Taking a creative A-Level course? Here's what you should know

7 January 2020

One of the biggest decisions I made was whether to carry on with Textiles when I hit A-Levels. A coursework-heavy, time-consuming but rewarding subject that I definitely questioned on several occasions, but had studied all the way through high school and wasn't sure I was ready to give up. Now, nearing the end of the course, I thought I'd give some insight into my experience as a Textiles student and offer the best, most realistic advice on studying an art-based subject such as this at this level. Buy no means is my advice the be-all-and-end-all, but I hope it might give prospective students/current students/anyone some insight.

I will just say that I decided early last year, after many years of switching between different goals, that I want to go on to study Law at university. Fashion was definitely a strong contender, for a long time at that, but I felt in the end that Law played more to my strengths. Nevertheless, I will always enjoy studying Textiles and the creative ability it has provided me with is incomparable. Fashion will always hold a strong place in my heart, is still something I'm passionate about and will continue to be for a long time - I mean, I've been studying it for almost seven years now; it's definitely been a significant part of my life so far.

I think it goes without saying that a subject like Fashion/Textiles requires a generous level of commitment. That goes for all subjects, to be honest, but art-based subjects really require you to express a creativity within yourself to its highest level, on a consistent basis. The thing about creative subjects is that they expose you as a student; your interest in the subject, believe it or not, really does reflect in your coursework. If you really want the marks/grades/recognition, it shows. If you lack the motivation for the subject, it shows. Use the extra hours you have to your advantage. Textiles is one of those subjects requiring the extra equipment you may not have at home, so using out-of-hours time to finish work will really pay off in the long run; it seems like a pain at the time when all you want to do it go home after a full day, but even staying an extra half-hour can make a significant difference. 

When it comes to the content of coursework, having specifications mark schemes and information is a Godsend. This is the key to making sure you have all information to your disposal so you know you have everything needed to get the top marks. Of course, grade boundaries seem to change every year, but making sure you have everything in the spec can give you the best chance. 

Something that hasn't always come naturally to me in Textiles is stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to designing/presenting etc. At GCSE, I very much stayed within a certain style of presenting, keeping the same font/format in my folder. At A-Level, however, I've definitely begun to play around more with different styles of presentation, and my design work is much more experimental in terms of media used, shapes and colours. This was something I really wanted to work on when I started the course. It goes without saying that you can definitely tell the work is mine - I've adopted a very specific style! - but I'm much freer with my work and the additional years I've had studying it, I'd like to think, is evident. 

As with many creative A-Level courses nowadays, not only do you have to complete the coursework, but you also have to tackle the theory. One thing about Textiles is that a great portion of the theory required for the exam at the end of the course is based on what you do in your practical work; the course seems to be designed so that the theory and practical content go hand-in-hand. Not all of it, however, so regular revision of the theory content really seems to take the load off the subject and makes it seem much easier to tackle. It's always a bonus when the content you're studying is also enjoyable; I'm a real lover of humanities and social science, so the topics surrounding socio-economic influences on fashion is right up my street! 

The last thing I can I say is: persevere! As I said, yes, coursework-heavy subjects such as Fashion/Textiles are time-consuming, intense and incredibly patience-wearing, but the thing I love most about the subject is that you see the results of the work you put in. It's a satisfying feeling, for sure. 

Lots of love, 

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