Thursday, 16 June 2011

Reflections on my year as a graduate. PART TWO: University "Education"

  Considering it has now been an entire year since I graduated, I have taken it upon myself to write down what I have learned this year, to help others but also as a sort of therapy (which I feel I need, after the year it's been.)

  So, from my last post on the matter, we've all gathered that I haven't done too well in the real world since flying the education nest. By "not too well" I pretty much mean that all that bambi-eyed optimism I felt at my degree show has been slowly chiselled away. For anyone who's been through it, you'll know how hard it is. The competition is huge, the jobs are few and the pay is low. And I simply wasn't equipped with the tools I needed to survive.

  Before I go any further I'd like to say a few positive things about my time at University, because it certainly wasn't all bad. In fact, I absolutely loved my course, my BA Illustration degree at Middlesex University. My tutors were inspiring, the briefs were challenging and the studios we worked in were lovely. Middlesex University had great facilities, a huge print room full of wonderful equipment and the library wasn't half bad either.

  But, before I start sounding like a brochure for the place, there are a few things, on reflection, that I'm unhappy about. My final year felt rushed. We were working hard on portfolio-building projects, our dissertations and worrying about grades. I don't think any of us could see past our busy desk spaces to even consider the future after these projects were finished. But we really should have been shown it. It was our tutors responsibility to make us aware of it. Looking back it seems strange that we were building these portfolios, but had little to no knowledge of how to use them in the future. We'd all developed our own individual style and, whilst I'm grateful to my University for allowing the time and place to develop it, a visual language is worthless if you have no clue what to do with it.

  I remember that we did have a series of workshops about the business side of illustration with a practising illustrator, but there can't have been more than three, and I for one felt completely overwhelmed upon hearing this information for the first time - I could have done with many more sessions. I realise now that those workshops were an introduction at best, and there were so many more things we needed from them.


  When I think back, I find it absurd that our uni happily waved goodbye to us, a group of unprepared, ill-equipped illustration graduates. (Especially as we were walking into a recession. But I suppose that is another matter. ) I know that we were ill-equipped, because it has taken me exactly a year to realise what I should have been told a year ago. It seems that my uni was unaware of the key factors that make up the modern illustration world. I have listed below what I feel are the most pressing and sadly neglected issues that need to be tackled by universities.

1) The importance of a strong online presence. A website, a blog, and a strong grasp on social media networking. At my uni the focus was on a printed portfolio, but often this isn't practical.

2) That print is diminishing. Illustration is adapting to this change, but universities need to address this, as their graduates are walking head on into it.

3) That a career in illustration is rarely instantaneous. Unis must advise their students how to cope until they make it.

4) How to make money from illustration. How to be a freelancer, how to gain clients, how to liaise with clients, how to manage money.

Just writing that short list of issues has angered me more. Why is it I feel we need to educate the educators?

  As I consider this problem, it is occurring to me that currently higher education is under great scrutiny, and not just from disgruntled illustration graduates! Almost all universities are now pushing enormous fees on anyone wishing to gain a degree. It baffles me how young people are supposed to fight this recession, when the doors to education and employment are shut in their faces. Luckily, I missed this increase in fees. But I am still in a whole load of debt, which I haven't even begun to pay back.


It seems to me that this problem might all come down to money. Consider these two possibilities :

  • Illustration courses encourage students to create the very best work they can. This, of course, is crucial if you ever wish to become an illustrator but, as I've discussed, there needs to be the right guidance to coincide with this if you ever wish to make a living. The work students produce showcases an Illustration course; top students' work is often paraded on uni websites, in brochures and at shows. If there is a high quality of work on a particular course, it is assumed it is the best illustration course to take. Unis use their students' work to secure their next batch of students and, of course, their next batch of money, without much further consideration for the previous ones.
  • The ratio of illustration courses to actual illustration jobs is appalling and unrealistic. Yes, an illustration career is an appealing prospect, but it's kept very hush hush by universities as to how impossibly competitive and difficult the journey to get there will be. It's almost as if students are being lured into course by the pretty pictures and the romantic ideals that universities are presenting.


