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Art foundation programs. 5 tips to help you gain a skill set that will always be useful.

1. What is the program outline

The aim of an art foundation program is to help students make the transition from secondary education to the rigours of art education at university. It is generally a broad curriculum that covers a range of key skills such as drawing, painting, installation art, printmaking, graphic illustration, 3D design and fine art. Students will be expected to prepare a portfolio and have an idea of what is required of them in their area of specialisation.

Foundation courses allow students to develop skills and to explore a wide range of approaches to art. They are encouraged to be creative and show that they know how to use these new talents. This in turn can help them to understand and identify the direction they wish to choose in the future.

An art degree needs students to have a level of specialist knowledge and skill beyond what is taught in secondary education and require that students take an art foundation course. Teaching is often in small, supportive classes and tutors and students get to explore different facets of fine art. It is useful if teachers are practising artists from different specialisations to give the students insights and preparation for the art world as it is today. The dynamic, supportive and interdisciplinary environment helps build trust and teamwork and students will finish the year with a portfolio which highlights their own artistic preferences.

2. Study art at any age

Art is not only for school-leavers. Adults who have always dreamed of an artistic career but have never taken the opportunity can take a foundation program and change direction in their career. A foundation course is a pathway to higher level programs that may lead to specialisation or to a general art education and for mature students, they may have a clearer idea of how this fits into a new career plan.

3. Importance of technology

Art foundation courses bring students into concepts of the basics of drawing, painting, using color and light, textures and design in 2D or 3D and this is the time that students needs to become adept at using technology in their art.

Changes in the art world have led to new forms of expression. The use of technology in art is now an essential part of the curriculum, both software and hardware, and students are enthusiastic to integrate new technology as this has always been part of their lives. This is one of the wide range of skills that will certainly grow in importance and change over time as new technology emerges but a foundation course will underpin the use of technology with artistic concepts that will dictate how technology can be used.

4. Soft skills, globalisation and English

Students will need to work as members of teams and become problem-solvers as well as artists. The nature of many art related industries such as game art, comic strip, illustrator or animation require students to learn how to collaborate to achieve their goals in teams. This is where the understanding and use of technology becomes vital, as does the ability to communicate effectively, often across borders and in English.

Having the right skillset will make students more adaptable in their careers, and if they can start to understand and master these skills from the foundation onward, this is an important building block.

5. Start with the right preparation

The foundation year gives students a common set of skills. Without these skills there may be a time in your career when it becomes a major problem and it is much harder to fill in the gaps later than to start with a solid base with an art foundation program. A wide range of skills and exposure to concepts and theories from the start give a strong core of transferable technical skills which will be required throughout a career. It is also important that students are flexible and able to think critically. Art is a good way to develop those attributes with its process of analyzing and having to make choices that are clearly visible and show the artists preference and style.

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