Miriam Rowe

Jewellery, Silversmithing, and Related Products MA

Miriam dreamed of studying in the iconic Jewellery Quarter, and our School of Jewellery offered her the perfect opportunity to grow as an artist. Now, Miriam is running her own surface design and illustration business. 

“I always knew I wanted to do two things; to make art and to travel. While studying for my bachelor's degree in Jewellery Design at the University of Georgia in the United States, I had the chance to study in Italy for one semester. This made me start thinking about how I could pursue more education outside of America, and because of the fame of Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter and the amazing resources and technology available in the School of Jewellery, I knew I wanted to apply for my Master's degree there as soon as I could.

As an international student, there was a mountain of paperwork challenges, visa hurdles, and tight deadlines which meant I wasn't sure I was going to make it on the course! I had to fly four hours from my hometown to attend a visa appointment at a consulate in the USA that had appointments available for student visas and managed to receive the paperwork just in time to join the course.

British universities are very different to American universities; the course was very focused and self-directed. I preferred the style of education I received at BCU, where they expected us to move ourselves forward, build our own networks, and seek out the techniques and directions we wanted to research, as well as create a final collection within one year, because I felt much more in control of my direction and could take the time to really focus on the things that interested me most.

After graduating, I worked with BCU's International Office to support international students from America, which eventually led to me moving to an Art and Design school in Cambridge, where I ran arts workshops internationally for them. I then moved to Hong Kong and continued working in International Education, before moving to Spain in 2020 to open my own design studio. Nowadays, I’m the owner of WanderingModa, a surface design and illustration business that I started in 2021.

The MA at BCU enabled me to choose my own direction, create my own collections, and be resourceful about how I learned techniques and sourced materials. I also had the opportunity to join a few careers and business seminars the university hosted for current students, and all of these things are skills that I still use as a business owner today. I create my own projects, pitch my portfolio to large companies, work to design briefs from other companies, and run my own marketing and sales campaigns too

The biggest challenge in my career is "switching brains" between my art creation and design brain, to my business, marketing and sales brain. They are very different skillsets, and both are required to run a successful business. I love both of these activities and find them challenging in different ways, but for me, these challenges are what keep things interesting.

I recently launched a fabric collection with an American company; the designs are based on my time living in the southern United States and the first time I held these fabrics with my designs in my hands was an incredible feeling! I have also collaborated with a Canadian subscription box service to design a limited edition print for their February 2024 box. My favourite thing about working in surface design is how many different industries and products I get to work on.

Since founding my design studio in 2021, I have been building my portfolio of clients across a few different industries. My goal is to continue building these client relationships and having a steady stream of design projects across even more products. In the future, I would love to design wine labels and create a collection of dishes and serving platters.

My advice to anyone considering studying my course at BCU is to think clearly about what you want to achieve. The time goes very quickly and there are so many resources available, so if you go in with clear goals, you'll be able to take advantage of these resources in a much smarter way.

To my fellow BCU graduates who are starting out on their careers, make sure you say "yes" to as much as you possibly can as a new graduate. This is not only an amazing way to open doors and meet a wide variety of people, but it's also the best real-world way to build your skills.”