Courses in Design and the Arts are precious if you want to develop as a creative person or professional.
What’s more, by studying Design or the creative industries in Australia, you might set yourself up for a career that gives plenty of space for your imagination to work.
This could be your first move towards a career that’s rich in opportunities to use your creativity, setting you up for the kind of job that gives your imagination space to work. A course in art and design can be transformative, giving you the chance to become a more creative and original thinker who can lend their resourceful mind and critical eye to work and to life.
The career route which you eventually choose is not something easily predictable because art and design encompasses such a broad range of study focuses. Course subjects spread out from the fundamentals of design – where you could study furniture design, or electronic media, digital animation or interactivity – to the traditional territory of fine art painting, sculpture or performance art. Or your direction could just as easily be the theory and history of the field, which could lead you towards a career curating shows in galleries or museums.
Expect to choose one of three main areas when selecting your course. Fine art will cover those disciplines of painting or sculpture, photography or art installation. Visual communications will cover areas like graphic design and illustration, including the use of software. Often falling under the applied arts will be practises such as fashion, the design of jewellery, or interior design and furniture. But even after your selection, the channels for you to develop your work into other areas will usually remain open, allowing you to dip into areas of design practise that could extend your main focus or specialism.
So you can expect a certain amount of flexibility once you start to work. Art and design courses are hands-on in that they give students an opportunity to focus on creating and developing. Lending support to this process, teaching staff at university level are often working artists who can help you to follow up on your creative impulses, helping you bring your creations to fruition.
Getting onto an art and design undergraduate program will sometimes (but not always) require a foundation or diploma year. After a foundation course your basic skills and main areas of special interest are likely to be more established – and evident to university providing the course you want – so even students who apply without a foundation can take this as a rough guide about the standards a university will expect them to meet.
When it comes to selecting a university, location can be very important. For their effect on your study experience, you cannot put a price on the city’s art galleries, museums, and cultural life in general. And of course, you must look very closely at the facilities which each art and design department makes accessible to its students. Will studio space and equipment be there for you when you need it, and do you think there will be enough room for your work to develop in new directions?
To follow up your interest in a study program, focus carefully on the different course components – and remember that programs with identical names often exist at several universities, but what you actually study can vary greatly. To be even clearer about your decision, find out exactly who will teach your course. What are their special areas of interest? You may well discover an established designer or artist will be tutoring you, and their reputation could support you in future. The same goes for the reputation of the school itself, not only because of its international standing – some schools have close links with contemporary artists and the galleries that promote their work. It’s a kind of network that could help you survive as a practising artist in your future.
Will your degree allow you to make a living from art? That’s impossible to promise, yet there is no doubt you’ll learn a very broad range of skills, useful in an equally broad array of design and media contexts. Graduates also take on work in arts management, take positions in museums or galleries, or they embark on careers in art therapy.
If you’re thinking of a course that is more directly related to a target vocation, such as Architectural Technology, then your priority will be to make sure the course contains the vocational elements you need, allowing you to get professional qualifications.