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Let a short course reconnect you with your creative side

Sketchbook by Miguel Desport and Marion Bisserier during their Internship at Pentagram
  • Written byYusuf Tamanna
  • Published date 17 February 2021
Sketchbook by Miguel Desport and Marion Bisserier during their Internship at Pentagram
Sketchbook by Miguel Desport and Marion Bisserier during their Internship at Pentagram

There’s an endless list of reasons why students decide to do a short course at UAL. It’s often the excitement of trying something new or the chance to develop a transferrable skill for work that motivates students to take a course. For both Samantha Smith and Linda Nussbaum, they really wanted to get back in touch with their creative sides.

“I have always loved writing from a young age but since graduating from university and working full time, I found that my creativity is not what it used to be,” Samantha tells me. She attended the Confident Copywriting Online Short Course in the hope that it would help her overcome a bout of writer’s block that had forced her creative expression to stall.

Samantha says that in her current line of work completing administrative tasks at a private student accommodation company, she was already familiar with short courses. When it came time to looking for where to do a short course, UAL was instantly her first choice.

A photo of Samantha Smith smiling at the camera

For Linda, what brought her to attend the Develop Your Creativity Online Short Course was something different. Art has always been a longstanding passion for Linda, she tells me she’s motivated by “transforming beloved images into tangible expressions of the beauty that surround us.” It so happens that she is also the latest in a long line of commercial artists within her family and in wanting to be more creative, she felt like she was upholding a family tradition.

Linda was gifted a short course by her family for her birthday. She planned to attend the course alongside her job for the last 10 years as an Executive Assistant to a major shopping centre developer in Canada. But as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, she was made redundant before even starting the course.

“On the very day I was made redundant, I had the first day of my short course scheduled. I almost didn't attend but my family urged me to attend and work through it. With a lump in my throat, I participated, and it got me through a very difficult day.”

What I’ve taken away from this course is that I need to push myself outside my comfort zone and that constant practice does garner improvement and scope

— Linda Nussbaum

Despite their different journeys into doing their respective short courses, both Samantha and Linda agree they had the ideal environment and support to flex their creative muscles once again. Samantha says she enjoyed how in-depth the classes were and that they reminded her of being back at university (in the best way possible).

“My favourite part of the course was doing the homework tasks. Looking back, it gave me a real boost of confidence, especially as I hadn't done anything creative and felt as though I couldn't produce a piece of work, but I definitely still had the tools and skills I had used in previous years.”

Meanwhile, Linda’s biggest takeaway was how talented both the tutor and the other students on the course were. Her interactions with everyone only continued to fuel her creative expression.

“The tutor Ilga Leimanis (along with the other talented students) propelled me to think above my comfort level and have produced works almost daily. I have painted portraits for many family members and friends and mailed them as gifts around the world. I also hand paint meaningful greetings cards with poems - my way of sending good cheer during this very challenging time.”

Thanks in part to boundless encouragement from both her peers and the short course tutor, Linda decided to launch a website in November 2020 where she showcases all her designs. “What I’ve taken away from this course is that I need to push myself outside my comfort zone and that constant practice does garner improvement and scope. So far, I have donated most of the proceeds of my work to various charities including the World Health Organization Covid Fund.”

Painting of a little girl in a red and white jumpsuit smiling. Her hair is tied up and she is holding on to a green handle. The background of the painting is turquoise.

Samantha adds that her short course has helped her overcome her challenges with writer’s block, and the skills she’s developed are also shining through in her current job. “With my day-to-day work, the course has helped me construct simple things like emails, in a different way. Although it isn't anything ‘creative’, it’s changed the way I address my points in any written documentation.”

“The short course made me want to do other short courses. It was something to look forward to and became a part of my weekly routine. I am using my newfound creative skills on a couple of projects that I have in the pipeline!”

With both Samantha and Linda creatively recharged from their short courses, they are more than happy to wax lyrical about how doing a short course can help others get back in touch with their artistic side. “You will learn, improve and derive so much enjoyment from it on so many levels: social, artistic, cathartic, appreciating art and discovering your own creativity,” Linda says. Samantha is quick to add: “Go for it and don't hold back! You will learn so much, even if you just regain your confidence - it is more than worth it.”


If you want to hear more stories about how short courses have helped students evolve their creative expression, Haroon Khan tells us how completing the 100 Design Projects Online Short Course inspired him to get back into the art of making.

Take a look at our expansive list of online short courses to see where a course can take you on your next artistic adventure!

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