So, you’re an ardent artist, and your desire to express yourself creatively is so strong that you’ve decided to pursue a degree in art, even though it may be against your parents’ wishes.
Bear in mind that, as with any degree, your ability to turn that art degree into a lucrative career, be it through marketing your own artwork, curating art, or landing a successful job in the art world, will be a reality you will need to deal with. For that reason, understanding exactly what it is that you want to do is the best place to start on your journey to discovering the best art school for you.
You have the talent, now find the right school to help you perfect it. ⎢Source: Unsplash
As one of the largest fields in the world, art has impacted human activity and existence since the beginning of recorded history. In fact, history was first recorded and communicated by means of art. Consequently, you’ll find that the choice of art degrees available is as vast as the industry is wide. From simple sketches to qualifications in painting, graphic design and metalwork, even the greatest art aficionado would not be able to list the wide range of art courses available and ready to pique your interest.
Getting to grips with what courses are available at the various South African universities and colleges is an important step towards choosing the right one for you; whether you want to run your own art studio, or aspire to work in a creative agency as a graphic designer. This article serves as a guide to give you a better idea of the types of art education available, and what you need to do to build up your portfolio.
This way, whether your passion lies in art history, or you want to spend all of your time in an art studio, you’ll be able to find the best fit for you.
Remember, art represents a diverse field. ⎢Source: Unsplash
Before you begin hunting for the perfect art school, there are several distinctions in the field of art that first require some clarification.
There are typically three primary categories of art studies: the visual arts, performing arts, and literature.
There is a lot of naturally-occurring crossover between these categories, but our main focus will be on the different types of art programmes available in the first and second categories.
As the definition of fine art is pretty broad, it is easy to be confused by it, and the bachelor’s and master’s programmes in this category clearly reflect the crossover between the three art categories mentioned above. Ranging from theatre and photography specialisations, to illustration and digital media, the variety in the types of art on offer in this degree will depend entirely on the university in question.
There are several disciplines you could pursue. ⎢Source: Unsplash
However, there are many common programmes you are sure to find in this field, such as:
It is possible to find learning institutions with different specialisation areas that deal with certain of the abovementioned subjects. For example, both fashion schools and universities with a fine arts focus could offer a design programme.
When it comes to film schools; however, you are dealing with a different beast altogether.
Where you are likely to find film studies programmes in many universities, there are also numerous schools dedicated solely to the development of the technical skills involved in film.
You could find lecture-based programs specialising in components such as film theory, or universities where you will spend almost all of your time directing or filming movies. Here are some of the most common types of programmes you will find in a film school:
Learn all there is to know about art history and work as a historian. ⎢Source: Unsplash
Art history is a great way to pursue your passion for art, even if you don’t have much artistic ability or natural talent. The great news is, art history is typically available in nearly every university, so you can supplement your art classes or design school studies with this great field of study.
There are several types of art history programmes from which to choose, and you could specialise in a specific period, or opt to study the subject in conjunction with your Bachelor or Master of Fine Arts.
The Top Art Schools in South Africa
Regardless of whether your art school is a prestigious university or a smaller art institute, you will need to finance your studies.
If funding is a problem, there are some options to look into.
Many tertiary institutions offer bursaries to support those who are talented and hard-working, but don’t have the means to fund their studies. It may even be worth investigating whether any government grants are available, as these can go a long way in alleviating the burden of tuition costs. Correspondence universities are also typically much more affordable than their brick and mortar counterparts.
Yes, film making is an art. ⎢Source: Unsplash
Here, then, are the best universities and schools in South Africa to study art, design, and architecture, differentiated by the discipline they specialise in. The application requirements differ from school to school, so be sure to pay attention to what is required.
There are some amazing graphic design courses in SA. ⎢Source: Unsplash
There are a number of great architecture programmes available. ⎢Source: Unsplash
If you can, why not consider a university in another country? You could follow a bridging programme, pursue a four-year degree in the arts, or simply enjoy a semester overseas in collaboration with your local art school. An international experience is enriching from both a professional and cultural perspective.
Ever considered studying art abroad? ⎢Source: Unsplash
If you’re interested, take the time to research the international art schools listed below.
Believe it or not, the hardest part about studying art, whether you’re an undergraduate or have already entered the art world, is not what happens in the lecture hall, but what takes place after graduating, i.e. finding a job!
Perhaps you’ll exhibit your artwork in a gallery one day. ⎢Source: Unsplash
There are many potential employment opportunities available to you after you graduate: teaching art, becoming an art educator at a museum, leading workshops locally and abroad, becoming a regular feature in an exhibit, or even developing into a senior lecturer or director at a South African university.
Whether you strive to have your art featured in the best galleries or want to secure your place as a resident artist at a university, aspiring artists would do well to reach out to alumni after graduation. Getting student work into an exhibition or integrated in studio art is a challenge that most alumni understand well, and their advice will be invaluable.