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What to Expect from studying Fine Art

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Driven by her creativity and love of art, Nalize pursued a BTech Degree in Fine Art at TUT and is now completing her Master’s degree. As a part-time lecturer she now reflects on her journey thus far.

Whether or not to study Fine Art was never too much of an ambivalent topic for me. As cliché as it might sound, I have known since I started my first day in school that I loved art and that it would become a big part of my life. And that is exactly what happened. After finishing school, I went on to complete my BTech in Fine and Applied Art in 2014 at the Tshwane University of Technology.

Currently I am doing my Masters Degree at TUT and work as one of the Ceramic Design lecturers, as my passion has grown toward ceramics, design and nature in particular.

Making the Difficult Decision

Every fibre of my being lives for creativity, and the decision to study something in the creative industry was not difficult to make.

I went to Hoërskool Rustenburg which wasn’t really known for artistic endeavors. But I had a design teacher, Anna-Marié Marais, and my Art teacher, Sureta Van der Weijden, who encouraged me to go to the open day at the Tshwane University of Technology and see what they had to offer for aspiring artists. Though I know that many parents do not support their children when they hear that they want to study Art, I was lucky. I have parents who have always fully supported me, and had in fact been sending me to art classes since Grade 2.

So, off I went to the TUT open day, an event that opened the window to a world I never knew existed. The options were endless. TUT offers a vast variety of creative streams, including Preforming Arts, Photography, Graphic Design, Multimedia, Jewellery Design, Interior Design, Textile Design, Film, and Fine Art. The campus was like a whimsical play, which made it really difficult to choose a stream.

Eventually I narrowed my options down to Graphic Design and Fine Art, because they are packed with a little bit of everything. Graphic Design incorporates drawing and photography, and advances on to multimedia. Then, there was Fine Art. This discipline includes Art Theory, Communication, Figure Drawing, Observational Drawing, Print Making, Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics, as well as Glass and Textile Design (you could actually choose to specialise in Textile Design from 2nd-year onwards).

My mother vouched for this stream because we live in a world of multimedia and I’d have a more guarantee as a Graphic Designer in comparison to a Fine Artist. But Fine Art seemed like a lucky packet to me, a whole bunch of awesome things found all wrapped up into one degree. What really sealed the deal for me with Fine Art was Glass Design. TUT is the only University in the continent to offer Glass Blowing. It has been such a privilege, and I would not have received this experience at any other institution. Another reason was the lecturers. The best artists in the industry are lecturers – people like Jan van der Merwe and Carl Jeppe – people who inspired me from the very beginning. And getting to work with them was the absolute cherry on top.

What to Expect

In Fine and Applied Arts at Tshwane University of Technology you start with your Diploma, which is a three-year full-time course. Thereafter you can continue to do a BTech full-time for one year, and eventually continue to do a Masters Degree which is two to three years.

To give you an idea of the kind of subjects that await you, here is an idea of the broad spectrum you’ll get to know in first-year:

  • Art Theory (historical principals, analysis of art works, developing concepts & the relationship between art theory and studio practice)
  • Communication (oral, reading, writing and computer skills)
  • Drawing: Fine Art (examples are figure and observation drawing, or study of the human figure, as well as natural objects and concepts)
  • Three-Dimensional Studies (Sculpture, Ceramic Design and Glass Design)
  • Two-Dimensional Studies (Painting, Textile Design and Print-making)

It is good to be exposed to all these forms of art because at school you don’t really get to know a broad spectrum. After completing all of these subjects in 1st year, you will enjoy certain forms of art more than others. So, in your second year you have your compulsory subjects (Art Theory, Communication and Drawing), and you get to choose two subjects that fall under two-dimensional studies and three-dimensional studies. In my case, the choice was Ceramic Design and Painting.

Studying Fine Art is hard work! It takes a lot of time, patience and commitment. If you don’t like to work until sunrise, then get to like it… because it is going to happen a lot.

What I appreciate most about the Fine Arts Department is that the lecturers are hands-on. They are in the class with you and they help you to develop your skills and concepts. You will develop a relationship with your lecturer, and yes, they really do care.

Stay on the Ball

Drawing is an important part of art and you have to practice. Draw something every day, even if it is something as silly as your shoes. Carry a notebook with you, and write down your ideas, feelings and experiences. Paste in the feather that you picked up, or the Chappie wrapping lying on the ground. Collecting moments, feelings and objects like these will help you to develop concepts.

Visit a few artists and art galleries in your area (go to the Pretoria Art Museum and FNB Johannesburg Art Fair if you stay in Gauteng). Networking is incredibly important in the life of an artist and it will help you to understand what is currently happening in the art world.

Oh, and read newspapers! You have to be knowledgeable of current events because as an artist you have to show people what they do not want to face. An example of these issues would be: politics, nature, war and sexuality. Knowing what is currently happening will help you to develop concepts and to get your message across to spectators.

Admission requirements:

  • Subject Requirements: English L 3 (compulsory), Art (recommended)
  • APS 17
  • Portfolio

EduConnect 2cents

VANSA (Visual Arts Network of South Africa) is a website that has tons of information on networking available for art folks, and you can find info on job opportunities, competitions, funding, bursaries, exhibitions, seminars, institutions and events. Go and check it out!

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