up along the way.
1. Time management is a harsh mistress.
At the beginning of every project I try and say to myself that I’ll do so many pages of work every week, but I have learnt this idea quickly goes down the drain. Rather than planning out the whole semester in one day it’s much easier to plan weekly and say to yourself ‘what do I need to have done by Monday’. This allows you to split up your project into smaller more manageable chunks without worrying about the 5 sketchbooks and 20 garments you have to make in the next few weeks (possible slight exaggeration there).
2. Lists can make or break your whole project.
I personally write a list for everything I do, when I first get my brief I write a list of all the requirements that are need for the deadline. This will be written in bright colours with arrows and glitter and then stuck on the wall so that I can always have it reminding me there is work to be done. On a smaller scale I use a list app on my phone to remind myself what needs to be finished on a daily basis, this is really useful as I can change it quickly and makes me feel better as I will be wasting fewer trees.
3. Coffee and sleep must be balanced perfectly.
Coffee is a lovely substance that I’m sure every student comes to rely on heavily once they reach second year, the workload nearly doubles, and you realise that your day of work does not end once you get home. My amount of sleep usually ranges between 5 and 7 hours and anything over 8 just makes me feel groggy and even sleepier. Now that I live in a house with 3 other students sleeping patterns can be extremely different. One housemate goes to bed at ten every day and wakes up at six, whereas I will stay up till three and wake up ten minutes before uni. I’d say to anyone reading to find out what works best for you. Once you find your rhythm stick with it, if not you will find life physically and emotionally harder if you change how long you sleep each night.
4. Somebody not liking your work does not mean you are a bad artist/designer.
This one comes from personal experience, after having a tutorial where I was told to change my whole garment and many of my samples I ended up crying in the stairwell and questioning all the choices I’d made in life. Once I’d moaned to everyone I knew about my work and started thinking to myself that I couldn’t do anything right, I managed to pull myself together and realised I was more than capable of completing the project. As an art student you have to find the balance between creating work that tutors believe will get you the best marks, but also remembering to keep your aesthetic and show who you are as a designer. If you don’t love the pieces you are making than it will show and your work will suffer for it.
5. Talking through problems will make you feel so much better.
This one may be a bit clichéd but when I am feeling down I will always ring up my mum before speaking to anyone else. Whether I’m asking how long to cook a chicken or asking her which colours will work best for my new project, she is my number one call. Previously in my life I have kept problems bottled up, as I’m sure we all have, but it just adds to your stress levels and you eventually rage at people who could be there to help you. Anyone can offer you help even if you go to a bus stop and talk to some strangers (although they may give you some odd looks). The main thing is to get those problems off your chest and you’ll feel much lighter.
Some may have only begun their first year and have so many choices to make and others are working on their final projects before they become proper adults. In a few days I will be starting a new project and I hope that I will be able to remember the things I have learnt so far. I will probably end up having too little sleep and not enough time. But if I’ve learnt anything above all else I just need to not panic.