October 15, 2018

Nikki and her work

Whenever the conversation about my degree comes up with a new acquaintance, I’m often asked: “What exactly is Illustration?” – often followed by a long pause to prepare for the most genuine and accurate answer I could think of! So what even is illustration?

Illustration is about telling stories


Illustration artwork

There’s far more to illustration than drawing!

As soon as we took our first steps into BA Illustration at Cardiff Met, I got to know illustration as a form of storytelling in my Subject module. Through multiple series of workshops and projects of different scales, for 2 years, I have experimented with various combinations of visuals and words – from the most conventional to the most unexpected – to start conversations with my audience at the end-of-year exhibition. As illustrators, we manipulate the power of colours and shapes, materials and tools, and of course, our creativity.
This allows us to produce communicative pieces like children books, artwork for magazine articles, print designs or even animations. Illustration as a discipline taught me how to tell a story beyond spoken words – by triggering imagination, inspiring new thoughts and sometimes even influencing positivity in others. There are endless possibilities!

Illustration is being versatile

Working in the real world, we would rarely be working on our own or in just in a single role. Cardiff Met’s illustration degree doesn’t just push my creativity and my ability to work independently – it has also trained me to be flexible and collaborative with other creatives inside and outside of our School of Art and Design. Our second module, Field, encouraged me to team up with people from other courses including fine artists, designers and even writers on a number of live projects. We also experienced this way of working when we took part in work experience locally.
When you put aside fear or hesitation and work with a new team every day you soon find yourself growing with confidence and picking up new skills from others.
Regularly engaging in live creative projects also means that despite our focus on illustration, we can discover new things far beyond our own studio area. We have been able to learn to use a wide range of specialist equipment like laser cutters, screen printers and digital sewing machines to deliver a professional outcome for public display – and even for sales!
It’s entirely up to you to be versatile and make the most out of the awesome facilities and opportunities Cardiff Met has to offer.

Illustration is asking questions and finding solutions


illustration 2

Problem solving is s really important part of what we do.

Staying curious and being able to creatively devise solutions are no longer just important qualities for someone working in an art and design discipline – these are abilities every young person needs for success in our constantly changing world. Part of our third module, Constellation, involves observing and attempting to understand works by big thinkers, designers and creators, and then asking further questions, pinpointing problems and coming up with unique ways to solve them.
The solution could be found in the artwork we create in the Subject module, a campaign or micro-startup in the Field module or even as a creative enterprise plan in our final year dissertation. However you chose to find solutions, by the end of your illustration degree in Cardiff Met doing things outside of your comfort zone and taking on new challenges will come naturally. Embracing this way of working is a great way to make your three years at university worthwhile and unforgettable.
Read more blogs from Cardiff School of Art and Design students, or check out the work our final year students produced for the 2018 degree show in the video below