With every Monday that turns up, I’m looking to try and write something here that makes people think. Something illustration related. Or possibly me-related if it’s a particularly quiet news day and I’m feeling a bit egotistical.
The other thing I do every Monday is lecture. I’m a lecturer. I lecture the living heck out of art students. I started it at the tail end of 2012, and I quite like it. (It is my job, before you ask. I don’t just wander into crowded campus classrooms and start shouting about The Renaissance before being ejected by security.) And it just so happens that today has been UCAS day. So to that end, I’ve been running around helping edit and beef up five students’ Personal Statements.
For Illustration students, Personal Statements are essentially a self-written page of A4 that you have to type up if you want to get into uni. The three points you need to hit are:
a. You’re awesome with a pencil
b. Why you’re awesome with a pencil.
c. What other stuff you can do.
A and B are pretty straight forward. You just have use statements like “…highly trained in CAD,”, “…passion for researching artists,” or “… hardly started any fires in the kiln room this year.”
The bit where almost all of the students came unstuck was making themselves seem more three dimensional. They struggled to grasp that the Universities they were applying to would want to know what they were like as a person – what they did in their spare time and what their interests were. As far as the students were concerned, that was just silly stuff and besides which, they’d never really-sorta-done-much-outside-of-college anyway.
However, after a only very few questions, it quickly became apparent that these young kids are actually a lot more awesome than they give themselves credit for. And they sure as Hell needed to write as much on their application:
One student had won first place with the regional Rock Challenge competition at her high school.
Another student had got a black belt in karate at the age of eleven.*
A third student from Brunei, was selected by his Local University to present his work along with a group of A-Level Students, (who were there for the same purpose,) to showcase their traditional Muslim artwork to a visitor. The kid at the time was 14. I’ll repeat that, because it just seems so bloody remarkable. Fourteen!* He was fourteen years old and was stood in a university presenting his work alongside 17 and 18 year olds. And (I promise I’m not making this up) the person he was presenting his work to was The Prince of Wales.
I mention this, because I think everyone in life goes through a period of time in life when they forget how awesome they are. Whether it’s talking them-self down before an interview, or questioning their self-worth in the event of a breakup or other low point. The fact is, it’s bloody easy to forget the number of things in life you’ve done, and the dedication and hard work that it’s required to get you to wherever you are right now.
The best way to sum it in a single sentence is by ending this blog post with a line uttered by and an old uni friend of mine. By our early twenties we’d both earned a few commissions and sold a few bits of work, but neither of us felt like we’d done anything particularly remarkable. It was only when my friend decided to look at her CV as if it was someone else’s that she was competing against for a job that she replied:
“Actually. This person is pretty, bloody awesome.”
*I’m not sure I could pick my nose at this age without some assistance.
** I’d got the hang of nose picking by 14, but scratching my bellybutton was another matter.