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Hello Russell's Nephew,

Central St. Martins College of Art and Design is supposed to be an excellent school:

You could also commute to The Hague: http://www.kabk.nl/index/-/en

But why stick to Britain? Or to the EU, even? With the dollar ailing as it is you could very easily escape to California, where you've got Art Center, CalArts, CCA...
Supposedly, there are some half-decent art schools in New York, as well, but hey: The temperature in Pasadena is a balmy 26ยบ and sunny right now.


I don't know anything about schools in the UK, but I like both signs. Together, not equally.

Personally I'd avoid London like the plague. Imagine if you studied in London and then ended up all your working life there? That wouldn't be very good for the soul, would it?


My experience of Cardiff, Northampton and Glasgow has been really good.

At the Final Show's I always like the look of Norwich.

hmmm - I see he point about not studying in London - but i've got to say it does have one of the best group of design lead schools - so for my money LCP, Saint Martins or Camberwell are all worth a spin.

good luck


I recently did research on the whole issue of student recruitment, the interview process etc.
What I found matched my own experience as an interviewer and teacher of graphic design: students who choose an institution based on reputation are making the wrong choice, especially as reputation is often based on unsubstantiated claims.

You need to choose a course that matches your personal philosophy and goals, and that offers you a range of potential. For example, any course that claims to simply train you as a designer should be avoided - take a look at the recent Design Council publication "Higher Skills for Higher Value" or the Cox Report from a couple of years ago. British industry doesn't need more 'designers' but is crying out for 'design thinkers' with a range of high-level thinking skills. Does the course you're looking at only prepare you as a designer, in which case what happens if you change your mind or don't succeed, or does it prepare you for a number of careers?
A 'degree' needs to produce a 'graduate' able to fulfil a range of roles but, most importantly, develop a person's own abilities beyond what they might do for a living. In other words, a degree should help you get a life rather than get a job. The former always helps the latter, but the reverse is not always true.

So my advice, for what it's worth, would be to study design at a *university* surrounded by other disciplines and to take advantage of that exposure - for example at my university last week we had a great visiting lecturer on psychology who attracted medical students, law students, sociologists, design students... Many (but certainly not all) 'specialist' institutions (i.e. where they only teach art and design) focus too much on aesthetics and being arty. They can be too narrow in their outlook. Design in the 21st century is about 'design thinking' - it's an intellectual activity and that's why anyone should study it at degree level.

A second (and important) consideration should be the place itself - the campus, the locale. This place will be your home for three or more years. London offers much, but it is also potentially a lonely city. I sat in on a well-taught lesson at Central St Martins a couple of years ago but was struck by the empty look in some students' eyes, like they were dreading having to go home. On the other hand, I spoke to some more who were loving being in such a vibrant place.
For some, a university in the middle of nowhere would be hell, for others paradise.

I've worked in the middle of the Yorkshire countryside, in Reading, the outskirts of London, Brighton and now Scotland. Each place is very different and the atmosphere and type of student is different too. Some people adapt to that, or fail to (and are often unhappy because of it); some people (the wiser ones maybe) choose the place that reflects their current personality and grow from there.

All that assumes you want to learn about the whole process of design and the many connections it has with other areas of study. If, however, you simply want to be a 'designer' who takes a brief and does something with it, then why bother with a degree at all? Look in to Foundation Degrees, HNDs and Creative Apprenticeships instead.

So think: do you want a degree or do you want training? Do you want an interdisciplinary experience or do you want to be surrounded by artists and designers? Do you want to learn about the world through design, or just how to *do* design? Do you want to take your time or get it over and done with and in to work? Do you want to learn on the job or simply to learn?

These are things to think about, so talk to current and former students, not staff - and don't believe the prospectuses. There are some truly appalling courses out there that claim to be great, and some great ones that never get talked about. But if you choose any course for the right reasons (the ones I've mentioned) then you should get the most out of it.

I can't recommend the BA Hons degree course at Northumbria University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne enough (did you know Jonathan Ive studied here?). And their MA program is also excellent with a great mix of design disciplines. It's a fascinating city for designers, hence why I've never wanted to leave!

I'd just say first and foremost trust your instincts. I stuck with a course after they first managed to send the wrong letter, telling me I hadn't been accepted when actually through ucas I had, then the course leader went off sick in the first week and didn't return, and then we were told, well, yes we know our buildings aren't great but they're being bulldozed in 3 years time anyway. I have no idea why I stayed. I think I just didn't want to 'quit' and I really liked the city. But I sometimes think things might perhaps have been better if I'd trusted my instincts and run a mile.

As a graduate of Central Saint Martins Graphic Design BA, I can highly recommend it. London College of Communication (LCC) have a fantastic course too, and Kingston always push out some good graduates. As previous posters have said, you need to think about what environment you want. But you also need to think about the quality of the other students. You'll learn far more from them than you will from your tutors. And check out their facilities too, and current student numbers - access to those facilities depends on how many other people are also trying to get at them.

