Just like many other professions within the fashion industry, there are no real hardline requirements for Accessory Designers wishing to enter the field. You have the option of being self-taught, an apprentice, getting a little college education, or getting a full college degree. The choice is really up to you, your budget, and your learning style.
There are, of course, pros and cons when it comes to every one of these options. Accessory design, for example, is a very technical profession. You need to know the ins and outs of design, draw and sketch well, learn to use digital design programs in some cases, and understand the whole production process, not just design, to be successful. Plus, you need to be business savvy, especially if you choose to work for yourself.
What does this mean? It means that formal education is probably a great choice, since you will get a well-rounded understanding of not only design but also the industry behind it. You will have the chance to meet people in the field and get to know other students while starting to grow your professional network.
This being said, education is never a cheap option, especially if you get a degree at a private university. So if you feel you can get everything you need out of self-teaching and picking up a couple of workshops or local college courses, this could also be a great and economically smart option.
WHAT IF I DO WANT A DEGREE IN ACCESSORY DESIGN?
- California College of the Arts
Located in San Francisco, a great place to begin your career in accessory design, the California College of the Arts offers degrees in Fashion Design and Jewelry and Metal Arts, as well as Textiles and Printmaking. As an aspiring accessory designer you can choose one degree or combine them for your education. Tuition is $41,592 per year.
- Cleveland Institute of Art
Another college that offers a number of specializations is the Cleveland Institute of Art in Ohio. Once again, you have the choice of studying Fashion Design, Jewelry and Metals, or focusing on Glass or Printmaking. Tuition is an average of $35,270 per year.
- Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Integrated within a variety of its programs, Accessory Design is offered at Massachusetts College of Art and Design located in Boston. Here you can study Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Fashion Design, Printmaking, and Fibers. All of which can lead you towards a career in Accessory Design. Tuition is $11,000 for Massachusetts residents, $19,900 for New England residents, and $29,700 for out-of-state.
- Pratt Institute
An option within the fashion capital of the US in New York, Pratt Institute gives you the option of studying Fashion Design at the School of Design or Fine Arts in Jewelry at the School of Art along with additional options such as Printmaking or a generic BFA. Annual tuition averages $42,866.
- University of Cincinnati
Another Ohio-based school, the University of Cincinnati, has a program in Fashion Design, which you can combine with a variety of minors, such as Business or Communications, giving you a great foundation for opening your own business after your studies. In-state tuition is $11,000 for full-time students and $26,334 for out-of-state.
GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR
As we mentioned earlier, the fashion industry is competitive, so there are many designers trying to get in at the same time. This means that in order to get in, you’ll need to work extra hard as well to maintain your position within the industry.
Probably the most important thing you need to do in order to make it as an Accessory Designer is networking. This means getting to know other designers and other professionals within the industry. Your network should be diverse, have knowledge of what you do, and know what your design style is like.
When building your network, remember that you are not only getting to know people who might help you get a job or clients, but you are also marketing yourself. This means always maintaining your brand and looking the part. If you design belts, wear them! If your thing is jewelry, show it off with your outfits. Have a style, and let people know what it is you are selling as a designer. Have business cards and a web presence that corresponds to your style.
If your idea is to get a job as an accessory designer, you can start out with an internship or an apprenticeship. You won’t make much, if anything, but you will learn a lot and meet a lot of people, which is the most valuable part of doing work for free.
If you’d like to have your own business, start selling on sites such as Facebook and Etsy. Organize parties at home to sell the accessories you make. This way you’ll start growing your market little by little.
Very importantly, be patient. Don’t expect things to happen overnight. However, with hard work, you will have the opportunity to have a fulfilling and rewarding career, which can also be quite lucrative!