Things you’ll only understand if you’ve been a creative student

As I get older, I find myself becoming more and more nostalgic; NOW I understand why the elders love pulling out a ‘back in my day…’ story. Recently I’ve been reminiscing about my University days – the silly things I used to make for projects and pulling all-nighters to meet deadlines. OH THE MEMORIES!


At the time it felt like it would be the end of the world if I didn’t have 100+ sheets of design development, amazingly photoshopped mock ups and a word-perfect pitch ready for a critique. I wanted to get the best grade possible, of course, but now I know that it probably wouldn’t have mattered if I only had 80 sheets of design development and winged my rationale in the crit…

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Thinking back made me want to celebrate those silly things that you’ll only know if you’ve studied a creative course at college or University. I’ve put together a list so we can all look back and laugh/cry about them together:

Things you’ll only understand if you’ve been a creative student:

– No body understands your degree, no matter how hard you try to explain it… so get used to it

– Hearing ‘So what do you want to do after Uni?’ when asked which degree you’re studying

– Constantly being told your course is basically ‘colouring in’

– How hard getting a degree in ‘colouring in’ actually is

– Waving goodbye to your housemates as they go out on a Tuesday night, whilst you stay in to work on your development sketches

–  The process of a project: first you hate it, then you love it, then 2 hours before your hand in you’re back to hating it

– Persuading your housemates to help you with your projects (hand model, face model, body cast model)

– Persuading your friends to do weird things; ride a bike in your bedroom and throw paint at your/their face so you can photograph it

– Making sacrifices for your art; not being able to eat with cutlery for a week because you used it all to make a musical instrument and it’s being assessed by your tutors

– Spending 2 days working on something for it to be ripped to shreds in 2 minutes (the critique!)

– The real meaning of ‘hmmm… interesting’

– The pain of a real all nighter; you can get by on 7 hours of sleep a week y’know? That’s 1 hour a night!

– The stench of deadline day – ain’t nobody got time to wash!

– When your tutor says they LOVE your idea but give you a 2:2 instead of a 1st (which you OBVS deserved instead)

– When you’ve worked really hard for 3 years and you’re then expected (by some old-fashioned studios that need to get with the times) to go and work for free* until you’ve got enough experience to be offered a job (*NEVER WORK FOR FREE!)

– Realising that experience is much more valuable than having a 1st when it comes to your CV and getting a job… but realising this after you’ve graduated

Give me a high-five (or a comment will do) if you know this pain too! And if you’re still a student… you CAN do it! The fact of it is that going through all of the stress and pain is totally worth it when you get to do a job you love for the rest of your life. Work doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing what you enjoy and getting paid for it. Plus you get to look back on some great memories and laugh about them, instead of crying…



  • Katie

    23/02/2016 at 11:19 am

    Omg yes. Yes a thousand times. Also, paid experience – does that actually exist?! Haha.

    • Natasha Nuttall

      24/03/2016 at 7:10 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Katie & I’m glad you agree! Paid experience IS out there… I know it’s like gold dust, but we need to stand up for ourselves and not let people take our skills for granted 😛

  • Amy

    23/02/2016 at 6:45 pm

    Still crying about most of these haha but I love it and wouldn’t dream of doing anything else! People always try and tell me that I should open an Etsy after uni, and I’m not bashing anyone who makes a living from Etsy but i have bigger dreams and it is SO infuriating trying to explain what I want to do. We also always joke that our degree is basically colouring things in. Awwww I don’t really want to leave! I’m glad I have another year of hellish joy.

    • Natasha Nuttall

      24/03/2016 at 7:09 pm

      HAHA Oh Amy – sorry if it’s still a sore subject but yes I feel the same! I wouldn’t change any of these experiences now. Yes, I know what you mean on the Etsy thing… and that’s just because people don’t know what’s out there. They know about Etsy so I guess they’re just trying to understand, in their own way ha A degree in colouring in… what more do you need? 😀 hehe

  • Noor Unnahar

    23/02/2016 at 6:59 pm

    Aw! This list sounds so cool (though all that pain can never be measured how you must have felt at those critical moments). My college examinations are few months away & after that I will apply for university. My main degree is gonna be business administration’s, but I’d take a few creative courses, too. I can’t wait to get into it ASAP <3

    • Natasha Nuttall

      24/03/2016 at 7:06 pm

      Good luck Noor – at the time it might seem like the end of the world, but some of these things ALL creative students just HAVE to go through. It’s not all bad, it’s funny to look back now and I have some amazing memories that I wouldn’t change 🙂 You’ll have a great time I’m sure!

  • Nital Shah

    24/02/2016 at 12:00 pm

    I know this pain! Especially, the last three points! I did go and work for free for a while. Now due to many circumstances I am in a job I hate (been here 13 years) and desperately applying for other jobs only to be told time and time again, not enough experience in the relevant field even though my experience as a designer is over 18 years! GRRRRRRR!

    • Natasha Nuttall

      24/03/2016 at 7:05 pm

      Nital, this breaks my heart to hear that you’re ‘stuck’ in a job that you hate for 13 years. It is soul destroying to be turned down again and again, but if you have 18 years experience (AMAZING!) there MUST be a place for you out there somewhere… sounds like you just haven’t found your place yet?

  • Natasha Aldred

    12/03/2016 at 1:44 pm

    Hello Tasha from another Tasha. This list made me chuckle and reminisce back to every moment of my illustration degree. You got this perfectly down to a tee. Great blog you have here, can’t wait to read more posts 🙂

    • Natasha Nuttall

      24/03/2016 at 6:55 pm

      Hey Tasha – great name 😉 HA Ahhh I’m glad you can relate… although I hope it was more giggles than tears! Thanks for stopping by and hope you continue to enjoy reading my thoughts!

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