Class of 2011
"My studies boiled down to the recurring question, 'what makes it art?' This argument has become more and more important in my years since leaving university. Too many pursuits within the creative industry can be for the wrong reasons. My education keeps me honest."
Nathan decided to take on Fine Art as a university degree based on his interest in being creative. "I had little idea of art. Pre-uni I drew and painted. Initially I wanted to contine to do this." He wasn't ovely impressed with some of the places he visited though. "I don't remember which place it was, but during an interview I found the tutors to be somewhat unpleasant. They didn't take my paintings/drawings as a route into fine art and instead encouraged me to take animation - which seemed a waste of my time and a little insulting as it wasn't an option I wanted to pursue or even gave an inkling to do so.
"I distinctly remember another uni I walked through the studios and didn't like any work on show! 1 student had portraits of famous people - which I correctly identified - the student then told me they weren't supposed to look like their counterparts. I thought that was stupid."
The University of Cumbria made a better impression. "Visting the campus and during my interview with Robert Williams I realised there was a hell of a lot more to learn. The means and facilities were right there. Robert gave me a great, encouraging interview and gently pushed me into thinking about a broader field of art."
This wasn't the only thing that appealed to Nathan though. "Having a sole space for artists made a great little community, encouraged socialising and sharing ideas. In hindsight, I liked that it was small. Coversations with those that went to other universities leads me to appreciate how much time I had with tutors. They always had the time to see me. It was dead easy to book tutorials as well as scheduled personal one on ones to monitor my general well-being. I also experienced some short comings at uni. These were respected and considered in working to my deadlines."
One tutor in particular was a big influence on him. "All were very memorable influences, though Mark Wilson was a stand out for me. Tutoring from my foundation/year 0 I had a tremendous amount to learn from him. I didn't always like his advice, but once I committed to it I saw the bigger picture. From this initial year I could always trust that he would give an honest opinion of my work. Based on my work he introduced me to many things that became wonderful influences. Still can't get enough Twin Peaks - even with that revival last year. All round top bloke."
Of course Nathan soon made friends amongst other students. "Current closest friends are still uni friends - 10+years on. I see many many, many friends from uni on regular occassion. I have the pleasure of bumping into a few tutors now and then."
"Art challenges convention which can be applied to every walk of life. Once in that mindset there's a critical way of thinking; this for me, leads to a sincere appreciation of hard work and honesty."
After university, Nathan went on to other pursuits. "I initially had an ambition to draw. In hindsight I gladly failed that. I'd likely have gotten bored looking for work on that single skill. My pursuits whilst at university were for working in film. I have recently achieved that, working within Art Departments for film and tv productions, notably David Mckenzie's Outlaw King where I worked under Oscar winner Don Graham Burt. I am in the midst in the development of a couple of my own short films, which I work on with great passion - and will be finished one day!"
What's next for Nathan? "I wish to work my way up the film ladder of the film industry. Last year I had my break on Outlaw King as Art Department Assistant. I am now currently working on a BBC TV show, Logan High as Art Director which has seen me fulfil many roles as designing numerous graphics, props, buying and directing. I shall make those films of my own eventually. Still got that personal artistic itch that needs scratching."
It wasn't easy to reach where he is now. "I'm proud of my degree and tenacity to get to where I want to be. Many ventures haven't worked out how I'd of like them to. Some I've been dispirited by, but I know now I'm definitely where I want to be. There is still a great deal of work to do, but a lot of the punishing stuff is out of the way - now I've no need to complain and to just get on with it!"
Nathan is glad to have come to our university. "Larger universities may boast terrfiic facilities, accomodations and locations but the University of Cumbria is focused on personal development. Learning through tutorials, crits, seminars and lectures are much more focused in a place like the University of Cumbria. This kind of environment is the best place to learn. One where honest feedback is easily found and regularly given. My peers from univiersities were simply given the means to 'do what they want'. Cumbria has focus through modules that push one to consider alternate aspects of the creative process. Year 0 at Cumbria was the best year I could have had in terms of development. It was at times a frustrating development but it was very much a rewarding one.
"Developing with like minded individuals, not just those in my year but those above and below. My housemates were a joy to me at univiersity. We brought home aspects of our education: watched wild foreign films on a hired projector, laughed at what one might call art and discussed things in broader context than ever before. This evolved into exhibitions and student run galleries. Our conversations and ideas took place in a public space - not a student accomodation or student facility. It was both strength and comfort."