What if you can’t draw and you want to design fashion ???
(IF FASHION DESIGN isn’t your area of focus, but DRAWING is, check out the tutorial videos on the sales page for my Model Drawing Magic Program)
In my extensive experience, our drawing ability isn’t just about SKILL- it’s the beliefs that we bring to our drawing board that make it so. When we change the way we think drawing happens and who we believe we are / how we believe we should be when we draw, it becomes easier and more pleasurable to draw deeply, expressively, accurately and with great feeling.
For more on fashion design drawing specifically, keep going down this page (awesome fashion videos and journal prompts at the bottom of the page)…. still, these videos below will benefit you!!!
Reminder>>>>(2 more VIDEOS FURTHER DOWN THIS PAGE scroll down to view!!)
It sounds like your worst nightmare, perhaps. You have dreams of being a unique fashion designer with vision, but you can’t even draw a star or a flower without deep pangs of insecurity. So why do you feel so sure and so drawn that your desire has a reason for existing???
You aren’t alone. BUT hey- did you ever realize how sewing and draping are also drawing? Choosing fabrics, garments and shapes and putting them together is a form of drawing? Making choices and decisions and bringing things together to bring form to your vision is also a form of drawing?
I love that the word DRAW means to PULL FORTH–FROM WITHIN.
Still, what IF you can’t draw and want to design? Here are some ways this scenario can play out:
So you can’t draw. What do you do? Are you afraid to draw?
- You can give up before you start. Yes, you have options.
- You can go to a fashion school or community arts center or take some courses. You’ll most likely find out that the whole reason why you love fashion is because YOU ARE AN ARTIST WHO HAD NO SKILLS OR INFORMATION before… and then that you can just LEARN Fashion Sketching/ Fashion Design/ Patternmaking/ Draping? Model Drawing/ Sewing. Any of it. ALL of it.
- You can JUST START MAKING, or hiring help to MAKE YOUR DESIGNS COME TO LIFE and chicken -scratch your ideas out any way they come, just so you can remember them. (HINT: understanding how clothes work and familiarity with fabrics helps you do this efficiently.
- You can surround yourself with the people who see your dream as clearly as you do and build the vision together, learning as you go.
- It’s easy to draw clothing flat, you’d be amazed!! That’s what my Craftsy class is all about and flat sketching and specs is a major way that designers communicate and develop designs in the industry!
- You can collect clothing to use as samples to have reworked with your own fabrics and production and size specifications, creating original pieces based on curated, edited, researched pieces.
- Get oriented, work with a coach , who can help you clarify your objectives and path.
There’s a different path for every fashion designer
And SO What if you can’t draw?
- START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE. Don’t make what you don’t have or “can’t” have become your focus. Focus on what you know you DO have to offer, what you DO have to share, and contribute, and BUILD FROM THERE.
- You either find a way to build a skill you don’t have, find someone who has it, or you find ANOTHER way to achieve what you want to achieve! Innovation, invention, ideas, creativity, serving your wearers… use your imagination- this is the essence of what fuels a great design brand that people want to be a part of.
- One thing you can do if you can’t draw clothing is put your own created or curated/ purchased art, images, print designs, or messages on to clothing (and other merchandise / stationery/ home decor) like I do on a website like Contrado, Redbubble (where I create mine), Society 6, and Zazzle, Spring, and more! I love that my Redbubble designs are printed only when ordered, so there is no waste, no inventory, no minimum order. This is “slow fashion” or “ethical fashion” in many ways, and creates less waste.(sample skirt from my shop)
You’ve simply got to follow what you truly want for yourself, and that’s the bottom line. It’s a journey, and it’s YOUR journey. After all, it’s your life! And it’s your dream. Even if you do it on the side while while it partiently grows, think of the energy and inspiration it will bring you.
My Parsons students have so often been coming into Fashion Design transitioning out of other industries and careers and eager to bring creative visions to life through fashion- THERE IS CERTAINLY NO ART QUITE LIKE FASHION DESIGN and illustration. That’s for sure.
If you DO pursue to learn fashion sketching, why would you?
You want to use it to visually communicate:
- construction details,
- style/ aesthetic
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OF FASHION DESIGN in my book by the same name.
Drawing IS an INCREDIBLY POWERFUL design tool, as well an amazing channel for self expression, creativity, and COMMUNICATION with others about (fashion) design ideas. I’ve spent the last 20 years bringing beginners into fluency in design drawing and expression and i’m passionate about that because of my OWN experience of personal transformation.
A what if you can’t draw?
DRAWING SKILLS IS NOT THE ONLY WAY TO REALIZE YOUR DREAM!!!
