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Explore the world of design with our teen courses

Student artwork by Ela Dayioğlu
  • Written byCarys Thomas
  • Published date 07 September 2022
Student artwork by Ela Dayioğlu
Student artwork by Ela Dayioğlu

Research shows that spending time doing creative activities can be a great way to boost mental health and wellbeing, particularly for teenagers and young people.

Adolescence is a critical time for the development of creativity and art can help young people process their emotions and build meaningful connections. Read more about the importance of art and creativity in a child’s development.

We recently caught up with two short course students to find out about their experience on our courses for teenagers. Ela Dayioğlu and Zeynep Basar took our Product Design for 16 to 18 Year Olds Short Course and Graphic Design for 16 to 18 Year Olds Short Course.

Since I got back to Istanbul, I've been telling everyone how wonderful my time in London was and how beneficial the courses were for me.

— Ela Dayioğlu, Short Course Student

Creative ambitions

Both Ela and Zeynep are passionate about art and design. 17-year-old Ela began painting seriously earlier this year but recalls an interest in art from a young age.

Growing up, Ela enjoyed painting with her sister, Eliz, and putting on exhibitions of their work. She remembers drawing on napkins at restaurants from as young as 6 years old, but it was her mother’s work as an interior architect that really inspired her to explore the world of design.

“I initially thought my mother’s profession was boring,” she says, “but as I got older, I started to understand how important interior architecture and design was to me. I like making my own designs and sketching furniture and other objects for inspiration.”

17-year-old Zeynep, from Turkey, also has an interest in drawing and particularly enjoys working on portraits. “I love drawing and painting and I mostly draw portraits,” she explains.

Zeynep is currently in high school and is now considering further study in London. “I wasn’t really thinking about studying in London before this course,” she says, “but I'm really liking it and am considering UAL as one of my options.”

Design thinking

The Product Design for 16 to 18 Year Olds Short Course offers a focused and fast-paced introduction to product design. Students are encouraged to explore new ideas and experiment with materials through sketching and model-making.

During the week, students on the product design course are guided through all the stages of the design process including research, strategy, idea generation and design development.

“In the product design class, we had to design a solution to a problem our client had,” Ela tells us. “I came up with the idea to develop a prototype vehicle for a 9-year-old girl and created a model out of broken toy parts. I’d never done something like that before, but I truly enjoyed it.”

Zeynep also enjoyed the task of creating a 3D model using everyday objects. “It was something so different,” she says, “I wasn’t expecting something like that! I designed a bicycle and library and made them in 3D – it was quite hard!”

Student artwork by Ela Dayioğlu
Student artwork by Ela Dayioğlu

Developing graphic design skills

The Graphic Design for 16 to 18 Year Olds Short Course is designed to help students develop and improve fundamental graphic design skills. Work produced during the course may be used for a portfolio for application to graphic design courses at foundation or degree level.

For Ela, the graphic design course helped her determine her area of interest in the design sector. “The classes were both entertaining and intellectually stimulating,” she says. “The work I liked the most on the course was the zine, because it made me feel free to make a piece that expresses myself.”

The opportunity to access resources at Central Saint Martins was important to Ela, who enjoyed the chance to experiment with different ideas. “The freedom of expression that the lecturers and the course allowed the students was what I appreciated most about the classes,” she says. "It truly enhanced my sense of creativity.”

Making connections

As well as graphic and product design, Zeynep also took our Fashion Styling and Communication for 16 to 18 Year Olds Short Course. “I’ve been so happy with all the courses,” she says, “I loved my instructors and it wasn’t hard to make friends because everyone was so friendly!”

Zeynep also found that staying at UAL’s Sketch House during the course helped her make connections with other short course students. “I made so many friends there,” she says, “I loved being in a dorm and I loved the accommodation at Sketch House.”

"I would definitely recommend the courses I attended," Ela agrees. "The activities in the courses were very entertaining and educational for an indecisive teenager. Since I got back to Istanbul, I've been telling everyone how wonderful my time in London was and how beneficial the courses were for me."

Find out more about Ela's work by following her on Instagram.

Are you a teenager with a passion for art and design? Read more about why it’s never too early to develop your fine art skills.

You may be interested in our selection of courses for teenagers. Choose from a wide range of subjects from contemporary art and illustration to digital media, fashion design and photography.

Take a look at our full schedule of short courses starting soon for more information.

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