Blog Post #024 – Photography Explained #3

Advice, Art, Photography, Travel

Welcome to the third installation of my Photography Explained series. I have enjoyed the process of creating these kinds of blog posts as it allows me to take a hard look at my photography and find those areas that I am weak at and need to work upon. It has also provided me with a further sense of appreciation of the effect that a well-taken photograph can have and the components that need to all come together to allow for this to happen. 


In this particular blog post, I am going to be looking more closely at animal photography

I have been drawn towards the animals of the world all my life and have always been intrigued by what they are. I enjoy watching them go about their activities and observing how different their lives are to our own. Of course, this means that I love to take photographs of these animals that I spot. However, animals are notoriously fast-moving and it can be a real challenge to capture the creature within your frame before they scurry or fly away. 

Below I am going to display a few of my favourite photographs of different animals taken around the world and offer a few tips as to how to get that perfect photograph. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I enjoyed writing it. 


My first photograph is of a squirrel taken in Elveden Forest, Suffolk. What I like about this photograph is the framing of the points of interest in the image. Around 50% of the photograph is taken up of the foreground which is in focus and the other half is out of focus but provides context to the photograph. As well as this it was crucial to ensure that the squirrel’s entire body is within the frame with none chopped off by the edge. I felt that this organisation created a nice dynamic to the photograph which differentiates it from other photographs of animals.  

A piece of advice that is universal for all animal photography is to take as many photos as you can with a fast shutter speed. You will be left with hundreds of photographs using this method but you have a far greater chance of one being the money shot sitting within a host of average photographs. 


My second photograph is one of a humpback whale taken off the coast of Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland. It was such an honour to be in such close proximity to such a huge, majestic creature and the photograph does not do the experience justice. 

And my third photograph is of a loggerhead turtle in Greek waters. I had been told of turtles being present in the area but I did not expect to be greeted by one. An incredibly special moment and thanks to photographs I can revisit this memory again and again. 

In both of these photographs of aquatic creatures, what is important is ensuring that the point of focus, either the tail fin or the turtle is as close as possible to the centre of the frame. This was also another example of when it is vitally important to take multiple photographs in a short period as these encounters are over in a flash and there is a very small window of opportunity to get that perfect photograph. 


My fourth and final image is of a cormorant taken in Folkestone, Kent and is my favourite photograph of any flying animal. In my experience, it has been very challenging to capture a satisfactory photograph of a bird in flight and my best results come from when they are stationary. Again the framing techniques came into play but what I like about this photograph is that I have made the subject silhouetted. 

This is a simple photography technique that can add an extra layer of intrigue by stripping away the fine details of the subject. The most effective way to achieve this is to ensure that the sunlight is behind the subject, this means that the subject stays in shadow and therefore will become a silhouette. 

This is because a human eye has a far greater dynamic range than the sensor of any camera. Through eyesight, details are much clearer when looking towards a light source but through a lens, a silhouette effect can be achieved. 


I hope that you have enjoyed this short journey through my favourite animal photographs and that you have been able to yearn some useful tips that will improve your photography. 

Until next Monday, have a great week. 

Blog Post #017 – My First Art Exhibition

Art, Life in General

This blog post brings together the artwork selected for my final exhibition that has been completed over the last 2 years for my International Baccalaureate Art course. The exhibition took place in The Pie Factory, an art gallery in Margate, Kent. The exhibition was open to the public and saw north of 250 people coming in to have a look around. The entire experience was a first for myself and I feel far more confident in articulating the reasoning behind my work to strangers, I feel this is a worthwhile skill to work upon.  


To begin I have my exhibition description which hopes to explain my thinking that underpins my overall exhibition and brings together each of the individual pieces together into a harmonious art installation. Alongside the images of each piece sits a section of text that allows for greater clarification and understanding of the work that I have completed by offering further information. 

Exhibition Description: 

With an untrained eye, one may see a singular beautiful thing. A trained eye, however, will see a hundred beautiful things. It is not what you are looking at, it’show you look at it. A simple building may appear to be rather plain and unappealing, but upon closer observation, one can see the interesting placement of windows, the patterned carpet and the ornate doorknobs. Only those that consciously seek out the finer details begin to deeper appreciate their surroundings, only then you can say you are fully immersed within a space.

