While it may be tempting to start researching and hunting for the school of art that will be right for you, you should understand the different study programs within art education that will be available to you.
Types of Art Programs
Art, in general, is normally broken down into three branches. These include the visual arts, performing arts, and literature. If you’ve ever seen a play or read a comic book, you’ll understand that these three branches have a ton of artistic crossover. However, there are some generalizations you can make about all three branches – here, we’ll be focusing on the first two.
You’ll be hard pressed to find one, all-inclusive definition of fine arts – and that is because, as mentioned, fine arts is an umbrella term covering endless amounts of subjects. To give you an idea of how large this breadth is, fine arts can involve anything from lecture-based, art theory courses to classes in modern ceramics.
That being said, it can be very rewarding to pursue a bachelor degree or masters degree in fine arts because of this incredible diversity. Here are some of the most common programs and specializations you are likely to find at your future college of art:
- Art design
- Drawing and Painting
- Studio arts
- Digital media
If you’re interested in studying one or two particular subjects more in-depth – you’re in luck. There are many universities which specialize in particular aspects of the art world. For example, if you’re interested in fashion, you will be able to find a university with an art center that includes a design program. This is especially helpful for students who’d like to attain scholarships, as having a specific career focus can take your application to the next level.
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Finding a college of the fine arts that is dedicated solely to film is not only possible, it is one of the more popular destinations of young artists. Whether you’re interested in script writing, want to become a master in technical skills like editing, or would like to make cartoons – you’ll find the right master or bachelor in fine arts program in no time.
Check out some of the programs you are likely to encounter on your journey to find the right film school:
- Computer animation
- Film and television production
- Game art
Needless to say, if you’re interested in art, you’re also probably interested in the history of your craft. Many students who specialize in the discipline of visual art are often influenced by either contemporary artists or those of the past. On the other hand, students who are curious about the world of museums, art galleries and auctions – but don’t necessarily want to create art themselves – are often drawn to studying art history too.
Luckily, art history courses can be found even without going to an academy of art or an art institute. While there are many different kinds of art history programs you will find at your university, finding one that you like will generally depend on what movement of art interests you the most. If you’re curious about a career in curating or selling art, or interested in preserving priceless works of art, this is definitely a subject you should explore.
Building Your Portfolio
Building a portfolio can be rewarding at best and the most stressful task you’ve ever had to accomplish at worst. Before you start panicking, it will be extremely useful to go through three simple steps. These will be extremely helpful in getting your application ready, as well as to the interview stage many art colleges require in their admissions stage.
What Kind of Artwork Do You Have?
The first step on your portfolio-building journey will be to understand the kind of work that you have prepared at the moment you are about to submit your applications. Artists with a lot of experience behind them will normally already have a running portfolio form their art classes or from some pre college courses.
Student work, however, is often artwork that is in progress. If there’s anyone who will understand the struggle to finish a work of art, it will be art educators. Because of this, many portfolios choose to include work that is in progress because it shows the direction the candidate wants to take their art and that they’ve already shown the initiative to start it.
It might be helpful to as your art teacher, alums, or even your school’s provost for some advice on what kind of pieces are appropriate to submit in a portfolio and the best way to start organizing these pieces.
The second step is arguably the most important step and, for the most part, one of the hardest for both high school and undergraduate students alike: organizing your art.
Whether your work has already been on exhibit in galleries or you’re the leader of art workshops in your neighbourhood, organization will always be the most difficult part of your craft. Whether your work is studio art or using digital media, here are some general rules you can follow to prepare your art to be added to your portfolio.
- Being selective: while you may deem every piece that you have executed to be indicative as your progression as an artist, the people who will be reviewing your portfolio are looking for a narrative.
- Cherry picking your artwork can be based on chronological order, on which pieces marked a shift in your values, or on the progression of a specific project (even if it’s not complete).
Build a Narrative
This last step is actually something you should be doing throughout the course of building your portfolio and is what will mark the difference between an average portfolio and a strong one – regardless of whether you’re applying to art colleges, to be an artist in residence or are trying to get into an exhibition.
Here are some general rules to follow when establishing a narrative.
- Be unique: while it sounds difficult in theory, in practice it’s much easier than you think. The artwork that inspires and drives you will naturally be different than anybody else’s. Focus on what you like best about your artwork and what you would like to accomplish with it in future works.
- Motivation: what is the reason you study or create art? While this will be different for many people, try to put a unique spin on your answer.
- Establishing a storyline: it should be very clear to the people looking through your portfolio why you’ve chosen the pieces within it. While the narrative of your artwork might be very clear to you, you will have to get the main points across to complete strangers – so spend some quality introspective time on you, your art, and what it means to the world.
Another thing to note is that sometimes portfolio requirements are different for undergraduate degrees or even for international applicants. Think of your portfolio like your CV – that is, treat it with the importance of a CV while also making it adaptable to the various different programs and arts schools you will be applying to.
What You’ll Need for Your Application
While it may seem like applying to art programs and art colleges requires extra steps than applying to other university programs, the process is exactly the same for a prospective student in arts education. Applying to a British university requires you to go through the UCAS system, which is the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Here’s some information on what this process involves, whether you’re enrolling to a school of art and design or for a program in interior architecture.
The registration process is fairly simple but it is super important that all of the details you will give to the UCAS system are accurate.
Finding a Course
Choosing a course through UCAS will allow you to find courses that might be of interest to you, but that you perhaps don’t know about yet. While many people search for a university first and then try to find a program that they fit into – you can also do this process in reverse.
There are many different online portals that allow you to explore different programs for liberal arts, art and design, and interdisciplinary subject. Once you find a program that you think might fit your needs, you can take note of its UCAS code.
Finding a University
Find a couple of universities that appear to suit your artistic ability, creativity, and financial concerns – a task easier said than done. Research will play an important role in this step, so make sure you give yourself enough time to find the right universities.
Fill Out your Applications
The UCAS system allows you to apply either to five different universities in the same program or to five different programs in the same university.
Whether you’ve already found a school through looking at their university art or are still in the messy process of finding the right art schools – tuition is always an important factor. While there are several government grants and scholarships for students going to a college of art and design, make sure to check out your university’s website to see if they offer more financial aid.
What To Expect From Your Art Courses
Once you’ve completed your UCAS application, submitted your portfolio, and perhaps interviewed for your art colleges – you might now be worrying about what you can expect from your art classes or, going further, your arts degree.
Your college of fine arts or design school, whether you’re pursuing a master or bachelor of fine arts, will prepare you for a wide array of careers. Here are some of the jobs you will be able to apply for once you graduate:
- Graphic designer
- Organizer at a center for the arts
- Teacher at an art college
- Film director