We spoke to BA (Hons) Illustration student, Kieran Blakey, on studying at Leeds Arts University, why he loves Leeds and his plans for after graduating...

Why did you choose Leeds Arts University?

Living in the countryside before, I really wanted to experience life in a city and found both Leeds and the University fantastic when I came for an Open Day. Leeds Arts University’s status as a specified art institute appealed to me because of its fantastic facilities, talented instructors, and the close-knit artistic community that thrives here. Teaching only creative subject leads to a very open and idiosyncratic experience with loads of opportunities to collaborate between courses.

What made you select BA (Hons) Illustration?

I chose to study Illustration because I’ve always had a passion for image-making but wanted the ability to contextualise my drawings. Initially, I planned to study BA (Hons) Graphic Design but I felt that the Illustration course here would allow me to build my skillset in an open and experimental environment, in a way that I enjoyed most. To be able to create a narrative and craft engaging characters using a variety of different media is amazing and I’ve always wanted to see my work in print, either as an editorial, or hopefully one day, my own Illustrated children’s book.

What do you really enjoy about your course and the University?

The wealth and breadth of facilities on offer here is fantastic, with trained workshop staff who are always happy to help out. The variety of briefs supplied by the Lecturers means that there’s something for everyone, from large scale murals, to small ceramic figurines. The course lecturers are all incredibly friendly, approachable and work with you to help build a professional portfolio that will best represent your practice following university. The working environment of the studio space also helps keeps you focussed and motivated with frequent feedback from your peers and tutors. 

What do you plan to do after university?

Having spent my whole life in education I want to take the opportunity to do volunteer work abroad and experience different cultures and languages, collecting images along the way which can feed into future illustration projects. However, I’ve really enjoyed living in the North and plan on moving back to Leeds afterwards and getting a part time job here to finance what I love, that is, illustration. I want to hopefully move my practice into children’s illustration and ceramics, with a few projects planned to keep me motivated after graduation.

What makes Leeds a good place to study?

Leeds is a great way of experiencing city life without having to pay through the nose in London. It has an excellent student culture and always has something on with its many bars, galleries, and exhibition spaces. There’s excellent train connections to nearby cities such as York or Manchester as well as Yorkshire based art establishments like The Hepworth Wakefield and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Lots of great gig venues, lots of student nights, lots of opportunities and lots of good times!