My thesis statement for this exhibition is simply: Stop, look and listen. This serves as a constant reminder to step back and consider the finer details in the world around us. This is something that I have found myself having to consider as I found myself wrapped in my school life and was losing perspective and clarity within my mind leading to a deeper, personal connection with my work.


Une petite cathédrale

The upcycling of used, defunct sporting equipment that utilises the general form of flying buttresses found in cathedrals creating a useful and exciting lighting piece. 


Staple City 

A group of young children were asked to respond to the task, ‘draw a city skyline’. The responses were very similar, with simple shapes drawn. Taking these simplified forms, I tried to reflect this ideology in my sculpture. The sculpture is focused on stripping back the confusion of our cities and focusing on what is beneath the surface. A group of young children were asked to respond to the task, ‘draw a city skyline’. The responses were very similar, with simple shapes drawn. Taking these simplified forms, I tried to reflect this ideology in my sculpture. The sculpture is focused on stripping back the confusion of our cities and focusing on what is beneath the surface. 


The Wheel of Colour

An inspired piece from my great-great-grandfathers sketchbook showed also. This is a presentation of my exploration into colour via the creation of a colour wheel with the design being made up of interior designs that have piqued my interest. This construction expresses a metaphor, the blurred colour when the wheel is spinning represents normal, fast-paced life. When halted by the hand it signifies the clarity that arises when time is taken to ‘Stop Look Listen.’


The Search for Obscure Beauty 

A collection of carefully selected photographs that seek to explore the finer details within the surroundings of my ‘town’. The aim was to try and find beauty in places where they are least expected and are missed by many that choose not to look. 


Inside/Outside – 50% 

An exploration into the manipulation of the pencil to depict a dissected shell. The shell has been cut in half to expose the inner beauty that is hidden to those that never look. The halved shell is present for observation.


The 16 Hour Clock 

An inspired piece from a finer detail that piqued my interest which I observed in the British Museum in London. The intricate patterning of the observed window was divided into 16 sections which led to the aptly named ‘16 Hour Clock’. 


The Johnson Table

A resting place for my collection of my ‘City That Never…’ pieces but remains relevant as the legs hark back to Frank Lloyd Wright’s design of the ‘Johnson Wax Headquarters’


Jet Black Tub Chair 

Adding to this collection of soft furnishings this tub chair takes inspiration from the circular forms and ‘faux’ trees found in Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Johnson Wax Headquarters’ in Wisconsin. 


The City That Never Sleeps 

Through the exploration of these simplified forms and shapes, I created a design that takes a simplified skyline and I have stitched it onto a self-made soft furnishing which adds further context to the ‘Jet Black Tub Chair’. 


The City That Never Reads

The utilisation of a book signifies how important it is for us to maintain a habit of reading. In today’s age, social media has infatuated our minds of sometimes useless information and we must make a conscious decision to take back control and read more. The simple skyline represents a stripped-back reality, and this simplified attitude to life is something to consider. 


The City That Never Drinks

An exploration of an alternative artistic technique whilst maintaining this design of a simplified skyline on a mug as explored in various of my other pieces. 


‘Thesis’ 

These words formulate my thesis statement, tying together all of my exploration pieces and consolidating them to this idea that we as people must slow down at times and take time to ‘STOP and LOOK’ for those finer details that go missing in our everyday lives.


Mankind’s arches 

A simplified replication of an arch found in Canterbury Cathedral allowed me to bring a large scale construction, capturing the shapes and forms observed by myself, inside the Pie Factory. The ivy, however, reminds us that these human forms are derived from nature. 


All together these individual pieces came together to make up my exhibition, I was very pleased in the way that it all came together and I am proud of the hard work that I have put in over the last 2 years. I have enjoyed the exhibition experience and look forward to immersing myself into similar situations in the future. I think I will have access to similar situations in architecture school which I am looking forward to. 

