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It's never too late to change career : Book Illustration

Painting by Ho Fei Chan. Image courtesy of UAL
Painting by Ho Fei Chan. Image courtesy of UAL

Written by
Yusuf Tamanna
Published date
14 October 2020

After years of working as a secondary school teacher, Philippa Curry knew she wanted to return to her artistic roots. Here, she tells us how taking the Book Illustration short course at Chelsea College of Arts helped her on her journey back to art and how the course has boosted her confidence.

One of the key reasons why Philippa Curry wanted to do a short course was because she wanted to be a student again. By this she meant she wanted the space and support she needed to reconnect with art with like-minded people.

Despite studying art and design at university level, Philippa ended up taking on the herculean feat of becoming a secondary school teacher. “I decided to take on the challenge of secondary school teaching, rather than focusing on my own skill. I wanted to enthuse young adults about art and, design and technology,” she tells me.

But after seven years of helping other students develop their own artistic flair and achieve qualifications in the process, Philippa realised she missed being on the other side, creating and developing artwork. Admitting she needed to “brush off the cobwebs and break out of the teacher mould” to properly reintroduce herself to the art of creating, Philippa looked into a taking a short course at UAL as she thought it would be the best place to start.

But having been a teacher for several years, Philippa was all too aware how crucial the right learning environment can be - especially when it comes to creative courses where being inspired by those who teach you as well as your surroundings is key. “I wanted to be in an environment which fostered creativity, and where tutors are experienced and successful in their field. I wanted to be challenged and taken out of my comfort zone,” she says.

She eventually decided on doing the Book Illustration Online Short Course offered at Chelsea College of Arts, saying it appeared to be a course that set students up with practical and transferrable knowledge you need to develop a career.

Fortunately for Philippa, the course satisfied all her needs. On the course she learned how illustrators came up with their ideas and how their work is produced and completed a series of drawing exercises at The Tate, albeit with inquisitive tourists in tow. But most importantly, she credits the course for giving her the much-needed space to let her ideas flourish with the support of an expert. “I really enjoyed having the time to develop and explore characters, a storyline and discussing ideas, drawings and mediums with the tutor.”

Since completing the course Philippa says she has a new-found confidence in her art, so much so she has now decided to work part-time so she can tend to her artistic craft on a regular basis: “I am now able to put in the time and energy into developing an online portfolio of work so I can make an income from illustration.”

If anyone was to ask her why should they take a short course, Philippa flips the question back on them and asks, why not? “Doing a short course is a great opportunity to work with talented tutors, with other students from around the world and it gives you a chance to focus on yourself and what you enjoy doing.”


Do you want to reconnect with art again like Philippa? We have a wide range of short courses designed to reignite your creative flame. Take a look at our upcoming online courses and find out how we can support you.

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