I'd done my share of studying and even went to college, but my real education began when I became a fashion design student. I still use the lessons I learnt then to foster my creativity today.
I grew up studying in different schools while growing up. I even went to college for three years. And yet, my real education began the the day I set foot in Nift(National Institute of Fashion Technology), New Delhi.
I always wanted to be a fashion designer when I grew up. I saw a Nift fashion show on TV when I was 13 and made up my mind right then that I was going there. I knew nothing about entrance exams. All I knew was that the thought of going to Nift made my heart sing. My heart turned out to be right even though I didn't become a fashion designer.
There were 30 of us aspiring designers in that class when we started. I was among the few who'd never seen a Vogue before I got there. However, we were lucky to have a educational process that fostered creativity and individuality. It's been eight years since I graduated, but I'd like to share a few useful lessons that I learnt there:
Each term we would have two or more presentations. Now there were 30 of us and each of us had to come up with a unique concept that could be translated into a garment. To come up with something original, we had no choice but to read, create moodboards, research and dive deep into a subject. And no subject was sacred or beyond limits. Philosophy, architecture, comics - everything that came within our orbit was plundered for ideas. Each of us presented our ideas while the others gave their feedback. Multiply that with the number of students and the number of presentations over a period of three years. Even today, I'm not intimidated by subjects in any field. I know that if I'm passionate about it, I'll find a way.
You become a better creative by creating
I remember my first sketching class in Nift. It was bad. Our art teacher asked us to submit 50 sketches in a week. It sounded like a nightmare, but my work improved. I learnt that it's okay to make mistakes provided I got up and tried again. As long as I was interested in the subject, I would get better.
Unlike other courses that taught you to follow the herd, fashion designing required us to be unique. This meant that we were required to discover what was special about us and embrace it. My introspection led me to understand that I like design concepts but not necessarily making clothes. I believe that if we pay attention to our true selves, we'll receive all the guidance that we require.
While growing up I was the odd one out. In Nift, I found my tribe. We had incredible support from our faculty, seniors and peers. Change any of those factors and my experience would not have been as positive. I understand the importance of finding or creating my support circle wherever I go. Creativity cannot flourish in a vacuum. It's the product of much love and encouragement.
Today I work as a fashion consultant because it suits me better. I've started focusing on my writing and art work and I know that I have a few hideous drafts and ugly art pieces ahead of me before I create something that I can sell. In the meantime, I explore, I work hard and I keep asking myself if what I'm doing is true to me. This is my formula and it works. I highly recommend it.