  I've learnt the hard way that surviving in the real world on pretty pictures alone, is just never going to work. Luckily for me, I was ( and am still ) dating a graphic designer, who was able to teach me how to use Photoshop and Indesign. Computer skills are SO very important for any young creative and this fact was just not stressed by my course. Secondly, I also learnt, through my man, the importance of work experience. His course allowed him to intern whilst still at uni, which gave him and many of his course mates the skills to walk straight into work after graduation. I , on the other hand, am still interning to this day.

  I might even go so far as to suggest illustration might not be a valid course anymore. You only have to look at the illustration 'celebrities' such as Jessica Hische and Kate Moross, to realise you have to have a whole load of other skills under your belt to make money from it, such as graphic and web design, typography and printmaking. For the very few it is enough to create beautiful images, but for many, its just not realistic. Especially in this current climate. Perhaps illustration needs to go hand in hand with graphic design? And perhaps illustration students need to be educated, as fine art students are, that you can become a fine-artist/illustrator OR you can work within the arts sector, as I am now striving to.


  And that, patient readers, is where I'll leave this argument. I feel like I could go on, but I'm worried I'll bore you! It would be lovely to hear your experiences, and if you disagree with this please don't hesitate to tell me. Lets get a discussion going.

28 comments:

  1. "You only have to look at the illustration 'celebrities' such as Jessica Hische and Kate Moross, to realise you have to have a whole load of other skills under your belt to make money from it, such as graphic and web design, typography and printmaking."

    And that is why I quit my Illustration degree and did Graphic Design instead. I feel I've been better prepared and have more skills under my belt but I've still been able to make use of my illustration.

    Even in Design though we're molly coddled and told everything is going to be okay. Our job application help is essentially "pick 10 studios you love and pester them for a job". This might work for a few people, but EVERYONE working in a studio like Airside or Hattrick is VERY unrealistic, especially if you're not in London. I know that all the jobs I've applied for are much more commercial- sports shops, massive corporations and packaging designers and I'm now having to add more corporate work to my portfolio for interviews as while artsy uni projects are great they're not very often seen in the real world.

    I just wish uni had spent more time on these boring but essential jobs and then maybe I'd feel better prepared now :/

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  2. Hi Holly really enjoyed reading that. I totally agree with you. I think you are doing brilliantly. When FiveGoMad makes some money I would love to employ you. Love the illustrations btw. One teeny comment can you make your typeface a little bigger it is quite hard to read Or I need glasses!! Clare

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  3. Haha Clare! Noted. Thank you for your support and comments on this.

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  4. I studied illustration at University College Falmouth, and we were properly prepared for post-graduation: visits to art directors in London in the first year, a whole module on professional practise in our second year and a visit to New York in our third year which involved calling agents and art directors over there to make appointments to show our work to them. I recommend my course leader Alan Male's book "Illustration: A Theoretical and Contextual Perspective" - it covers a lot of professional practise, including taxes etc.

    I still feel very much like you though - there aren't as many jobs out there as I'd hoped, art directors aren't taking so many risks right now, and while we were taught printmaking and typography, I really wish we'd been taught more about graphic design and industry-standard software, because without this most design jobs are closed off to us.

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  5. Hi Holly, what a great article! You have really hit the nail on the head when you talk about the importance of real life lessons and experience before graduation. I had loads of work experience at university (I did fashion textiles) because a year out in industry was part of my course - it certainly opened my eyes to the real world like nothing else. In an ideal world illustrators would also be offered experience during university - at agents, magazines, and publishers, etc - but if that isn't offered then it is really down to the students themselves to be motivated enough to pursue work whilst still at uni.