I see this exhibition as an example to myself the necessity of long hours and hard work to see successful results. 

To many more long hours before the end.

Blog Post #014 – Practice Makes Perfect: Drawing Every Day

Architecture School, Art, Life in General

“Practice makes perfect. After a long time practising, our work will become natural, skillful, swift and steady.” 

Bruce Lee

We are always told that if we want to become proficient at something then we must practice, practice and practice some more. The book Outliers: The Story of Success written by Malcolm Gladwell is the origin point of the 10,000-hour rule. He stated that “Researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: 10,000 hours”. 

To put 10,000 hours into context that equates to approximately 417 days. That means that if you were to practise for 3 hours per day that would equal approximately 3333 days or a little over 9 years. I think you have to take this timeframe with a grain of salt because I believe that you have to push yourself to improve during these hours, otherwise you will simply stagnate and your skill level will not increase despite putting in the hours. 


With self-improvement and practise in my mind, I have decided to take it upon myself to become more confident and improve my drawing skills. I have decided to an emphasis on drawing as I have come to learn that communicating your ideas through drawing is a crucial element of practising architecture both in architecture school and professionally. I want to be confident in my ability to draw and refrain from reaching for the laptop and rendering softwares to develop my ideas. 

I have worked on my drawing skills in the past by enlisting the support of an art tutor and I saw my skill level improve during this period. However, now that I have been offered the gift of time during these strange times I want to try and make drawing part of my daily routine. 

Something that is helping me keep to this daily routine is the discovery of Kiyeon Kim who is an architect, designer and sketch lover. He has built up this huge library of ‘Draw With Me’ videos on both his Instagram and on Youtube. He has a distinctive style that I have come to enjoy emulating. I am getting into the habit of following one of his videos every day which is building my confidence to be able to draw architectural scenes. 

Instagram Account: 

https://www.instagram.com/kimkanone_/?hl=en

Youtube Account: 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeeyrUpLa6wOUTH-ZNwTYnw

He predominantly uses a fountain pen in his sketches which has a striking effect, however, I am not quite brave enough to go straight in with ink so I use a rOtring 0.5 mechanical pencil and then overlay that with a 0.1 uni-ball fineliner. Similarly to Kim, I use graphic marker pens, specifically Winsor & Newton Markers to add a layer of colour to the drawing. I have included links to all of my drawing implements below if you want to get your own. 

rOtring Mechanical Pencils:

uni-ball Fineliners: 

Winsor & Newton Promarker Set 1:


I have included some of my own sketches inspired by his videos below. I think it is a really good way to get into a habit of drawing and it is a lot easier than staring a blank page and struggling to see where to start. 


Perhaps I have inspired you to start practising drawing or perhaps something else that you are interested in and want to see your skill level increase. Whatever it is, use this time to try and work at it and build it into your routine, once it is in there then it becomes second nature much like brushing your teeth. Start your 10,000-hour journey today. 

Happy practising! 

Blog Post #013 – Corsa Camper Conversion

Art, Life in General, Travel

This week’s blog post is centred around a project that I undertook over the last couple of weeks. This particular project I am calling the Corsa Camper Conversion. 

Confused already? Let me explain. 

I have always toyed with the idea of wanting to live out of a campervan and travel with this. These dreams mainly stem from listening to stories of my Dad doing this in Australia when he was younger. I actually have the number plate from that very campervan up in my room. When I first looked at buying my first car I did look briefly at vans for a possible conversion or campervans and realised very quickly that this route was very much out of my budget at 17 years old. 

Also, Instagram feeds like these only fuels the fire even more!

This then saw that dream put to rest for a while, until a couple of weeks ago. It came to me almost out of nowhere. I think the genesis of this project is partly down to the COVID pandemic and the cancellation of several holiday plans this year. I was troubleshooting how I can get to travelling as soon as possible. 

That is how I concluded that I would convert my 2010 Vauxhall Corsa into something that I could live out of for some time. In my mind, these periods may consist of two different circumstances. 

