Rachel

Butlin

United Kingdom
After studying Decorative Arts your skills set is endless. Throughout the course, and after graduation, you become a strong creative thinker, maker and practitioner and can apply these skills to lots of different areas.

More about Rachel

Since graduating in 2015, Rachel has launched her own successful business as a contemporary designer maker. Rachel is based at the stunning Unit Twelve Gallery, in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside. Here she tells us about her experience on our BA (Hons) Decorative Arts course, and about what she's been up to since graduating.

What made you choose to study at NTU?
“After studying Art Foundation at New College, Nottingham, I knew making was the thing I wanted to pursue further.

“Through lots of experimentation with process and materials, my outcomes were always jewellery/body adornment based. When looking at university courses, I wasn't sure if I wanted a specialist jewellery course or a mixed materials course. That's when Decorative Arts at NTU really stood out. I felt the course had so much to offer, with an exciting course structure and outstanding facilities. This made the choice very easy.”

What did you enjoy most about studying Decorative Arts?
“There is so much I enjoyed about the course it’s very hard to pinpoint just one element. The wide range of materials, techniques and different projects really excited me and pushed me to explore the boundaries of what was possible on the course. Throughout the three years you become close with fellow students - the studio environment really made my university experience something special.”

How did you find the facilities?
“The facilities within the School of Art & Design are second to none! You have access to specialist machinery and tools, and a fantastic team of technical staff that really know their specialism.”

How did you find the course staff?
“Decorative Arts is so attractive as it has a great combination of practising lecturers and tutors, visiting speakers and technical staff. Each one of these played a key role during my time on the course. Having tutors who are also practising makers reinforced that setting up your own business after university was possible.

“As the course progressed, most of my time was spent in the metal workshop where the technical staff are invaluable. Their wealth of knowledge and practical skills helped to make ideas reality and drove me to push my ideas further and explore new possibilities. I feel that support from these different people made my university experience so enjoyable and has laid the foundations for where I am today.”

What did you initially do after you graduated?
“I always knew I wanted to set up my own practice once and that is exactly what I did! The course gave me a wealth of knowledge and support that meant I felt confident and excited to take the next steps.

“Whilst taking the small steps in setting up my studio, I worked on a new collection of work for Lustre, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, contemporary craft show, in which I had been chosen to exhibit as a Young Meteor from the course.”

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Geometric walnut pendant made by Rachel

Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re up to now?
“Since graduating I have been involved in lots of opportunities, from national shows and exhibitions to speaking at events, business development programmes and international shows.

“I secured a six month residency on the Cultivated programme at Unit Twelve Gallery and grant from the Arts Council, from exhibiting at New Designers. This helped me to successfully kick start my business and have a hub and facilities to work with. Since, I have gone on to exhibit in national shows such as the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair and Contemporary Craft Festival in Devon.

“More recently, I was selected to be part of the Hothouse programme with the Craft Council. This professional development programme helped me to push my practice to the next level, in which I wanted to explore international shows and develop gallery relations. In November 2017, I exhibited at SIERAAD international jewellery fair in Amsterdam, one of my biggest highlights so far!

“No two days are ever the same in the studio. I explore a wide range of materials and processes - the possibilities really are endless.”

Why would you recommend studying Decorative Arts at NTU?
“After studying Decorative Arts your skills set is endless. Throughout the course, and after graduation, you become a strong creative thinker, maker and practitioner and can apply these skills to lots of different areas.

“I am a jeweller, but I also have skills within lots of other materials, which has allowed me to make the work I do, but also provide specialist knowledge and services to others.”

What are your top three tips for a successful creative career?

  1. “Work hard, be organised and drive to achieve the best you can", whilst pushing the boundaries. You are only in the university environment for a short time make the most of it. Working hard pays off in the end and being organised allows you to prioritise and use time wisely to achieve this.
  2. "This links to facilities too. These are such an invaluable resource that you will miss so much after graduating" Explore, learn and master processes and machinery as these will allow you to successfully put steps in to place to set up and trade straight after university.
  3. "You never know until you try". Try everything, processes, master classes, materials - they are all part of what will shape you and your practice. Don't be afraid to make mistakes or not like something. This will allow you to pinpoint what works for you and sometimes mistakes are the best surprises!

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418
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