Andrew Kulman is Deputy Head of Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts, and Professor of Graphic Art. Find out more about his background, interests, and his advice from working at BCU for 25 years.
What you do at BCU and how long have you been part of the University?
I am Andrew Kulman, Professor of Graphic Art and currently Deputy Head of Birmingham Institute of Creative Arts, one of three institutes in the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media… that’s a long description!
I joined the University in the last century when it was still the University of Central England in Birmingham. I started as pathway leader in Illustration, which reflected my background as a trained illustrator. I had previously been running a freelance business and teaching two and a half days a week at the University of Brighton. The lure of a full-time job brought me to Birmingham and 2022 will see me having worked 25 years at BCU, a milestone.
Being in full time education hasn’t prevented me from being creative and I still produce illustrations as well as exhibit.
What are some of the greatest achievements you have accomplished at BCU?
Without wanting to sound clichéd I have to say it is largely about enabling students to reach their potential, and by that I don’t mean getting the highest grades but recognising their inherent strengths and finding their direction.
I have taught undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students, worked across several schools and the students I have taught have all been fascinating individuals. Last year I won the Extra Mile: Inspiring Tutor of the Year Award, something I see as a great achievement.
A more general accomplishment would be helping to see the School of Visual Communication grow with new courses and partnerships in other countries.
What can students expect from School of Art courses?
The School has a fabulous track record of preparing students for a diverse range of career destinations. Its strength in the City allows for community engagement and outreach opportunities. We see graduates working for IKON gallery as well as Eastside Projects in Digbeth, and our students have been placed at regional arts centres such as the Coventry Biennale and New Art Gallery Walsall.
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That said, School of Art staff are mindful that many students want to establish careers as practising artists and writers and with that in mind we bring in artists, performers, curators and academics to explain their journeys and to offer support and advice.
Practice is underpinned with theoretical research and students are always part of the current discourse surrounding the arts.
What students can expect, no matter what their intended career plans, is a supportive and empathetic working environment, where creativity and challenge are part of the ongoing discussions.
Do you have any advice for new students?
The advice I can offer is the advice I offered my youngest son when he went off to university.
You have three years of something special, that you will always look back on. Don’t look back and say I wish I’d done this or that… do it! Use the facilities, explore the different sites, meet as many people as you can, take up every opportunity offered. Many staff are experts in their field, well connected and very generous with their time and knowledge, make the most of this.