How can I build confidence in my design skills?

Diane is studying 3D design and wants to feel more confident about her skills.

I’m a third year student at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen studying 3D Design.

Being in my third year, I should be confident in my work, but I feel my skills are lacking. I would like to learn and practise more techniques as this is a field I’m interested in pursuing. If possible I’d like to get into design work with an ‘upcycling’ side.

Do you have any suggestions for me, such as classes, or links I could explore?

— Diane

Expert answers

Jessica Rose's reply:

Dear Diane,

At London Jewellery School ( we come across a lot of people who have an interest in jewellery design but don’t feel they have the skills they need – this can be because they’ve trained in a different design discipline.

The courses and classes we’d recommend would depend on what your

long term goal is. If you want to focus on designing jewellery rather than making, we’d recommend a course like our Diploma in Jewellery Design and Business (, which combines a focus on developing your jewellery design portfolio and business plan alongside a focus on the jewellery techniques you need to understand if you are going to commission others to make your work. 

If you want to make all your own pieces, then are their

particular techniques or materials that you want to develop your skills in? If it is a small number of specific skills, one way might be to take one day workshops or short courses which you might be able to fit round a job given you are about to leave university. Another would be to sign up a for a longer course that develops your making skills. On example is the LJS Diploma in Creative Jewellery where students attend one-day a week for three terms going from beginners to advanced techniques a range of jewellery techniques, helping them build professional skills and knowledge about all the media.

In order to decide the best route for you, think about what your end goal is, list the skills you will need to achieve that (don’t forget some of those might be business or marketing skills), and where the gaps in your skills are. Then you will have a starting point when you look at jewellery training courses and an idea of how much work you need to do to get to your desired level.

 In terms of practising your making skills, London Jewellery School offers a bench day scheme where you can use our studios for your own work – obviously if you are based in Aberdeen this isn’t that convenient, but it would be worth investigating whether there are any opportunities to use studio space with tools near you.

All the best with getting where you need to be.

Harriet Kelsall's reply:

​Hi Diane,

If there are designers who you particularly admire, you could offer yourself to work for free or for a low wage over the busy holiday period coming up.  You would learn loads which would be very worthwhile.  As long as you are prepared to serve customers, make the tea and stuff envelopes then you can listen, learn and make contacts whilst you are there.

Another idea would be to see if you can find people who have the skills and techniques that you are interested in but in a different industry (eg furniture or textiles) who might be able to teach you whilst you help them out.

There is always a way to find the skills that you need if you think creatively and plan yourself a set of small steps towards learning what you want to know.

Good luck!


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