5 reasons to study visual arts in Birmingham

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Design agencies, studios and arts organisations are on your doorstep

Whether you’re interested in photography, graphic communication, design for performance or illustration you can be sure that you’ll have the chance to work with a host of agencies, studios and arts organisations based in the Midlands and beyond.  The opportunities are facilitated through live project briefs, competitions, placements, masterclasses, guest lectures, trips and more.

For example, as part of our partnership with Grain, we hold symposiums, portfolio review days and lectures for BA (Hons) Photography students to get involved in. BA (Hons) Graphic Communication students have also worked with agencies on live project briefs and representatives from local brand communications, marketing, design and web agencies such as Alive!, Digital Glue and FRA Creatives have even come in to give them professional advice on their portfolios.

5 reasons to study visual arts in Birmingham- portfolio

The close proximity to such organisations also makes Birmingham an ideal place for you to seek out placements during your studies with us and can even lead to acquiring full time roles. BA (Hons) Design for Performance students have previously worked with Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Costume Hire and mac Birmingham, giving them a real insight into the creative approaches used in industry.  

Work with local design and film festivals

Birmingham hosts numerous music, film food, literary and visual arts festivals giving you ample volunteering opportunities. School of Visual Communication students have recently worked with Flatpack Film Festival, a Birmingham-wide experimental film festival celebrating cinematic and audio-visual invention, and Birmingham Design Festival, a celebration of the local, national and international design industry, in a variety of roles.

Volunteering can be a great way of networking with people in the industry and can even lead to a permanent job as exemplified by BA (Hons) Graphic Communication student Emily Caplan. Emily volunteered at Birmingham Design Festival with the hope of scoping out potential job opportunities and left with a permanent role at global advertising agency McCann Birmingham. Read more about her 130 second interview here

Take part in competitions set by local companies

Working on projects with real organisations gives you invaluable experience and could give you CV the edge when applying for a graduate role. Our city is home to hundreds of companies and the University is often approached with competition opportunities for students. Through competitions our students have designed a tote bag for high street store MUJI Birmingham, painted sculptures for public art events, created packaging for Bee9 Urban Honey and much more!

5 reasons to study visual arts in Birmingham- Muji

Exhibit your work in the city

One of the many advantages of studying in such a large city is the number of exhibition opportunities it offers. Students have exhibited in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham New Street Station, DanceXchange and a variety of spaces in Digbeth. Three BA (Hons) Illustration students have recently collaborated with peers from the Schools of English and Fashion and Textiles on “Making Monsters”, to host an exhibition in Library of Birmingham as part of a series of events celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Be based in the heart of the action

Birmingham is the UK’s second-largest city with a population of around one million people. It is also the youngest major city in Europe, with under-20s accounting for 29% of its population (West Midlands Growth Company) and the second most cost-effective city for students (UNiDAYS 2017). We have excellent transport links giving you easy access to other major cities such as London, where you can exhibit at event such as D&AD New Blood and Free Range. You’ll also be a stone’s throw away from Digbeth, which was recently voted the ‘Coolest Neighbourhood in Britain’ by The Sunday Times' Homes supplement. Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros. even filmed scenes for Ready Player One there!

Vibrant student scene