Stop Putting Art Students Down. Our Work is Just as Valid as Yours.


People always seem to underestimate the power of the creative industries. According to The Independent "creative industries generate £84 billion a year for the UK economy, almost £10m an hour", yet this is completely overlooked by the Bsc Data Modelling student I met in the SU the other week and all of his relevant counterparts. 

If I had a pound for every time someone rolled their eyes when I said I have so much work to do or every time I'm asked "is that even a real degree?" I may as well be earning that £10m an hour myself. For some reason our craft is mocked and belittled. Perhaps this is because we are stereotypically labelled as "not as smart" as Bsc students because our brains take in information a different way, or maybe it's because we "make things all day and don't do any real work". Disappointingly, in my experience, it tends to be people that many would consider to be intelligent that initiate these close minded conversations. My question is, how can someone so 'smart' not be able to open their mind enough to feel that another way of working is valid?

It's probably important for me to state that this post is aimed at no one in particular. I've met plenty of Bsc students, working professionals, and academics that truly do value the arts but largely this is not the case. This year the Department of Education pushed the English Baccalaureate and Progress 8 Performance Measure so much that, according to The Guardian, the amount of students taking art related subjects (including music, performance art, and media) fell to "the lowest level in a decade". We are being pushed out of the education system at an early age which therefore reinforces the idea that 'art is not important' in upcoming generations. 


Let me tell you why our work is important and valid. Art is everywhere and it's definitely not just something you find hanging up in designated contemporary art museums. Art is protest, art is visionary, and art is mundane. The logo and architecture of the packaging your food came in? A previous graphic design student made that. The clothes you purchase? Designed by a previous fashion student. The layout of the coffee shop you sit in as you wait for your train? Created by an interior designer or visual merchandiser. The radio show you're listening to in the car? Produced by a prior media student. The magazine you're flicking through in the doctors office? Photographers, lighting assistants, retouchers, editors. The book you read to your little cousins when they come to visit? Full of illustrations. The Christmas card you just bought? You guessed it - designed and created by an ex art student. 

Imagine, just for a second, not having these things. Not having anyone with a creative eye. Our world would be pretty bland, wouldn't it? 

But maybe it's not that that makes you think our work isn't valid? In my time as an art student I've discovered that people seem to think our work isn't valid because we "don't do much" or don't do as much compared to other students. This is where I'm about to blow your minds people...

Believe it or not, we are actually studying a degree! I know right, shocker?! So what that means is basically, we have a massive amount of work to do, but because we're art students it may not be a traditional sense of work. Instead of taking tests, completing set out work documents  and studying for exams, in my case I create moving image pieces, make books and magazines, and work on branding and design. These creative tasks show my knowledge and research in a final piece that is very visual. It is exactly the same as say, an exam or an essay, because it is simply a final outcome that represents everything we have learnt. As students, we all sit in lectures and then complete tasks, research and reading based around the knowledge we are given in these lectures. We then apply these to a final outcome and that is where the divide between art student and academic student forms.

Why am I told my degree isn't as valid because at the end of a term I hand in 4 moving image pieces, 3 branding related books in packaging, two reports on my work and two research sketchbooks instead of taking an exam and writing essays throughout the term? When I put it like that, it seems to me like as students we are the same, yet, even still, as art students we are treated as lesser than. 

We work just as hard as everyone else. We may not have to sit for hours cramming information into our head for that final exam, but we do have to create our own innovative ideas, develop them, manipulate them, explore our minds to dig deep for inspiration and evoke capabilities within ourselves that we never knew we had. 

We aren't all bright colour haired, metallic platform boot wearing smokers listening to the Arctic Monkeys and splashing paint on walls all day like you might think (and even if we were why would that matter?). We are hard workers with ambition and drive to make it in our industry - exactly the same as everyone else and we deserve some respect and recognition.

17 comments

  1. I have always admired people who are artistic and pursue an art-related degree/career because as you said, art is so important to our world and so many industries would not be able to exist without it! Making any form of art is definitely far from easy and requires so much hard work and dedication. I think that we should never bring anyone down regardless of what they study - I will be starting history at uni next year and even I have been ridiculed by so many people because it is not a STEM subject and by their definition, not a 'proper' degree!

    maria | http://whatismaria.com

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    1. I'm so glad you agree! Everyone should be able to study whatever they like without ever feeling like their degree isn't good enough. Don't listen to those people, history is an amazing degree to study! x

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  2. Its so sad that people over look creative degrees, and the creative industry in general. I'm currently studying photography at university, and have been asked things like, 'whats the point in that' or have people turn their nose up at it, but its such a fun degree to be doing and like you say, the world would be a very bland place if we didn't have the creative people!

    Lucy | Forever September

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    1. Exactly, creative people are fundamental for the smooth running of literally everything that goes on. People turn there nose up at photography, but won't turn their nose up at all the magazines they read with editorial images in them and they'll still want a photographer for their wedding! Thanks for your comment :)

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  3. I feel you! Some people even think art students don't shouldn't get loans, how unfair!
    Art is essential and everybody should realize this. Great post :)


    www.desiringsme.com/pluses-minuses-01/

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    1. Wow I had no idea that people had thought about art students not getting loans, that's ridiculous and never even occurred to me! Thank you for stopping by :)

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  4. Yes <3 You do you and don't worry about what anyone else says! I am such a believer in doing what makes you happy :)

    Enclothed Cognition

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  5. wow the pictures are amazing!
    Please visit my Blog!

    http://www.alessabernal.com/

    Alessa Bernal

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  6. An amazing article Georgia ! As a person with not one creative bone in my body, i rely on people like you to help me !! Let them think what they want, you are definitely a very clever young lady x

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    1. Thank you for the lovely comment Julie! It's lovely to know that people appreciate what we do :) x

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  7. It frustrates me so much at how some people view creative degrees. I feel like the creative industry is fundamental to our society - what is life without creativity !! Loved this post !
    I just came across your blog and I really adore it. Great work girl, keep up your magic !

    www.thewanderingmermaids.co.uk

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  8. Wonderful post …………..keep updating!!
    Gifts for her

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  9. Wonderful post …………..keep updating!!
    Gifts for her

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  10. i studied graphic design and luckily i never came across people like this! i do however, come across people that don't want to pay me for what i'm worth or expect me to do something for them for free just because it's something i love and "not a real job." it's extremely frustrating when people think that we don't have bills to pay/make tons of money to begin with! our job is just like any other job and it comes with being stressed and having deadlines, even though it's something i love doing.

    becky @ star violet

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