An art school experience is nothing without experiences. This is a fact Kingston University’s School of Art — ranked among London’s top 10 universities, and among the UK’s top five for fashion and top 10 for design and craft — understands best. Here, opportunities are presented in abundance thanks to a rich mix of faculty members that double as industry leaders.
“It’s part of our philosophy that we’re all practitioners,” confirms Dr. Jake Abrams, an associate professor at Kingston School of Art. “Since Kingston is seen as a preeminent art design, architecture and performance university in the UK, what this reputation does is it pulls in lots of really fantastic, senior people that want to work with our students. With one foot in the classroom and the other in their respective fields, they bring in an amazing array of industry links.”
Dr. Abrams is proud to be one of them. He holds a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), a National Art Design and Media Teaching Fellowship (ADMHEA), and a Kingston University Teaching Fellowship. Having taught in the UK and across the globe, he brings a breadth of knowledge to Kingston’s multi-award winning BA Illustration Animation programme.
The ever-present educator maintains an active practice and profile as an illustrator, designer, and artist outside the classroom. In fact, his name can frequently be found in The Independent, Creative Review, The Times, The Guardian, Blueprint, and more.
Getting to know professors like him is never a daunting experience for international aspirants new to the UK. This school believes that for budding visionaries to truly express themselves artistically, they need to be welcomed with open arms. To ensure they are, Kingston guarantees every student from abroad is met at the airport, shown around their accommodation, introduced to like-minded learners, and made to feel like they’ve found their second home.
Alongside the professionals whose shoes they hope to one day fill, they grab hold of their futures while deeply engaged in the present. “Every student has a personal tutor that will be really inducting them on how various industries work,” Dr. Abrams explains.
“For example, we have a live partnership with Penguin Random House — one of the biggest publishers in the UK. Together, we give students the opportunity to work with top authors, designers, and art directors on real-life projects. This is something that would look great on the CV of a fresh graduate.”
BA Illustration Animation students benefit from a partnership with the Royal Opera House on creating state-of-the-art animations — adding to an already expansive list that has been projected across the globe.
Regardless of the opportunities provided, every student at Kingston School of Art is encouraged to innovate projects powerful enough to change the world. They’ve won Creative Conscience Awards for directly addressing global challenges such as loneliness, mental health, or daily issues refugees face. They’ve created campaigns for Amnesty International. With many other respectable initiatives in their portfolio and in the works, it’s little wonder why organisations are ever-willing to become a key part of the Kingston journey.
Both decision-makers and Kingston know that if students understand the industry, they will have the know-how to define it in the future. Every skill needed to achieve such a feat is covered along the way.
“We’ve got clever methods of putting together their creative risk-taking — softly introducing them to vital components of professional practice,” shares Dr. Abrams. “We expect students to have good timekeeping to meet deadlines. We also have lots of collaborative projects across our subjects, where students start to understand the value of negotiation, compromise, and the value of sharing ideas.”
These values are emphasised throughout the School of Art’s expansive lineup of academic offerings. It offers BA and MA programmes in Architecture, Creative Writing, Art Direction, Illustration Animation, Dance, Fashion, Filmmaking, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Interior Design, Journalism, Music Technology, and Photography, amongst many other exciting disciplines.
Ideal stomping grounds for artistic visionaries
There’s no place better for a well-rounded education in the arts than London, a creative mecca. Dr. Abrams notes that the city is treated like an extension of the fantastic studios and workshops on campus at Kingston. “We actively encourage our students to go out and leverage London by experiencing the dance, drama and music that fill its streets,” he says. Europe is just around the corner as well, meaning the charms of Paris, Rome, Milan, and more are just a stone’s throw away.
Wherever students explore, they are encouraged to leave their mark; especially since art, design and performance are global skills. “It’s important to have an international view of your subject area,” Dr. Abrams confirms. “Wouldn’t it be great to be on stage in Tokyo or New York?”
A multidisciplinary view is just as important. After all, anything is possible in the whirlpool of creativity that is Kingston.
Insta-famous Joey Yu (she has over 100,000 followers) is a prime example of the School of Art’s capability to produce multi-faceted graduates. The BA Illustration Animation graduate certainly made a name for herself as an illustrator upon graduating — she counts Nike, Hermes and Rimowa as clients.
She credits her success to mixing mediums during her education. Today, she’s using her knowledge in design, 3D, and modelling to make waves in the glitzy world of fashion.
“She collaborated all the way,” Dr. Abrams reminisces. “It’s these sorts of leaps that are really exciting and inspiring.”