How I Made it as A Fashion Designer…Even Though I Can’t Draw - Courses & Free Tutorials on Adobe Illustrator, Tech Packs & Freelancing for Fashion Designers

How I Made it as A Fashion Designer…Even Though I Can’t Draw

You may know that I am a fashion designer.

But there is one thing that you don’t know about me – one skill I’m missing that sometimes makes me feel like a total fraud in this industry.

I start to think, “do I really know what the heck I’m doing?!?”

But then I put myself in check.

I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, and I have been lucky enough to have some pretty good successes. Also, I’m really good in Illustrator. I can draw pretty much anything.

See?! Those sketches look pretty good, right?!?

But, there’s one BIG skill that I am missing.

It’s one that many designers have, but I don’t.

And when it rears its ugly head, the impostor syndrome begins to set in.

Every once in awhile, it smacks me in the face like a freight train at full speed.

One of these times happened not too long ago…

There I was, sitting in my client’s office, and I could start to sense that that freight train was getting closer…you know that feeling you get when you’re about to be exposed!?

Yeah, that one.

We were in the middle of a design review, and I had just presented some new concepts that they loved.


But then…they wanted some revisions…

…right there, on the spot.

Easy, I’ll pull my laptop out and open Illustrator.

But then…

Just sketch them by hand real quick,” they say.


The freight train hits me hard. My face and chest turn red. Is it getting hot in here?

I. Can’t. Draw. By. Hand.

You give me a pen and paper, and the results are embarrassing. My 6 year old nephew could probably do a better job.

So there I was, on the spot, coming up with an excuse…because, um, well, I can’t do what they’re asking…to sketch them real fast by hand.

You know what, let me just send them to you later – I’ll update the design boards all at once…” I suggested.

Ok, that works,” they agree, letting me off the hook.

I narrowly escaped…but I hate even being in a situation like that in the first place.

Your heart starts to pound.

You start fumbling your words.

Your face turns beet red.

Luckily, these “hand sketching” moments don’t happen very often to me. Hardly ever in fact. But when they do – I can’t stop thinking about them and feel like I’m a total impostor.

So – you may be asking yourself – why don’t I just learn how to draw by hand if I hate these moments SO much?!?

Well, to be honest, this isn’t a skill that I really need. As I mentioned before, it happens pretty infrequently that I get called out on this.

And luckily, it’s not often that companies require you to draw by hand. So while I have some personal issues with this shortcoming, in reality it’s not that big of a deal.

You see, nowadays, most companies require you to sketch flats in Illustrator. And that, I can do like a boss (as I showed you earlier).

So if anyone’s ever hovering over my shoulder looking at my screen and asking me to make edits on the spot, I’m 110% confident that I can produce what they want, right there in front of their eyes. I’m not stumbling around the software, having trouble finding all of the hidden features and fighting with error dialogs.

Nope – Illustrator is one area where I’m anything but an impostor.

And that’s what I’ve found to be one of the most valuable skills in the fashion industry: proficiency in Illustrator.

So…my guess is that…

You’re probably in one of two positions when it comes to sketching and Illustrator.

Position One

You can draw by hand, and your sketches are really good (BTW, I’m envious!). You’re probably really fast too.  Put you in Illustrator? You do ok, but it’s not something you’d want to do with your boss or client hovering over your shoulder.

Position Two

You can’t draw by hand – welcome to my world! Maybe you’ve done some sketching in Illustrator – but your designs look more like rectangles and squares than actual garments. Or, maybe you’re even too intimidated – wondering how to get started if you can’t even draw in the first place. If your boss or client were hovering over your shoulder while you sketched in Illustrator, you’d want to crawl under your desk and hide.

And I’m sorry to say it, but that my friends, is your freight train.

You’ve been put on the spot and have been asked to “just make the changes real quick, I’ll wait.”

You fumble around, and your face turns red.

Oh no, you’ve been exposed as a fraud…don’t freak out though! Remember, I told you earlier I too suffer from this – and it’s going to be ok!!!

So, just like I did, you start making excuses to buy yourself some more time:

I’m trying to finish something else up first, I’ll email them to you later,” you suggest.

And that works most of the time.

But it’s not ideal.

And the problem is, it happens all too often. Not just a few times a year, but multiple times a month.

And you know that things would be so much easier and better if you could “just make the changes real quick.”

But you and Illustrator just can’t seem to get along. And as a result, you’re not as productive as you could be. That probably reflects in your job title and your paycheck.

And it’s limiting your potential as a designer

But what if you were really good (and fast!) at sketching flats in Illustrator?

You’d be able to:

  • Make yourself more marketable
  • Get a better job (maybe even a raise too)
  • Earn the respect you deserve from your boss
  • Become a valuable part of the team 

I’m not telling you all of this as a tease or to make you feel bad about where you are now. Nope, that’s not it at all.

I’m telling you all of this because I know what it’s like to get smacked in the face by that freight train, and I want to help you slow that train down or even completely derail it from the tracks before it hits your pretty little face.

Which is why I do all of this.

The blog, the video tutorials, the trainings.

Why? Because I believe in you and I know you can do this. I’m happy to help you along every step of the way.


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