    On the subject of an online presence I have tried to persuade the illustration tutors I know that they should get me in to talk about how to get online and promote yourself, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. I teach lots of fashion students about online promotion but some illustration tutors seem to be locked in the past - perhaps because their career is already at a certain level and they don't engage with the online world themselves. I would love nothing more than to run workshops for illustrators about how to get themselves seen - it amazed me that some illustrators had not even taken their website online in time for the Middlesex graduation show this year! (you can read about this here)
    http://www.ameliasmagazine.com/art/middlesex-university-ba-hons-illustration-graduate-show-2011-review/2011/06/05/

    Emma Block was one of the Middlesex graduates and is an example of someone who does have a great online presence and she herself admits that all the work she has got has been because of that. (she has done loads of professional work whilst still at university) Failing that, producing work for online magazines such as Amelia's Magazine, Ballad Of, Creature Mag, Inkygoodness, Sketchbook Mag, Illustration Rally and so many more is a really good way to get exposure and build a name - I know it's secured paid work for many of the illustrators who have worked for me. And that can be done before or after the end of student life. I'm always happy to give advice and almost act as a long distance tutor to those who work with me.

    Thanks for putting your thoughts down in words Holly, I am sure it will be interesting to lots of people.
    Amelia x

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  6. Talking about online presence, I've written a few blog posts lately to help members of the Graphics and Illustration degrees here get a bit of exposure and I've cringed at the amount of times that the web address on their business cards leads to a dead link or an empty website. We've had it drilled into us that we need a good web presence and the amount of people who still don't have one at all is shocking.

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  7. interestingly enough (in a bad way), when I graduated some of us had some kind of online presence either website,blog or deviant art, but at least there was something online. fast forward 2 years, and of the students who've just finished the course, still only a handful have a website or blog on their business cards, or brochure. Now, we weren't really taught about website design, and blogging, well you couldn't even access blogger at uni, so that wasn't on the course, but I was (and still am) still so surprised to see how few students have a online presence! I've encouraged students to do so, in my latest post about their end of year show here http://bit.ly/izq64D . The frustrating part, is that nowadays it's so easy! and a lot of places do it for free!! (blogger, carbonmade etc..)

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  8. I totally agree Holly. I studied graphic design with illustration featured in the course as well which they called image-making. The tutors never once mentioned websites, online presence, the importance of social networking, getting your name and work out there ; all of which I have come to realize are essential when I left college.

    Colleges should explain the importance of online promotion, how to make money from illustration, how to gain and deal with clients,work with agencies and manage their freelance business/money. I did a business course which was integrated into the course which was pretty rubbish, we learnt nothing of setting up our own business or freelance studio which should be one of the main aims.

    One piece of advise one of our lecturers gave us in our final year was this (and they actually put up a piece of paper with info on it in our studio space); graphic design and illustration is a very tricky business to get into to, especially in this recession so maybe you should go and get jobs in bars and restaurants...

    I kid you not. Pretty much sums up my college experience. I know that some illustrators have day jobs and do illustration work (mainly free) in their spare time which is what I'm looking into doing at the minute.

    Great article I found myself nodding along!! Avril

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  9. You are so true, although i love middlesex, i was totally unprepared for the 'real world' of working illustration, and 2 years on i have only now forged what i would call 'a career'. The first year out of uni was the hardest, and took alot of work and sleepless nights figuring stuff out much the way you mentioned, but i also feel i learnt way more than while at uni!
    The courses need updating i feel, its all very good creating good work while at uni, but when you have demanding clients you have to learn to adapt and i have a much different 'work style' to what i did at uni!

    But dont worry, ive learnt that if you want it bad enough and work hard, eventually it will pay off!

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  10. Really interesting read, and very insightful! I'm currently on the same course as Emma described, and I guess I'm fairly lucky to be on a programme that does offer some preparation and encourage online presence. However, there are a lot of individuals who seem very unwilling to accept digital technology and make excuses at every opportunity to blame it in their work. Although we are taught about the wider picture in the industry, it strikes me that many people will only think about the safety net of the here and now; they're going to be stuck when they can't even scan artwork properly to prepare for print or web!

