And a few words from David:
I had a lot of experience as a hobbyist before doing the year and also had done a number of short courses at other schools (David Savage, Marc fish etc) and had the basics nailed and could execute them well. I had also built up a pretty nice workshop over the years as a hobbyist and had all the major kit (although you can never have too much) so was not faced with a big outlay on that front.
It took me a long time to take the plunge. I had a well paid corporate job and I was making a big career change so I felt I wanted some sort of ‘formal’ apprenticeship or training to both convince myself I had what it takes to do it professionally and also to show potential new clients I had a professional training and was not just a hobbyist
One of my big worries before doing the course was…..would I be just going over old ground and not learning much. Inevitably there was was bit of going over old ground but I found the school really flexible and found ways to push my skills level whilst the newbies around me did the basics. I really felt quite stretched.
What really swung it for me was the quality of the head tutor Graham Loveridge and the master Maker Tim Smith. Both are real expert professional cabinet makers and to spend a year working under these guys guidance was amazing and worth its weight in gold……both to pick up tips from their years of experience and also being challenged to make work that met their high standards. As a hobyist it’s really hard to know just what professional making standard is. After doing the year under these guys you really do know and this is incredibly helpful when you are out on your own.
I also can’t sketch to save my life and I found the drawing/design sessions tough….but very worth while. If you want to set up on your own as a designer maker, it’s coming up with appealing novel and creative designs that’s the real tough part in my opinion. Olly and Will are good at pushing hard on these aspects but it’s really essential that you commit to this aspect of the learning. In hindsight I would have spent even more time on the design aspects during my year…….it’s really the thing you need going forward imho.
Post attending the school, I have found Will Olly and Graham very supportive as I set up on my own. They helped/advised me on my first professional commission in terms of refining my designs, preparing the pitch to my client as well as pricing. They have also given me the opportunity to exhibit my work in London alongside the school which was a great opportunity to gain access to the London market. I feel I can pick up the phone to them if I ever need any help or advice on any aspect of my business as it develops