If you’ve known me for a while, you may know that I spent several years in a venerable old college of design. You may also know that I hated it. Last week I found an old sketchbook that I used for drawing assignments during my first and second years.

First year: design foundations. For the first few months of the drawing course, all we did was draw geometric solids. Hey kids! Let’s spend the next 3 hours of studio time drawing nothing but cubes and cylinders! If you’re lucky, we can try our hands at milk cartons in a couple weeks! Here are some of the projects we did that were too dull to make it into my portfolio.


Toward the end of the year we moved on to more organic forms, which was definitely more fun, but even then many of the assignments were boring. The paper bag was homework assignment from the second half of the year. We had to crumple up a bag and then draw it. Thrills!

One day we spent a couple hours drawing gloves. That was actually kind of fun.


These projects, even the lame ones, really did make me a better artist. At the end of foundations I thought, “Wooohoo, we’re going to do some amazing stuff next year. Finally we’ll get some really cool projects!” I had no idea what was coming.

Second year. We had a studio class where we had to draw light bulbs for months on end.
I have pages and pages like this. It was agonizing.


Almost all the second year classes were retarded. It wasn’t just that the work was boring; we didn’t learn anything! Most of the instructors we had that year sucked. One was incompetent. One was talented but inexperienced. One was terrible with people and unable to formulate her thoughts into useful critiques. Only one knew what he was doing, but we only had one class with him because he was from a different department.

I would rather have spent another year drawing paper bags with a good instructor than waste a year. Half of my peers changed majors or schools. Some were able to grin and bear it. I stayed in for a while, but it made me pretty depressed.