    It's a terrifying prospect, leaving the security of the university sandbox. I've just come to the end of my second year and have spent a lot of time lately pondering how to maximise my exposure before I leave. Holly, your post has been very inspiring and incredibly helpful, I just wish I'd started considering these things sooner!

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  11. that was really interesting! ive just completed my second year at middlesex and i totally agree with most things you've said, especially the lack of education in computers. although it's wonderful to have the facilities for screenprinting that we do at uni, i've been thinking about it and as soon as i leave i'm going to need a lot of money to access these kinds of facilities again, where as at a fraction of the time and cost i could learn how to do things digitally. however, despite paying thousands of pounds a year i have had to start teaching myself these skills.
    I do think though, especially when you're actually at uni, you need time to develop your drawings with fun and interesting projects, as I think a lot of people panic when faced with editorial projects at uni, there has to be more of a balance i think between developing your style and learning how to useit, becauseas of yet, I don't have a clue how to use mine. I guess i'll soon have to find out for myself!
    love your work by the way!
    x

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  12. Very well written Holly, I totally understand your experience but mine was very different.
    Studying a Fine Art: Painting&Drawing course mine leant itself to even less of a 'business edge'. However, our course had full modules in 'Working Towards a Career in the Arts', about onlline presence, finding studios, networking, being self employed etc.
    These modules weren't taken seriously by 90% of students, and they were the 90% that moaned that our degree didn't set us up for graduation. On my course the guidance was there for you if you asked. I made all of my lecturers fully aware of the paths I wanted to go down and constantly asked questions. That means 5 or so tutors are on your page and if things come up they think of you!
    My experience was different in that when I graduated, I felt ready for what my ' post graduation year' has thrown at me.
    I didn't feel ready because it was all spelled out to me in lectures, but because I found out all the answers BEFORE I left.
    Everyone on my course has gone in different directions and those who has specific roles in mind have flourished, with the help of our course leaders. However, those who came to lectures, worried about grades and didn't put in the extra (the one's who "didn't know what they wanted to do" after uni are the ones who have said goodbye to art.

    No course is perfect and can equip us for hard times. BUT when I asked for advice it was whole-heartedly given to me. I think they were just surprised to be asked! Lecturers have time that isn't scheduled, so my advice is to use it.

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  13. Great post Holly, I think it's really important to have discussions like these as the career of an illustrator can be a very difficult one, and it's just as difficult to get to the stage where you can call it your career! I think that yes, universities should make a bigger deal about needing industry-standard Graphic Design skills, as in this economy to start making any money and be able to work immediately as part of a design studio or even to make you a useful intern while studying you need to know how to produce industry-standard work.

    My course, BA Fashion Illustration at LCF did give us basic intros on how to use photoshop, illustrator, flash, and InDesign, but as it was the first year of the first ever Fashion Illustration degree I don't think any of us knew how important this would be. I agree with Holly, as a student I made sure I constantly bugged tutors with questions and if you don't ask, you don't get. I also agree with Amelia and think tutors should make a bigger deal about just how tough it is out there and how you need to work very hard to get any recognition and eventually get paid for your efforts.

    Twitter, Facebook, and blogs weren't really 'in effect' when I was studying but as they are now so ingrained into how creatives can get themselves noticed it's a shame that more students don't make use of them. Universities should use the money from the inflated fee prices to get more people from the industry to speak to students, and please please give HONEST accounts of how tough it is. What bugged me a lot as a student when speaking to some professionals was how some (not all) glossed over the tough times when no-one knew who they were and when they had to take up random part-time jobs or struggle to carry on after numerous rejections. This I think would help a lot of students from the fate of where their universities " happily waved goodbye to us, a group of unprepared, ill-equipped illustration graduates".