I recently ( a year ago) had to go through the same debacle and decided on Falmouth. The only way you can come to the right decision is by visiting the open days or just popping in and asking to speak to someone if you can't make the right days.. I heard so many different opinions on different uni's and courses - which one's are the "best in the country" etc etc. But it comes down to what you want to get out of the course. Some courses offer the option to switch back and forth between illustration and graphics etc, some emphasise typography, some are in big cities and some are in the middle of nowhere..
Personally I chose falmouth because on visiting the place I really liked the atmosphere, and the staff were friendly and incredibly helpful (I visited bath spa and their attitude was as if they would rather you didn't apply, thank you very much (they accepted me anyway)) and the work coming out was really great with a good reputation through awards and that. I didn't even consider london. I think there's a time for London and its not yet.. for me anyway.
Anyway you have to base your decision on what you want and that includes from all aspects of the course including where it is, what the people are like, what the lifestyle is like etc etc etc..

I'd say go and have a look around the Department of Typography & Graphic Communications at Reading University.

I studied at Kingston University and found that there are various ways of thinking about communication design which I first encountered there and which I still return to. It places a high emphasis on lateral thinking but begins with a thorough examination of typographic and visual design skills and still favours drawing over tapping (on a computer).

However, I've seen good people come out of St Martins and Brighton in particular - it's all down to how you want to approach design, difficult to know at the age of 18/19.

I'd be happy to talk to your nephew in more detail if he has specific questions or is still confused with all of the conflicting information dished out in these comments (my own included of course!).

About the signs: without seing the context they both might be great, good, ok or bad. We should of course initially be questionning the use of why there are two signs in the first place. If he understands that then I'm sure wherever he picks, he'll have other insightful questions about a whole raft of things that fall into what we call 'design'.

Portsmouth University - Simon Clarke is old school diehard and great great man.

LCC (LCP) - Ian Noble taught me at Portsmouth College of Art and is a real visionary, just read his closing text in 8vo's book On the outside by Lars Muller. Ian told me 13 years ago to get into digital and about the role of designer/writer as auteur. In fact I believe that Hamish Muir from 8vo teaches there.

St. Martins still has good courses Sadha Jain teahes there also an Ex. Portsmouth lecturer.

Jan van Eyck Academie

arnhem art academy
Karel Martins associated with this.

But I also agree with previous posts about studying further afield, US, France, Switzerland, Germany. If you then want to stay and work there you have a head start on the language.

I studied at Kingston University.

As a place it provided a good stepping stone form a rural upbringing into the big-city world of design.

As an education it was incredible; challenging, eye-opening and surprising. I am still enthused with the hunger that was instilled there.

Courses are small (30 ish per year) unlike CSM (100+ per year) so you get quality time with tutors. I think this is an important factor.

We were always taught by practising designers who I still have great respect for.

I left with very few practical skills but a way of thinking and a thirst for ideas and knowledge that I know will see me through.

After 15 years of teaching on design and illustration courses, the most important advice i've found is to visit the colleges, ignore the pr speech, and talk to the students. Ask them how often they see a tutor, who are the tutors, what books do the tutors recommend, what projects they've been working on, how are the projects structured, how many students are in every day, what are the third years working on, how often do you really get access to the letterpress room? Don't just talk to the one student who looks like you, either. Good luck to the nephew. And make sure that folio looks like you've had to leave loads of good stuff at home.
Re:the parking signs. There are obv two places to park your car. One has a domineering, forceful attendant, while the other has been busy since its 60's heyday, and is now a little faded, and all the better for it.

The UK is your design course oyster but depends on the sort of direction that he wants to take> Certain courses suite different horses, as it were. I loved my time at LCP (Graduated '92) as it wasn't too trendy like CSM or Chelsea or Boho like Camberwell! London was a great for the vibe but then I suppose you'll get that in any of England's great cities like Leeds, Newcastle Manchester etc.,
Parking Signs? Defintely the cyan one is best! Why? Cos I went to LCP.

LCC (formerly LCP) is good.

How about doing a foundation course at St Martins/Chelsea/Camberwell/LCC/LCF first to see if he likes the London life? Also great for meeting like-minded people.

Expensive in London though! My first year student bro is paying more on renting a room in a house in Camberwell than I do on my mortgage each month :o(

I'm a 2nd year student at Cardiff School of Art and Design, on the BA Graphic Communications course, really enjoying it. And Ben says his impression of it is 'good'. Central admin of UWIC (where CSAD is based) is not up to much, but individual teaching is brilliant. There's a good mix of ex-professional tutors and theory-based ones.

I also used to work for a students' union on things like "student experience" so if your nephew was coming to have a look around I'd be happy to show him around and have a chat if he wanted.

May I also wish him luck in whatever he decides to do :)

Russel, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee have excellent graphic design courses at the respective colleges. Don't touch Aberdeen with a bargepole (unless the course has changed in the past couple of years).

norwich! biased as am now in my third year but the course is really well laid out, the school as a whole has a fantastic atmosphere and the tutors are top. check out ray gregory in a smile in the mind, he's the third year tutor, rob hillier is the first year tutor and a star. go to an open day and you'll see what i mean. it doesn't show off like some courses but the reputation in the industry is impressive. good luck!

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