Creative Arts at Dean Clough

The creative industry can be one of the most challenging to access for young people due to the fierce competition for the jobs that are available. Or at least that’s what some students believe. In reality, there are countless jobs across a huge industry that students won’t have heard of or considered before. Go Higher West Yorkshire gave 40 students the chance to find out a bit more about the industry and some of these jobs at a Creative Arts Taster Day hosted by Dean Clough, Halifax.

On the 12th May, John Charles Cockburn, The Ruth Gorse Academy, Trinity Halifax and Hanson Academy were invited to bring students to the interactive session at the impressive facilities available at Dean Clough. Starting with introductions from Chris Mould (Illustrator, Children’s Book writer), Jake Atree (Artist), Matt Howarth (Post production, animator, editor) and Jeffery Andrews (Artist, Educator) students were then able to take part in sessions led by each of the practitioners, trying their hand at their respective industries and also having the opportunity to take part in Q&A’s with each of the guests.

Chris Mould and Jake Atree, two nationally renowned artists, led on interactive sessions with the students. Putting a pen in their hands and coaching them through their own techniques, Chris focused on the style he used for his illustrations in the children’s book The Iron Giant and Jake looked at landscapes. Jeffery Andrews then led a workshop looking at different ways to apply the skills that come with studying in the creative arts, showing how he has applied his art to establish a career in education. Finally, the students got to delve into the world of post production and animation with Matt Howarth. Matt delivered a breakdown of the type of roles available in this sector and highlighted some of the free, industry level programmes that are available to students online.

The hour long sessions helped the students gain new skills and develop existing ones, receiving advice and validation from people operating at the top of their trade.  The opportunity of having time to work closely with the artists and student ambassadors was one of the key take-aways from this exercise. With students asking questions to professionals with industry level experience and getting honest answers they were able to better understand an industry that can seem overwhelming.

Events like this allow students, who would never have access to this kind of equipment or knowledge, get the insight that can be the difference between pursing a route into higher education or not. Hearing first hand that the journey can be successful and guidance on how to achieve this is hugely beneficial for the students. Learning about the routes into higher education through a medium that they’re passionate about and interested in allows the students to be more engaged and take on the information around higher education that is being shared with them.

After the sessions, we asked the students for their feedback on the sessions including what they felt the learnt or enjoyed; these are some of the thoughts they had:

  • ‘Learned about Foundation degrees and all the different jobs available in the careers sector.’
  • ‘How creative degrees can benefit people’
  • ‘There are so many jobs in Art and CGI’
  • ‘Trying different activities that I’ve never done before’
  • ‘You should do something you love’
  • ‘A chance for meeting real artists.’


This sort of feedback highlights what was discussed above, with the positive impact on these students around studying at a Higher Level and the creative industries clear to see.

If you want to see some examples of questions that were asked take a look below!

How do you get into the Industry?

‘There’s lots of different routes that you can take to get into the industry, some start from ground level roles such as runners and admin being able to work there way up as they go. Others will continue there study at a higher level, allowing them to develop their skills and make industry level contacts. Both routes are successful but the key is to not give up, you’re going to get rejected but keep writing, keep drawing, keep making until you get the break and experience that you need!’

What is the starting salary? 

‘This can depend on the sector of the industry that you work in and if you’re working on a freelance basis or permanent contract. If you’ve been commissioned for a piece of work then that is often negotiated depending on the size, length and content included. More permanent entry roles such as runners and admin look to start around £24,000 and can rise quickly as you progress in your career.’

How did you know what you wanted to do? 

I knew from a young age what I was passionate about, I was always drawing and wanting to be creative. I kept working and finding opportunities to apply my art and earn money until I built up a portfolio and interest started to develop around me rather than me looking for opportunities.

Well I actually didn’t know what I wanted to do, I had loads of jobs before I started working in animation and post production. I worked in factories, construction and managed teams never really enjoying what I was doing. Eventually I started working with computers and animation and knew that this was for me, I taught myself and learnt from others to develop my skills for my job 30 years into my career, so it’s never too late.

How did you develop your skills? 

Keep practising, keep experimenting and keep learning. Experimenting with different styles and ways of working will help you work out what’s good and what’s bad. You’ll find new skills naturally and continuing to work will develop your existing ones. As with anything practise and experience will always benefit here.


Dean Clough facility Creative Arts seminar photo