1

When I move to Nottingham to study architecture I am situated near the Peak District. This project would allow me to drive out there, park up at a campsite and disconnect from normality, even if it’s just for one night. I see this as a way of dealing with the stress I may experience at university but who knows.

2 –  

I am also aware that France and Spain openly welcome ‘wild camping’ and I feel that a road trip through these countries would be very high up on my To-Do List when restrictions are relaxed. I would also be much more comfortable driving than having to make my way through an airport and boarding planes. 


Before I set out on these adventures I am going to need to put my ideas in practice and carry out my very own van conversion but on a Corsa, hence the name ‘Corsa Camper Conversion’. 

I enjoyed the process and I do feel that I surpassed my expectations with my level of woodworking ability. I have my Grandpa to thank for these skills that have been taught to me from a very young age. I tried to keep this project on a budget and within the images and descriptions below you will see just how I managed this. I was also conscious of the limited size of the car in question so storage played heavily on my mind and I feel that I have been able to achieve a substantial amount of storage.

Without further ado, let’s get into the process of this project. 


To achieve enough space for this conversion, I removed the back seats which was easy enough but I have ensured that I can remove all modifications with ease and return the car to its original state if I require space for more people in the car. 

With that completed, I started to construct the bed frame. This was built using wood purchased at my local B&Q for around £50, this ultimately became the only large purchase I have made so far on this project. This frame sits in the boot space and is elevated off the floor of the car to allow for additional storage. 

To create the length required for a mattress I extended the structure as shown and added horizontal slats for added strength. The white board is removable and is only screwed down when the front two seats are fully pushed forward which increases the length of the sleeping space which I very comfortably fit in.  

I was kindly gifted a mattress that was to be thrown out by a friend so at no additional cost I now had a mattress which snugly fits atop this wooden structure and is remarkably comfortable considering it is in the back of a car. 

Now fitted with a duvet, pillows and cushions I am now looking forward to additions that will make the experience more enjoyable. I am looking at purchasing material to tint the back windows, a solar shower and potentially a fridge of some kind. However, these all cost additional money but I am happy where I am at the moment and I’m looking forward to spending my first night in my new ‘humble abode’. 


Throughout this process, I practiced both my creative and practical skills which always need to be exercised to improve. It also makes you realise that small spaces designed well can be extremely comfortable. This experience has opened my eyes to the world of micro-living and minimalism which is something that I wish to explore further. 

So there we have it, another one of my ‘Lockdown Projects’, not sure what’s next but whatever it is I am looking forward to it. 

Till next week, have a good one. 

Episode #003 – Kyle Sinko: Successful Archi Student Interview

Advice, Architecture School, Life in General, Podcast

Welcome to the show notes for Discussed It, a podcast about Architecture, Sport and Anything Else We Want. Read ahead for a written breakdown of each podcast episode, photos, links and bonus content that didn’t make the cut for the podcast. Happy reading and if you want to check out the podcast where myself and Hayden Day discuss a little about a lot, follow the links below. 

You can listen by clicking play above or by searching Discussed It Inception on your favourite podcast players such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Deezer and many more. 


Welcome to the show notes for the third episode of the Discussed It podcast. We are very excited to introduce our first guest onto our podcast, Kyle Sinko. Kyle is known within the architecture community as the creator behind the SuccesfulArchiStudent website where he has created an online community for architecture students all across the world. I have included a link to this website below, I highly recommend checking it out. 

successfularchistudent.com

We will also be finishing off the show with our ‘Thing’ of the Week, where Kyle will be letting us know what ‘Thing’ he has found interesting and exciting and is happy to share with Hayden and I. Make sure you stick around for that!


This episode, we:

  • Invite our very first guest, Kyle Sinko, architecture student and creator of the SuccessfulArchiStudent brand
  • Discuss our ‘Thing Of The Week’ along with Kyle
  • and much more…

Enquiries: discusseditpodcast@gmail.com


Below I have outlined the general gist of the questions that we put over to Kyle to answer, throughout the episode we go slightly off-piste with the conversation but we tried to allow for a chronological narrative that works through Kyle’s journey to date and then looking forward to the future. 

