Top creative outlet classes here at Washington University
Tired of writing analytical essays and doing chemistry labs? Clear off room in your schedule for a more creative class, like Fiction Writing or Drawing I. Even pre-med students can paint a beautiful picture and even engineers can dance a breathtaking ballet—it can be a way to relieve stress while still getting academic credit. Cadenza staff members picked their favorite classes to let those creative juices flow.
Advertising 1 (F20 ART 1361)
Whether you’re an aspiring advertising agent or just a “Mad Men” fan, Advertising 1 is a great way to learn about the creative side of business and the professional applications of design. The class is a typical three-hour studio in the communication design department in Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Although I haven’t taken Advertising 1, I did take a similar class called Art of Advertising with the same professor (Frank Oros) last semester and really enjoyed it. Art of Advertising was based entirely around group projects in which we planned and pitched advertising campaigns, including a final project that we presented to an actual agency. Oros is also a great professor with years of experience in the industry and gives tons of creative freedom to his students. The class has no prerequisites (although knowledge of programs like Photoshop is helpful), making it a great option for anyone looking for a fun and hands-on creative outlet.
Creative Nonfiction Writing 1 (L13 Writing 220)
Do you love “Bossypants”? Interviews with your favorite celebrities? Talking about yourself? If you’ve answered yes to any of these, then I definitely recommend taking Creative Nonfiction Writing 1. I took the class because I had read a lot of memoirs over the past few years and found myself thinking of my own adolescent adventures and how to spin them into chapters in my own memoir, but I quickly learned that there are plenty of other avenues of “creative nonfiction.” My class, taught by Heather McPherson, focused on memoir, personal narrative and literary journalism, and we explored different ways to tell a story. One of my favorite parts of this class was how quickly I got to know the other students and the professor. There really isn’t a better way to get to know people than to read their own stories, and because these classes are maxed out at 12 students, you have the opportunity to make friends and share your own life stories. I recommend Creative Nonfiction Writing 1 to anyone who is looking for a creative outlet that really doesn’t involve too much outside research: all you need for this class is your life experience and the need to tell people about it.
Piano Class (L27 Music 159)
If you took piano in elementary school, gave it up in middle school and have regretted the decision (and hated your parents for letting you quit) ever since, Piano Class is the perfect class for you. No experience is necessary since you’re taken back to the beginning with learning how to read music, scales, chords and technique along with both classical and more contemporary songs. Homework primarily involves practicing music and scales, and if you live on campus, there are always pianos at your disposal—you’re given access to the music building’s practice rooms. If you’re musically inclined, piano is an easy instrument to pick up and keep up with after one semester. Only downside: it costs $150—but it is well worth it! The class meets for one hour two days a week, making it a great “creative outlet” that’s a bit of a break from lectures and discussion-based classes.
Fiction Writing I (L13 Writing 221)
If you’ve ever gotten the urge to exercise your creativity through innovative and unique writing assignments, Fiction Writing 1 is definitely the course for you. My class, taught by Kea Wilson, encouraged us to think outside the box by completing a “scavenger hunt” assignment each week. These small-scale projects involved scouring the Internet for an interesting story or picture that fits into one of the provided categories and then elaborating on the idea and asking a few questions about it. This class aided me greatly as I often have a tendency to write about themes that relate to me personally as a college student and sometimes have trouble bringing in topics that I don’t have personal experience with. The workload for my class wasn’t too bad, simply two eight-page short stories on any topic we wanted and three two-to-four page assignments that asked us to use craft elements from published stories we read in class. The most fun part was getting to read my classmate’s stories during the workshops, which took place in approximately 75 percent of classes. They varied from sci-fi to rom-com, showed perspectives that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen and were always interesting to read and edit.
Drawing I (X10 XCORE 101)
A lot of non-art students say that they can’t even draw a stick figure. Most of the time, that isn’t true. While they may not be natural artists, there are many drawing skills that can be learned just like any other craft. Drawing I is a great place to learn those skills while expressing yourself creatively. As a practice, drawing helps you understand the world experientially in the same way that physics teaches you how it works scientifically. It also serves as a great base for future art classes since the focus is on basic techniques. Classes are small (around 12 students) and personal. Preference is given to Sam Fox students, but each section usually has a few non-majors every semester. All of the professors have unique teaching styles and focuses, so it helps to ask a few students to find the professor that works for you.