[PODCAST] Advice to Fresh Graduates, How to Overcome Fear of Failure, My Backstory, and More...
How to overcome fear of failure?
How to get a job as a fresh graduate?
How to get noticed online?
I’m excited to share with you a podcast episode from The Archiologist where we have an exciting talk with Maria Flores. Maria is the founder of The Archiologist as well as an undergraduate design professor at Florida International University and she interviews me on many different topics including:
advice to fresh architecture graduates
my journey from being an unemplyed graduate in Denmark to getting hired and gaining 90k followers on Instagram
why the Sketch Like an Architect project was born from frustration
how to overcome fear of failure
how can sketching make us better designers
and much more…
Click the links below to listen to this episode!
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Excerpts from the Interview Transcript:
M: Since I met you through Instagram; are you doing this full time or is it a part-time job?
D: It’s been, as they say -- a real hustle from the beginning. When I started this I was actually unemployed back then, in Denmark. Right now I’m in Prague. But back then, I started in the time when I was looking for a job to work as an architect. At that point, I started with Instagram, I think it was 2017… The beginning of the year. Soon after that I got hired, and actually most of the time, those two years, it was working in the evenings and early mornings in the weekends on Sketch Like An Architect.
M: Haha, I know how that feels.
D: I was working as a full-time architect, and as an extra thing, I was doing the Sketch Like An Architect project, and things related to that. Up until now it has always being a side hustle, part-time thing.
M: But I mean, at the end of the day it’s something that you love. You feel very passionate about it, so at the end of the day it doesn’t really seem like work, you know?
D: Yeah, not at all….. At work my responsibilities at the job were kind of limited, because I was a fresh graduate, I was new, I started getting experienced…. So the responsibility I was given was not as big. So when I would come home, I was doing this little project of mine, this online thing, I get all the responsibilities. And all the decisions are made by me. So it’s a nice experience, a nice balance… Ok, working and getting experience in real practice, and doing something completely on my own which I’m in charge of everything. So it was a nice balance I guess.
M: You know, I actually look up to that because there’s some people that don’t really have the time to do the side hustle that they want. And then, it becomes a thing that they say “Well… you know I’m not actually gonna do it.” But that step of actually doing it and working on it, is really hard. Taking the evening when you want to be with your family or friends, but you know that you have to do it and stay consistent, is really inspiring.
How did you start it though? What was it in your head that told you “I want to do this, I want to help people, teaching them how to sketch.” How did it all start?
D: That’s a good question. Actually… To be completely honest, it started all from a frustrating experience I had in my University in Denmark, where I was doing my Masters. And a lot of students, a lot of my peers, were not taught how to sketch or how to draw, how to draw. And nobody actually taught them during the studies. It was very visible in the graphical outputs, in everything you do; every drawing. Even though it is technical, you can feel if the person has a visual sense for how things are clearly communicated… That inability to not sketch and draw take its toll in those outputs, and since we were working in groups, sometimes I was not satisfied with the level of standards that we would produce.
It somehow took off… Because I was providing a lot of value when it comes to tips and how to improve. Tips that are very easy to digest and you can take them and apply them to your own sketching and illustrations. From that point on, it’s been very meaningful to me. I have found a lot of purpose in that. I think teaching is such a great purpose to have. When you know something a little bit better than most people, I think it’s such a nice feeling to share it with the world. To help someone that might need it for their work too.
M: And it’s so fulfilling too!
D: Yeah, and I stay consistent. Because I believe in it and I still believe it brings value to any designer.
M: Oh yeah, for sure. And I also saw something you put on your new website, SketchLikeAnArchitect.com… You said something about how technology right now is taking over the whole aspect of sketching. For architects, sketching is such an important tool. Designers also, in general. And there was a question that they asked in your community which was… “Do you think architecture sketching is becoming a lost art form, due to computer sketching?”