If you fancy finding out what Kyle’s insightful and interesting comments in reply to these questions then head over to this podcast episode and give it a listen. You won’t regret it! 


  1. Would you be able to tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from and what is that you do?  
  2. So, let’s start from the beginning. What do you remember as your first memorable encounter of architecture, and did this have any significance going forward?
  3. How was your experience of school, and did you feel prepared to study at university upon leaving?
  4. Would you be able to tell us a bit about the route to becoming an architect in Australia, as I think it is different to the UK and where are you on that journey? 
  5. Online, you are known as the successful archi student, but what drives you to fulfil that title and to succeed in such a competitive environment?
  6. You have quoted Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People as one of the essential reads, what about this concept do you believe to be so important?
  7. What are some of the best ways to network as a student?
  8. What made you turn to Youtube as a form of promoting your story and message? 
  9. We understand you have formulated an e-book and are in the process of creating a new one, would you be able to tell us a bit about it? 
  10. Which other avenues have you thought about exploring with your existing brand?
  11. How have you been able to balance your academic studies at university and the progression of your brand, SuccesfulArchiStudent?
  12. What do you do to relax outside of the world of architecture? Can it be a struggle to get that work/life balance? 
  13. What would you say is your greatest achievement so far? 
  14. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? 
  15. How would you like to be remembered?
  16. As your brand is all about helping architecture students, could you give us one thing that you think makes an architecture student successful? 
  17. So Kyle, if people want to find your work or get in touch, where can they find you? 

‘Thing’ Of The Week

As I am sure you know by now within this section of the podcast each of us will choose their favourite thing that we have seen over the week. This could be absolutely anything ranging from a product, food, architect etc. that has stuck in our minds. Most probably our ‘thing’ of the week will be utterly useless to yourself, but you never know. To change it up this week we have Kyle joining us for this particular segment. Read ahead to see what the three of us come up with and see whether you would be interested in any of them. 

To kick off the proceedings I will reveal Kyle’s ‘Thing Of The Week’. He chose a book called the ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’, written by Tim Ferris. Kyle expands on what he has learnt from reading the book and it sounds like a great read, I will give it a go for sure. 

Moving on to my chosen ‘Thing Of The Week’, I decided to also go for a book. This particular book is called ‘The Art Of Resilience’ by Ross Edgley. This is a brand new book that was only released at the end of last week. I think Ross is a bit of a legend and is well known for becoming the first person to swim his way around the UK. For 157 days he swam 6 hours on, 6 hours off and never set foot on land. An epic feat and it looks like his book is of similarly epic proportions. He is so honest and you feel as if you’re getting to know him better and better with every page. Highly recommend it, go and check it out! 

And to finish off this weeks ‘Thing Of The Week’, Hayden enlightened us on an artist that has captivated his attention. Her name is Cornelia Parker who is an English visual artist that is best known for her sculpture and installation art. Hayden was telling Kyle and myself about when he saw her work in our local art gallery, the Turner Contemporary in Margate and how he felt influenced by her work and the influence it had on him. It sounded like she is worth checking out, I have seen some of her work and her installations are rather momentous and impressive.  

I have included a link to a book that gives some further information regarding her life and work. 


And, that wraps our very first podcast episode featuring a guest. Hayden and I thoroughly enjoyed having Kyle on the show and we look forward to having him back on to see how he’s getting on further down the line. I know that he is working on some exciting projects that we can’t wait to see. As mentioned earlier I highly recommend checking out Kyle’s website and Youtube channel where he posts a host of hugely insightful and interesting content that has been of great use to myself and so many other architecture students across the world. If you do want to head over to that I have included the link to his website below. 

successfularchistudent.com

I hope that the show notes have provided a further layer of communication between the two of us and you, our listeners, by providing additional information, but I’m sure it won’t beat listening to us chat away first hand. We hope that you enjoyed listening and will consider subscribing and making the Discussed It podcast a part of your weekly routine. 

Happy listening, everyone! 

