John believes that everyone has design talents and, although these are of different levels, they can be developed and refined provided the student has enthusiasm and an open mind.

The design groups are open to everyone from those with artistic training to those who have never picked up a pencil to draw. The groups are made up of students from different crafts and design backgrounds, the one uniting factor being their interest in developing their own unique design abilities. Each student is taught individually, which allows for a large variance of talents and levels of attainment.

John’s belief in natural talents is borne out by the standard of work produced by the members of the groups. John’s students would say that without the stimulus of his special tutoring skills, they would never have discovered or developed these natural talents. Although the classes are intensive and demanding, they are also great fun and extremely rewarding. Many members rejoin each year to continue to improve their design skills.

The courses, which run for 6 days spread over 6 months (1 day per month), all start with a museum day where students are given a short introduction to using the museum collections and are talked through ways of drawing inspiration from exhibits. Each class begins with a group critique. Individual students put their work on the wall and John then talks through the work, exploring its possible developments and ways to exploit the ideas the student has presented.

This is the time when everyone in the group learns from each other and it creates discussion, stimulates and encourages the students to think and to approach their work from different angles, which they might not otherwise have done.