verbal croquis


tips for Otis

Posted in opinions by verbalcroquis on May 15, 2008

It’s that time of year: people are either applying for college or getting their acceptance letters.  I’ve been getting several emails from people either thinking about applying to Otis or they’ve been accepted and planning to start in the fall and asking for advice so I thought I might as well do one big post.  Here are some tips:

Things you can’t change:

–It’s a small school.  Most classes cap at 20.  People remember you at a small school.  Your absence is noticed at a small school.  This means a few things: first impressions are lasting impressions.  People talk like they do in a small town. Otis has a strict attendance policy.  Learn it, memorize it, live by it.  Classes are going to be hard enough without having to do one over because you kept hitting the snooze button.  There are good things too–small classes mean you get lots of individual attention.

–Morning classes.  Suck it up.  If you’re going into the fashion program, you will be at school at 8am at least 4 out of 5 days a week, I can practically guarantee it.  Consider it training for the real world.  The fashion department is right in the middle of the fashion district, which is not the safest neighborhood at night, so Otis Fashion doesn’t like scheduling late afternoon and evening classes.  Other departments are located in Westchester, which is much safer, so they have later classes.

Things to not stress out about:

–It doesn’t matter if you don’t even know how to turn a sewing machine on or know what a dart is.  You will learn it all from scratch.  The only construction experience I had prior to Otis was a very simple a-line skirt I made to get my sewing patch in Girl Scouts when I was 8.  Seriously.  And now I can make tailored sportscoats and silk corseted ball gowns from scratch.  See links to your right. In fact, a lot of Otis teachers prefer inexperience, so they don’t have to break any bad habits.

–Other students.  Regardless of what you hear, there’s a lot more camaraderie at school than cutthroat competition insanity.  Just keep your head down and do your work.  And guess what? If you’re nice, people actually help each other.  I have a particularly fond memory of a group of juniors who came by to help me hem my monstrosity of a ball gown for my senior show. Six of them sat around my dress on a mannequin, tossing thread cones to one another, while I was fixing something else.

Things to keep in mind:

–There is no such thing as a useless class.  You will apply form and space concepts you learn freshman year in fashion design, unless you only want to design coffin garments.  You will dredge up drawing and composition knowledge from the back of your brain when putting together a lookbook.  You can find inspiration in all the cool literature and art you will learn about in your liberal studies classes.

–Most importantly, school is not the end-all, be-all.  It’s the beginning to what will hopefully be a long and amazing career.  Take it seriously but don’t kill yourself.

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3 Responses to 'tips for Otis'

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  1. Rebecca said,

    Sad for me, I grew up thinking there was no point in pursuing a design career for the one reason that I was slow to catch on to sewing. That coming from a person who spent the evening yesterday hacking sheets into theatre set pieces. Oh well! I still like my life. 🙂

    Now I have a daughter who is researching colleges. If fashion were her field, this post would be very helpful.

  2. Andrea said,

    Thanks for typing this out-
    I was kinda freaking out last summer because one of the girls told us about how fashion students sabotaged eachother by pouring gas in their car’s fuel tanks. . . scary :O
    (Thankyou again for the interview~!)

  3. Eric said,

    This write-up is amazing. Otis seems like a great art school but i wasn’t sure how great. Hearing the pros and cons of this school really makes me consider going here. Thanks 🙂


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