So as I like to mention on here a lot, I am in my third year of uni now, and have accumulated my fair share of art-school wisdom. I've written a few of these types of posts now, but I'm writing one that is condensed down into some tips for going to art uni. We are also in the midst of uni interviews here, and it's making me feel all old and wise and want to share what I've learned.
Prepare to be the boring one
Everyone likes to make jokes about how art students just do cutting-and-sticking or colouring in, and all they have to do is splatter a bit of paint about, but it is so untrue. Art and Design students have a constant flow of projects, that start overlapping the further you get into your uni career. Unlike more academic courses, art courses generally require you to check in each week with a tutor to discuss how much you have gotten done, so there is a constant pressure to have something to show for the last week. As a result, losing a full day to a hangover becomes less and less appealing.
Make lots of acquaintances in the beginning
This is something I didn't really do - I am so shy that once I found a group of people I stuck to them and that was that. But on an art course you are constantly in each other's presence in studios and workshops - it's nice to know the people around you and have people talk to, so even if you just make acquaintances, it's nice to know peoples names etc so you feel comfortable striking up a conversation.
Doing well on an art course doesn't require you to have all the skills to get a 1st, but it does require you to put in the effort and love and care. The people who have the most success, I have noticed, are the people who get really obsessive about a project and are in every day at 9am with their headphones in, working away. I am not always this person - ha! - but I aspire to be. Unlike essays, it can't always be completed by doing an all-nighter the night before. Art courses need regular love and hard work.
Don't worry about your dissertation
Literally, who is going to turn you down for a job where you design for a living based on whether you can analyse post modernism or not.
A 1st is not the be-all-and-end-all
I've heard a lot from tutors recently that often the people who do the best are not the people with a 1st. I'd love to get one, because the overachiever in me always wants to get the A*, but people hire you for your ideas and your potential, not for how well you can tick boxes at uni.
Don't choose briefs based on them being 'good portfolio pieces'
Also known as - do the projects you love and feel inspired by. There is a lot of pressure on the Portfolio these days, and I think sometimes people pick briefs based on how original they think they can make their idea in an effort to wow potential employers. But at the end of the day, your work should reflect you, not what you're trying to do to impress other people. Nobody wants to hear someone talk about a project they did for the sake of it, when they have no real passion for their project. By all means, choose exciting new briefs and try new stuff - it is necessary in order to find what it is you're truly passionate about - but don't force it.
Sometimes I think there is this feeling of 'when uni is finished I will do blank' but personally I think it's silly to wait. Maybe I am just very eager and ambitious, and prone to overloading myself, but if you want to do creative things, don't wait. Work for it now - even if it's just starting a blog to share the stuff that usually stays in your sketchbook, what is the point in waiting until you get out into the real world and have responsibilities?