The first students to enrol in New Zealand’s first project-based-learning arts and design degree are fine-tuning work for ideaschool’s graduate exhibition A Feast for the Senses.
The cohort of 34 students, the largest graduating class in EIT’s three-year Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design, are working on paintings, sculptures, limited edition prints, films and other works for the idea showcase Graduate Exhibition to be held at CAN (Community Arts Napier) from November 21-25.
Rebecca Stone and Liam Treadwell believe they and their classmates will have an edge over graduates from other art and design schools as they look for jobs in the creative industries.
As would-be students, they found the excitement of ideaschool lecturers around the newly-establishing degree was infectious. They were also attracted to EIT by the Year 13 degree scholarship.
“Now other art and design schools in New Zealand are introducing the project-based learning approach,” says Rebecca, a 21-year-old from Wairoa. “I feel we have a head start with employers.”
Over the course of their degree, ideaschool’s visual arts and students undertake a series of real-life projects designed to develop their practical skills, techniques and theoretical knowledge while equipping them with the know-how required for working in and developing and managing their own practices.
In a lecturer-facilitated environment, they work collaboratively and at times independently on projects that become progressively more challenging.
The students are encouraged to polish their problem-solving, research and decision-making skills while learning how to market themselves, write proposals, deal with commissions, budget, interact with clients, work with other creative specialists and pace their processes to meet deadlines.
“The degree offers an academic element,” says Rebecca, “while allowing students to experiment with a range of disciplines.”
Liam believes it suits students who, like him, come from school and still have to find out who they are as artists.
“You can try different things in the first year, narrow that down in the second and by the third year you feel you know what you are doing down the road,” says the 20-year-old from Taradale.
Liam is currently basing his practice around illustration – “somewhere between design and fine art” – while for Rebecca the work predominantly focuses on a drawing practice, currently portraiture.
“I came here thinking I was just a visual artist but now I realise how much I enjoy design as well,” she says.
Returning to her fine art roots, she has submitted a work depicting an uncle, rendered in coloured pencil and a touch of paint, for the upcoming exhibition.
Rebecca feels there is still more to explore before she considers entering the industry.
“I have been exploring my creative side and want more world experiences before coming back and finding something locally.”
Liam would love to work in a design firm and build his reputation before going into business for himself.
“I hope to freelance and then create my own style from there,” he says. “To have a career you enjoy and make art – that’s what makes you tick.”