In my first year at college, every Tuesday was life drawing day. The staff felt that even on a Graphic Design course it was important for us to continue to draw as much as possible. It was still in the days before the computer revolution.
We would generally spend the day drawing life models in the design studio. Occasionally, we would be sent outside the college to a gallery, museum or interesting building to ‘draw on location’.
The Crafts Council Gallery was then based in Islington, North London (near to the current Crafts Council HQ). In March 1985 it held a show of early 20th Century Soviet Textiles. We were sent there to record the exhibition in our sketch books. Russian constuctivist graphics and imagery were very popular amongst design students the 1980s. The original ceramics, fabrics and clothing on display were quite amazing.
What I think we learnt is that drawing on location, even whilst standing up in a small crowded gallery, makes for a much more interesting and truthful result than just copying from a book or photograph.
In the contemporary laptop/tablet instant-photo world I wonder whether Design courses realise this and still encourage students to draw in the traditional way as much as we did. I hope so.
Technical note: All drawings were made on A3 layout paper using Caran D’Ache neocolour wax pastels.