    Perhaps all illustration courses should now have a stronger Graphic Design presence now. On my course the only students who did well at it were those who took the initiative to keep practicing and who focused more at combining their illustrative talents with design. However, there is still the issue of learning how to use type properly, magazine layout, designing logos and visual identities for clients, all which would have been good to learn about.

    I think that Universities that don't deliver relevant skills to students is unacceptable, especially as you now have to willingly put yourself into a massive amount of debt to get a degree. All Illustration courses need to give students a dose of the reality of the working world and think about how their students can actually make a name for themselves.

    I would recommend as soon as possible to create work for online magazines such as Amelia's Magazine, and others that Amelia mentioned above like Ballad Of, Creature Mag, Inkygoodness, Sketchbook Mag, and Illustration Rally. I've only just started doing this myself and as someone who graduated in 2007 I've had much better results from doing this!

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  14. My further ranting for Fashion Illustration students:


    Any Fashion Illustration students should really consider in my opinion choosing which direction they want to go in and do the following:

    1. Designing prints and visuals for designers (get to know Adobe CS very well and get interning soon)

    2. Visual Merchandising: Liberty's and Selfridges in my experience offer excellent experience and contacts, look for places that are doing something you like that is exciting and fresh.

    3. Catwalk/Fashion Week illustration: Amelia's Magazine has a entire section based on Fashion Week coverage. Watch out for the callouts on twitter from herself, @ameliagregory and @mattbramf as well as other writers Amelia will mention to get experience of drawing from the catwalk and having to produce quick results. Fashion Week coverage needs to be up-to-date so you'll have to get used to working quickly. Also, look for up-coming/off-schedule designers and ask if you can come along to draw. I did this all the time while studying and most will be flattered that you want to capture their collections, you could even propose that they can use your work. Don't miss out on getting to know Adobe CS though as catwalk illustration doesn't have to all be done by hand.

    I could rant on for more, and there is much more you can do as a Fashion Illustration student, but if any students or anyone want to contact me for more ranting and advice or even just a chat about Fashion Illustration please do through my blog contact details.

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  15. I just graduated from Illustration at MDX and i feel a bit lost to be honest. I'm a lot more graphics based so I'm applying for artworking and design jobs at the moment but i really have no idea what I'm meant to be saying to even get through to interviews!

    I think there is a bit of a problem that design companies are unwilling to take on recent graduates, and every job I've seen expects 2 years industry experience. How you're supposed to get this I don't know.

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  16. completely agree. graduated in illustration at mdx in 08, completely ill-equipped for life as an illustrator.

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  17. Oh hun this has inspired me to blog the same thing. Am just sad that I graduated 6 years ago and it obviously hasn't changed.

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  18. Thank you for this post, i am currently in my 2nd year of kingston university illustration course, and although they are trying to educate us in some areas, i still feel very unprepared for the years to come in my career (what little there will be of it). I do not understand why illustration students aren't given internship opportunities earlier, and why computer skills still aren't adequately taught ( and teaching us how to make a rubbish flash based website which is practically useless doesn't count).

    I am grateful that I've missed the fee's increase because the chances of being able to pay off a higher debt than the one I already have is slim to none.

    I would like to get into book covers and publishing (a declining area i know), but have absolutely no idea how to do this.

    Thanks for a brilliant post.

    Jenny

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  19. Thanks for this Holly, glad stuff like this is being written.

    I've written a partial response - my experience, thoughts on the matter so if anyone wants to have a look that would be great:

    http://petewillisillustration.blogspot.com/2011/06/grad-1-year-on.html

    Pete

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  20. AnonymousJune 20, 2011

    Looking for a job as an illustrator? It's unlikely to happen - it is likely though to eventually end up as a full-time illustrator, but this requires continued dedication to the craft when opportunities seem few and far between. But crucially though in today's world new graduates entering the creative industries need to be multi-skilled, adaptable and technologically savvy. Sad fact = bypassing uni and upskilling your computer skills can get you further than a degree in the short term...

