Since university – and especially art school – is all about learning how to work and study independently, one of the deciding factors in choosing an art school is obviously the facilities. Whether you’re a product/interior designer looking for easy access to the wood workshop and a 3D printer, or a graphic designer wanting up-to-date computers and free subscriptions to the industry-standard digital editing software, it’s important to research what an art school can offer your individual practice. I thought I’d dive a bit deeper into the workshop facilities at KSA to give any future applicants some more information, as well to show people on this forum what facilities to look for when scouting out potential schools. 😊
KSA has several main workshops, all located in the Mill Street Building: these include the 3D Workshop, Digital Media Workshop, Fashion Workshop, hackSpace, Moving Image Workshop, Photography Workshop and Printmaking Studios
. All workshops contain top of the range equipment and are manned by expert technicians – the Design Museum has even described the Kingston studios and workshops as a ‘world class design facility’ since their recent refurbishment in 2019.
The 3D Workshop
consists of a ceramics studio (with a 5ft kiln and a jigger-jolly pottery machine), a metal and wood working mill, a plaster room, a forge, foundry and welding bay and a model making area (ideal for architecture students or those interested in creating miniatures). Whether you’re looking to learn the process of lost wax casting, use MIG/TRC/ARC welding machinery to acquire the skills of joining two metals together or just want to produce a chair or vase, the multiple technicians in the 3D workshop are on hand to help. The only cost you have to pay is of some materials, which always come at a heavily subsidised price – for example, I recently bought a 12.5kg bag of earthenware clay from the ceramics studio for only £9!
The 3D Workshop also contains the digital suite, or hackSpace area
. Containing laser engravers, 3D printers, scanners and Arduino stations, the digital suite allows students to use computer and mechanical engineering techniques to create increasingly interactive artworks, and produce pieces that can move, emit sound and light or even collect user data. You don’t have to know any coding to use these facilities – simply approach the technicians with your idea and they’ll help you find a way to best put into practice.
The Digital Media Workshop
– or DMW – has 128 iMac workstations, with locally installed Adobe Suite CC 2017, Vectorworks, Avid Media Composer and Cinema4D. Open six days a week and with most of the software library also accessible from home, the DMW is a key facility for anyone interested in the design or video editing process. It also has a wide format scanner and two wide format printers for high quality poster prints, which are great for any keen photographers wanting to see what their work looks like on a larger scale. 😊
The Moving Image and Photography Workshops
are probably the ones I find myself in the most. The workshops include two photography studios, a digital and traditional darkroom, flexible lighting facilities, table top photography, sound recording booths, an animation and graphic studio for hand-drawn and stop-frame 2D/3D animation and two post production suites. These workshops are super popular, as getting a good photo of your work – whether you’re in fashion design, marketing or Fine Art – is always key to creating something that looks professional. The technicians are a great laugh and easily guide you through setting up and recovering any photos/footage you record.
in the UK and best in London for Fashion Design, the Fashion Workshop
contains the knitting and sewing workshops, with specialist machines for leather manufacture and other processes, including twin needle, cover stitch and hemming. The KSA art shop also offers a wide range of materials for fashion students, allowing work to easily be completed on-site with the support of tutors and other members of staff.
Finally, the large Printmaking Studios
are split into several different sections, offering intaglio printing, relief printing and screen-printing, as well as letterpress and bookbinding facilities. The sheer amount of printing options available never fails to astound me – whether it’s woodcut, linocut, monoprint or photo-etching, the technicians can give you advice on what type of printing would work best for your particular need. KSA is also home to one of the only A2 Risograph printers in Europe, with 11 different coloured drums available.
But most importantly, KSA has an ‘open access
’ policy to all workshops, which essentially means you can access ANY of these workshops regardless of what field your degree specialises in
. This allows for A LOT more experimentation within the art school – for example, instead of photography majors only having access to the darkroom and photo studios, they’re instead able to experiment with printmaking, ceramics or even metal working and can unique ways to expand their practice using different media. Furthermore, it means that students who don’t attend the art school and just enjoy art as a hobby are also able to receive one-on-one support with experienced technicians, and can create work they may not have ever had the time or money to produce at home. Honestly, I think this is my favourite element of the KSA workshops; as a Fine Art student, being able to switch daily from working in the printmaking workshop to the wood-working workshop and not feel relegated to the traditional methods of painting/drawing/sculpture has allowed me to much better situate my practice in the contemporary art world and helped me gain knowledge on techniques I didn’t even know about a year ago.
I know this has been long, but hope it’s helpful; if you guys have any questions, please just pop them down below and I’ll try and respond as soon as possible.
- Eve (1st Year BA Fine Art and Art History).