Though art and design are linked by their creative natures and a strong tendency towards the visual, they are quite distinct fields of endeavour. Good art is generally credited with being open to interpretation, whereas good design is credited with being clearly understood. However, with that said, there is some crossover between the two areas, and together they comprise a broad scope of creative disciplines.
Those wishing to advance their artistic credentials and develop a quality-rich body of work to might consider the Master’s degree in Fine Art in Studio Art (two years full time), which is offered jointly by NUI Galway and the Burren College of Art. The programme teaches students how to prepare for the vocation of art or, if preferred, for progression on to doctoral-level study. The course is comprised of three modules: Studio Research, Professional Skills and Historical and Critical Studies – all of which are treated as elements within an overall holistic experience.
Another hands-on programme is available from Cork Institute of Technology, whose intensive one-year MA in Art and Process (full time) encourages students to fully engage with medium, theory and technique. They are also given a degree of autonomy in which to experiment, reflect and discuss with the aim of developing their own unique work methodologies. Applicants should hold at least a 2.2 honours primary degree in Fine Art or a related discipline, or have a significant level of professional experience. They must also submit a portfolio of work with some samples of written work (i.e. a statement of practice, a chapter from a thesis/review of a show).
The relationship between contemporary art practice and digital culture is a salient and central concern of the National College of Art and Design’s (NCAD) MA in Art in the Digital World (two years full time). The programme combines visual art, digital production and postproduction skills, creative content development, critical studies in contemporary art and digital culture, and research methods training. Students will also be given the opportunity to avail of an artist’s placement within a suitable organisation in year one, and will be offered the chance to study abroad as part of year two. Along with an approved primary degree, applicants must submit a CV, portfolio, references, along with a statement of intent.
In addition to taught programmes, NCAD also offers doctoral-level research options. Research proposals are invited in all aspects of art and design, including practice, education, history, criticism and theory.
Limerick Institute of Technology is another college that provides research opportunities alongside its postgraduate courses in Art and Design. Research proposals are considered for MAs and PhDs in numerous fields, including fine art, printmaking, fashion, ceramic or digital design, as well as art and design education.
Art creation, curation and criticism might ordinarily be considered independent career paths, but IADT’s unique MA in Visual Art Practices (two years full time) offers students tuition in all three. This approach allows budding artists to contextualise their work in new and exciting ways. Previous graduates on the programme have progressed on to careers in an array of areas, such as in public art commissioning, performance, photography, criticism, sculpture, video installation, curation and painting. Indeed, encouraging versatility in student is an important element of the course.
‘Postgraduate studies teach students to look creatively at opportunities in industries where careers don’t follow straight lines,’ says Liam Doona, Head of Department of Art & Design in IADT. ‘In creative arts you shape your own career and graduates tend to be ambitious and nimble, moving around and creating their own opportunities. What is important in our courses is that they are very professionally centred; conditioning students to see what their field is becoming and how to progress professionally within it.’
One course that focuses on the practical element and recognises the importance of advice from industry experts is that of the MA Professional Design Practice – Visual Communications (two years full time), which is on offer at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). Leading industry professionals are on hand to offer input and advice on each project that a student undertakes, with the aim of equipping design graduates with the competencies required to work in the industry.
Teaching is another popular career choice for graduates of Art or Design programmes. One-year postgraduate diplomas are available from NCAD and CIT’s Crawford College of Art & Design. Another exciting option is the new MA in Art and Design (two years part time), which is on offer at Limerick Institute of Technology. The programme is designed for in-career art and design educators that wish to improve on their existing skills through re-engaging with their own art and design practice. The course endorses a collaboration- and contribution-based approach to learning, and also affords participants the opportunity to strengthen their professional networks.
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