Tradition and innovation: Why you should consider the UK for an Arts degree

By Yang Qinlin

With an undergraduate degree and six years’ work experience, Yang Qinlin applied for her dream course at Anglia Ruskin University. She was awarded a GREAT scholarship due to her impressive portfolio and began a master’s in Illustration and Book Arts in September 2020. In this blog she shares her journey with us as she looks to open her own studio after graduation.

Yang Qinlin

Yang Qinlin

A little about myself

I studied my first degree in Environmental Art Design in Beijing. This subject gave me a strong sense of space and perception of materials and taught me to focus on changes of light. I am particularly interested in the subtle adjustment of spatial light. Well-known architects Louis Kahn, Tadao Ando and Le Corbusier’s structural application of light in the architectural space influenced my work, where I called for public attention to the psychological pressure of working and wrote a paper, Three-Dimensional Space Structure of Depression, to express the panic and anxiety felt through light changes and spatial structure.

I also had the chance to participate in a student exchange in Taiwan during my undergraduate studies. Here I completed a research project on sustainable housing. I visited sustainable buildings in the city to explore the connection between architecture and ecological environment, built urban context and collected life pieces. I wanted to continue with the topic of depression among urban working people and do more in-depth research.

My work experience

After graduation I spent six years working in graphic and user interface design. I also worked as a freelancer in Australia for two years on projects in illustration, design and publishing. This gave me the opportunity to learn new techniques such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and 3D printing - inspiring me with new ideas for illustration.

Some of Yang's university work

Some of Yang's university work

One project I enjoyed was Cheongsam design (Chinese traditional dress). The embroidery technology, fabric modification methods and production of disc buttons all intrigued me. This inspired me to use different textured fabrics to make books. In my future work I want to experiment with more space visuals through the change and transformation of materials.

Yang uses different techniques thoughout her projects.

Yang uses different techniques thoughout her projects.

Why I chose to study Illustration and Book Arts in the UK

The UK has a long and distinguished history of art and design, but at the same time it is modern and avant-garde. This deeply attracted me to study in the UK, so I applied for a master’s in Illustration and Book Arts at the Cambridge School of Art which has a 160-year history. It is a very forward-looking subject, combining new technologies, traditional skills and art theories. I hope through the course to improve my creative thinking, illustration skills and understanding of book art. I would like to interpret traditional culture and show the world we live in by applying creativity and using new techniques.

Coursework for Yang's Illustration and Book Arts master's.

Coursework for Yang's Illustration and Book Arts master's.

Studying at Anglia Ruskin University

ARU School of Art is my dream school. My course is very interesting but challenging at the same time. There are both theoretical and practical modules, such as Sequence and Series. I have to do a lot of academic reading with new academic terms. My tutors are very helpful and encouraging. After a few weeks of studying, I can clearly see my progress in English academic reading, as well as my understanding of theoretical concepts. I try to read extensively including journal articles and books. I very much appreciate the critical thinking and study skills being taught through the course. I believe they will serve as a very good starting point and lay the foundation for my future work.

Projects completed while Yang worked as a freelance illustrator.

Projects completed while Yang worked as a freelance illustrator.

I have a passion for adventure and observations. My experiences in different countries and regions gave me an open-mind and keen eye for cultural difference. I now want to use illustration to depict and explore the value of traditional cultures - I hope to open my own illustration and book art studio after graduation. I am very honoured and grateful to have been awarded a GREAT Scholarship, this has allowed me to start a new chapter in life.

Other relevant websites

MA Illustration and Book Arts - Anglia Ruskin University

Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge School of Art

Two students painting in an art studio

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