Skip to Main Content
Logo for the Skills Centre

Writing for the Arts

Reflecting on your skills

Illustration showing different locations, to represent a journeyStudying in any arts or creative field may involve new knowledge and new skills. You may also be studying ‘making’ to master a process such as screen printing or silversmithing. This can take a long time. It’s not necessarily a straightforward linear process.

Reflect on your personal development and explore any new skills gained, consolidation of skills and reflect on what you learned. Break down the skills into the different elements of a process if relevant.

Refer back to your notebook, journal or sketchbooks- show the journey of your thinking, how you problem-solved and developed  a personal style. What makes your work uniquely yours? Perhaps you have had to adapt your design to accommodate materials or processes.

You may also be considering the aesthetics of how something looks: how attractive, beautiful, or tasteful an object is. Aesthetics can relate to fashion, architecture, illustration, graphic design, painting, product design, packaging design, pottery and ceramics, and interior design. Reflect on what you did to create the design and the skills you gained along the way. How could these skills be useful in future projects? Could you also link skills gained to the employment context and opportunities?

Useful reflective models

It can be useful to use a process for reflection. Here’s a quick three stage model:3 pieces of writing, in order

1. I know or thought I knew...

2. I learned...

3. I want to keep learning...

An example of this model here: three stage reflective model


You might also Rolfe’s (2001) reflective model:

It has three stages with question prompts:

1. What?

2. So What?

3. Now What?

What? Describe the situation, the product, the outcome, an event or work process.person describing information on a screen, people watch and understand
So what? Two rocks hitting (making impact)Explore the significance, meanings, impact. Consider how you have been personally affected in the situation or context. What is the impact likely to be? For example, you may have the end user in mind and you are incorporating their viewpoint in the design.
Now what? Arrow moving forwardsWhat are the implications for the future? What’s changed and how does this affect what’s next? How has your overall understanding changed? What will you do next? How do you intend to use the learning from this situation?


Pen writing in a notebookExample: Aisha explores this ‘What?, So what?, Now what?’ model to reflect on her learning when designing silver jewellery.


I experimented with so many different forms. I liked the idea of angular, straight shards. I tested out my design with classmates and potential silver lovers and they indicated the pieces could be uncomfortable to wear. I had lost sight of the end user, comfort, acceptability, the wearer’s perception although the fashioning of such shapes was relatively straightforward for my skill level. This made me think about the subjective-‘what I like’ and what others may perceive. There’s a tension to be resolved in this design process, or is it about going my own way anyway?

So what?

I thought about this. In the next stage I wanted to push my designs to a different level after that feedback; I started to read about different art movements and found several Jugendstil (German, Austrian Art Nouveau period) jewellery items in old catalogues with very fluid forms, shapes derived for nature, and the natural world. They were visually stunning, and the level of craft was inspiring. However, the group crit was challenging for me when I presented my ideas of how I intended to take my next design stage forward. One comment was that my work was too derivative. When is inspiration copying? How do I make this design unique? Does it need to break rules of making to be unique?

Now what?

I am curious where the design will end up. I was mainly focused on shape and form, but I realise there is different expression in the techniques available too. I am experimenting with different techniques. I have been hammering, etching and overlaying to bring in more fluidity. I’ve not decided on the final form. Feedback also made me think of the end user, the wearing of my jewellery and I feel I have to balance innovation with comfort. I’ve not quite resolved this tension so my next prototypes will explore the form and the wearing. There has not been much innovation in how jewellery is worn so that could be something to explore too.

Notice in this example how feedback is considered and feeds forward into the next stage of the design and prototyping process.