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Teenage Inspiration


Well-Known Member
Hi Folks, I'm after some ideas to help motivate my 15 year old son. He's just started his Gcses and is fairly academic, but just does enough to get by. When he's at home, he's either on his Xbox or his bmx. He has a bit of talent for art, and graphics/web design would be the obvious route, but he doesn't really know what he wants to do.

A lot of you are at or just out of Uni - what, if anything, inspired you at that age? Are there any books, dvds, or online stuff you could recommend to help? Are there any sites out there that are a helpful guide for which route to follow?

Any advice would be welcome before I resort to the usual combination of bullying and bribery! :confused:


Staff member
Unfortunately if he's not motivated he won't just change... he needs to find his 'passion' before he will become motivated.

Basically you need to take away the xbox and bmx :)

Give him pocket money only if he hits certain standards rather than as a defacto practice

Personally I had a goal to go to uni from early high school and a passion for design from when I was little. I've never been a science/maths/english kind of person although I was top set in every subject. Why, as I knew I needed it to hit my end target which was uni :)


Senior Member
I didn't get motivated until I was in my 20's, so it's not the end of the world. I started uni at 22, MA at 26, moved to Italy when I was 29, now at 30 I'm happy.

I didn't get properly motivated until I started working in the real world and realised I hated that and wanted to get qualified so I didn't have to go back to the real world!
That sounds a little bit like me at that age! I didn't know what I wanted to do but had an artistic inclination. I was suggested a college course for Graphic Design. In the first year I didn't really get into it but in the second, it kind of clicked that if I don't pursue this, I'll be stuck in a Supermarket all my life. I then went on to Uni to study Graphic Design and now this is my profession.

Get him into a college course he has an interest in and get him a part time job. If he hates his job, this is good material to spur him on to better things - it certainly worked for me. Or there is always an apprenticeship of sorts...

Paul Murray

Staff member
Let him try a job in retail for a year or two. If that doesn't break him, nothing will.

It's good that he's actually getting out on his BMX. Maybe use that as a jumping off point? Show him some BMX photography, videos, illustrations, magazine, fanzines, etc, to see if that peaks his interest. And through digital mediums it's incredibly easy for anyone to start their own fanzine for no cost at all. What are his friends interested in doing? Can they combine skills/interests somehow?

As Levi said though, you can't really force someone into being passionate about something. I didn't know what I wanted to do until I was into my 20's, but thankfully I'd done pretty well in my GCSE's so had loads of course options available.

If he doesn't put the effort in, he'll struggle to get even basic jobs, especially with the economy as it is, which means no more money for Xbox live!


Well-Known Member
Thanks, guys.

Paul, yes, he's into the bmx mags - maybe that's a way in. He could use that as a school design project, maybe. The obvious route from school would be some kind of foundation course, I guess, so he could try a few different things and hopefully one would stick.

I just wondered if there were any sites or anything out there that could help - his school seems pretty useless re careers advice. Anyone else got any thoughts?


Well-Known Member
Does anyone know what they really want to be at 15? When I was asked I think I said "I just want to draw. Maybe something with art and computers" ... Ok so maybe I knew what I wanted to be but I had no clue how to get there! My careers advisor told me to go to uni and study teaching. Fool.

If he has hobbies they can grow into something he wants to pursue. So it's either game designer/developer/tester or extreme sports so far by the sounds of it!


Staff member
Jimlad said:
Does anyone know what they really want to be at 15?
surprisingly I did know what I wanted to be (car designer) at that age, it was only at uni that I got diverted slightly to a more diversified field of product design (which technically can include cars etc too) after the tutors suggested I was better suited to it
When I was 15 I didn't give two ****s about what I wanted to do, I barely do now and I'm a "responsible" adult. Just be open with him, be supportive, and encouraging but don't tell him to do anything, and don't force him down any routes. Maybe he wants to be a graphic designer, maybe he wants to be a farmer, it doesn't matter.

Just offer him some guidance. I mean, I wasn't that good at art, but I took it because I could do it and I was too lazy to put any real thought into what I wanted. But looking back, what you do at school, or university has very little effect on what you actually do or want later in life. If you want something enough you work for it, and you get it.

I would say though, my art degree at university was a ****ing joke, don't go to Middlesex if you're going to take the course too seriously. That said, university is not really about what you do, (bar the select few choices; medicine, law etc).. You just go for the experience and borderline alcoholism.

My career advisor at school said I should work with the dead. So hopefully I'll always have that to fall back on.


Staff member
br3n said:
Its taken me until now (25 years) to actually *WANT* a career.
I never looked at my 'passion' as a career, I just wanted to make pretty pictures of cars, money was last thing on my mind, ah the joys of being young with parent's giving you pocket money etc :up:

Unfortunately in the real world you need money so I ended up with a career in design :clap: