In this series we spotlight the people who make NYSD a truly great place to learn fashion design, our instructors. Today we will be learning a little bit more about Sandra Perdomo, one of the instructors who has been at New York School of Design the longest.
How many years have you taught at NYSD?
11 years in August 2018
What classes do you teach at NYSD?
Fashion Drawing (fashion figures and flats)
What is your education and professional background?
I have a Certificate of Fashion Illustration from Parsons School of Design and a Certificate of Independent Illustration studies from Central St. Martin’s School of Art in London, UK (Parsons-St. Martin’s Exchange scholarship).
While in London, I did freelance drawings and also junior modeling for a Style Patterns artist. My first job out of school was for the now defunct department store, Bonwit Teller, as a layout artist.
Probably my best job ever was for a small fashion/color trend service. The business was run by a woman and a small staff of women, plus freelancers as needed. Our clients included Wohl Shoe Co. and Irving Tanning Co. As an artist, it was highly creative and allowed everyone to do many different aspects of projects including live fashion shows, national ads, and shoe designs. It was tough but the best experience. Within eight years I moved up to Art Director.
After those eight years there, I became interested in adding freelance clients. It was inviting because it provided new challenges and the flexibility to work for different companies. As this was an age before computers were common use, many companies relied on artists to create showroom boards to show off designer collections in full color, flats for brochures or line sheets, mood/color boards, graphics for missy/juniors, and illustrations. This was also creatively satisfying to be able to draw constantly.
By chance in 2007, I found a tiny advert seeking teachers for a private fashion school. For a very shy person such as myself, this was a substantial undertaking. However, I soon learned how exciting it could be to teach students about fashion designers of the past and how world events also impact design. There’s also learning how to use fashion terminology to describe types of collars, demonstrating techniques to render satin, fleece or herringbone, or showing how movement on a fashion figure is rendered. Ten years later and I still really love it.
What is your favorite part about teaching at NYSD?
The joy seen in the students’ faces when they have succeeded in drawing a fashion figure or rendering a fabric texture is priceless. Over the years, I have found that many students who have never drawn before show the most improvement due to hard work and practice.
NYSD allows teachers to provide more one-on-one attention, which is something missing in larger schools. Students have told me they appreciate my infinite patience and on-going encouragement. Students here have the benefit of an intensive crash course in fashion design to really get a sense of what the industry will be like.
What advice do you have for people looking to break into fashion design? Or advice for students on how they can be successful at NYSD?
It honestly requires a great deal of hard work and determination, but nothing should stop you. Many people tried to dissuade me but I knew I wanted to draw since I was a child. There is no easy road. It is less about grades than it is about working towards a terrific portfolio. As a teacher, I am available to students if they have questions or difficulties. Sometimes young students use NYSD as a stepping stone to continue their fashion studies in one of the major schools which is also helpful.
Students who succeed at NYSD come prepared, do more than the minimum required, try to think outside of the box but follow the specific guidelines for projects, do not miss class, and show enthusiasm.
Anything else you want prospective NYSD students to know?
In school be as creative as possible, because in the “real world” those embellishments- fifty pearl buttons, etc.- will probably be out budget-wise or your boss might not think it’s as amazing an idea as you do.
During my first year at Parsons, one of my teachers told our class the story of R.O. Blechman. R.O. Blechman was told that with his squiggly, shaky-line drawings he would never be an artist. It so happens that this distinct style is what made him famous. Check out his Christmas Message of 1966 for proof. What one person perceives as a flaw can be an asset and set you apart from others.