The Foundation Year: Where are they now?

Oct. 29, 2019

What do our Foundation Year students go on to do? Here recent alumni who have gone on to university tell us about their experience of the course and how it has informed their practice.

Laura Goodman (Foundation Year 2016-17) 

Fine Art Photography, Glasgow School of Art and Rhode Island School of Design, USA

Reflecting back on my foundation year I think there were two major things I learnt. Firstly, I learned how work independently and manage my time; which is invaluable to my degree. Secondly, I gained confidence that with hard work my ideas were worth working on.

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I chose to do a foundation year to help me decide what direction to go in at degree level and I would make the same decision again, it was so informative. The Foundation Year, really helped me by exposing me to the different directions I could choose from, enabling me to choose a BA with confidence. The tutors especially helped me to evaluate the different opportunities I was offered. 

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Drawing is a part of my current process. At the time I found the focusing on drawing really helped me organise my thinking and develop my ideas. I have carried this practice with me as I have worked through my Fine Art Photography degree. For me drawing is about the process behind an image, its not the final work but a intrinsic part of my practice, with printmaking. As such the final form is usually photo-etchings.

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As part of my degree at the Glasgow School of Art I am currently on a semester exchange at Rhode Island School of Design [RISD] in Providence, Rhode Island where their 4 year BA programme starts with a focus in drawing practice. My experience with the RDS makes me feel right at home having been exposed to similar processes in studio-based practice. It's really interesting how the principles and knowledge formed at the Royal Drawing School have helped me make the most of the experience both at Glasgow School of Art and at RISD, two very different global art schools.  

As to the future, I’m not sure what direction I will be going in, but I’m researching Masters programmes in either Printmaking or Art Conservation. At the moment I’m focusing on creating work for my graduation show in 2021. 


Ewan White (Foundation Year 2016-17)

Fine Art, The Slade School of Fine Art (UCL) and New York Studio School

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I chose to do The Foundation Year before going to university primarily to give me a sense of what it would be like to study art full time, as I was still considering a BA in English Literature or Physics. I had to choose between the Royal Drawing School and Central Saint Martins for my foundation and I definitely made the right choice for me; The Foundation Year was one of the most educational and enjoyable years of my life up to that point. It solidified my desire to pursue art both as a degree and a profession and it expanded my conception of what art can be and do; I would certainly do it again if I was in the same situation as I was then. Even with the advantage of having a year of rigorous and structured observational and independent work behind me I found the Slade course, which is far looser and more self-led, quite overwhelming. I’m not sure where I would be without The Foundation Year.

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The most important thing that I learnt on The Foundation Year was an appreciation of drawing as fundamental to all art forms, or at least those which I am particularly interested in. Before the foundation I rarely drew from observation, besides a few short life drawing classes. Now drawing is an essential daily practice for me as a way of connecting to and making sense of the physical world by transforming it onto a two-dimensional plane. This study of drawing has helped me in almost every way; without it I could have little conception of form, space or geometrical structure. It can express feeling and distil life into a line.

I am currently about halfway through an exchange from the Slade to the New York Studio School, where the teaching runs along many of the same threads as the Royal Drawing School with a focus on observation, drawing and daily working from a life model. It is a wonderful course and I will consider returning for an MFA. Once I have graduated from the Slade I would like to take a bit of time out of education to see how it is to work outside of an institution, and maybe look into some residency programs. I will likely go on to do some kind of MA/MFA, or even apply for The Drawing Year.


Okikioluwa Akinfe (Foundation Year 2017-18)

Fine Art, The Slade School of Fine Art (UCL)

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I chose to join The Foundation Year instead of going straight onto a degree because I wanted to gain experience that went beyond my A-level art education, I also knew it would support my degree application. The Foundation Year helped me to decide which BA course to apply to by providing support in drafting my personal statement and forming my UCAS application. I was given information on range of Fine Art degrees and advice on which pathways might suit my practice, working predominantly as a painter.

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One of most important things I learnt from my Foundation year was to listen to the advice and ideas given by my peers because they usually spend more time with you and your work and have first-hand experience of your working processes in a shared studio space. I also learned that documenting the process of work can very helpful in developing my practice. On The Foundation Year we were required to keep learning journals as a part of our studies; they proved to be so helpful. They made it easy to reflect on my ideas and question my motives as well as working through and helping to express how I feel.

 I have found drawing to be a good problem solving tool in my work; it helps to plan ideas and work through compositions for my paintings, which has made drawing an important part of practice for painting. I plan to finish my BA in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art and go on to become a practising artist and to hopefully complete a MA in the future.


Caitlin Booton (Foundation Year 2016-17)

Illustration, Falmouth University

The Foundation Year was an amazing experience (and hard work). I chose to study a foundation course because I wasn't sure what area of art I wanted to go into and The Foundation Year gave me the freedom to explore different disciplines and helped to guide my thinking. It equipped me for my degree course in so many ways and has enabled me to make the most of the opportunities available to me at Falmouth. I would definitely make the same decision again. 

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The Foundation Year helped me to decide which BA course to apply to through the breadth of workshops available at the Royal Drawing School in which I was able to explore different disciplines combined with the excellent tutor support and specialist knowledge meant that I was able to gauge the practices which were enjoyable and interesting to me. 

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I also had scope to explore different processes during the personal projects and I chose to work in a variety of media. During these projects the tutors helped me question and explore what it was that interested me about the work, which gave me a good idea of a degree I wanted to pursue. 

The Foundation Year has given me the confidence to make bold decisions about the content and creation of my work, which makes it stand out on my course. I’ve made everything from etched comics to cyanotype book illustrations. I found a love of exploring different media and approaches at the Drawing School and this approach is still central to my work now.

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Drawing is integral to my practise. I use it at every stage of my creative process from roughing out ideas to producing final pieces. I’ve found the drawing skills I learnt on The Foundation Year have allowed me to easily expand my practice into areas such as printmaking and painting, which are really important to my work.

After my degree I’d like to work with narrative; book illustration, graphic novels, storyboarding or something else entirely. I also love playing around with images and media, (I did an Erasmus exchange this time last year where I studied painting and I loved the freedom of not working to a brief and being able to really enjoy the process), so finding a way to carry on with this is also really important to me.

Read more Student Stories here

Find out more about The Foundation Year here