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Drawing by Narinder Sagoo

Draw more, there is no such thing as a mistake, keep drawing!

Written by UAL Awarding Body
Published date 02 February 2020

Narinder Sagoo is the Art Director at Foster + Partners and is most well known for his perspective drawings and his unique ability to grasp and visualise architectural visions. Responsible for all artistic representations of projects, from sketch and drawing, digital painting through to photorealistic representation, Narinder’s team of artists continue to push boundaries, translating not just the built reality but the essence of a building, whilst exploring sensory relationships with the built and natural environment. Narinder is also a patron of arts education charity The Big Draw. He’ll be speaking at the upcoming UAL Awarding Body Annual Conference on 7 February 2020. As a taster of what’s to come, he’s shared his thoughts on creativity…

How do we reconnect with our childhood freedom and return to the innocent visionaries we once were, without the boundaries of thought age imposes on us? This was a time where all was new to my eyes and I explored the world through the pencil. My grandmother was my mentor; she often said to me, “draw more, there is no such thing as a mistake, keep drawing!” I never ever actually saw her drawing, but she inspired me to do so. These early experiences have spurred me to inspire others in my own way, influence how I lead a team.

Since a very early age, I used drawing to explore the world around me. My dreams took me beyond the walls of our home, the city and helped me translate my visions of the world and onto paper. When we consider drawing literally as a language, we can use it as a fluid, ever-evolving means of communication to question, express, discuss and state ideas or tell anecdotes with a multitude of accents and mannerisms, even wit. A drawing can be a snapshot of a distinct thought, an unfinished idea or something that has not yet proven useful. It may represent the voice of the collective, gathering many conversations into one. It is a medium that does not require a conclusion but allows us to discuss myriad possibilities.

As an artist and designer at Foster + Partners, I have drawn thousands of conversations and ideas, relating to many hundreds of projects globally. Through drawing, I have been able to represent visions for places that do not yet exist, showing how they may look to the human eye and create experiential narratives for places we design. However, I would openly admit that I can only pick a few drawings throughout my career, that I actually like! This is perhaps because I’ve always felt that I am still learning. There is always a way to improve or bring in broader influences. In that sense, for all of us as a team, the only real constant has been change, where we approach each challenge as a unique opportunity to discover something new, relentlessly communicating design and designing communication simultaneously. We keep learning and inspiring each other, sharing the analogue and digital canvas with incredible people, where we think, draw and create together.

We use drawing to tell stories about the spaces and places that we want to create, illustrating how a building can interact with history, culture and events, and how it will behave at different times of the day and throughout the year. We can use this storytelling to give instructions, observe and record, capture a discussion or even just make note of a mid-afternoon thought. It provides us with the tools to communicate often the most complex ideas in the simplest way possible.

The power of the collective has enabled drawing to act as a tool for advocacy, to empower individuals and to stimulate the creative environment at our practice. My experiences have allowed me to influence others in the same way in which my grandmother nurtured my love of drawing at a very early age. For me, the future is in the pencil, allowing creative expression to flourish and for people to explore a multitude of ideas and communicate them with the rest of the world. That is the real power of creativity and drawing. So, I say to you, as I do to everyone who comes to work in our team – in the words of my grandmother – “draw more, there is no such thing as a mistake, keep drawing!”