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Thread: Has anyone else had a mediocre experience in a UK art school?

  1. #1
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    Has anyone else had a mediocre experience in a UK art school?

    I'm not going to discuss which school or any real details, but I am in my third year of study on a degree which is supposedly training me for concept art type roles in the creative industry. From animation to games, book and fine arts.


    Long story short, I've yet to have a lesson on anatomy, colour theory, or any painting method. I've attended all lectures and classes for 3 years and I'm finally ready to admit that I've wasted £20,000. The problem is, I need my BA, and to get that I need to be in classes and lectures every day of the week, and when I'm not in uni I'm working, so I'm drained. Financially and mentally.

    Is this just my school? Or is this UK art education? It's not like we are not doing anything.. We learn about visual language and do a lot of design work, as well as business planning, but no meat and two veg, as it were. Maybe they don't think art skills are wanted in the job market? I hear a lot of talk about business knowledge getting you farther than being able to draw.

    I am now frantically trying to learn to digitally paint, and trying to learn advanced anatomy and colour theory. Has anyone got any advice on how to cram that in fast?

    I don't really know what else to say, It's depressing to say the least, but I'm very ambitious, so hopefully it works out.

    Anyhow, please share your stories, and don't hold back. I'm sick of defending my school to people. We can't even get good grades unless we suck ****. Let any tales loose, maybe we can warn other UK youngsters not to waste £20k.
    Last edited by Pennyj; December 4th, 2009 at 09:23 AM.
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  3. #2
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    All university courses are like that all over the world, except maybe a few.
    And they're only good if you want the degree to teach others.

    Had something similar in Belgium. I only paid 500 euro per year for the school though.

    Best thing for you to do is start a sketchbook here and show some work, maybe get some crits and depending on your level, it might take anywhere from 1 year to several years to get to an industrylevel.
    So basically, after you graduate, you'll be suffering a part time job while learning for a few years. But it's far from impossible.
    You'll just need to suffer a bit

    Good luck.
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    I'm both sad and glad to hear that.

    Can I ask something else. Does the grade of my degree matter? Will a studio notice a 1st over a 2:1 or 2:2? If grade doesn't matter then I think it's time to start putting more time aside to practice my painting and drawing!
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    Have no idea what a 2:1 or 2:2 means, but studios hire by portfolio. If you can add to your CV that you also have a bachelor of a master degree in art, it might make em look twice, but beyond that it's pointless.
    If you don't have the skills, you don't get the job. But if you already wasted so much dosh on getting your degree, you might as well finish it. It won't put your chances any lower in any case.
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    Unless its the date, I dont think art directors even acknowledge numbers in a portfolio.

    Unless it's between two very similar artists.

    But I have a hard time thinking it's been 3 years and you had no anatomy training. If this continues, I'd consider a lawsuit. You paid the 20,000 to learn to draw and if you weren't properly taught....Well its like someone paid for a pizza, but the parlor never put cheese on it.
    SECONDS: Do you work from life of photographs?
    FRAZETTA: I work from my head.

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    Pennyj, which university is this? Also, what course are you studying? Illustration?
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    Their answer to that is "That is part of your self directed study". Which of course makes no sense, because it's a fucking art school.

    We have had about 10 life drawing sessions over 3 years, and in the last 5 I was told to stop doing gesture drawings, because they were "pointless".

    We had one session (5 hours) on line of action in figure drawing, but that fizzled out into very basic stick men doing 1000 different shitty poses.

    We also had about 5 hours of still-life drawing in one of my earlier classes.

    Besides my own time spent drawing and painting, that is it. The rest is based around visual language, design and learning software like illustrator and flash. There are an equal number of modules for business planning and art & design.

    If I'm 100% honest, I think the work I posted on my old account here, 6 years ago, may be better than my current figurative work. I know a LOT more about business, design, software and other stuff, but that isn't what an Illustration degree should be about... Is it?
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    Well, now you know a bit about how to market yourself and you also know how to use the programs to get specific effects.
    So now it's up to you to get the artistic skills again, I suggest lots and lots of lifedrawing and finding a job which requires you to sit on your ass all day so you can save your strength for the evenings when you draw and paint.

    I recommend watching a livestream when drawing, like Bobby Chiu's or MrDelicious, it's always nicer to draw with the guise of other people. Seeing how they do it, then get frustrated of constantly failing.
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    I really don't want to say. I know this may sound silly given what I've told you, but a lot of my lecturers are actually really nice. They are good at what they've been hired for. The problem is that the course planners don't hire in teachers for core-skills. They put them under "self directed study".

    If anyone is in a position to confirm that this is legally wrong, I may tell you the name of the school. It has a fairly good reputation in Fine Arts and a world class reputation in a particular design field.

    Another thing I will reveal is that despite spending over £100k on new hardware recently, the university wont allow graphics tablets to be used in the labs unless you 'hire' one and leave collateral. I GET this, but if I was the dean I would sooner expel students who abuse equipment than not put essential hardware in labs.
    Last edited by Pennyj; November 16th, 2009 at 07:22 PM. Reason: Don't want to risk someone from the school reading that!
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    Thankfully my job allows me to sit on my arse, and I fully intend to start sketching at work. Until now I have used my offline time at work geeking out on my various obscure modules, but as I've said, I now realise it is a waste of time getting an 1st class BA in Illustration when my portfolio looks the same as it did when I was in school!
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    Illustration isn't the same concept art - In the UK at least, illustration courses focus a lot on experimentation of different mediums and communicating ideas. Knowing about business is a valuable asset so it hasn't been a total waste.

    I'm interested in knowing the name of your university, though? Even if you PM me... I dropped out of a reputable university myself here in the UK, and share your frustration to an extent.
    Last edited by B u r l; November 16th, 2009 at 07:33 PM.
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    Shit, I just wrote a long explanation and my connection dropped when posting.

    A short version: I also studied a foundation course in Fine art and a mixed fine art and illustration course at the same uni. Im a complete idiot. All the courses have contained NO real training in anything other than basic softwares. I have no other interests/qualifications, so I've just stuck around for all these years hoping to bump into interesting people.

    Also, the illustration degree was explicitly sold as a figurative drawing, concept art and book illustration style course. We have never had practical lessons about experimentation. Only graphic-design based modules based around visual language and idea-generation. There's nothing wrong with these modules by the way, they just don't teach us how to compose even basic illustrations.

    The uni isn't reputable in illustration by the way. I will PM you.
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    Has anyone else had a terrible experience in a UK art school?
    Yup, next question.

    In all fairness I was young and didn't realise what I was actually signing up for.

    We were a poor fit.
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