Inside Our London Graduate Shows

Tue 1 Aug 2017 < Back to listing


For up-and-coming artists and creative professionals, the struggle to gain exposure and recognition for their work can be one of the biggest hurdles on the path to a successful career. While many BA programmes provide these opportunities to only a small selection of their students, at CSVPA, all graduating third-year students earn the right to show the fruits of their labour at a year-end show in London.

In our latest blog post, CSVPA BA Graphics & Illustration Course Director John Blackman and former CSVPA BA Fashion Course Director Jane Herzog discuss how students and tutors work with each other to bring together these spectacular displays, and why CSVPA’s London graduate shows are an invaluable component of its BA programmes.

Graphics & Illustration and Fashion Students Gain Industry Exposure

CSVPA graduate shows do not just simulate a professional setting – during these events, students present their work to the public, including industry experts and potential employers. “With the live fashion shows, there is always an industry panel that is judging the show and there are various industry prizes that are given. At the end of the week there is a big press show and it gets into all the national newspapers,” says Herzog. “It’s a lot of exposure for a third year student.” 

The small class sizes in CSVPA’s fashion school and Graphics & Illustration programme can amplify the exposure that students get during their graduate shows. Blackman notes that CSVPA “gives more space to each student. For a lot of other courses, they’ve got a lot of students and their available space is pretty small,” adding that, in this respect, “I think our students are greatly advantaged.”

Space in a London gallery show is a priceless opportunity for CSVPA Graphics & Illustration students

Sometimes, graduate shows can even get students a lucky break. “People from the industry come to Graduate Fashion Week – they’ll browse the stands, and if something catches their eye, they all have portfolios there so they can offer [the student] an immediate interview or work placement.”

Logistics Help Keeps Students Focused on Graphics and Fashion Design Work

For students in both Graphics & Illustrations and Fashion Design programmes, the prospect of putting on an entire runway or gallery show is incredibly daunting, especially at schools that require students to fundraise for their own exhibitions. Fortunately, CSVPA tutors handle the main logistical tasks of finding funding, venues, models, catering and more. Blackman emphasises that other than unusual printing costs or student travel expenses, the college fully covers graduate shows: “We provide pretty much everything.”

This support from CSVPA allows students to focus their energy on what matters most: the work they are presenting. For graduate fashion shows, Herzog says the school starts planning at least 6 months in advance. “It’s very important to us as a department to make sure that the students are prepared for the show. They get one chance, and we want it to be a success.”

When it comes to preparing their work – whether it be dressing models, framing prints, preparing business cards, or explaining their creative process – students are more self-directed.  To Blackman, this real-world practice is important for employability. “It’s about putting students outside their comfort zone. The studio environment is a very comfortable and friendly kind of atmosphere, and you're putting them out into the general public, and in the end that's how they're judged [in their careers].” 

Ultimately, this balance between tutor support and real-world experience is what makes graduate shows a high point of many students’ CSVPA experience, giving them insight into the thrill of the industries in which they aspire to work. Says Herzog, “It’s that kind of fun stress – you know, the kind that goes with excitement!”

You can see that excitement for yourself in this video:


These London graduate shows are just the tip of the iceberg.

Contact us to find out the many other reasons why CSVPA should be your choice for Graphics & Illustrations and Fashion Designing courses in the UK.


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