Interview with The Guardian

Earlier this year I was luckily chosen to be interviewed by The Guardian about my Creative Arts Degree. Below is a copy of the interview. 

Joanne Butlin, 19, an undergraduate, studying BA Creative Arts at Aberystwyth University.

What attracted you to the BA Creative Arts at Aberystwyth?

It’s a new course, now on its second year, and very small – there are just nine people on it this year. I was attracted to it because it is a very broad course, combining various disciplines – such as creative writing, film, media and art – with the option to specialise. I’m a creative individual and I didn’t want to be limited to one discipline, so this gives me the flexibility to choose what I really want to do. You can start to refine your subjects in the second year; but, even then, it remains broad. I haven’t seen a course like it – and I have been looking for two years.

What has impressed you about it so far?

If you find you don’t like a module, you can change it to something you might prefer. For example, I chose a theatre module initially, but discovered that it wasn’t for me. So I swapped it for creative writing – and that was the best thing I could have done because I developed a real passion for it. It was easy to change, too.

So is it a good course for people who aren’t sure what job they ultimately want to do?

Yes. Initially I was going to spend three years studying graphic design – but, of course, afterwards I would then definitely be looking for a job in that area. But I didn’t want to limit myself. Also, this course has given me a chance to sample what else is ‘out there’. Realising that  I enjoy and have a talent for writing has made me think that I might want to go into a career in journalism or publishing.

What has been the most surprising learning experience of this course?

The creative writing has definitely been a revelation. It was a surprise to discover that I have a knack for it because it is not something I thought I would ever return to after school. The media workshops were also surprising. I’ve never studied media before, but i’m now learning how to use a camera, and how to be a writer and a director. Dipping my toe into three roles has been very interesting. And it’s a hard job market out there so it’s good to have a range of skills.





Finding the perfect degree course isn’t easy for a creative induvidual …

Choosing my degree course was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in terms of time, effort and fighting the ‘giving up’ mind-set. In total, I was looking for 3 years for the perfect degree course. The problem was, I knew I was interested in a lot of areas of creativity which included: English, Creative writing and art. I wanted to somehow combine them all.


A-Level Fine Art example

My A-level choices were: Fine Art, English Language and Literature and Sociology. I am going to be honest… I disliked my Fine Art A-level course and figured out quickly that this is not the area I wanted to go into. However, this made me decide to do an art foundation year at De Montfort University to broaden my horizons. This was a 9-5,  7 day a week intense course and also commuting on the train every morning I felt like I had no escape from art. Of course, I enjoyed my time there learning new skills, but the amount of work and time spent in one room was mentally and physically draining and I realised that I couldn’t dedicate my life to it and wanted to do other things that were also part of my personality.

Another thing that made me realise that a single honours degree in art wasn’t for me was that during the art foundation year I felt rushed to choose my pathways; there was a choice to specialise in fine art, textiles, 3D and visual communication. In my crits I was an ‘all rounder’ which lead me to haphazardly pick visual communication. I enjoyed it for a while but realised that it was not where my skills lied and I was just doing the work to tick boxes rather than enjoying it.


View of Aberystwyth

Then one day lying on my bed, at the same time that I was hearing back from other universities, I found the perfect course (I was still looking) which turned out to be Creative Arts at Aberystwyth University… by the sea… what more could I want?? I could do media, writing and language, art and more. So I did something crazy and went with my gut instinct and declined my offer from De Montfort and anywhere else and went through UCAS extra… and miraculously I got an unconditional offer in 2 days!

After that, I learnt to always trust my instincts and no matter what I know what’s best for me; believe me… this is the perfect course for me! For anybody out there in the same position my tip is to never rush your decision. The worst scenario will be you will hate your course, so trust your own judgment and gut feeling. Even if it takes you a few years to decide you will find the perfect course for you.


Trust the timing of your life x