Q:I was just wondering if there was ever a point in your education when you felt so discouraged and uninspired that you wanted to give up. I'm currently in my second year and I feel as though I've plateaued and I'm simply overwhelmed with even the smallest projects. If you have been through this kind of situation, how did you get through it, and do you have any personal experiences that would be helpful to my situation?
DISCOURAGED, UNINSPIRED, and READY TO GIVE UP
This post really hits home for me so I apologize in advance if it is a long message.
Ironically it was also my second year where I felt that undeniable feeling of “why am I still here”.
Ugh, it was my second year in architecture school and I had already plateaued. Hard. I remember my first year being filled with excitement, and even though I wasn’t 100% sure if I was doing the right thing all the time, I loved the work i was producing. I had now reached that point where everything I made seemed stupid and lacked any real design quality. This semester was extremely hard for me because all of the work I was doing made me think a lot of negative things, and there was one thing in my head that I kept repeating over and over…
Maybe I am not cut out for this.
In school we all go through periods of doubt and lack of motivation. Your mind is such a powerful thing too, and once you have something in your head, good or bad, you can make yourself think anything you want. For me, the bad was taking over.
I went through the brutal semester and did the best I could but there were many days where even going into studio was a chore. Luckily, almost as a gift from a friend of mine, I had a conversation with him that really changed my whole perspective in life as a designer.
I told my friend about the horrible semester I had and all of the reasons I thought why. He said to me that it sounded like I was doing everything to make the teacher happy; That all of the awesome stuff I was doing previously was for myself and this semester seemed to be more about what I thought everyone else wanted me to do.
“We often find it hard to swim when we feel our hands are tied.”
I came up with this quote and it depicts that semester for me so well. My hands were tied all semester because of my acquiescent perspective.
When we are designing we often do our best when we feel the design is our own. I realized that I had felt so discouraged and uninspired because I wasn’t designing for me anymore. It is in my very nature to please others and I had learned from all of the critiques in the previous semesters that if I would have done what the jury said before the critique that I would have a perfect critique.
In architecture school we are programmed to work on a project, go into a critique, get torn apart, and go back to our desks. This teaches us a very “what not to do” mentality and we begin to design in such a careful way that over time our amazing imagination and curiosity that got us interested in architecture in the first place is lost.
If you want to regain your inspiration, then you have to find yourself again. Find out what makes you excited, what gets you going, and what you see as incredible, then put that passion into your designs. Do you ever watch a movie and see some crazy science fiction landscape with amazing futuristic buildings that get you excited about architecture? Or maybe you get excited about public spaces with huge free standing toys that the community can play with? Whatever it is in the life of design that gets you inspired, use it. Mold that inspiration into your designs to regain your passion for architecture.
Who knows, you may be right. Sometimes it is good to know when to give up, and this might not be the profession for you. I do not know you personally and this might not be a good fit.
But what if it is?
You’re obviously here for a reason. Something brought you here. And if you have the will to keep going you will find your way again I promise. Change your perspective and surround yourself with things that excite you. Wallpaper the walls with inspirational quotes and pictures that make you excited to be a designer. You may get a few weird looks but,
Fuck what other people think.
Remember, you are still in school, and you’re not supposed to be the best at this yet. Learn from your professors, learn from your peers, but most importantly learn from yourself.
We are design students. We are smart, funny, witty, cool, nerdy, passionate, and caring… Sometimes we even care too much.
Look, I know this message has reached you pretty late, and for that I apologize, but if there is anything that you take away from this it is this:
There is never a bad time to cut the rope and just keep swimming.
you got this.
#48 Record way more stuff on your phone in studio.
This one is pretty self explanatory. Take more pictures of the work you do, take more pictures of the people you are with, and most importantly record the funny moments at 3am when people start to get really loopy. We mean serious business when we are hard at work in studio, but sometimes you have to take a second to enjoy the bittersweet moments that architecture school provides for you. It may seem like school is endless and you will always be there, but just like any chapter, good or bad, it will end and another chapter will begin. You will be glad you took that second to record the crazy times of studio when you go back to reminisce on it all.
Good luck to everyone! I know it is that beginning of the semester time of year again!!
#46 Never underestimate the power of design.
Will I become an architect after I graduate? Is this really what you want to do? Am I ready for the commitment, the all-nighters, and the sacrifices I will have to make to become an architect? Will this all be worth it?
But one thing that is undeniable is that the power of design is getting more noticed and more substantial every day. Architecture school teaches you more than just how to design space and how to make drawings and models, it teaches you how to think like a designer. It teaches you how to look deeply into things and create something from absolutely nothing. You learn how look at the world in a different way, and being able to see the world through the eyes of a designer is such a powerful tool in life. You get to expand your imagination and the experiences and things you will learn through school will open up so many avenues for you later in life.
Yes, the end goal of architecture school is to become an architect, but there is so much more to it. A keen sense of design, especially in a world driven by an aesthetic platform such as the internet, will allow you to pursue more than just architecture.
It is almost as if we become doctors of the visual realm to make the world a beautiful place to live.
