Our guide to art and design
Jade O'Donoghue

Our guide to art and design

First published date August 23 2013 Amended date August 23 2013

Whether you’re a budding painter who can capture a landscape with the sweep of a brush, someone with a great eye for design trends, or into the kind of contemporary art that makes Tracey Emin’s unmade bed look tame, art and design courses could help you turn your interest into a career.

Like the different types of art out there, art and design courses come in a number of different guises. Some might focus on a particular artistic period, others might look at creating art with specific materials and some might concentrate more on design styles and computer programmes to help create them.


Why art and design?

The main reason people take art and design courses is because they’re passionate about their subject, are inherently creative and want to know more about the history of art and the different practices involved in creating masterpieces. While it’s true that art and design courses can lead to very exciting careers, most people we spoke to studied it because they just really really love art.


Become the next Warhol

The real benefit to studying any art-related subject is that you are given time to really hone your talent. You’ll often be encouraged to experiment with materials and different design ideas and as a result you’ll quickly get to know which ones work best for you.

It’s true that the majority of art and design jobs don’t require formal qualifications and in fact having knowledge, skills and an artistic flair is more important. However, learning more about the subject will only help you in the art world and ensure you have a comprehensive portfolio of work.


Thinking about art

When deciding which art and design course is for you, have a think about what end result you’re looking for. If you’re just keen to learn more techniques or how to work with different materials, pick a course that touches on the areas that most intrigue you. If you’re after a specific arty career, go for the course that will train you up to do the job – like graphic design or picture framing.

Whichever art and design course you go for, your creative juices will definitely be flowing and you’re sure to learn a host of tips and tricks that will help you perfect your art. Now select where you want to study on the top right hand side of this page or browse the different options just below.


Five artistic periods to start you off

Art usually reflects a period in time, and over the centuries artists have adopted many different styles to express this. Here’s our run down of some of the most commonly talked about artistic periods, so you can blag your way through any art exhibitions you might find yourself at on your way to creative stardom…

1. Contemporary art

Contemporary art is any art produced since the 1970s up until the present day. This includes a lot of experimental art that has caused many to question what exactly constitutes art. It’s usually socially conscious and will deal with certain cultural issues – feminism for example. A lot of contemporary artists also make use of new technology in their work.

2. Cubism

Pablo Picasso is probably the most famous champion of cubism and it started at the beginning of the 20th century. Cubists didn’t want to depict the world in 3D and insisted that pictures should be flat. A lot of art with cubism influences involve objects viewed from many different angles.

3. Surrealism

Surrealism first came about in Paris in the 1920s and it’s an artistic movement that aims to express the imagination as revealed in dreams. Sigmund Freud’s psychological theory of psychoanalysis heavily influenced surrealism particularly he’s theories about human consciousness.

4. Impressionism

The concept behind impressionism is that the artist should paint an object as though they simple glanced at it. With roots also in France around the late 1800s, pictures tend to be very bold and vibrant and generally depict outdoor scenes without much detail but using a lot of colour.

5. Renaissance
Renaissance art refers to European paintings from the historical period between 1400 and 1600 called the Renaissance, meaning ‘rebirth’. Its main characteristic was a revival of the classical forms originally developed by the ancient Romans and Greeks, and an increased concern with the natural world and all its details. Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ is one of the most famous Renaissance paintings.

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