Europe, the cradle of art and culture, is the place where both traditional and cutting-edge forms of art and design coexist in a harmonious unity. It is the place where Picasso first changed the face of art, and where contemporary artists and designers such as Damien Hirst continue to change humanity’s visual identity. Furthermore, European cities such as London, Paris and Berlin are amongst the world’s art capitals — places where some of the most ambitious artists and designers exchange their ideas and inspire each other to produce highly imaginative creations.
Traditionally, the term “art” referred to painting, drawing, and sculpture, and this is immediately apparent upon entry to any of Europe’s famous art museums such as the National Gallery in London or the Louvre in Paris. However, nowadays the concept of fine arts has been expanded to include various modern forms of art including photography, film, and performing arts (dance, music, and drama). Nowadays art is so intertwined with the modern world that we can see it on every corner and yet we are unaware of it. We take the dynamics of the world given to us by various artistic forms for granted, without realising how dull the world would be without art.Find postgraduate programs in DESIGN
Although design is usually mentioned in the same context with art, there is one fundamental difference between the two. Essentially, art allows the creator to freely express his/her creative concerns, whereas a designer has to clearly transfer specific information of interest to the viewer. For example, if someone is designing a logo for an IT company, then this logo has to clearly express the objectives of this company. However, given that the world today is much more dynamic than ever before, the distinction between art and design is not so clear, and in many cases designers could call themselves artists. In the contemporary world areas of design include graphic design, fashion and textile design, web design, interior design, and landscape design. Needless to say, “design” is staring at us from various magazine covers, advertisements, web-sites, and even the buildings in which we live.
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In order to become a practicing artist or designer, it is highly recommended that you undertake a postgraduate taught degree in your specific area of interest. Many universities in the UK and elsewhere in Europe that specialise in art offer MA or MFA (Master of Fine Arts) courses that last 1-2 years. These courses are likely to focus on different art disciplines, ranging from painting and sculpture to performance arts, and they include various practical elements aimed to help you develop your own unique artistic style. If you are interested in going into a specialised art-related career such as becoming an art curator or art critic, some universities, such as Goldsmiths in London offer high quality MA or MFA degrees in curating and art writing with a practical focus. Likewise, there is an increasing number of institutions that offer specialised and practice-based taught masters courses in film production, dance, drama, ceramics, and various other disciplines of art.
When it comes to design, the most common taught degree offered by various universities is MA or MFA in design. Needless to say, there are many different directions in design that once can pursue, including graphic design, interior design, fashion and textile design, web design, and others. Furthermore, some universities offer critical MA degrees in design focused at educating design critics.
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For those of you who, besides becoming practicing artists or designers, wish to contribute new academic knowledge to the field of art, become university professors, or simply become skilful in some highly specialised art field or technique, undertaking an MPhil or a PhD degree is the way to go. An MPhil and a PhD are both highly specialised courses that last from 1-2 years (MPhil) to 3-4 years (PhD) and include either only a written thesis or a combination of studio practice and a thesis. Depending on the program and specific areas of interest, the thesis can range from around 15,000 words to more than 80,000 words long. In most cases, successful applicants for a postgraduate degree in art and design are expected to hold a bachelor degree in a relevant field. However, other specifics will depend on the institution where you are aiming to study – so check with the relevant admissions office.
In general scholarships for studying a postgraduate degree in art and design tend to be less available than scholarships in fields such as science or engineering. Furthermore, most scholarships are awarded for studying a research degree such as a PhD or an MPhil rather than a master’s degree. However, scholarships do exist and many high-level art schools do award them.
When it comes to costs, one year of studying for an MA, MFA, or MPhil/PhD in art and design related programs in the UK can range from £3,500 ($4,200) to £21,000 (€25,000), depending on whether you’re an international or a home student. Prices are also highly variable for different universities and different countries, so it is advisable to check your specific course of interest rather than relying on the price range. However, it is likely that studio-based programs that require a lot of equipment for art production will be more expensive, although there are universities across Europe where it is possible to study art and design for free, so it is definitely worth researching your options.
When it comes to studying a postgraduate program in Art & Design, it’s a good idea to give the final thoughts to students themselves. Here are some testimonials from students who have recently studied these disciplines at European universities:
“Studying for an MFA in in fine art at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London has been a great experience! Not only did I get to know the most recent advances in the field and develop my own style as an artist, but being in London as one of the centres of the world of art has greatly helped to enhance my career.”
“The greatest advantage of studying in a vibrant city such as Berlin is that it’s always a lot of fun. Both in terms of making your own art, and when it comes to meeting young artists from all around the world and sharing work with them.”
“Studying for an MA in interior design at the Utrecht School of Design helped me to realise my creative potential and gain confidence in my own abilities. More specifically, the individual research project enhanced my personal understanding of space and gave me the opportunity to come up with a high-quality product and overcome the limits of my own imagination.”
“The MFA degree in graphic design from Edinburgh College of Art has taught me how to cross visual boundaries and convey complex visual ideas in a clear and compelling way.”
Nowadays, art and design are present in many aspects of our daily lives, way beyond the art capitals and the walls of galleries and museums. In fact, no day in our life passes without the contact with products of art and design, when we read magazines, surf the internet, or even when we’re choosing which products to buy in the supermarket. As a consequence, various industries related to art and design, such as advertising and the fashion industry, are continuously on the rise, and artists and designers have a wide range of employment opportunities including media, advertising, galleries, museums, and even computer graphics. An encouraging aspect for young artists who do not want to work in the industry but want to live from their artwork is that the world of art is one of the rare fields that have not been struck by the on-going economic crisis. Indeed, we are living in the era when artworks are being sold for record prices.
Taking into account the aforementioned circumstances, it is not a wonder that many young people are now aspiring to study art and design, especially if we consider that being an artist or a designer is potentially much more personally satisfying than pursuing some other careers. And when it comes to studying art at a postgraduate level, Europe is the place to be. More than a hundred universities across the continent offer various courses in art and design, and many of these courses are in English, especially if we focus on English-speaking countries such as the UK. The other good thing about art (especially if English is not your first language) is that it is mostly conducted in the language of human eyes and within this discipline this way exceeds speech and writing – so your work should be understood by people all around the world. To put it simply, country and language should never be a big barrier when studying art is concerned.
Although studying for an art and design degree may sometimes seem to be financially demanding — especially in cases where the costs of art production elevates the price of studying — career prospects open to those who graduate within this field greatly outweigh the costs. Speaking about job satisfaction, a University of Chicago study has recently found that being an independent artist specialising in painting, drawing, sculpture, or some less traditional media is amongst the most satisfying careers to do. However, finishing a postgraduate degree in art and design will give you a variety of other career opportunities, including being gallery or museum curator, graphic designer or illustrator, web designer, fashion designer, theatre or film designer, landscape designer, art editor or critic, dancer, or musician. You will work in institutions such as museums, galleries, advertising agencies, theatres, fashion houses, web design companies, and many more. Indeed, given that our world is constantly becoming more connected and visual identity of our environment is gaining prominence it is likely to expect that creative industries will continue to grow in the future.
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