What I've Learned from Two Years at Uni (as an Art Student)

What I've Learned From Art School

So I was strolling through the city campus of my university when it dawned on me that I was about to start my final year of university. This is the last blissfully long summer holiday I might ever have. This will be the last time I have permission to do nothing for like, three months in a row.

Thinking about it, I realised that my time at uni was nothing like I expected it to be, or at least, there was loads of stuff I learned. I thought that this post might be a little more specific than a lot of the more general uni-related posts out there, so here's my experiences as an Art Student (specifically Graphic Design) in the first two years.

1. You Will Work The Hardest Out Of Everyone

I was/am always the one who isn't able to come out, for fear of my sketchbook not being up to standard. You end up feeling guilty any time you aren't working on your project. You do have to learn to let go a little, but it is obvious the students who put in the work over the ones that don't.

2. Go into the studio

Like I said, it is obvious the people who put the time in. If you do proper 'shifts' in the studio you get the benefit of a productive, creative environment. You get the opinions of others and your tutors. Your work is better and usually follows the brief a lot better if you check in with others regularly, rather than hunched over your desk in your bedroom.

3. A degree in Graphic Design helped me more than a degree in Illustration would have

I see all the time, in creating my shop, designing my portfolio, creating content for my blog, how useful it has been to understand the wonder context. What I mean is, I studied lots of things under the banner of 'graphic design' which helped me understand how my illustration worked in the world (when I decided that Illustration is what I wanted to do!) For instance, we studied Editorial layouts which meant I would  understand how image and illustrations work alongside the text, etc. It also helped me to 'mock up' my designs to show how they would look out in the real world.

Studying branding has helped me endlessly in understanding how you project an image of yourself and create a feeling and emotion attached to your brand, and an understanding of type and colour has helped me enormously so far!

4. I didn't really know what Graphic Design was:

As good as my school was (I did an A Level in Graphic Design) I didn't really have a clue what graphic design was. I knew I wanted to create digital art (because, ironically, I thought I couldn't draw or paint) and I knew Graphic Design was something that gave art 'purpose' (still one of the principles I hold dear to me) but I didn't know what it was beyond 'posters' really.

I was very smug that I got onto the course without needing to do the Foundation course that a lot of others did, but I actually think it would have helped me get a better idea of what I wanted to do, and experimented with mediums (such as screen print, lino cuts, etc) that we didn't have the budget for at school.

What I Learned from Two Years at Uni

5. I discovered what I loved

I know that sounds cliche, but there was so much art that I had somehow missed this whole time. I had no idea about what branding was, I didn't know that beautiful illustration like Rifle Paper Co, Tuesday Bassen, Ohh Deer even existed. It wasn't until I discovered that illustrators didn't have to be realistic/sell commissions on Deviant Art/draw for picture books that I realised that it was something I could  do and wanted  to do.

6. I found friends who I knew liked me

I don't know if that sounds kind of sad or weird, but as possibly the world biggest introvert, I found it hard to make friends and was so jealous of everyone making friends at uni. I would spend nights sobbing to Martin that nobody liked me enough. That I was never anyone's first choice. Well, I was lucky to find a group of friends who loved my pathetic sense of humour and my tendencies to want to stay in and remain stationary. I only realised it recently, but I had found people who made me feel comfortable in the knowledge that I was sure they liked me.

7. I Stopped worrying (as much) about what I looked like

So this ties in a little with a post I wrote recently called Why I Stopped Fashion Blogging. Sitting in a studio all day, trying to get on with work and barely moving, comfort became a much bigger deal. These days I stick to mostly butt-covering loose dresses, floaty shirts, stretchy trousers and flats.

8. I found a whole new drive

I have always been a high-achieving but forgetful/lazy kind of student at school. However, when I got to uni (especially when we started picking what we wanted to do in year 2) I found so much inspiration and motivation in being able to do exactly what I wanted to do, in being able to create all dayAs practice for a real life job creating all day. It opened my eyes to the fact that people actually did this, and I could too. I am so lucky I guess to live where I do and have access to such amazing courses.

Wow! That was longer than I expected it. I would love to hear if you have questions about my uni experience so far. It has been the most wonderful experience of my life and I would recommend it if you are considering going for an art course. I have really "found myself" a lot more, like the big 'ole cliche that I am. (also, if you want a painfully frank version of this post, go check out Ellie's 'Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Left For Uni. They are lolz)