I should’ve gone to art school. – By @nclrolly

By Rolly Ng


I should’ve gone to art school.

What is D&AD?

What is New Blood?

Who is Alex Taylor? Dave dye?

Why do people partner up?

For those unfamiliar with adland, and thinking if you should apply to SCA, congratulations, you’ve found the same specie. This is a blog post written by a philosophy graduate, who will leave the sofa to make a cup of tea during commercial breaks. In other words, someone who went through what ‘normal people do’.

In July 2018, I graduated from Warwick University in Philosophy with Psychology. The next three months, I went through unemployment like most graduates and lived like an application factory till October, when I got hired by a research consultancy. I was pretty unhappy with my 9-5. After six months, I realised I need a career that recognises my creative skills. One day, I applied to SCA out of annoyance of my boss, I didn’t think I would make through as I left the ‘website to my work’ empty.

On interview day, I walked into the school like a blank piece of paper. The advertising I know is only traditional advertising i.e. TV ads, pretty models in magazines, posters in tube stations. I didn’t know there is this team thing going on. I answered questions on copywriting and art directing based on knowledge at face value. I said I want to be an art director as copywriting implies that I need to write and it is definitely not something I enjoy. I said I have been using photoshop to make collages when in fact, I did enrol a weekly course on Adobe but never touch them outside class (the first time I opened photoshop in my life is April 2019).

So this is my background. How have I been doing since SCA started?

The school runs by emphasising what a high achiever looks like, all the freaking time. A high achiever is like a creative factory, come up with new ideas every day, improve old campaigns every day, and do networking as much as possible. ‘This guy changed his job, have you sent an email to wish him good luck?’ Wait, what, who’s that guy?

There are many times when I feel deflated. I compared myself with other people in the room, other people who have skills I don’t have.

She was a graphic designer. I wanted to have her eye for design so that my posters can look better.

She can draw his face accurately. I wished I’ve been to art school, at least I can draft posters quicker.

He directed a few short films. Geez, I wished I can make this shot more interesting as he did.

She knew someone in the school before coming in. I wished I knew how to be prepared for the amount of work.

He was in accounts. I hope I had his industry knowledge so I know which agency has what style.

It’s March now, and there are still times when I caught myself being jealous of other people’s skills and talents. However, not as much as before (you can read other scabs about how this place forces you to grow). One of the best lessons I learnt from this place is ‘Everything is a process’. I should accept that I am behind in certain aspects. Do not compare the worst of myself to the best of others. Have the courage to ask for help. Let this institute to bring my abilities up.

I discovered that I love coming up with the big idea, but don’t want to be a strategist as I can’t do focused thinking for 8 hours straight.

I like to spend time doodling.

I like to take pictures of random things

I like to read more.

I like to tell myself it’s ok to leave my desk and spend time in art galleries.

It was encouraging when the dean told me how much potential he sees, and a mentor told me he’s confident in my talent.

If you are wondering if you are good enough to apply for this school, please do not underestimate yourself. You have loads to offer, even just a fresh way of looking at things is extremely valuable. You can improve. You will be partnered up with people who are better than you. See how they work, ask if you can do some designing and reach out to your partner when stuck. Tell other people your goals and make sure you schedule in time to work on that. Sit with people who can help you. Email mentors. Write SCABs and learn your strengths and weaknesses.

If you have any questions, talk to me on

Whatever you are doing, please make sure you are running your race, and winning, every day.

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