Easily the most daunting periods of the art school experience are the summer before you arrive and the entire year after you’ve left; The former fills you with an unpleasant anticipation and the unshakable feeling that you’re heading off to be bottom of the pile once again. Sure you were the biggest fish with the best drawing skills in the tiny creative pool that was high school, but now you’re off to battle it out with other equally talented folks for the next three years; you’ve got every right to be nervous. The latter is justifiably terrifying because you’ve got your whole life ahead of you and a mountain of debt to start dealing with. What was the point of that degree again?
In these uncertain times there’s really only one solution: try out a short course! Have a crack at screen printing before you head off to your illustration degree and make all your classmates envious of your shit-hot skills, or postpone the panic of graduation with a typographic summer school; better that than refreshing your bank balance in your pants all day until you realise the loans have all dried up. Don’t know where to enrol? No problem. We’ve put together a list of some of the best short courses we know of to make things easier for you. You can thank us for your new-found skills later.
They say: “Registration is a summer school that opens up teaching and topics by approaching problems in experimental ways, adapting ideas and skills to fit purpose and function.” It’s a free three-day course that invites some impressive educators and industry practitioners like Peter Nencini, Antony Burrill and Pau Sampera to host workshops and lectures on various under an overarching theme. The 2014 edition dealt with the theme of fear and by all accounts was a roaring success. 2015s programme has yet to be announced but keep your eyes peeled as it’ll most definitely be a good one. Also it’s free. What’s not to like?
An oldie but a goodie here. The screen printing short course has been going at Camberwell for over a decade and it’s still one of the best available. This one is particularly close to my heart as I did it the summer before I started my degree (leading by example) and had a great time. Tony, who runs it, then also taught me while I was doing a BA and was one of the best technicians I’ve ever met. It runs over four weekends and you get a tonne of prints at the end of it. £600 might seem a bit pricey but you could make it all back selling the prints you produce as you learn.
Fraser Muggeridge has been running his typography summer school for a good few years now and it has a reputation for being the best out there. In 2013 it moved to New York making it doubly exciting, if a little less accessible. This is one that you’ll need a degree in graphic design to apply for (unless you’ve got an exceptional portfolio of work to your name) and it’ll cost you a fair bit. But the practitioners that’ll be teaching you include names like Bob Gill, Hilary Greenbaum of The Whitney Museum, James Goggin and Mark Owens; so it’s probably worth the fee just for the access to the talent.
Morley College is a fantastic place to go for short courses in London. They offer evening lessons in everything from weaving to stained glass. Their ceramics class was a particular favourite among some friends of mine two years ago when it seemed like everyone I knew was signing up to go. Here you’ve got the option of one-day courses, month-long projects, an evening class here and there or something much more committed and focussed depending on what you’ve got time for. I’d recommend some evening classes. Who doesn’t enjoy kneading clay after a long day?
Like Registration School, After School Club invites great creative practitioners to challenge your thinking and address creative problems in new and exciting ways. Unlike Registration School it takes place in Germany at the HfG Offenbach University of Arts and is run by Eike Eike König and Alexander Lis. 2014’s club played host to Aries Moross, Antoine et Manuel and Marc Kremers and 2013’s had Mirko Borsche, Haw-Lin and Stefan Marx. There’s music, camping, lectures, workshops and you get to hang out with Eike for five whole days. Sounds like a dream. The 2015 edition will be held in March so start getting your applications ready to go.