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Everything to Know About Studying Art in the UK and Abroad

By Yann, published on 10/05/2019 Blog > Arts and Hobbies > School Art > Studying at an Art School in the UK

Understanding the process of becoming an artist can sometimes be more complicated than the art making itself! From attaining an art degree in communication design to specializing in cartooning – art majors have an endless amount of choice in both the programs they can study and the career opportunities they can apply for.

Here, we breakdown everything about studying art starting from what types of programs you might find to the professional opportunities you’re likely to encounter based on your degree.

Find an art major Finding the right program at a university of the arts is possible

Not All Art Programs Are Created Equal

The general definition of the fine arts is intentionally vague: it is delimited as being the art of  producing “beautiful objects.” While this definition lacks the clarity that both a prospective student or employee need as they try to settle on universities and career opportunities – it does put emphasize to the extremely important reality that art is a broad subject.

So broad, in fact, art courses at a school of art can include anything from digital media, metalsmithing, screenwriting or architecture. Whether you’re seeking to fill an internship position or want to find a bachelor in fine arts, start by understanding the different types of degrees you will find out in the art world.

Fine Arts Degrees

If you’re looking for a fine arts program at a college of art, they will most likely award you with either a master or bachelor of fine arts, known as a MFA or BFA. Getting an arts education is also possible within the liberal arts education system, the only difference being the degree title you will receive (BA or MA).

Some fields you could specialize in include:

  • Art History
  • Drawing and Painting
  • Film and Television Production
  • Sculpture

Art and Design Degrees

Art design programs, on the other hand, include a subset of fine arts degrees that can vary from an associates degree in media arts to a bachelor of science for architecture. While all programs within the field of fine and visual arts are interdisciplinary, art and design programs require many skills not usually classified under “art.”

This occurs because so many young artists studying art and design tend to combine their skills with entrepreneurial ambitions. If this piques your interest, you could check to see if your art school has courses covering topics like project management or arts administration.

Some fields you could check out for fine artists interested in design are:

  • Fashion Design or Fashion Merchandising
  • Graphic Design or Graphic Arts
  • Interior Architecture
  • Digital Media
  • Printmaking

Why Study Art?

While it’s no secret that artists have always been haunted by the stereotype of the “starving artist,” art objects have, at the same time, often been the subject of incredibly extensive and costly renovation and preservation projects.

Whether you have a master of fine arts or are taking art classes at your local art center, the history of art patronage and cultural relevance as it relates to the socio-political environment continues to be as important today as it was during the Renaissance.

What makes studying art rewarding, however, is not just it’s impact on defining the political and economic attitudes of whole generations – it is also a subject that offers a high degree of versatility. Whether you would like to graduate from a fashion and design school or are simply looking to take your creativity and apply it to business, studying art can improve society as well as the general health of the individual studying it.

Why study art, visual culture or design Whether you make online art or like fashion, your artwork can change the world

Being an artist can also mean connecting with your community in ways you couldn’t have done otherwise. Studying at a center for the arts or graduating from a design program doesn’t have to be a solitary effort, confined either to your art studio or lecture hall. Art has been proven to bring communities closer, either by collaborating to make an exhibit, through workshops, or just through an alumni network.

Careers for Art students

Another major reason why people choose to study art can be found in the diverse array of career paths that an arts degree can offer. The different jobs in art you will be able to apply for will, of course, depend on what you have studied.

If you’re a graduate who specializes in one of the many subjects found in design degrees, you will be able to work in a field that ranges from jewelry making to environmental architecture an sustainability. Some examples of the roles you can fill if you get a degree from a school of art and design are:

  • Illustration for a publishing house
  • Design computation specialist

On the other hand, graduating from a film school will enable you to work in the entertainment industry as well as become a business owner. Some of the careers you can find in the film industry can include:

  • Photography company owner
  • Computer animation expert

While art history tends to be thought of as a field only involving curatorial work in museums or working on an exhibition or in galleries, this career option can also lead to jobs for teaching in the creative arts or in an NGO. Art educators can be found teaching at either an academy of art or art centers.

If you’re interested in exploring more career opportunities, check out this guide to find the ideal career path in art institute and beyond.

What Requirements Do You Need for an Art Education?

Applying for an art university or school of design in the UK does not differ from applying to any other school. Meaning, in order to get through the admissions process, you will still have to apply through the UK’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

The only difference is that most universities of art require a portfolio submission. While this can seem harrowing, to both beginners and professionals alike, building a portfolio is one of the most important steps on your artistic journey. Not only does a portfolio of your work give an insight into your technical skills as an artist, but also helps people understand the subjects you are most interested in.

Organizing your portfolio, however, can be extremely difficult. While there are many ways in which to order your portfolio, there are some general rules you can follow, including:

  • Gathering all of your artwork
  • Picking a method of organization
  • Building a narrative

For many art universities, strong portfolios often lead to an interview – which will most likely be the last step in arts school admissions process.

In terms of your application on the UCAS portal, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. While you should focus your energy on providing the most accurate and up-to-date information, it’s important to give yourself enough time to prepare. Don’t miss important deadlines to submit your application, which will often differ depending on whether you’re a British or international student.

Searching for the perfect education art program Apply to an institute of the arts that offers your desired specialization

Best Art Universities to Study Art

While studying in an art program can be extremely rewarding, there are many different factors to consider before best art schools. The best advice can be found by talking to alumns or a professor or program director of your future school of arts. Whether you’re receiving a design education, or are going to attend a fine arts school, make sure to understand aspects of your chosen program of study like:

  • Tuition
  • Possible scholarships
  • Undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Whether they have positions as an artist in residence
  • What kind of university art they have produced

If you’re still struggling to find a program for a bachelor or master of fine arts, there are plenty of top art schools both in the UK and abroad.  If you’re interested in specializing in a specific discipline, like studio arts, or something more general within visual art, there are plenty of arts schools that can offer both a specialization or a specific degree.

If you’re interested in a college of fine arts that specializes in studio art, painting and drawing or life drawing, start by checking out schools like University College London orThe Glasgow School of Art

If you’d like to pursue a degree from a college of art and design for anything from ceramics to fashion, check out a school of the arts like the Royal College of Art. If you’d like to have a career in architecture, try looking for an art college that specializes in this field. Both Sheffield and Newcastle have universities that have some of the best programs in the UK for architectural studies.

Interested in studying abroad? A college of the arts offering programs in anything from digital arts to training to become an art teacher can be found in universities like the Rhode Island School of Design in United States or the Lagos School of Design in Nigeria. International students typically have to follow different guidelines and deadlines, so make sure to prepare in a couple of months in advance for any visas or application specifications you’ll have to meet.

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