Natalia Alvarez from Mexico City was accepted to study at Eindhoven Design Academy. Get to know Natalia better and see pictures of her stunning work that helped her get into school!
Since I was little, I was exposed to storytelling in many forms whether it be music, dance, theatre, literature or illustration. I experimented here and there with art, but it wasn’t until high school, where I decided to pursue art seriously, confident that this was my path in life, as I want to share my own stories with the world. I had never had formal artistic training, so this made my application process quite challenging, as I had to learn many things quickly and independently before building a body of work.
Applying to art universities
When it came to choosing universities to apply to, I went all out. I chose a range of institutions that all offered different degrees and also asked for different assignments or focuses in my portfolio. I applied for an Illustration degree in Rhode Island School of Design, Pratt, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, National College of Art and Design in Dublin and University of the Arts London, I also applied for a Fine Arts degree at the Royal Academy of Art (the Hague), and finally for a Design degree at Design Academy Eindhoven, which is the school I will be attending this year. I got accepted into all of them, except for the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague
I applied to the United States first, and so even though it was a very intense semester, I had gotten the hang of the system over there, so when it was time to apply for schools in Europe, I was very lost, especially when it came to the Hague and Design Academy Eindhoven. I built my portfolio around what I already had, but there came a point where I got stuck and I also didn’t really understand the European system or what the schools were looking for in a student. I then started searching for portfolio preparation courses on the internet and I came across Scandinavian Design School.
Help from Scandinavian Design School
I was just a few weeks away from the university deadlines and I had a rather large body of work. I was just looking to polish my presentation, and look for guidance on what to add, and what to get rid of. So I reached out to the teachers at Scandinavian Design School and they kindly offered me 2 one to one zoom calls where I could present my work and receive feedback that would better prepare me for applying.
My two zoom calls with Eeva (Head Teacher At Scandinavian Design School) were so enlightening, because she helped me really question my intentions, my process and the final product of my works. In the US, they don’t really ask for a lot of process work, and so I was definitely lacking that for the European schools I was applying to. Eeva pointed that out, and from there, I developed more reflective work and a deeper understanding of my creations. When it came to the home assignments Design Academy Eindhoven asked for, this was extremely useful.
First of all, Eeva helped me clarify the instructions of the assignments, while also reminding me of what this creative institution looked for in the way I approached them. I had really ambitious and idealistic ideas for the mandatory chair assignment and the dream film (which is the assignment I chose) at the beginning, so Eeva really helped me ground them. For instance, I wanted to outdo myself with props and artworks to make my dream film, with only 3 weeks left until the deadline, but Eeva suggested I pay more attention to the quality of the takes, and my abilities as a filmmaker, not a set designer as that was not actually the assignment. I think my film really stood out to the interviewees, thanks to this advice.
I was initially worried that my more 2D, artistic portfolio wouldn’t be a good fit for a Design course application, but in the zoom calls, I was really encouraged to work with what I had, and also who I am as a creative person. The zoom meetings were adapted to my vision and personality, and at the same time it pushed my boundaries as an artist and designer. I learnt that being a nuanced, flexible creative gives you space to explore different aspects of yourself and the possibilities that lie in your expression.
Preparation was rewarded
I would definitely recommend Scandinavian Design School to anyone who is in or about to begin the very long, stressful but also exciting process of applying to any creative course in Europe or elsewhere! I only took two zoom calls and I got so much out of it, so I can’t imagine how helpful and reflective the full courses must be. I wish I would have discovered these earlier, because it would have definitely made my application process much easier!
After this journey, I am really excited to start my studies at Design Academy Eindhoven. I think it’s such a vibrant and youthful place where ideas and inspiration are never lacking. I’m looking forward to learning about the students and teachers there, and be amazed by all of the crazy ideas they have. And even though it is a Design course, they also give space for more artistic expression and welcome lots of experimentation which is amazing!