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Start your career in fashion design with a short course

  • Written byYusuf Tamanna
  • Published date10 March 2021

A short course can often be a steppingstone for students to pursue their lifelong creative passions, irrespective of their educational or career background. Interaction Designer Annina Walker says her day-to-day work is mainly focused on data visualisation; essentially crunching the numbers and making data look better on paper.

With Annina’s talent and attention to detail, she tells me that her lifelong dream has been to work within fashion design, and she often refers to herself as ‘an Interaction Designer by day and a Fashion Designer by night.’ To help her on her way to fulfilling her creative dreams, Annina first attended the Fashion Design: Intensive Online Short Course with London College of Fashion. She says the experience on the short course was like no other and opened her eyes up to the ways she could venture into the world of fashion design.

Soon after completing the short course, Annina used the tools she developed while on the course and started studying Fashion Design at the prestigious ESMOD Fashion School in Paris. Clearly impressed by where her first short course took her, Annina decided to keep the momentum going and returned to complete the Experimental Fashion Design Online Short Course at Central Saint Martins.

A photo of Annina sitting on a chair with her chin resting on her hand.

“UAL has such a great variety of design courses. Sadly, we don't have anything like this available at home in Switzerland. But luckily, a lot of the courses at UAL are now available online because of the pandemic, so I’m able to further my skills from the comfort and safety of my home.”

Similarly, Clara Gröning also attended the Fashion Design: Intensive Online Short Course, along with the Fashion Illustration Online Short Course. She was originally set to go to university in 2020 but was forced to take an unplanned gap year because of the pandemic. Finding herself at home, Clara decided to look at short courses as a way of occupying her time and supporting her upcoming university application.

“As I want to apply to both London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins for my undergraduate degree, I will need to submit a portfolio. I thought it would be a good idea to do these courses and be able to get advice from actual professionals and teachers, as well as learn new techniques that could help me with my portfolio.”

A photo of Clara Gröning smiling at the camera with both hands resting on her chin

Both Clara and Annina enjoyed being taught by industry professionals and having their work viewed by experts in their own field. But Clara was also aware that her existing skills needed improving and believed a short course would help fill these gaps as she states art classes in her native Germany are not like the art classes taught in the UK. For this reason, she felt she was missing several basic skills needed when applying for art school.

“I took advanced art as part of my Abitur (A-level) which pretty much consisted of a lot of theory and very few actual hands-on projects,” Clara explains.

“Since I spent 8 months abroad in England, I know what a GCSE art course looks like and I knew that going into the whole university application process, I was at a major disadvantage because not only have I never been taught how to apply to art school, I also didn’t have any cohesive, well researched and developed projects I could use for my portfolio. I didn’t even know how proper research and development looked like or was done, which is the most important part of your portfolio!”

Meanwhile, Annina says her time on both the Fashion Design Intensive Online Short Course and Experimental Fashion Design Online Short Course gave her the license to think more freely about her fashion designs. “I really enjoyed the experimental approach of both short courses. You're pushed to think out of the box and explore new ways to trigger your creativity.”

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She adds that she feels a lot more comfortable with being daring with when it comes to thinking creatively and understands that when it comes to fashion, there’s never a ‘one size fits all’ solution to anything.

“I’ve learned to really push my boundaries and be more experimental with my creative process. I've tried out random materials and used techniques that I haven't considered before. I appreciated the direct feedback from the tutor and the encouragement to push even further.”

Likewise, Clara’s experience on both the Fashion Illustration Online Short Course and Fashion Design Intensive Online Short Course inspired her look at the design process within fashion in a whole new light. Especially as it was an area she focused the least amount of time on because of what she was taught at school.

“I didn’t have a structured design process before the short courses and I skipped a lot of the important parts like proper research, simply because I didn’t know how important they were, nor how to do them. It was also very nice to find out that imperfection can often be way more fascinating and constructive than perfection. When you are used to only doing final pieces you usually don’t let yourself experiment that much, which is a shame. So, it was quite liberating and fun to try this new way of doing things.”

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Clara is still planning on applying to London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins and is currently finalising her applications. She says she’s a lot less stressed about the application process since doing the short courses and developing an abundance of new skills.

“I can’t even begin to count the ways in which I have improved due to the courses. I learned how to research and develop a project; to experiment and try a multitude of different mediums; I learned exercises for everyday practice and was forced out of my comfort zone and I gained a lot of confidence in my work. Overall, it just helped so much! I don’t even want to think about where I would be right now, if I haven’t taken the courses.”

Annina says the short courses she completed have given her an array of new skills that have continued to help her explore the world of fashion alongside her day job as an Interaction Designer.

A moodboard with different photos of pastel colours and confectionary

An image of Annina's work showing different confectionary being used as clothes

“The courses have definitely helped me to develop my personal brand identity further and to be more confident about it. I've gained a new set of skills and tools that I can apply to my creative process now, so much so that I'm currently working on my first collection, making use of all this newly learned skills and tools!”

Both are more than happy to recommend others to do a short course. “I can only highly recommend a short course at UAL. The online short courses are very well organised and almost give you the feeling of being in a real classroom. It gives you the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world and broaden your horizon. I've honestly learned more in a 12-hour short course than studying certain topics full-time at university!” Annina says.

A sketch by Clara of a Viktor D Rolf gown done in black and white

An illustration of a model wearing a jacket made out of red and dark pink flowers

Meanwhile, Clara recommends other international students to look into doing a short course based on how much it’s helped her. “I would recommend short courses to anyone but especially international students thinking about studying at UAL. You will get some insights into how these universities teach and can ask any questions you might have. Also, if like me you struggled with your portfolio you really should consider doing a short course.”

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There are multiple avenues you can take to lay the foundations for a lasting career in fashion. To help you figure out what’s out there, our How to start a career in fashion article has quick tips and industry advice designed to help you get started.

If you think you could benefit from a short course with UAL, take a look at our diverse collection of short courses covering everything from fashion business to designing sustainable garments for market.

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