    That said all of the above is null and void if you're lucky.

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  21. Hi Holly

    I read through your posts and the responses you have been receiving with great interest, and I must say I wholeheartedly agree with all your points. Your experience of Middlesex seems virtually identical to mine at Wesminster University. I left with only a rudimentary and vague notion of what I wanted to do with my art, and what it takes to promote myself, work and survive as a freelance illustrator... and three years on since graduating, I'm still learning on the job.

    My main gripe with Westminster's teaching is that actual advice from practicing professionals didn't come until very late on - only a matter of months before our degree show - and basic but vitally important topics such as how to approach clients, put a price on artwork and even how to look after your finances, were not covered adequately enough or at all. I could go on for several more paragraphs, but I'm sure you get the idea ;) The most important thing that Universities need to give their students is confidence, in themselves and their work; without this, many talented and hard working graduates are simply going to drop their ambitions altogether.

    I guess the key, like you say, is to maintain your ambitions and keep up work on the side whenever you can fit it in. I too had to get a regular full-time job soon after finishing Uni; I had initially approached countless design companies, galleries and organisations for jobs but with zero success - undoubtedly due to my lack of relevant experience, despite my degree and the skills listed on my CV (this is another issue I feel strongly about, but is another matter entirely). Had I taken the idea of getting a work experience placement whilst at Uni more seriously - or even, had I been more actively encouraged by my tutors - perhaps I would have got somewhere.

    Anyway I did gain a few small commissions, via friends, mutual aquaintances and the small London-based agency I signed up with 6 months after graduation; the latter provided me with a small run of decently-paid jobs last year, but few that I actually enjoyed doing, mainly due to the fact the agency pidgeonholed me as an 'educational' (i.e. school textbook) illustrator, not my bag at all. But the important thing is that the client list grew and so did the experience. Recently I had a lucky break when I met, via a friend, a designer at a major publisher who later commissioned me to work on several book spreads and since I have been able to go part-time at my job and dedicate more time to my work.

    If I ever had an opportunity to visit my University to talk to the current crop of students, my advice would be do your research, keep contact with your peers and fellow graduates (it's becoming increasingly apparent that simply knowing people in certain places is the best help towards getting anywhere!!), keep working on and developing your art, stay confident and simply get involved in stuff that's going on - competitions, online design briefs, exhibition calls for entry, etc etc. But like I said, I've had to learn all this the hard way...

    Anyhoo thanks for sharing your thoughts Holly, and keep up the good work.
    Best wishes
    Mike

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  22. jenny from above. who said shes in second year at Kingston, don't worry, you get taught a lot about business in third year. We got shown how to make invoices and how to deal with copyright and all other self employment boring stuff. They do teach it at Kingston! Its all in third year though!

    (still ive just finished so we shall see how useful it is. its always going to be hard to actually GET the work... if it was easy everyone would do it!)

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  23. Nice post btw Holly.

    It's no illusion that a career in the creative industry in general is pretty competitive. Loads of graduates but lack of jobs.....sucks sucks sucks!

    As with my uni course, although the tutors were great and supportive but we never covered the basics like how write an invoice which seems ridiculous if we're to make a living!!!?
    I was never that arsed about getting fancy awards, grades and what not. I just wanted to get on with my work and not have to fork out £20 for some competition!

    To be fair I've learnt more since I graduated 2 years ago, probably because I have to do things for myself than run to the tutors for help!

    I think those who stick at it will go far. No matter how long it takes as long as you're determined and passionate about what you do, you'll get there!

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  24. It really is sad, the state of education and employment - especially seeing someone like you who works so hard and creates such amazing work suffer. I'm fortunate enough to have studied computer graphic design (in which field I now work full time), which is decently easy to get high paid work in - and on the side I nurture my life-long love of illustration.

