What is it like earning an MA in Illustration online?

Wed 2 Dec 2020

Studying for a Masters is a big decision, which certainly calls for a substantial amount of passion and dedication. With our online, part-time MA in Illustration, students can commit to furthering their education while still working or managing other responsibilities in their lives.

If you’re unfamiliar with online studying, it’s natural to have some questions about the process, particularly with a creative subject like illustration. To help address these, we’ve turned to our current illustration students – many of whom had these questions themselves before applying – to offer their own insights.

In this month’s discussion, we asked them to answer what it’s like studying a creative subject online, and how they’ve found the experience thus far.

"I had reservations at first...how do you study creative, practical skills off campus!? The reality is that as an MA the course is there to guide and teach critical thinking, and if you need to learn or experiment with a practical skill like print making or life drawing, it’s very easy to find places locally. [...] The nature of distance learning has actually helped me to connect with creatives local to me in Warwickshire to build my own network.” – Emily Pettitt

“I had always thought that the value of creative subjects at university lies in studio time and working alongside other artists and tutors in person. However, in practice, online studying has turned out to be quite intuitive. Independent study is a core part of most Masters and that's the same for Illustration. I spend a lot of time (usually late at night when it's quiet!) working on my portfolio, essays and sketchbooks. As webinars, tutorials and lectures are all recorded, I can watch the discussion at any time. I might not be able to always make them live because I work full time, but I can spend the weekend going back through the recordings.

I much prefer this to in-person lectures and seminars because if I'm not feeling focused I can always go back to it at a later time and I won't miss anything. I can even rewind and listen to something several times if I didn't quite understand it the first time around. Studying online allows for a lot of personal reflection time and you can decide how much interaction you would like with other students on the course. I'm the type of person who likes to take a step back, listen and reflect on my own time frame, so I can choose to get involved in discussion forums when and if I feel like it.” – Sarah Redrup

“I find it works perfectly alongside my freelance work, and considering most work is commissioned via email/social media nowadays it feels similar to how you would be briefed in the industry. I also like getting immersed in my work whilst listening to music or a podcast, no distractions (except my procrastination!).” – Florrie Thomas

“It's strange at first, especially the online lectures, but you get used to it quickly. The course is extremely well organised. I'm on my second module now and with how much I have learnt already I've progressed in ways I never imagined. Studying a course online is great practise as most freelancers worked completely online.” – Matt Chamberlain

“I was worried it would be a little less creative feeling, as so much of a creative subject comes down to the learning atmosphere, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’ve joined a number of breakout study groups who get together each week (virtually at the moment) to discuss each other’s work, and the weekly challenges. It’s all been very intuitive.” – Genevieve Lamb

“You create the work from your own space and then share it to the course. Everything is uploaded as a digital file. You get feedback from peers and the tutor through the online portal. For me it doesn’t feel much different to an ‘IRL’ course, it’s surprising how much can be imitated through an online setting.” – Amy Hodkin

“Nowadays it's possible to make good reproductions of analogue illustration just with a phone camera, for example. So I tend to make most of my work in traditional media in my home studio, then translate it into the online space for discussion and assessment.” – Penny Tristan

“In practice I love it, it is not restrictive or confining. I was very nervous to begin with, but this course has really given me the inspiration and motivation that I needed to find myself as an illustrator. My kitchen table is a bit of a mess, but it is great to be developing within my own practice and see that the opportunity of being an illustrator is really achievable. There is actually a lot of communication between the tutors and the students, I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone and see all the different work that is produced.” – Olive Reekie

Interested in earning your MA in Illustration online? Our part-time, tutor-led course offers all the academic support you need to succeed, with the flexibility to fit studying into your schedule.

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