Jen Baratta is a senior Fabric Styling BFA student at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She has her AAS in Textile Development and Marketing. She is a creative and conceptual thinker with a passion for textile and concept design. She is well versed in all aspects of design including color and pattern. She completely immerses herself in her work with her strong technical skills and keen eye for detail.
From the outside looking in, a lot of people think that fashion school is just reading magazines, and going shopping for “market research”. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it! Here are a few key things I wish someone had told me when I was a freshman:
1. Build a Tough Skin
You need to learn how to build a tough skin, and take constructive criticism. Realize that your professors are only there to help you, not break you. They are wise; they have years of industry experience, so listen to them. Don’t give an attitude when they critique you. Students can get so defensive during critiques sometimes! I understand when you put your heart and soul into a project, and then it gets ripped apart by the professor and it sucks. I get it, but you need to understand where they are coming from. I hate to break it to you, but the industry isn’t going to be much better. Wouldn’t you rather your college professor critique you harshly than your boss at your job? You will learn how to handle these situations in school. Deal with it. Fix up your project, and not only your project will look better, but you will come out as a stronger person.
2. Be Confident in Your Work
Why should someone buy your design if you don’t even seem confident about it? Stand up for your hard work and back up your reasoning with research. You need to believe in your work! Be eager and animated when you’re presenting a project. I’ve been in class countless times when I’m watching someone present, and I’m not really listening because THEY don’t seem excited about it.
Also, professors aren’t going to be the only ones to critique you either. This past semester, a lot of my professors started having students initiate the critiques. I don’t necessarily agree with this, but again you’re going to be put in situations you don’t want to be in. Students can be cruel, but put on a good face and stand up for your work.
3. It’s Not All Fun and Games
Once you start taking your core fashion and art classes, school becomes really, REALLY fun. Prior to that, you will get pushed to your limits. They push you extra hard in the beginning to weed out the weak kids who aren’t serious about having this as a career. Things will be crazy, and you won’t have much of a life. You have to choose between sleep, having a social life, and schoolwork. Fashion school is a little different than other schools because you can’t throw together a bunch of nonsense and hand it in the next day. It’s easy to quickly pull together a paper, hand it in, and get an A, but finishing an extensive project is not something you can just do in one night. Professors know when you throw together a project the night before, and I strongly don’t recommend doing that. It will be embarrassing, and you can’t really follow rule #2 if you do this.
If you keep these three rules in the back of your mind, things will be a LOT easier to deal with, not only in school, but also in the “real world”. I promise. Thank you so much for reading my article! Good luck!