    However, I am increasingly frustrated, because I really, really, really want to expand my knowledge, beyond my mediocre self-taught art skills, and go study maybe just one year of illustration. But, to do that, I'd have to throw myself even further into debt, and I'm barely out of university already.

    But my plight is nothing, in comparison to the effect such fees and lack of employment and pay rates, has on the art industry. Art is so very important to society, but so, so, so many children are told growing up "don't become an artist, you just end up with huge study debt and no income" so they don't pursue it further. I was certainly told that, hence why I studied graphic design, but I was lucky in that I was stubborn enough to at least maintain a creative field of study. Others weren't so lucky. I'm constantly meeting people who say "I used to draw a lot but I stopped because I was told I shouldn't bother, and I had work to do.

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  25. I agree. I graduated about 3 weeks ago and already feel absolutely swamped. We did have a series of lectures in the second year on 'professional practice', but these were about getting unpaid placements and basically offering yourself up for free. Having graduated, I can't afford to do that. I did a bit of unpaid experience on the Images exhibition with the AOI last year and when I tell people I worked for the AOI they're like "ohhh amazing...", but it was only labour really, putting up the exhibition. And despite having a first class degree, I don't have any of the knowledge about all of the software I need to use, other than the basic to intermediate things I've been able to teach myself. So the fact that my university still gave me a first despite my lack of knowledge just shows that they don't realise what you need to know once you leave university. For them, I stand out as a great illustrator (hence the 1st) but for everyone else I'm absolutely lost in the swamp of new graduate illustrators (hence the lack of job!).

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  26. It was the same for me, I did Fine Art 3 years ago, we did have a module focusing on jobs and the future, but it wasn't until our final semester in our final year, when no one could even think beyond finishing the degree, as we were all too focused on our final exhibition.

    I have no idea why they don't look at job possibilities and surviving the real world from the very start.

    Also in other creative courses they got you to apply for placements, but we had none of that, and due to that I spent most of my first year after uni doing work for free, and struggling to find my own feet (although in some cases that is still true now)

    I now have actually begun to do work that is more illustration based than fine art based and have found a fair bit of my freelance work through doing workshops, though I still have to work part time to help pay our bills. I am still learning much as I go, mostly thanks to networking online and otherwise. I have learnt a lot more about the realities of the creative world through people I have never met, than tutors that I paid!

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  27. Such a great post, I stayed up for ages last night reading ever bit on this page :)), for me the story was a bit different, I studied graphic design, but at the end of the course I realised I' more interested in illustration. So now after completing my course It will be a hard year to get out there and get noticed. I think social networking is really important, probably 60-70% of my class mates didn't even have an online portofolio when they graduated. and out tutors accepted a mock up of your website for the 'self branding' project. Less than 20% on my class mates choose to use twitter as well..which I think its brilliant for self promotion and stuff like that, though I think that submitting your work to different competition and free collaborations is a good think you might not get any money for it but you can get your name out there, i'm planning to submit to every single competition there is from september will see how it goes :) And good luck to you, following you on twitter to keep updated:)

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  28. I graduated in 2003, graphic design, and I still have no idea what I am doing, but I kind of enjoy it though :) To be fair, everyone on my course was always warned that, there were more design students than jobs, and that most of us would end up in McDonalds - cheery :) I honestly think all courses like illustration or graphic design should come with a years experience as part of the course, it would solve many problems. I think students also need to be kept in the loop of what will be expected of them. I will always value my adobe creative suite knowledge that I have picked up through college and then uni, it has been so useful, but as illustrators are supposed to be digital, graphic designers are expected to know css and html, and how to create an app for a mobile etc, and that just wasn't part of the course, so when I began looking or jobs, not only did I not have experience, but I also, didn't have half the skills. On a positive note, it has taught me heaps about taking responsibility for myself, and recognising challenges that are part of the huge learning curve that is life, it would be pretty dull if we already knew it all. Being lost, means you are on an adventure, and at some point, you will have the joy of finding you way :) Just keep believing in yourselves!!

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