What is art and design?
Covering a vast range of skills and talents, art and design is a diverse subject that will help you turn your creative passion into a money-making career. Whether you want to be the next Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin, or you want to play a role in what the next Ferrari looks like, this subject will help you improve your talents and pursue your dream.
Art and design students are highly entrepreneurial and self-motivated, both qualities that you learn on your journey to becoming an artist. A qualification in art and design isn’t just about pencils and pictures, you’ll also learn all about the business and management side of the industry, which is vital to succeeding in a very competitive job market.
Whether you want to study art and design at university, or venture into an apprenticeship, here are a few facts and figures to help you decide.
Art and design course entry requirements
As it’s such a broad subject, you have a lot of options when it comes to applying for an art and design degree. Obviously the most useful subjects to have studied would be art, design, or design and technology. But you can also show your creativity with other subjects like photography, fine art, and product design. Portfolios are also very important for art and design applicants.
If you’re considering taking a foundation level course first, there are many colleges and universities who offer different opportunities. Make sure you research the modules that best suit you before you go on to take a full undergraduate degree.
Remember, you don’t have to take your undergraduate degree at the same university or college that you took your foundation at – you can choose different providers for each if you decide to do so.
Good art and design students are inquisitive, creative, driven and open-minded – be sure to evidence these qualities in your personal statement and give examples of how they influence your work. Depending on your specialism, you may want to highlight specific skills for your chosen branch of art and design. For example, if you’re leaning more towards the design route, you will want to show your talent with computer-aided design, technology and physical materials.
- Apply by the January deadline
- Write a personal statement
- Submit a portfolio
- Attend an interview
- Audition for a place
- Pass an entry test
- Show work experience
Why study art and design at university?
Art and design is a very passionate subject, so you should have an instinct as to whether you want to spend three years studying it.
Some branches of the subject will give you good employment opportunities, but compared to many degrees it doesn’t have the best job prospects. However, it will give you the skills, talents and abilities to turn your hobby and passion into a career that will make you money.
An art and design degree will teach you to think outside the box, which will help you in your assignments and portfolio, but also your job search. Creatives can find themselves working in the most amazing places – ranging from festivals, exhibitions and events, to celebrity functions, and royal parades.
Carving out a place for your individual talents is important in this industry, and you will soon become in-demand if you focus on what makes you special. An art and design degree will help you do this, as you find yourself under the tutelage of experienced artists and surrounded by like-minded peers.
You will also develop a network in the art and design industry, an important advantage in such a fast-moving environment. Whether it’s with classmates, teachers, alumni, or business during your placements, connections are extremely important, and there’s no better place to make them than at university.
Some modules you may study are:
- History of art
- Reflection and analysis
- Art, technology, and the internet
- Art and business
- Studio practice
- Typographical skills
- Professional skills in art and design
- Objects and experiences
Is it hard to find a job in art and design?
There’s no denying that the art and design industry is competitive, but the UK’s creative sector is internationally famous and there are lots of opportunities to prove your worth.
Many art and design graduates also make their living on a freelance or self-employed basis, giving you the freedom to choose your hours and projects.
What jobs are available in the art and design sector?
Whether you have a specific art and design-related discipline, or have chosen to work in the sector because of a creative interest, there is a vast array of opportunities, the most common being:
- 3D design
- ceramics designer
- fashion designer
- fine artist
- graphic designer
- textile designer
- spatial designer
And many more options:
- art gallery curator
- arts administrator
- CAD technician
- design and development engineer
- marketing assistant
- set designer
Don’t forget the generic all-round jobs which are important to the sector too, such as:
- event management
- marketing and PR
- project management
What’s it like to study art and design?
There aren’t many courses as varied as art and design. The objective is to give you all the creative, technical and management skills needed to be successful in the creative industry, so as you can imagine this means a lot of variety.
Studying art and design will take you from the studio to the darkroom, from the computer lab to the performance hall, and back to the lecture theatre and exam rooms. You’ll learn the basics of many different types of art and design, before choosing to specialise in the later years of your course.
In your first year, you might be working with students whose dreams range from car design, to sculpture, fashion, or architecture. You’ll develop a rounded view of the creative industry and learn as much from your friends as you will from your tutors, so be prepared to keep your mind open and look for opportunities where you can.
You’ll improve your natural curiosity and creativity, turning them into money-making talents for when you graduate. You’ll also develop your confidence and criticism, along with your teamwork abilities, patience, analysis, and research. Most art and design subjects last three years and result in a BA degree, but many offer a year in industry which will extend the time it takes to complete your degree, but give you a much needed edge in the job market.
When you graduate, you’ll be in one of the most competitive job markets out there. Only nursing graduates are greater in number than art and design, so be prepared to carve your own path, follow your dreams, and fight for your career. It’ll be worth it.
Art and design undergraduates can expect the following tasks during their studies:
- writing reports and essays
- practical and creative projects
- attending lectures and seminars
- hearing from industry speakers
- placements and industry experience
- project and teamwork
Are you considering an accelerated degree? Click here to read more about the possibility of completing your undergraduate course in two years rather than three.
If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.
Find out more about apprenticeships across the UK.
There are over 25 apprenticeships in the creative sector available in England, with more in development.
Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.
Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)
- Assistant technical director (visual effects)
- Cultural heritage conservation technician
- Historic environment advice assistant
- Junior 2D arts (visual effects)
- Post-production technical operator
Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)
- Bespoke tailor and cutter
- Broadcast and media systems engineer (degree)
- Archaeological specialist
- Cultural heritage conservator
- Outside broadcasting engineer (degree)
Discover more about apprenticeships in art and design
Our guide has all the info you need to know about doing an apprenticeship in this industry. Find out what it's really like from current apprentices and decide if it's the right route for you.
Find out more about the art and design sector
- Creative & Cultural Skills – the National Skills Academy
- Craft Northern Ireland
- Craft Scotland
- UKFT – the UK fashion and textile network