By Gabija Žukauskaitė
Published 2022 11 14
The Royal College of Art (RCA) has been consistently ranked by the QS World University Rankings as the No. 1 higher education institution for arts and design. Founded in Somerset House in 1837 as a teacher training college, RCA is now an independent university teaching a number of programs in areas such as fine arts, illustration, fashion, architecture, and textiles. The school offers a pre-masters conversion programme, MA, MRes, MPhil and PhD degrees in twenty-eight disciplines in four schools: architecture, arts & humanities, communication, and design.
The RCA also boasts a number of notable alumni, among which – the sculptor Henry Moore, painters Frank Auerbach, the British painters David Hockney, Charles Tunnicliffe, Sir Peter Thomas Blake, film directors Tony and Ridley Scott, actor Alan Rickman, and many many others.
Our new mentor Rusnė Dragūnevičiūtė is a Vilnius Lyceum and University of the Arts London (UAL) graduate and a current master‘s student at the RCA in Animation program. We have asked Rusnė to answer a few questions about the program and share her experience as an artist living in London.
Why have you initially decided to study Animation and why in London?
I have been interested in animation for a long time as it always was a medium through which I found receiving information (both factual and emotional) left the longest lasting impact. During my highschool studies, I attended an animation course at Vilnius Justinas Vienožinskis Art School. There I realised that I want to pursue animation further as it is my way of communicating with the world around me. I chose London for that, since it fit all my requirements: great quality education, that I could afford with a favourable loan, close enough to Lithuania, so I can fly back to visit my family when I want to. The network of many Lithuanian students is a bonus too!
How does the admissions process to the UAL and RCA look like and what are the main admission requirements?
They differ a bit. For the UAL, you have to apply through the UCAS system, where you provide a personal statement reflecting on why you are suitable for the studies you are applying for and your academic reference. Then you provide a portfolio of no more than 10 works, showcasing your ability to create, develop ideas and creativity in executing them, to the UAL through their student portal. After the portfolio assessment, if you’re successful, you will receive an offer, stating the conditions you have to fulfill in your high school exams and English language test results in order to enter the university.
For the RCA, you apply directly to the university via their student portal. You have to provide examples of your work that reflects the themes, style, technical abilities you work with and shows the width of your creative range. You also have to provide a reference letter, a motivational letter and a video of yourself explaining your motivation and relationship to animation, how that is reflected in your previous work, who you are as a person. The RCA is interested in furthering the animation field in unconventional ways, which is why they accept applications from people without an animation background. If you receive an offer, you have to provide your undergraduate diploma and a satisfactory approved English test result.
As you’ve already had a chance to study at two top art schools in the world (the UAL and the RCA), how has your experience been different at the RCA compared to the UAL?
I’ve finished my undergraduate degree at the UAL and I am now studying for my Master’s at the RCA. I feel that most of the differences come from the different levels of studies. The RCA focuses much more on the research that feeds into practice, while the UAL aims at improving students’ technical ability to develop and fulfill their ideas up to a professional standard. In my case, at the RCA we question why we animate rather than how to do it. The studies at the RCA are also much more self-directed with a heavier focus on encouraging students to form communities, organise events and actively participate in forming the course on top of the structure that the university provides. It offers more freedom in that way, which is exciting yet a bit overwhelming in the first few months. However, my experience at both universities has been great, they offer great tutors, who are genuinely interested in seeing their students succeed, and facilities that allow students to explore and experiment.
What modules do students take at schools like RCA, how many classes do you have per week, and how are you assessed?
At the RCA we have five modules, three of which are aimed at exploring the different stages of animation filmmaking, coupled with a school-wide unit and a college-wide unit, both of which are a way for us to engage with students from other courses through projects that respond to global issues. The schedule varies every week, but on average I have about 4 classes a week along with dedicated time for self-directed study. We are assessed on a pass/fail basis at the end of each unit after presenting our work and we are continuously monitored and receive feedback from tutors as part of the assessment.
What would be your advice for students who are considering applying to the RCA?
Explore and experiment with your work as much as you can, this will help you find out more about yourself and your practice, which in turn will help you build a stronger portfolio. Engage with communities and try to get experience in working with others and their ideas, this will broaden your sense of what your practice can do and make your skillset more interesting and valuable to the university to have as a student.
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