19.01.23 Master's Degrees- Would I recommend?
I found my true style and passion for Folklore at the very end of my BA in Illustration at Arts University Bournemouth. Whilst this meant that I left Uni feeling very glad that I had, I also felt that I wasn't entirely ready to enter the working world since I wanted to explore and refine this new knowledge even more. This was also still within the effects of COVID, and my last year was very affected by a lack of in-person teaching and zero group work. I felt that a Master's would mean that I could hopefully come out of the other side of COVID with a truly refined style, and an extra degree under my belt to therefore take on full-time creative work.
Going straight from a BA to an MA meant that I was still in the learning mindset, and was able to give my full attention to the course. However I underestimated the differences in teaching when it came to the two degrees. BA is all about gifting you with essential advice and turning you into a self-confident person whatever field you are in. MA is much freer, with people on my course who had been working within Illustration and Design for 20+ years. The course is also designed so that you can study and complete projects alongside work, as a lot of people do. This was great as it meant I could complete my freelance work, but I was only in Uni one day a week. I think I wanted something a bit more hands on, but that's a mistake I made rather than the idea of Master's themselves.
MA Illustration, whilst daunting at times being surrounded by professionals, was also fantastic as a way for me to learn about my fellow students' experiences within the industry and seeing their range of styles. This was hugely different to BA, and meant that I was surrounded by people who had made a living in this profession, and undoubtedly inspired me even more. Group work was therefore meaningful and something I began to genuinely look forward to. On BA, my friends on the course were around my age, and on MA one of my closest friends was in her 70s and on her fourth Master's. I loved this.
I walked away from my MA feeling like I had been given the opportunity to explore what I was passionate about more, and if I hadn't had done an MA then I probably would never have written 'Guernsey Lore'. It's funny how things like that work out. Do I feel like MA Illustration/ Design is necessary to further your career? Not particularly. It's more an opportunity for yourself rather than for potential employers to see. However it does show that you are constantly re-training and re-educating yourself which is a great skill for a company to see.
If you also think that an MA will be similar to a BA, you would most likely be mistaken. If you are looking for consistent structure and very hands-on teaching, then an MA may not always provide this. This is why I would recommend taking time out between a BA and an MA. See a BA as an opportunity to find your craft and refine your skills, and see an MA as you taking control of your education and your passions whenever in life. I think if I had taken time out I would have probably ended up creating entirely different work due to the experience I would have gained.
I suppose my advice is, don't do an MA for your career, do it for you and pursuing your passions because that's what really matters. If you're going to give your time and effort to it, do it for you and your own achievements and for nobody else.