What’s the point of art school?

Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design has been running a series of events under the banner ‘What’s the Point of Art School.’ What do you think is the point of art school?


‘Where would we be without the Olympic Torch, V&A logo, new Routemaster bus, Dark Side of the Moon, the Underground Roundel or the iPod? Would any of these have existed had it not been for an art school? The creative minds behind all of them were inspired and encouraged to think, experiment and make mistakes there. Surely, this is the point: without these schools our environment would be far less interesting and our future would not be as bright.’

Ross Shaw, Design Director, Further


‘Art school not only gives you time to experiment, but it gives you time to fail. We enter art school as angular beings, but failure smooths these edges, rounds our character. Sure, there’s still the odd lump and bump when we leave, but that’s what makes every designer unique.’

Jamie Wieck, Founder and Creative Director, ENSO


‘Memories from art school: Meeting brilliant like-minds who are still great friends; hours screen-printing, and working letterpress layouts because it was really fun; flirting with hot graphic design boys over table football; drawing, drawing, drawing until your fingers hurt; forever in the library researching and becoming truly inspired; hours and hours of time to experiment; discovering photography in the dark room; brilliant house parties; an international exchange to Minneapolis…and you ask what’s the point of art school? Just try it.’

Alexie Sommer, director of communications, Thomas Matthews


‘Art schools are vital spaces to explore and experiment and immerse yourself in the many disciplines within art and design. I was introduced to linocuts while studying Illustration, for which I am eternally grateful! Speaking as an illustrator by trade, it’s a time to be free without the pressures of trying to make a living or fulfil clients’ briefs and gives you the space to really figure out what your passions are and what you’re best suited to. You’re surrounded by like-minded people so you’ve immediately got creative connections – and I don’t mean networking, I mean people you can trust to bounce ideas off – that can last a lifetime.’

Paul Catherall, artist and illustrator


‘If I go by what I witnessed at college, it was a performance art piece by a lactose intolerant person, gallons of milk, and a large quantity of vomit. I am aware however that that is not everyone’s experience. I didn’t get into art school. I went for my Newcastle interview, ended up telling a joke about tomatoes, and then laughed maniacally for a few minutes. The tutors patiently waited for me to stop crying, and then showed me the door. I ended up studying design at Goldsmiths. It’s a design course that encourages you to think deeply and conceptually about the world around you, and a lot of what I learned was similar to what my friends learned in the art course; how to question everything. How to think for yourself and how to take an idea, and turn it into something special. These are life skills that never leave you, skills that you can utilise for the rest of your life.’

Lizzie Mary Cullen, illustrator


‘The point of art school is to get you thinking. It’s a place to experience creative freedom, challenge the norms, ask questions, explore solutions, exchange ideas, engage in debate, form opinions, be influenced, be an influence, discover your passions, take chances, drink tea and make friends… Basically be a crash course for life in the studio.’

David Jones, partner, Buddy Creative

Find out more about CSM’s series of ‘What’s the Point of Art School’ events here.

Latest articles

Design Week Awards 2021 opens for entries

This year winning work will be given a bigger platform than ever before, we are assembling our biggest ever judging panel and categories have been tweaked for maximum relevance.