IS IT WORTH IT?

Ellie Dyson asked artists whether their degree was worth it. Here’s what they had to say…

PATRICK COLHOUN – CERAMICIST – @PATRICKCOLHOUN

Can you tell me about your work?

My work is contemporary ceramic sculpture which I sell mostly into the contemporary art market. My work is mostly ceramic, however I combine it with other, less traditional materials such as hosiery, neon, latex etc.

How long have you been working as a ceramicist/artist?

I started exhibiting my work in 2009, after a couple of years at night class learning basic pottery.

Where and what did you study?

I have a degree in Business Studies with Marketing from University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.

What was your experience at university like?

It taught me about the transition into the work place as the third year of a four-year course was as a placement in a company doing something that complimented your course. I was lucky to get a placement in a company that designed office interiors so I was able to have quite a creative time. I went from being involved in sales to being in charge of design.

What were your tutors like?

Were they helpful? Nothing out of the ordinary, university taught me that the lecturers are unlikely to inspire you, you have to do hard work for yourself and motivate yourself, the lecturers are simply putting information across to you.

Would you say that studying Business Studies contributed to your current success, and if so, how?

Yes, and also having a 20-year career in construction marketing helped me to be very professional and disciplined in my art practice. I strived to be as professional as possible in terms of work ethic, meeting deadlines, promotional material etc. There has been a lot that has carried over.

Does it come as a surprise that you are now a ceramicist and artist?

I always liked art at school but took no formal exams even then. I took up ceramics because I couldn’t play rugby anymore because of injury and I was looking for something that would give me the same sort of satisfaction. I thought at the time that art was very open ended and could be whatever I wanted it to be, I have surprised myself with where it has taken me.

Would you say your career in construction marketing helped or hindered your current career?

Very much helped. Even down to having a network of contacts in interior design and architecture, each area I work in feeds the other.

Would you recommend studying Business Studies at university to others? 

It is a very general degree, so if you are unsure of a specific career path, it can lead in many directions.

Have you got any advice for aspiring artists? 

Be as professional as you can. Meet deadlines, do what you promise, at the time you have promised it. Get professional photography of your work as it is usually the first impression people get of your work. Don’t get disappointed if you and your work get rejected, everything is highly subjective. Recognise opportunities for what they are and what they can lead to.

Would you have done anything differently in your journey to get where you are now?

No, I get to combine my career with my art. I see how hard it is for young artists coming straight out of college and see how many fall by the wayside in terms of art as a career. I get to enjoy it more as I don’t fully rely on it for income which lets me take more risks.

Did university give you any other skills that aren’t directly related to your work?

It is a long time ago. There is value to a university education, however there is also value to learning a trade and working with your hands. I am lucky to be able to do both.

 

ELIN KARACAGIL – TEXTILE ARTIST – @ELINKTEXTILES

Can you tell me about your work?

Taking influences from art, photography and other areas of design, my work takes on a multidisciplinary approach that is explorative and experimental. I enjoy engaging with contrasting material that inspire sculpture, paintings and mark-making that then go on to form my textiles. Questioning form and function, chaos and order, with the randomness and the planned of design, my textiles explore fleeting moments as well as movement and the still.

How long have you been working with textiles as an artist/designer?

For the past three years, since I started my degree in fashion textiles.

Where and what did you study?

I studied Fashion Textiles Print at London College of Fashion.

What was your experience at university like? How was your experience as an international student? 

Studying at London College of Fashion has really given me insight to the fashion industry and my designer identity. Starting my degree I didn’t have much experience in textiles and I have really learnt a lot in terms of techniques and processes but also improved my knowledge and understanding of research. My experience as an international student studying in London has been overall positive. I have met a lot of great people from all over the world and I think London is a great place to be when studying fashion or art.

What were your tutors like?

Were they helpful? I have had very positive experiences with all my tutors at LCF. I feel that most of my tutors have a lot of previous experience working in the industry and this has been very helpful. They push you a lot to constantly challenge yourself and they really give you the freedom to follow your own path.

Would you say that studying Fashion Textiles Print at university has benefited you, and if so, how?

In many ways. I think it takes time to figure out who you want to be as a designer/artist and even though three years’ time is not enough to do this, I think it has been a great way to start that journey of discovering who you want to be as a creative. I have learnt so much about myself, my craft and how the creative process works.

Would you recommend studying Fashion Textiles Print at university to others?

Speaking from own experience, it was a great path to take not knowing exactly what I wanted to do within the fashion industry but knowing I wanted to do something that allowed me to be creative. If you want the opportunity to do something different, very explorative and creative I think it’s a great way to start.

Have you got any advice for aspiring artists/designers? 

I think it’s great to get critical feedback and guidance along the way but at the end of the day I believe that you should be happy with the work you are doing. My advice would be to not compromise too much of yourself and the identity you think it right for you.

Would you have done anything differently in your journey to get where you are now? 

Even though I initially didn’t intend to study textiles, I think it has been a really good fit for me and it has been my first step to getting into the industry. It has been a very creative journey for me. Having said that, I think it opens up a lot of doors to different paths as well and you can apply the knowledge you gain from this experience to many different areas of design and art.

Did university give you any other skills that aren’t directly related to your work?

I have really learnt to collaborate with other people along the way, with people from different pathways and this has been tremendously useful I think, because in the industry you hardly ever work entirely alone.

What are your next moves now that you have graduated from LCF?

I want to continue to develop and improve my craft. I enjoy working with other people who inspire me, so to work with different artists and designers is something I can see myself doing in the future.

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