D: That is a really good question. I think it is becoming more lost than it was before because of all of the technological advancements. And I think that’s also the reason why the Sketch Like An Architect project can be alive, because there’s more demand for that analog skill. I believe that it [sketching] still has huge benefits and values that provides for better design and better presentation. But at the same time, because of all the new softwares and all the focus of the world in new technology, sketching is becoming lost.
So yes, it is becoming lost, but my mission is to say… “Hey, there are so many benefits, so much value that you can take out of simply using pen and paper.” For simple design and communication, for idea development…. Sketching is a part of process for many architects and designers. I see a huge technological barrier when you use any digital software. Being AutoCad or any BIM platform. Many people just use generic walls and predefined windows and they put it together and call it a facade. That’s not really what creative process in design is for me…
In BIM, many architecture students just use generic walls and predefined windows and they put it together and call it a facade. That’s not really what creative process in design is for me…
One of the biggest advantages of sketching is the instant connection between your head and mind. You get very easily into the state of flow where your creativity and problem-solving skills are at their peak. And you really get to do something productive and creative. Once you know what you want to achieve with your sketch, then you can take it to digital space. That’s totally OK. But I’m against diving right into digital software when you don’t know what you want to create in the first place; when you don’t have a clear intention. And I think just sketching it out is the fastest and more natural way of how to get there first.
One of the biggest advantages of sketching is the instant connection between your head and mind. You get very easily into the state of flow where your creativity and problem-solving skills are at their peak.
M: When you started drawing though, this is a really good question -- were you always good at it?
D: Haha, I sucked! I totally sucked! Like you say, it’s a process. It’s a journey. You don’t practice when you’re good. You practice to become good. They say it all the time, “practice makes perfect” and it is not a cliche, it’s true… It’s a really long journey. And I don’t think I’m at a stage when I can say “I’m really good at sketching.” No, I have lots to learn still. And the more I learn, the more I’m aware of the things I do not know yet. It’s just opening wider options and opportunities for me to learn.
You don’t practice once you’re good. You practice to become good.
To me, most of the sketches I do are for the design process. For problem solving and iterations. When you have tracing paper and you lay them over again and again to make it better. That’s 80 or 90% of my sketches. Just dirty sketches that get me into the flow... Sketching is just a way of thinking.... I wasn’t always good… If you just keep practicing, it is going to serve you very well and it will serve you better in time. It just takes patience, as everything.
M: When you said that sometimes when you are sketching you thought you were going to be a failure at it, how did you overcome it? I know some students that have a brand new sketchbook and are so afraid of ruining the page because the sketch might look horrible. How do you overcome that fear?
D: I don’t know if I overcame that fear. I have it too. Not only beginners have that feeling. But I think it’s important to shift your mindset. Back then I was afraid of failures. I was afraid to fail. But now I'm actually happy to fail because I think failing and making mistakes is just a part of the process and it’s important. The more you fail, the better your result at the end. So I actually encourage people to fail as often as possible. That’s where you make mistakes, but that’s also where you learn. That’s how you grow and improve your designs and improve yourself as a designer. It’s applicable to any area of life.
Fail as often and early as possible. The more you fail during the process, the better the result at the end.
One of the good advice I also give sometimes to people that are afraid to fail too much at sketching is creating the habit of creating one simply, crappy sketch a day. It doesn’t have to be nice. Just sketch for five minutes. You don’t have to put it online, or show it to anyone. Just for yourself and for the sake of sketching, for the sake of practice. Develop this habit and in one month, 6 months, you will be so much better. Fail as often and as early as possible.
M: Ok, another question I have is… How would you describe architecture in just a few words? For you particularly, what does architecture mean?
D: That’s a tough question. Since I was a student I developed a simple definition which is ‘Architecture is about creating spaces for people’. It’s important to always talk about spaces, be it public, interior, etc… And it’s always for people. We have to think about target groups, end-users, who we are designing it for. We create spaces for people.
M: What about in one sentence, a piece of advice you would give to an architecture student right now? Just one sentence.
Read the full transcript or listen to this podcast episode on The Archiologist Website.