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What can you do with a Fine Art degree?

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Why study for a fine art degree? What does fine art mean? And can you find a job as a fine artist? Read on to find out...

Definition of fine art

What is fine art? We spoke to James Hutchinson, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, to find out:

“For me, fine art is about freedom of expression, about blue sky thinking, about philosophy, poetry, and visual experimentation with form and media. Practically, it’s about painting, sculpture, printmaking, performance, and digital art, while involving marketing, exhibition curating, writing, and creating publications. It’s about developing a studio practice and a form for one’s ideas.”

What does a Fine Art degree involve?

At Sunderland, our Fine Art BA enables you to delve into your interests as an artist across a range of Fine Art practices. You could explore conventional practices such as painting, drawing, sculpture, print making and digital photography, or even investigate film, sound, and performance art.

While there will be traditional teaching methods for you to engage with, such as lectures and seminars, a lot of your time as a Fine Art student will be spent in the studio, developing your practice. You’ll have your own studio space to work in, honing your creative and technical skills while also working towards live outcomes. You’ll also have the chance to work collaboratively with fellow students from other disciplines, which will help you build crucial teamwork skills as well as build your confidence in other areas of artistic practice.

There are lots of opportunities to showcase your talent and develop your professional practice across the three years of the BA, from student takeovers with Sunderland Culture, collaborations with working artists, and public exhibitions. Your hard work will culminate with a final showcase at the Degree Show, a public exhibition at the end of your final year, and a celebration of your journey so far as an artist.

What jobs can you get with a Fine Art degree?

Many fine artists follow what is known as a ‘portfolio career’, working in a range of different roles or on different projects. This makes for a flexible lifestyle where you can build your artistic practice while taking advantage of any opportunities that arise. Among the jobs you can get with a fine art degree are teaching roles in education or in the community, curating at museums or galleries, artist residencies and commissions, art therapy, gallery management and much more. 

We’ll prepare you for your career as a fine artist throughout your studies. We’ll encourage you to develop an impressive professional portfolio of your work that demonstrates your artistic and technical skills to employers after you graduate. You’ll also get plenty of opportunities to build up your work experience; Level 2 module Collaborative Creativity helps prepare you for real-world collaborative projects through a relevant placement that will help to build your networks and enable you to consider your career pathway. The module is further supported by professions-facing workshops from the Employability and Enterprise Hub and a weekly lecture series called Creative Lives, where you’ll hear from artistic practitioners from different disciplines and stages of their careers.

We’ll also provide you with practical employment skills throughout other modules, such as how to apply for funding, how to secure exhibition space, and how to promote yourself to employers. All this extra career support will enable you to begin to plan for your future as a creative professional.

Learn more

Check out the BA (Hons) Fine Art course page or explore the Art and Design subject hub to learn more. You can also join us at our next Open Day to meet course lecturers and look around our studios.

If you’re looking to continue your studies and develop your Fine Art practice after gaining your BA, you might be interested in MA Visual Practice, a postgraduate degree that has a Contemporary Fine Art route.

Published: 10 February 2023