When I applied to Art Center, I was told that I would need to rebuild my portfolio. I didn’t have the necessary skills for the Transportation Design Program. In order to do that, I was referred to the Art Center at Night. There, I would be able to take the same courses as first term students and earn course credits! I have a degree in Industrial Design and the skills I developed weren’t good enough for Art Center. I was facing an uphill battle of relearning fundamentals like sketching, perspective, and model making…more on that later.
My first class was at 6pm in the Fall of 2000 and I saw all the full-time students leaving their classes as I approached the campus. The night classes were held in these stacked mobile homes behind the main building. It felt like a long walk from the parking lot. I finally arrived and was excited to take Intro to Product and Transportation Design with Thomas Park. At the beginning of class, he gave a speech outlining the expectations out of the students followed by a demo to watch. My jaw nearly dropped! This is what I had been searching for as long as I could remember. I was mesmerized by the linework, colors, and background art in each of his sketches. Most instructors at Art Center gave demonstrations on techniques by sketching and rendering. This gave me a baseline on how my work should be from now on.
To ensure that your work looked good, one must have the proper tools. Thomas showed us a variety of sketch utensils (pen, pencils, and markers), marker pads, and sweeps (also known as curves) that helps designers tighten up curvilinear lines. I was drawn towards the Indigo Blue Prismacolor pencils since it is preferred among auto designers. He proceeded to give us our first in-class assignment while imparting on us a little wisdom, “Keep sketching. You’ll suck for a while, but you will improve!” Thomas was a colorful character!
Each assignment would be completed and placed on the classroom wall for critique. The main thing students at Art Center learned is to grow a thick skin. There may be harsh criticism from instructors, but the rationale is that students are here to learn from their mistakes. There was no hand-holding here. We heard the feedback, but we are also taught to stand up and defend our sketches/ideas. Thomas wanted the students to be prepared should they decide to attend Art Center as full-time students.
Thomas saw that I was all-in to attend Art Center as a full-time student. He told me that he taught this course for full-time students and asked me to sit in and observe. This was awesome! I arrived at the beginning of class and sat in the back. I saw the students filing in and immediately placing their work on the walls at eye level. I saw a variety of line sketches, renderings, or just rough ideas. It made me a little at ease as to what was expected of me. After class, I struck up conversations with some students that later became my classmates! I finally saw what was behind the curtains!