Blog Post #003 – Applying to Architecture School: Portfolio Advice

Architecture School, Life in General

I have decided to create a post offering some support in creating a portfolio to submit to universities as part of their application process. In all of the architecture courses that I applied to and those that I looked into required a portfolio that included a range of artwork. This range could be in the form of sketching, painting, collage, graphic design, the list goes on. There may also be additional tasks that are specific for the university that you have applied to. This will often be a piece or series of artwork in response to a brief. 

In most cases, for UK universities it is not imperative to have studied Art before attending university so this portfolio could be wholly made up of work completed outside of your academic subjects. So do not feel that your subject choice has to be a barrier to studying architecture. 

I applied to the University of Sheffield, University of Nottingham, Kent University, UAL (University Arts of London) and UCL (University College London). From these universities, I received an offer from Sheffield, Nottingham and Kent. I was invited to an interview at UAL but was unsuccessful in receiving an offer and I pulled out of the UCL application process when I decided that it was not the university for me and chose to firmly accept an offer from another university. All of these universities required me to create a strong portfolio to compete with the large volume of applicants that each university receives each year. Both Sheffield and UCL required a specific task completed which I will go into more detail about later on. 

What software to use? 

I used Google Slides to create mine and then downloaded into a PDF file for upload to each university. I found the interface simple to navigate and did the job for me. Microsoft Powerpoint would work just as well and InDesign is also a good software platform for portfolio creation. 

In my experience universities require a PDF file so creating an online portfolio won’t be suitable for this particular situation but are always useful to create to further promote your work when you progress throughout your studies. 

Tip #1 – Research 

Make sure you look into the university that you are creating the portfolio for. I would not suggest creating a one size fits all portfolio as certain universities ask for evidence of sketchbook work for example. Others want to see your artistic process that has led towards a resolved piece where others may just want to see images of your final pieces. Taking the time to do this research will pay dividends when your portfolio is being scrutinised and it fits the criteria that they are specifically looking for. 

For example, for my UAL portfolio, I looked into their requirements and I saw that they wanted to see sketchbook work. So, I simply scanned in a selection of my sketchbook pages to express my readiness to practice and develop my drawing technique. On the first slide below I included examples of still life drawing with the shells and on the second slide I displayed my understanding for the effects of light on an object and the importance of this to create a flat drawing that seems 3-dimensional. 

Careful research and planning are also vitally important in avoiding portfolio submission deadlines. Also, carefully read any documentation that the university sends you as it may include a request for further documents from yourself. This could be in the form of a cover letter from a teacher that proves that the work that is being submitted is that of your own and not another person. Something to consider is the ability to compress your PDF file to a small enough size to upload to the university. They will often ask for a file that is around 6mb. Most portfolios exceed this due to the inclusion of several high-quality PDFs. There are some online programmes and tutorials that can walk you through the process that allows for compression of a PDF file without pixelation of your images in the portfolio but don’t leave this to the night before the deadline as I must admit I did do myself. Save yourself any stress and figure it out in advance. 

Tip #2 – Keep it simple 

I utilised a simplistic design within my portfolio and tried to avoid layering too many images upon a single slide to prevent the observer feeling overwhelmed and I think it is important to maintain a mentality of quality over quantity to avoid having certain pieces bringing down the overall quality of your portfolio because you want to show the volume of work you have completed. Only select your best work for your portfolio. 

In the images above they show the lack of a complicated design, I consciously decided to only use 2 colours and avoid the complexity of some themes that can be found preset on Google Slides and Microsoft Powerpoint. The lack of bright colours and overcomplicated design means that the focus is primarily on the work that I have selected, which ultimately what they will base their decision upon. 

Something to consider when compiling your portfolio is the order of your work. There is no right way to do this, to be honest. You could order your slides in the following: 

  • Chronological order of completion 
  • Grouped in artistic technique (drawings, paintings, etc.) 
  • Starting and finishing the portfolio with your best work 

There are other ways in which you can order your work but in my case, I chose to insert my best work at the start of my portfolio and finish with an equally strong piece. I felt that this started the portfolio well and captured the attention of the observer and then with the strong final piece it would tie together the portfolio as a whole. I also used grouping throughout and kept similar artistic techniques together, for example, the two slides below were one before the other and consisted only of photography which did then not appear anywhere else in the portfolio. 

