“Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating. It is either good or bad.” - Salvador Dali

Do you love contemporary art, graphic design, or animation?

There are plenty of ways to study art. Art schools welcome tonnes of students every year hoping to become illustrators, designers, etc.

In this article, we’re looking at how you can become an accomplished artist. Whether you're interested in the visual arts such as ceramics, printmaking, fine arts, or digital media, there are plenty of schools for the art and went of ways to students to take art classes in a variety of disciplines.

Learning to Draw at Secondary School

Whether it’s for fun or to get onto an art degree and become a professional artist, lessons at school are a good way to get into art. For many students, they'll have studied art at primary school and secondary school as art and design is obligatory in the UK until GCSE, meaning that they'll have to opt for art once they're in Year 10.

How can you study art at secondary school?
Most artists will have learnt some art at secondary school. (Source: dietmaha)


During Year 10 and Year 11, pupils study GCSEs. Students have to study English (English Literature and English Language or a single English GCSE), Maths, and Science (Combined Science or Individual Sciences).

Pupils can choose their other GCSEs, including art. Not every school will offer the same GCSEs but they all have to offer at least one Arts GCSE, one Design and Technology GCSE, one Humanities GCSE, and one Modern Foreign Language GCSE.

If you're thinking about studying art at university, you should definitely opt for art at GCSE so that you can study an Art A Level or BTEC.

A Level Art

Once you've finished obligatory schooling, you'll have the choice to continue your studies at sixth form (if your school has one) or a college. Since A Level art is a requirement for most art degrees, you'll probably want to pick it as one of your A Levels if you're serious about continuing your art studies after you've finished further education.

Since you'll need three or four A Levels to get into university, you'll also have to study some other subjects and ensure you get good grades in them too!


If you'd prefer something more vocational, there's always the BTEC Foundation Diploma in Art and Design. With BTECs, you'll only usually study one of them since they are considered to be the equivalent of three A Levels.

As you can see, students have a few options when it comes to studying art in secondary school. Arts education might be dwindling in obligatory education, but if you want to study a Bachelor of Fine Arts, you're going to have to study art at school.

Degrees in Art and Design

There are a good number of academic options for those wanting to become artists or designers. To become an illustrator, graphic designer, or artist, there are specific degrees you can study.

  • Fine art
  • Design studies
  • Cinematics and photography
  • Crafts
  • Art history
Where can you get an art degree?
There are some incredible universities where you can study art in the UK. (Source: greymatters)

You should apply to degrees based on what you like, what you want to study, and the job you’d like in the future.

A degree isn’t essential for becoming an artist or designer but they can be useful in terms of learning techniques and how to use the tools used in the industry and an opportunity to meet other artists and be inspired.

While many people might say that you can't teach art, it doesn't hurt to have a better understanding of techniques, a knowledge of art history, and connections in the industry who could help you further your career in art. However, a lot of illustrators and designers start their careers without a degree and you need to have your own artistic identity and the necessary technique to meet your clients’ demands.

While degrees and qualifications are nice, a good portfolio is probably one of the best things an artist can have!

The Best Art and Design Schools in the UK

If you want to get a degree in art or design, you’ll probably want to go to the right university or school of art. It’s important that you choose the right course and university.

Which are the best art schools in the UK?
It's important that you choose the right art school or university to study art. (Source: Foundry)

Some universities are more famous than others, both nationally and internationally. Here are some of the most famous in the UK:

  • Oxford
  • Newcastle
  • Lancaster
  • Loughborough
  • Leeds
  • University College London
  • Manchester Metropolitan
  • Brunel University London
  • Nottingham Trent
  • Edinburgh
  • Kent
  • Arts University Bournemouth
  • Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Aberystwyth
  • Westminster
  • Kingston
  • Southampton
  • Heriot-Watt
  • Coventry
  • University of the Arts, London

How can you find out if it’s a good art school?

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a school or university. Keep in mind that these are just universities with a good department of art in the UK, you could always study abroad in an art institute and get your bachelor of arts degree from another country.

Every art department is different so make sure that they specialise in the specific type of art you want to do. There are many different areas of study when it comes to art degrees so make sure you do your research.

Don't forget that you don't necessarily have to study in the UK, either. There are plenty of great art universities around the world and many that offer full degree courses in English. That said, if you choose to study an art degree abroad, it'd also be an opportunity to learn a foreign language, greatly improving your career prospects.

Take the drawing classes you need here.

Our Advice for Success in Your Studies

Our first tip, before you start your studies, is to choose the right school or university. The wrong school could cause you to lose your passion for art and design in general. You wouldn’t want to attend an animation course if you’re only interested in fine art. Art and design require a lot of personal investment and it can be difficult to study art and design if you’re not passionate about it.

How do you make a portfolio?
A portfolio is essentially an artist's CV. (Source: CallyL)

Once you’ve got onto a course, you’ll need to get ready to start the course. The goal of an art school isn’t to make you an expert in advertising. Higher art education is designed to provide students with the skills to work independently or as an employee.

It’ll be up to you to make your own portfolio once you’ve finished your degree and show potential employers and clients what you’re capable of. You’ll be working on this portfolio throughout your degree which is why you might want to try different styles and techniques.

You’ll have the opportunity to get advice from professionals in an art school. Once you’ve left, you’ll need to be ready to work so make sure you’ve made the most of your time there.

Find out more about surviving art school.

Spend time visiting exhibitions and learning more about the art world, especially art history. Going with others is a great way to make friends and connections for later on in life and it’s also a good way to relax and gain inspiration for your own work. Make sure you make the most of your time as a student!

You could also learn more about art with private tutorials from one of the many talented tutors on Superprof. There are three main types of tutorials available: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials, and each comes with its pros and cons in terms of learning and cost-effectiveness. What's right for one student may not be right for another so take your time to find the right kind of tutor and tutoring.

Face-to-face tutorials are taught with one student and one tutor and they tend to be the most cost-effective type since every minute in the lesson is spent focusing on you as the student. Additionally, the tutor will also spend time outside of the lessons finding resources and planning the time they'll spend with you.

Online tutorials are similar to the face-to-face tutorials but take place either on a call or via webcam. Since the tutor won't have the travel costs to worry about and can fit more students into their schedule as a result, online tutorials are usually cheaper than face-to-face tutorials.

Finally, group tutorials are classes with one teacher or tutor and multiple students. However, with group tutorials, you and a group of friends could get in touch with a private tutor to plan lessons that you'll all attend together. These tend to be the cheapest per student per hour since the cost of the tutor's time is divided amongst the students in attendance.

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.