Please, remember this if you can’t draw:
How many of the absolute GREATS of fashion design and haute couture NEVER WENT TO FASHION DESIGN SCHOOL!!! How many of them did totally unconventional sketches???? SO MANY. Example: look up the fashion sketches of the iconic Claire McCardell, for example.
Here is one of her sketches, I’ve personally seen her sketchbooks in the archive at Parsons School of Design/ the New School where she graduated (and I teach today) So can you, click the image below to visit the archive.
This is one of her sketches for Townley Frocks, below.
See, Claire is an example of a incredibly influential designer who worked with Patternmaking and Draping and had her hands in the cloth and on the model, not focusing on illustration but on creating functional, brilliant, beautiful, iconic sportswear for the American woman.
Visit my shop and see SO MANY MORE examples of clothes I was able to “design” without drawing the clothing, just by choosing my art to put on them. MAYBE YOU’D LIKE TO BUY SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF :)?
I highly recommend that you DRAW FROM:
- garments (sketch them as flats)
- fashion poses
- self-portrait (draw seated in front of a mirror- learn more ABOUT FACES drawing in my course)
Drawing is an INCREDIBLY POWERFUL design tool, as well an amazing channel for self expression, creativity, and COMMUNICATION with others about (fashion) design ideas. I’ve spent the last 20 years bringing beginners into fluency in design drawing and expression and i’m passionate about that because of my OWN experience of personal transformation. Drawing is also a beautiful modality for healing, channeling and connecting with something greater and beyond our selves (or within ourselves).
One thing I know for sure
Is that no matter who you are, if you love fashion you love beauty and may be a “‘perfectionist” (see my video on perfectionism) as well. I’ve noticed time and again that this can freeze a potential fashion designer or fashion student IN THEIR TRACKS.
As I see it, my job and gift is to help dismantle the fear of drawing by creating the most encouraging and “safe container” for learning, possible.
We cultivate a willingness, plafulness and curiosity in exploring all of the deepest darkest corners of mess, uncertainly and discovery…. before coming up with “perfect finished pictures” that you recognize them for. Your drawings and your life will be all the richer for this experience of courage, beauty and depth.
Please, please remember this if you can’t draw and want to design fashion:
How many of the absolute GREATS of fashion design and haute couture NEVER WENT TO FASHION DESIGN SCHOOL!!! The apprenticed or were self-taught, developing their own techniques.
How many of them did totally unconventional sketches???? SO MANY. Claire McCardell is just one example.
See, Claire is an example of a designer who worked with Patternmaking and Draping and had her hands in the cloth and on the model, not focusing on illustration but on creating functional, brilliant, beautiful, iconic sportswear for the American woman.
So, what IF you can’t draw and want to design fashion?
I’ll leave you with final JOURNAL PROMPTS:
- What is it about design that makes you want to design? (examples: fame, fabrics, colors, media, self-expression, travel, craftsmanship, managing vs. making, a particular message or business model, fun, pleasure, improving the industry, serving a certain client base, etc etc etc).? Really feel into it.
- HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL? Remember, the only reason we ever want something is for the feeling we think it will give us. You might want to make a list of the “things” you think fashion design will give you that you want, and specific physical goals surrounding it. BUT NOW on a separate page FEEL INTO ALL OF THESE GOALS AND VISIONS and capture a list of all of the FEELINGS you are desiring, feeling them fully with each vision (examples: wonder, amazement, creative freedom and expression, community of peers, connection, satisfaction, accomplishment, mastery, etc etc etc. I would also go so far as to list how those feelings feel in your body.)
- WHY DON’T YOU WANT IT?Allow yourself a full rant: all of your fears, worst case scenarios, and most importantly, feelings you “know you” DON’T WANT TO FEEL (examples failure, shame, excessive responsibility, vulnerability, frustration, tedium, etc….) Also take a page to feel into memories, images, stories from your life that construct these shadow expectations lurking in the background. These fears and beliefs will have less and less power over you the more that you are aware of them– knowing they are there and giving them love will keep them in check so they don’t run the show. I CAN HELP WITH THIS KIND OF WORK.
I hope you enjoy today’s videos and share your thoughts and feelings with me in the comments.
And remember, you can ALWAYS learn more, starting NOW or whenever. The power is T R U L Y yours, and YOURS ALONE, to develop. I‘m here to help you, if you want!
love, Laura – founder, Fashion Illustration Tribe and Freedom Fashion Programs. Author, the Language of Fashion Design
I hope you enjoy today’s videos and share your thoughts and feelings with me in the comments. And remember, you can ALWAYS learn more, starting NOW or whenever. The power is T R U L Y yours, and YOURS ALONE, to develop. I‘m here to help you, if you want!
love, Laura – founder, Fashion Illustration Tribe and Freedom Fashion Programs.
Author, the Language of Fashion Design There is ALWAYS a way.