James and University


When people ask about what degree you might be studying, one answer that always gets a discouraging response is Fine Art. In my opinion, this is because many people who don’t study or practice art often do not understand the work that goes into it. Fine Art at any level, be it Degree, A-Level or even GCSE is often looked down upon. It is regarded as an easy degree subject that consists of doing no work, lazing about and drugs.

 I want to try and help people to recognise what goes in to creating art work - in particular at degree level – and help people understand why it is such an important thing not just for those of us who study it, but everyone.
Studying art can get you into so many different paths of working life. Practising artist, being a museum/gallery curator, a print maker and or even teaching - they are just the obvious answers. Many forget that studying art can lead you into being a therapist, into advertising and marketing, film, TV and radio, fashion, publishing and even starting your own business. 
Think about your daily routine and try to think about how often you see art on a daily basis. Most likely you’ll think of very little. Nonetheless, you will find art everyday in almost every aspect of your life. Every logo you see, every sign on the high street, every poster on the side of a building, on a bus or phone box and every interior has been created by some sort of artist, whether it be graphics, interior or practising artist. 

Art shouldn’t be looked down on because of how subjective it can be. What I mean by this is that when you’re applying for an art course, you are asked to show a portfolio of work when interviewed. This can be very daunting as you may have amazing A-Level results and GCSE’s - but this portfolio is just as important. This is going to be the work that the university see. This is going to help them decide whether you are an artist they want. It’s extremely important that they like your work and that you can stick up for it and fight your ground if they don’t like it.

One thing I didn’t want to do was to compare Art to another subject as that is what I am trying to stop but for the sake of this post I am. When applying for other academic courses you often only need the grades/UCAS points, an interesting personal statement and sometimes some experience - you may also need to do an exam to get onto the course too. However, for Art, you need to try and persuade the interviewers to like and/or accept your work - the pieces you have put hours into, and this can be very hard. One experience I had with this was when applying for a university in 2015 – Lincoln University. Before my interview I had spent at least two hours organising 25 pieces of work, all carefully displayed and set out in a particular way so pieces complement each other just for the guy to flick through it in less than 3 minutes. The interview was over within 10 minutes.

He didn’t even know my name.

The notion of trying to please people to get by runs throughout your university life and career after that. You still need to produce work that can be assessed and viewed by all types of people – you still need to visually please them. This can be challenging when a painter who specialises in hyper-realistic portraits is viewing your 6-foot abstract sculpture. It’s absolutely subjective.

Another thing that affects art students is stigma that everything is easy and relaxed because you don’t have any exams. What sounds better than that?!
This may be true, but instead of being able to cram everything in before exams we have to constantly put in 100% effort throughout the entire year and produce work on a very regular basis. Having new work to show your tutors is the best feeling in the world, but it also helps as a student because it helps you progress and get worthwhile feedback to help you improve. Without having new pieces all the time, your tutors can only give minimal feedback - making it easy to waste a lot of weeks. An easy way to describe this is by saying it feels like a yearlong exam, which is being assessed constantly. Personally, I still enjoy this as my passion is in creating artwork.

When you next meet someone who studies an art based subject, instead of dismissing the idea and moving onto another topic, ask about it first. Ask them what their preferred method of working is, ask to see some pieces they’ve produced and ask them why they think art is important.

Pop over to James' website (made by yours truly - hello!) here: www.jameshuttdixon.co.uk

NB: As an artist, I’m surprised at how I managed to write 833 words, as you know art is a lazy subject which is not for academic individuals.

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