GUEST BLOG: Dickie Wilkinson says "Gird up your loins!"

That's a lie. The toe-curling truth is that my pal and I would patronise the 'posh interior design shop' and ask for the old wallpaper sample books which, as well as already being the perfect size, were plentiful and free, so each term could have a whole new look!

So when Smarta deputy editor Rebecca Burn-Callander asked me how I was preparing for the School For Creative Start-ups course I momentarily envisaged myself back in short trousers, clutching a Cole's & Son-covered notebook while Doug Richard stood over me - cane in hand.

As the application deadline for S4CS closes this week I would encourage anyone who is considering embarking on a creative career, or knows someone who is, to gird up your loins and give it a go!

Whilst some of the 'I's and 'T's are yet to be dotted and crossed, the course promises to kick off with a three day  'boot camp'. This to me sounds terribly like P.E. but I am told it actually involves a series of lectures from Doug Richard and guest speakers, exploring what business is, what types of businesses there are and how to make them a success.

Fret not, those of you with a more artistic soul whose eyes just glazed over upon reading that! Doug Richard's people have assured me and I quote: "We have been working hard to write all of our curriculum to specifically communicate well with creative people who don't have any real business acumen."

So from that I am rather expecting some 'colour-me-in' pie-charts and a financial dot-to-dot.

Dear readers, while I jest, rest assured I am approaching the start of this course with the giddy enthusiasm of a sugar-filled schoolchild. Just making this commitment has forced me to focus on what I want to achieve over the next year, such as getting to grips with this new-fangled 'internet' thing. Indeed writing articles like this one, whilst being jolly good fun is also met with a seriousness and dedication that belies my airy nonchalance.

I also hope that participating on the course will enable the chance to develop new friendships. We designers on the whole are a charming and supportive bunch, endowed with good looks, natural charm and inquisitive minds. But can sometimes hide a guilty, darker side, occasionally looking upon our more successful creative contemporaries like a wannabe princess thinking: 'It should have been me'.

Instead I dream of this course as being the start of an emergent creative collective that will rise up and herald in a new generation of art and design professionals, with a bit of nous to boot.

I suspect before this happens however, like most English people I will no doubt stand around on the first day staring at my shoes hoping someone will be the first to break the ice, perhaps allowing me a dip in their sherbet dib-dab.

The other aspect of the course that also brings me out in bumps of a sort are 'the Mentors'. Doug Richard is well known for his appearances on Dragons' Den and a shiver runs top to toe every time I think of how the Mentors may take us to task at the one-to-one meetings if our homework is not up to scratch.

Again the S4CS is always open to new mentors and new ways of supporting 'the Creatives'. Each candidate will have an online profile (here's mine) and an opportunity to sponsor them. Like a yearbook of candidates for those 'who are most likely to…'

Being British, such candid talk of cash makes me cringe but funnily enough as a 'designer who is likely to…' I can think of many ways in which one seeks support from the kindness of strangers.

Whether it be offering desk-space or use of email and telephone in a creative environment or sponsoring the costs of marketing, packaging or materials, anything and everything would be a huge help. For many designers cash flow and initial investment are the very things we struggle with but for larger companies such add-ons are tax deductible and in most instances a relatively piffling amount.

And finally a personal request from your dear Dickie. S4CS asked me who my ideal mentor would be and I replied Mary Portas. Given her background and forthright style I believe Ms Portas' company Yellow Door would be perfect to help me develop my brand and take it to the next level.

So if anyone reading this knows Ms. Portas please do pass on my details to her. Whilst it is said that one should never meet their idols, I think a little bit of hero worship goes along way. After all what schoolboy didn't try extra hard to conjugate his verbs to earn a winning smile from the French mistress?

Class Dismissed.

Dickie's portfolio: www.drwm.co.uk

Dickie's shop: www.dickiewilkinson.bigcartel.com

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