We all know the good old ‘starving artist’ stereotype and other popular stigmas that strike a fear of choosing art and design degrees. I am a full-time illustration student in Cardiff and a part-time freelancer. I can guarantee you, learning to become a creative is nothing like those ‘mockeries’ we see in the media. In the next three minutes or so, allow EDUopinions and myself to walk you through my experience studying Art and Design at University. Perhaps this could help ease your pre-university dilemma.
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Usually, different types of degrees are advertised on university websites. These include Visual Communication, Design, and Fine Art, for example. Most degrees, in fact, come in a similar format. They generally include three types of modules.
The first type teaches, well, the chosen subject itself; the second has to do with art & design theories and last but not least is professional practice (or how to break into a creative career).
Though each university has their own variations of these three core aspects, being able to notice how art and design courses are structured means you can effortlessly navigate through the whole degree.
Besides their well-rounded nature, these art and design courses also give you a ‘queue jump’ to exclusive, industry-standard equipment. This can include 3D printing or the old-school metal typeface used in letterpress. Most specialist tools, however, do require you to know the basic health & safety; so don’t forget to take up induction workshops.
Nothing is untouchable, but here’s a little tip: always discover beyond your subject’s studio area and experiment with techniques outside of your art field; you’ll be surprised of the final creation. Plus, why not make every second and penny of your degree worth it while you have the chance?
The most sustainable value of an art & design degree is the young artists and designers studying along with you and what you can explore through each individual’s mindset. Creativity is written in every single thing they do and thought they have; they are not afraid to break the conventions.
I was born in a country where ideas & beliefs are expected to be conformed to fixed guidelines; and only when I started my illustration degree in the UK, that ‘crazy’ ideas are no longer crazy, but even respected and supported!
Every project, while still adhering to the standard expected in the professional world, encourages and challenges you to be out of your comfort zone on a daily basis. Being one of the most unified communities in any university, collaborations among seemingly unrelated courses are a norm.
Group critique sessions are also frequent to train every student to be ‘thick-skinned’ but well-connected creatives, ready for the real world! After all, your core values and beliefs are what influence your life in the long run. However, they are also alterable habits.
In art & design school, we all get the opportunity to become more and more open-minded. We become accepting of the diversity around us, while constantly asking questions and searching for ways to create impact.
Going to university, we’re not only seeking the skills for a career but ultimately, finding our own identity.
To my surprise, artists and designers are very much entrepreneurs, too. We don’t just come up with ideas but also execute them. As cliché as it might sound, art & design truly has the ability to cultivate your entrepreneurial spirit; by offering an environment of constant challenges and chances to take initiative on ‘impossible’ ideas.
Oh, and to clarify the image of the lonely, depressed artists we all have seen, students in art & design schools are certainly the opposite. We regularly communicate and find new local creative communities to engage with (for instance: Bristol Comic & Zine fair, Creative Cardiff, MadeInRoath festival and many more).
To sum things ups, if you expect no day of your university life to be the same, if you wish for freedom from conventions, or if you just want to be an innovative self-starter, a degree in art & design is the one for you.
Stay confident and make the choice your future-self will thank you for!