A young student commencing studio work for the first time may be surprised at the rather lowly work she will be given. For a while she may have to "fag" for one of the crack artists, doing little jobs like changing paint water and fetching drawing materials, or getting out and putting away garments that are being sketched by other people. These humble beginnings need not be despised. Unconsciously one will be learning much and acquiring a useful knowledge of the essential "tricks of the trade." After a little time the beginner will be given some board, or more probably a sheet of cartridge paper, being less expensive, and encouraged to show what she can do. The natural inclination is for the student to try to emulate the work of her mentor; but even at this early stage it is well to try to find and develop one's own individual style. Learn from the others by all means, but do not slavishly copy. A month or so of this sort of thing and the beginner will be given something productive to do, like putting in some straightforward detail on


someone else's drawing. The initiate stage is over; serious work begins.

When the first real job comes along one may be inclined to be rather scared about it, and at a loss to know where to begin. The safest thing is to sit down quietly, and think the job over for a few minutes. Then, the best way of tackling it decided, go bravely ahead, concentrating everything on the work in hand. "Only engage . . . the mind grows heated. Continue, the work will be completed."

It sometimes happens that a newcomer in a studio is not made comfortable for her work. Her desk may be badly arranged, or she may lack essential things, such as a rubber, or a book of reference may be necessary. To try to continue working under such handicaps is most unwise; one gets "rattled," and the work suffers accordingly. If anything is required it should be asked for.

At the risk of seeming old-fashioned, one must mention the question of meals. Such is the absorbing nature of drawing, and so unwilling is an artist to leave a job just at the moment when it seems to be "coming right," that meal times are frequently honoured more in the breach than the observance. That course eventually leads to trouble: a regular break and meal, however light, should be regarded as a serious part of one's duty.

There are two qualities the cultivation of which may be strongly recommended to every beginner. They are punctuality and cheerfulness. In the unpunctual world of commercial art, punctuality in attendance, and in the completion of work to time, is appreciated as one of the higher virtues: and a cheerful readiness to get on with the work is the young artist's sure shield and buckler against the somewhat temperamental atmosphere of a fashion studio.

Above all, one should avoid the ways of the "clock-watcher." So soon as work becomes a task to be got through, then may one say good-bye to any serious ideas of success. The harder one works in the early days, the sooner is reached the stage where one need not work so hard.


It is the practice of some large firms to make long period contracts on terms which, even" after three or four years, provide for the payment of only a small salary. In such case an artist may feel that she is being exploited, since her work produces for her employers very much more than they pay her. But it should not be forgotten that it is largely due to the studio that an artist's work is worth anything at all, and a profitable artist is only repaying the studio for the unprofitable early period of training.

Contracts are two-edged things, and should be entered into with caution. Preferably a draft contract should be obtained before signature, and shown to a solicitor. The money will be well spent. Contracts offered frequently contain one-sided conditions, such as providing for the discharge of the artist in certain circumstances, but making no provision for the artist to leave at her option. Again, the period may be undesirably long. Whilst it is not possible to state a definite rule, it may be taken that a three-year term is generally better than five, since if one is going to be any good at all one will have developed into a serious artist well before the end of three years. A short term leaves the artist free to negotiate for better conditions so much earlier.

Contracts seldom contain any penalty clause. And although a studio would not ordinarily attempt to hold an artist by force, even if that were possible, to break a contract would be bad business for the artist. It is much better to get an unsatisfactory contract cancelled, or its terms amended, amicably.


Fashion Drawing Sections

Part-1 Part-2 Part-3 Part-4 Part-5 Part-6