July 1, 2012 Ten Easy Secrets to Hold a Shoemaking Course
Am I being sarcastic? Hell, yeah, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t give a few advices.
So here it is – how to hold a course! 10 easy advices:
1. NO DEGREE, NO PROBLEM
It maybe comes a surprise, but you don’t need to be a certified master to teach, to be straight – you don’t need to be even a shoemaker, you can just “take shoes apart and learn how they are made” (true story). Don’t worry about authenticity, there are no requirements anywhere. Teaching without any formal degree counted to be committing a crime 100 years ago, now it is fun and no problem at all! So? Why would you care of this little problem?
You don’t have to be much better than your students. Make sure you sound a bit more authentic than they are. They will admire you, most probably stay (I head some stories when they did not). It is perfectly enough if you just one course ahead.
3. RETHORICAL SKILLS
Be good with your rhetorical skills. They might ask stupid things, stuff what you never heard of, you don’t want to admit, that you don’t have a clue, right? So talk! They will get bored after a certain point anyway, and if someone force that question over and over again, point it out that he is stealing the other’s time – that always work.
Be overwhelmingly kind! That is always useful. Nobody wants to be unkind with a kind person, right? They will never hurt you with nasty critiques.
You don’t have any access to a professional upper-maker? No problem. Turn this tiny disadvantage to an advantage: offer an upper making session! Don’t worry about the fact, that it is another trade and it itself worth a several weeks course. They don’t know, and they will be happy to learn that as well. If the uppers turn out really and bad – well, you need to give them some encouragement, like: “don’t worry we all started like this!” or “it is just a beginning, you just learn!”. Forget to mention that they learn from the wrong person.
Be very negative and discouraging about the other courses and makers! You don’t want your students, that they realize that they and their students are way better, right? So just criticize badly fellow shoemakers or maybe never ever mention them! Act like you are the last artist of this lost art! (don’t worry about the fact the we are quite many)
7. COMPETITION AGAIN
Never, again: never take any slight chance that your will be compared with other’s work! That would be a tragedy.. We all know that, right? So, even if you make some footwear – just hide them well. Instead of that post your student works proudly!
Don’t forget to convert the empty compliments to “testimonials” on your website! They always work well. And anyway – who the hell will check them?
Problems with the knowledge? No problem! All you need is just take shoes apart, learn the easiest basics, and set them go free with their creativity! The result will be crap, but that’s why remember: they don’t know what they should have complete, right?
Finally: the most important thing: create an authentic atmosphere around you! Having a beard or grey hair is just great (you must be very experienced with those, right?), but equip your workshop with ancient tools and stuff is also great. Nobody (including you) knows how to use those, so why would you worry? If they ask, watch them strictly and point out how disrespectful they are. Anyway being grumpy is very authentic.
And the reason I came up with this – I see more any more shoemaking courses. Honestly – it doesn’t bother me much. I believe in myself, I believe in my knowledge. Many of my students achieved great things, make nice shoes, set up their own businesses, brands – not just a few, many. I admin a big community on Facebook, this blog and a youtube channel and my courses are always full. I feel bad about students who pay a lot and just realize that shoemaking is not for them, disappointed and never start over again. I feel sorry about those people – guys. Don’t give up. You can learn something better.
If you plan to learn shoemaking – there are great courses out there! It is easy to choose, let me give you some guideline:
– choose someone, who is an authentic maker with actual production. dot.
– check the previous student’s work – do you like them? Don’t think that even you don’t like those, you will make better. You won’t.
– check the price and the time! There is no serious course under 5 days and it is not gonna be cheap.
– join to forums and ask people! Privately if you feel so.