William McQuaide

Illustration BA (Hons)

William pursued illustration to improve his skills, and BCU offered the practical teaching he wanted. Now, he’s a Freelance Illustrator working with animation studios across the country, and he has big dreams for his future

“I always knew I wanted to go to university, it was just a case of finding which course I wanted to study and where I would study it. I eventually chose Illustration BA (Hons) at BCU as I wanted to improve upon my technical ability. Other universities’ illustration courses seemed too conceptual and non-challenging; I wanted an education that would help me establish a career as an illustrator.
I really enjoyed studying at BCU. It was a lot of independent study and practice, but the deadlines and projects we were set pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and work in multiple styles and processes, which improved the philosophy and skills I needed when approaching my own personal work.
Now, I’m a Freelance Illustrator. My current contract is with a Cardiff-based animation studio named Motion Manor.
After graduating BCU, I had time to reflect on what I'd learned and where I wanted to be in my life. I spent time relaxing as it was the first large period of time where I was not in an educational institution in my life. I eventually set goals and a direction for myself and began working on my portfolio and web presence, strengthening my skills further, and applying for jobs.
I have my course at BCU to thank for my current job; I won an award for my final-year work which resulted in a mentorship experience, and one of the companies I was put into contact with through this experience offered me work about eight months after we spoke. My work and my understanding of my work would not be as developed as it is now without BCU.
The most challenging thing about embarking on my chosen career path was deciding to ignore all the people in my life to 'start focusing on Plan B'. As an artist, I have been told my entire life that I will not make money through art, and I need to find a 'real job' like everyone else. You must have the courage and willpower to choose to pursue your goals anyway, despite all odds being against you. You have to have faith that you're confident, you're special, and you'll make things work. The worst possible thing you can do is give up.
I had a negative patch where I seriously considered giving up starting my career as an artist. I really weighed up the pros and cons of a non-art job and came to a crossroads where I had to make a decision; pack it up and go home, or keep trying to make it work, against all odds. With support from a handful of people, I decided that I had to follow my dream. Everything and everyone was telling me that it wasn't possible, but I did it anyway. I'm so, so proud that I didn't give up.
My ultimate goal in the future is to work as an Art Director or Visual Development Artist in the feature animated film or video game industry.
University will push you and challenge you, but you still need to be personally motivated. The Illustration course at BCU personally allowed me to develop my work and sensibilities from a hobbyist to a professional level, and that changed my life. However, the course won't do all the work for you. You have to be studying and pushing yourself in your own time if you want to make the most out of the resources and teaching you are provided. The course at BCU is an amazing platform that allows you to develop and further your understanding and practice of your own illustration.
My advice to fellow BCU graduates is to get on LinkedIn. Don't only study the art of accomplished career artists but study their career paths. Take this information and create a plan for yourself. Follow in the footsteps of people who carved the way for careers like ours, and then put your own spin and voice on it. Work hard and trust the process. Surround yourself with positive people. Remain humble and be open to failure. You can't give up.
'I AM BCU' for me means I might not have gone to a specialist arts university, but the experience and education I received was much more personal, tailored, and unique. My perspective is different and fresher than other people entering the industry through the 'big' global universities. I have something special and unique to say about my journey, and I will use all the tools at my disposal to work to where I want to be.”