3 of the best textile art degree courses
If you’re looking to develop a career in textiles and would like to undergo some related training, it helps to know early on which courses are worth considering. We’ll be showcasing some of the options over the coming months and decided to start by introducing three of the best textile artist degree courses in the UK and Ireland.
Central St Martins – BA (Honours) Textile Design
Central St Martins College of Arts and Design in London has a long and proven record. Internationally renowned as an art college and cultural centre in one, it is famous for the creative energy of its students, staff and graduates. It has long held a reputation for providing one of the top textile art degrees in the UK.
The BA (Honours) Textile Design course at Central St Martins is based around exploring print, knit and weave, the three essential textile design practices. There is also a strong focus on non-traditional methods including digital design, as well as presentation and trend prediction. The course offers a wide range of complementary workshops investigating alternative surface treatments, media and technologies. St Martins aims to maximise the student’s creative and intellectual potential, enabling them to develop a unique design philosophy and challenge conventions.
BA Textile Design is a full-time undergraduate course (based in London) and runs for 90 weeks over three years. It has three specialist pathways – Knit, Print and Weave. Whichever pathway is chosen, there’s a strong focus on the development of the students as individuals. Students are expected to take initiative and nurture their own ideas leading to increasing independence as the course progresses, meaning there is no ‘right way’ to be successful.
Main study – Stage One: Stage One is an introductory stage and concentrates on all three areas of specialization; print, weave and knit. There is also a focus on enabling students to carry out visual research. During Stage One (three terms) students move from introductory design workshops through to a succession of structured and guided projects. The aim of the projects is to explore the ideas of research, drawing, colour, design and technical skills. There are also opportunities to develop techniques in digital and non-traditional approaches to design, structure and surface.
Main study – Stage Two: During this stage, students undertake thorough research, which should enable them to apply the skills and knowledge gained in Stage One and embrace the challenges of transforming ideas into pieces of textile work. In the second term, students begin to focus more specifically on knit, print or weave. Each of the three specialisms has unique characteristics and requirements with regards to their subject knowledge. Stage Two of the course also involves extending professional and contextual knowledge of textile design for fashion, accessories, interior, exterior and product applications and students will learn about market research, range building and promotional presentation.
Main study – Stage Three: The final year of the Textile Design BA encourages students to assess and address their strengths and weaknesses prior to beginning their final degree project. The heavily structured nature of the first two years is replaced increasingly by a self-disciplined approach towards the realisation of a major project. However, guidance and advice are always readily available. This is also the time that students develop a strong portfolio and collection, which count towards the degree examination and public show.
Graduates pursue a range of careers, often becoming designers, designer-makers, researchers, buyers, stylists and illustrators. Some work in concept and trend forecasting, others in theatre or journalism. Many students go on to postgraduate study.
For more information, entry requirements or to get a prospectus visit the St Martins website.
Manchester Metropolitan University – BA (Honours) Textiles in Practice
Manchester School of Art (at Manchester Met) is one of the largest providers of art and design education in the UK. The school offers an extensive range of resources and works in close conjunction with various well-respected external organisations.
The BA (Honours) Textiles in Practice programme at the Manchester Met is structured around an understanding of professional contexts, including fashion, interiors, exhibition and architectural installation. The aim is to allow students to approach textiles as a flexible and varied medium; specialist study is available in print, knit, weave, and embroidery.
There is a unique philosophy at the Manchester Met that encourages the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary practice. This opens up opportunities for processes and techniques to combine and complement one another. A wonderful bonus with this particular course is that all teaching staff are currently practicing as textile practitioners and researchers.
In Year 1 students concentrate on broadening their understanding of textile contexts. The training covers visual research, technical tools and a multitude of skills, required to complete the remainder of the course. The aim of the faculty is to open the minds of students and introduce them to a new way of thinking creatively.
Much like St Martins, Year 2 allows students to determine a specialist pathway through the programme, concentrating more fully on one area of practice. From there, the teaching focuses on developing the individual skills necessary to articulate ideas. Opportunities will be available to collaborate with external partners (including studios, manufacturers and galleries) and work with other students and staff from across the faculty.
In Year 3 the focus shifts once again to creating a professional portfolio of work that highlights individual practice. Students are encouraged to deepen their understanding of the context of their work, and create products and artifacts that reflect their area of specialisation.
Astoundingly, having completed a textile art degree at the Manchester School of Art, 93% of fashion and textiles graduates undertake employment or further study immediately after leaving. Employment opportunities span a wide range of sectors in the industry from independent design houses to high street chains. Previous graduates have gone on to enjoy careers with companies such as River Island, Next, Dolce & Gabbana, Top Shop, Abercrombie and Fitch, Reebok and ASOS, among others.
For more information, entry requirements or to get a prospectus visit the Manchester Metropolitan website.
The National College of Art and Design (Ireland) – Textile Art & Artefact (BA Honours)
The National College of Art and Design holds a unique position in art and design education in Ireland; it boasts the largest range of art and design degrees in the state at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
The BA Honours course in Textile Art and Artefact at NCAD is based around empowering students to design from a fundamental response to materials and ‘making’ in its broadest sense. Students will develop an awareness and knowledge of a wide variety of both digital and hand crafted textile processes, as well as their social and cultural context.
The NCAD textile faculty takes a holistic approach when bringing together the 3 strands of drawing, materials and context. Students will embrace visual research as a means to making images, textures, surfaces and producing objects. It is essential that traditional textile and surface design techniques are honoured, but that students are willing to delve deeper, embracing an interdisciplinary approach which includes the use of film, photography, graphic design, performance and exhibitions.
Staff members include TextileArtist.org interviewees Nigel Cheney and Helen McAllister.
Year 1: The First Year consists of three 10 week periods. The first term is a multi-disciplinary experience across art and design. The second term focuses on design and allows the student to get to grips with a range of design disciplines. They will also be expected to begin to develop creative, technical and thinking skills. The final term’s tutoring will focus on a specific aspect of design, as chosen by the student; the aim of this is to provide a solid foundation for the next two years of study.
Year 2: The Second Year centres around the evolution of a personal visual language, providing students with the skills and techniques necessary to translate this into original Textile Art and Artefact practice. Students are also encouraged to research and define a specific audience and develop a market understanding through professional practice.
Year 3: In the Third Year the focus shifts to students creating their own programme of study, which will be reflective of the individual’s area of expertise. The final year culminates in producing a substantial body of work for assessment and display at degree shows, exhibitions and events.
At this point, there is the opportunity for students who reach the appropriate standard to stay on for a further two years of postgraduate study and leave with an MA in Textile Art & Artefact.
As a result of the range of skills acquired, Textiles graduates are faced with an array of local and global opportunities. Previous graduates have gone on to become successful visual artists, entrepreneurs, fashion and textile designers for couture, milliners, accessory designers, stylists, costume and prop designers for all types of performance, illustrators and art therapists. There is a growing trend for graduates to progress to further study at Post Graduate level to refine their creative understanding and ability.
For more information, entry requirements or to get a prospectus visit the National College of Art and Design website.
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