Its pretty cool. :)
“Life of a designer is a life of fight, fight against the ugliness, just like a doctor fights against disease. For us, the visual disease is what we have around, and what we try to do is to cure it somehow with design.” - Massimo Vignelli
#21 This is Loctite.
I have been getting a lot of questions on what kind of glue is good for model building. Of course we all start out using Elmer’s glue, which I do not scold anyone for using, but you will find there are a few other kinds of glue which might work better for this kind of work we do.
This is great for quick and precise model building. This is my favorite adhesive because it takes a small amount for it to work, It dries instantly which means less clamping time in between pieces, and works well with a wide range of materials. WARNING: The side affects of this are: It will stain your plexi material white when it dries, it will not always stick if the pieces have any type of stain or oil on them, and it loves to also stick to your fingers, so when you pull your hand off of your model… It explodes… I know, Bad news bears.
Tacky glue is great because it works on just about anything. I use this glue when I am building larger models where gravity is and issue and it requires a stronger bond between materials. This glue is also great for final models as long as you have a sophisticated technique in wiping away excess glue after a piece is set into place. WARNING: The side effects of this glue are: It takes forever to dry (Thats why I always have a fan in studio or a hair dryer), It can get messy very quick when using too much, and it can dry clumpy sometimes if used in excess.
Hot glue is a great tool in working quickly and will literally hold your studio mate up on a wall if you use enough. The adhesive strength is great when putting together large scale models and can sometimes be used in final models if carefully executed. WARNING: I recommend to use this glue only on models where the craft is not an issue. Common side effects are: It dries clumpy and messy with little strings of glue that wrap around your project (for us who know of this “spider-web” effect you are laughing right now), it will burn your hands when you touch it directly after application, and it also does not look completely clear when it dries.
This is the glue you use only when it is absolutely necessary. If only this glue was used to build the Titanic, then the ship would have stayed afloat! But then Leonardo DiCaprio would have had to star in Men in Black, so maybe everything happens for a reason. On a serious note, this glue is great for model base building and for large pieces which need to cantilever off from the model. The bond is serious. WARNING: Side effects are: It will expand when it dries and push your model material pieces apart from each other if not clamped together properly as it dries, When it dries it is a yellow “gorilla snot” color, and once it is fully set, thats it… Those pieces now just became one…
# 19 Keep it simple.
This is something I am sure you have all heard before. Many times it is difficult to know how far to go in a design, or even how little. Elaborate designs with intricate details can still be “simple” with the help of a big move or what is commonly referred to as “a holistic design”. If you are new to designing, or seem to continuously get critiques saying things are too cluttered, then there are three main attributes that can act as a great starting point for “keeping it simple.”
- Focus on your big move. - Details are exciting and really drive the characteristics of a design, however, it is also important to follow a big move, or parti. The parti is the essence of your whole idea and can really tie a project together when it begins to seem episodic. Make sure as you are designing there is a collective adherence back to the parti. When you are finished, there should be a solid idea tracing back to the overall concept and your jury should be able to know what the big move is at first glance.
- Hierarchy and Alignment - When you pin up, be sure that you do not mistake “simple” with “empty”. You can still have interesting and even outrageous shapes and spaces, but the presentation of it all plays a crucial roll in keeping things concise. Designing with hierarchy means you are simply stating “This is what I am trying to do.” in a very clear manner. From model making to pin-up, having a great sense of alignment as well can really bring a project together.
- Additive and Subtractive Designing - When designing, most of us just add-and-add-and-add until we are finished. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you can learn to master the art of subtracting elements as you have with adding them, then your designs have more of an opportunity to breathe.
#18 Produce More.
More drawings, more models, more experimentation, more research, MORE. Producing more work does not mean to hurry frivolously to make a lot of stuff with no meaning. It means to take less time on any given task all at once. Having more work is important because it will allow an eclectic array of conditions to learn from when speaking with your teacher or T.A. during a critique. If you are given an assignment which requires 5 Drawings and 2 Models, then it will not do you any good to make 2 over analyzed drawings and half of a very nice model. While craft and the care of making is key to any amount of process, you cannot allow yourself to spend too much time on one thing. If you are one of those people who can’t seem to finish the entire assignment, then you should consider these few attributes to working faster.
- Make decisions earlier on in the design process; even if you are upset with it. (Thats why we are going to give you the next assignment.)
- Remember that at this point, you are never really “finished”. Understand that you can always go back and touch up everything once you have a holistic set of work.
- Move back and forth between models and drawings. Work on one until you get stuck, then move on to another. Revisit each piece as needed and use these elements to help each other grow, rather than do everything so episodically.
- Finally, make a schedule or mini calendar for yourself. Think more about the time you will allow to make a decision, rather than the time it will take to compete something. Decision making is one of the biggest culprits in why it is taking you so long to finish.
#16 Get rid of the need for instant gratification.
Understand that it takes time for your ideas to blossom. Don’t get discouraged if you do not think of an award winning idea 10 minutes after a new project is handed out. Many of us try create FINAL drawings and models (and you know who you are) right from the beginning of a project without doing the proper amount of sketch work. Just remember that THE ROCK CREATES THE MOUNTAIN. It takes time for ideas to grow and become big and strong, and yes, you have to feed them.