The Value of an Offline Education

I decided to write about my experience of offline education because ever since I stopped going into a live classroom environment, I have actually appreciated what I got out of it more.  I’ve been lucky to have had some great tutors along the way who inspired me. Perhaps this is the biggest advantage of offline education - the people aspect. I’m not for one or the other (online vs offline); I think a combination of both is best, especially if you work in an arts related field.

As an adult returning to education, the thought of committing to a course and schedule for 3 long years (the average length of a university degree) was too daunting for me.  I dropped out of the first year of a two year foundation degree course. I’m glad I did and the reasons for leaving are various...money etc. but I knew even then that it wouldn’t just end there.

For a start, London the city I live in is full of wonderful educational institutions offering a huge variety of courses.  Education in the UK is big business after all!

Anyway, I was familiar with one college in particular located in central London (Covent Garden) where many years previous whilst holding a full time office job, I took an interesting textiles related course.  Little did I know then that so many years later I’d be going back to do similar courses there and have a ton of artwork to draw from in my current practice.

The institution in question is City Lit College.   I was most impressed with the quality of teaching there and their facilities.  I found the expertise and friendly approach so great. Everyone was showing up to have fun and learn from each other - support was great.   Unlike my previous university/college experience were there was a real issue with motivation with the students I was around (kids!).

The practical textiles courses I’ve taken at City Lit involved creative stitching, learning various fabric dyeing methods and of course fabric screen printing.

I chose to also diversify my learning by taking a printmaking course which involved visiting the British Museum to draw inspiration for our project.  I loved the physicality of the process the most and to my satisfaction, never left class without dirty pair of hands! :)

Lastly, I couldn’t recommend enough taking the various courses on Photoshop for pattern design there.  The first one I took was called “From Art to Digital” and was so much fun as we got to do lots of playful mark making in week one followed by scanning and putting our work in repeat the following week.  The latter was a revelation for me and got me hooked straight away into learning this craft.

Since then, I’ve taken courses exclusively online with Make it in Design and The Textiles Lab which have a lot to offer from beginner to advanced level designers but I am also missing the classroom and considering giving City Lit another go.

As I want to develop my floral drawing skills and there’s a course there just for this, I’m ready to sign up! Watch this space...can’t wait to share the results and work in progress!