It takes imagination to study at the design faculty
This year we gathered a creative team of young people for the first time. Vlada Zheleznova, a participant in the “Admission to creative universities” program, told the readers of the GoStudy blog about her successful admission to the Faculty of Design and Art at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen.
“They gave us strange tasks and we learned to use our imagination”
I am 17 years old and I came to Prague from Moscow because I wanted to study in Europe. The approaches to teaching art and design in Russia and in Europe are very different. Russia’s education is more academic and follows trends to a lesser extent.
I chose the Czech Republic as it offers affordable education. The Faculty of Design and Art in Pilsen is a very interesting place, not like a university at all. It is an open space with creative studios instead of classrooms.
I chose to study Product Design, because I am interested in creating ordinary everyday things that surround us. Many people told me that they do not like academic achievements in the Czech Republic, and it is better not to include academic work in the portfolio. But at the open day, the faculty tutors told me to show everything I had to demonstrate that I can do a lot. It is better to show both academic painting and abstract compositions. And most importantly is to convince them that you are interested in the course.
I brought my work samples to the Czech Republic, but only a smaller portion of them became a part of my portfolio. I did two-thirds of my works in creative courses that were part of our program at GoStudy. During the courses with the Czech tutors, we had to readjust our vision and learn to think abstractly. They gave us some strange tasks like drawing fluidity or embodying destruction. At first it was difficult as we were not used to such tasks. We learned to use our imagination.
“It is important to demonstrate your abilities from different perspectives”
Entrance exams started very early on January 4. Admission consisted of two rounds. The first round was a portfolio contest. Portfolio is very important when applying to the Faculty of Design and Arts in Pilsen. It is by portfolio that one third of applicants are taken out.
When I showed my works to the tutors of the Product Design Studio at the open day, they advised me to include more works in my portfolio, showing that I am interested in Product Design. I developed design of headphones: appearance and functionality for the portfolio.
I had 25 works in total. I included all kinds of works in my portfolio. The results of the portfolio contest were announced the next day, the lists of those who failed and those who passed were posted along with the final scores. You had to score at least 10 out of 25 points.
For the next three days, we had to sit the entrance exams. I contacted the university in advance and got a place at a hostel for the exam period at a reasonable price.
The speed of clay and the time of paper
On the first day, you had to make speed out of clay. Yes, the tasks were of creative nature. The second task was to capture various materials – glass, metal, plastic. They put a still life for us – a metal vacuum cleaner, a mug, a transparent glass. We could use any materials, I drew in pencil.
The third task was working with clay again. We were given a top view of the shape and set a task to build a 3d model. The fourth task was to make sketches and design the TV remote control of the future, and to think over its appearance in 30 years. It was important to come up with something of your own, something interesting.
Finally, the last task was to make time out of paper. You also had to write a comment on the meaning of time for you and the reason to show it exactly this way.
“It takes time to change from academia”
In addition, everyone was interviewed for 10-15 minutes. They asked me about the reasons to come here, the reasons of my interest in Product Design, and about my favourite designers. I was also asked to advise the places to visit in Moscow. The Board was very friendly, I didn’t feel nervous or stressed at all.
It helped that I came to the Czech language courses in the summer. I was able to express my thoughts after six months of training. In general, the Board is not all that concerned in your fluency in Czech. It is the way you manage the tasks and the cause of your desire to study Product Design are of main importance. The Board needs to see your potential capabilities.
The tasks themselves were not the most difficult part of the admission process. Emotionally though, it was tough. I was in a foreign country, other applicants were mostly Czech and I felt a little bit out of place. It helped that I came together with some other people from the courses.
Competition for Product Design is three people per opening. They admitted 20 out of 60 prospective students. I definitely would not have entered without the creative training I got from courses in the Czech Republic. It takes time to change from academia and learn to embrace modern trends.