In terms of the description text for your pieces, I suggest keeping them short and sweet. Ensure to use concise and technical language that gets across what it is and perhaps your hoped effect of the piece. Avoid any kind of waffle! 

Tip #3 – Maintain a range of artistic skill  

It is easy to assume that because you are applying to an architecture course it is crucial to include work that is related to architecture in some shape or form. In most cases, any computer-aided design, perhaps AutoCAD or SketchUp are frowned upon and they would rather an applicant to display their artistic talent through mediums such as drawing, painting, construction etc.

This lends itself to my final tip, to include a range of artistic skills. This could consist of a multitude of skills. For example, you may include sketching, painting, photography, collage and much more. And, if you feel that as an artist you only focus on one or two artistic techniques, push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things. It does not have to be perfect but the fact that you have taken it upon yourself to try these new skills will be attractive to universities. For example, in my portfolio, I tried to do this and included pencil drawing, oil painting, graphic design, physical modelling, photography and woodwork. 

A word of advice that I received from the feedback from unsuccessful applications and accomplished artists around me, universities like to see a lot of drawing work. So I would push the boat out with practising and refining your drawing skills to be able to create a large pool of drawn work to select from. This is something that I lacked and I have now taken the time to rectify this and now draw for pleasure much more regularly and in doing this my confidence in my own drawing ability is increasing.

Specific task examples:

As mentioned earlier for a couple of my university applications I was required to submit specific pieces for their university. This is crucial to the application and is why it is important to fully understand the brief and know what it’s deadlines are. The universities that required additional work were the University of Sheffield and UCL. I will display both of my responses to the task set and offer some advice if you were applying to these particular universities. 

University of Sheffield: 

This is an excerpt from the University of Sheffield Portfolio Submission Guidance leaflet: 

“As a further test of your critical, representational and observational skills, we ask that you submit a piece of work that illustrates an aspect of the street/road/lane that you live on. This can be in any medium and should be accompanied by a short text of around 200 words.”

Below is my response to the above task with the attached 200 words: 

This is my piece responding to the brief on ‘your street’. I decided to draw inspiration from David Hockney who was prolific in cubist photography. He would take multiple photos of a scene and concentrate on some areas and ignore others. I decided to dive into certain details that would otherwise often go unnoticed in my street. These differing perspectives of certain elements were then brought together to create an analytical view of my street. 

I decided to link an artist to the completed piece which is something that I recommend as it displays that you have a broader understanding of the art community and the influences of certain people in that community. I would also advise trying something slightly unusual perhaps as it will separate you from the rest and avoid answering the brief in a very literal way such as simply drawing ‘your street’. Try and layer your response with some insightful artistic knowledge and exploration. 

Your specific piece is then included as a slide in your complete electronic portfolio that you upload online. 

University College London: 

The brief changes every year so I am unable to give direct advice on what to include but I will briefly explain how the task is set up and what is required of you. 

You will be sent an email including a brief that will require you to respond to a certain theme that changes year on year. You will be asked to submit five A4 pieces as frames of a storyboard. The drawings must be quick and personal responses and not drawn from photographs. It is required that the drawings explore different media, two must be drawn with pencil, one mixed media and one a photograph. A unique aspect of the UCL drawing task is the time pressures. One drawing must be completed in 5 minutes, one in 15 minutes, one in 30 minutes and one in 60 minutes. The final piece has no set timings but has to be in response to an image that is given to you on the brief. 

The advice that I can give is to try and think outside the box and be inventive with what you decide to do. Don’t worry too much about it being perfect as they are aware of the time constraints when looking over them. This particular task in my case had to be sent in the post to London so make sure you allow enough time for it to arrive before the deadline.  

I have included my full university application portfolio at the end of this post for reference for prospective students that may find it useful when creating their own. I hope that this post may provide some assistance. If you have any questions shoot them over!

Good luck!