How to make a career out of art

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The Independent Online

Put in a box with nothing but a newspaper for company, the true creative will set to work. They may produce a work of art. They might construct a means of escape. But we all know someone who has that endless and enviable ability to build something beautiful and/or useful out of what seems to be nothing.

Maybe that's you. So far at school, your outlet for this flair has been called "art". It may have also been called "technology" and you may have been offered further classes in, for example, textiles. And although you may have found your own means of expression, you probably still haven't had the chance to fully explore what art and design really means in terms of scope, study and life beyond academia.

If you're interested in getting creative at uni and in your career, you'll probably want to take an art foundation course after you leave school or college. This is a one-year course, introducing a range of creative disciplines and easing your path into HE. But the first thing you should do is take a trip to the New Designers Exhibition in London.

New Designers has been showcasing Britain's most talented graduate designers for the past 21 years. It's a great place to see just what students on design courses - from jewellery to photography, animation to automotive design - get up to at uni and beyond.

Every year, more than 4,000 graduate designers from 20 creative disciplines display their skills at the show. You can see their work and find out about their courses to get an idea whether your might like to follow in their footsteps. There's also a One Year On showcase, which presents work by designer-makers who have established businesses in the past 12 months. It's a great way to see how graduates progress and set up in business.

As design is such a mammoth field, the New Designers Exhibition is broken down into two parts, with different disciplines grouped together in each. Part 1, which runs from 29 June to 2 July, covers textiles and fashion accessories, jewellery, glass, ceramics, metalwork and home accessories. Part 2, from 6 to 9 July, includes furniture and product design, graphics, multimedia and interactive design, spatial, architecture and 3D design. These exhibitions will give you an insight into the different courses on offer and the sort of education you are likely to get. For example if you are practical and artistic, you may want to pursue textiles and print. If you're more into creating with technology and maths, engineering design courses for automobile or architecture may be your thing.

There are dedicated schools days on Friday 30 June and Friday 7 July where you can attend at the discounted price of £7. And one teacher can attend free for every 10 pupils, so it might be a good idea to talk to your art teacher about arranging a school trip. Log on to www.newdesigners.com for further details.

Creative hero: Mario Testino

The iconic fashion photographer Mario Testino was born in 1954 in Lima, Peru, to a family of Irish, Spanish and Italian origin. He's pretty clever. He studied economics at the Universidad del Pacífico, law at the Universidad Católica and international relations at the University of San Diego, California before he even considered taking photographs for a living. It wasn't until he was absolutely over-qualified in all sorts of other fields that Mario Testino moved to London to train as a photographer.

Then, in 1976, Testino found a flat in an abandoned hospital near Trafalgar Square and set to work helping would-be models make their portfolios. He soon built a reputation and leapt into the world of fashion photography.

Mario has shot countless celebrities - including Madonna for her Ray of Light album, Diana, Princess of Wales for Vanity Fair in 1997, and Kate Moss for Vogue. He is incredibly popular with designers, editors and models - and has legions of admirers.

Mario Testino's fashion photography has been the subject of countless exhibitions, and he has produced iconic advertising campaigns for Gucci and Burberry, among many other fashion houses.

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