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Advice for new students at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen

Grays School of Art Aberdeen

This image is copyright Grays School of Art , Aberdeen

If you are about to attend Gray’s School of Art for the first time, you probably ought to know, Gray’s School of Art is the best art college in the world – if you want it to be.  Look at the building, look at the surroundings, look at the library, really what else do you need? On top of that, the most important reason it is the best art college in the world, is YOU are there.

Having been a student at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen in the late eighties, here is my advice for new students. I am well aware there will have been significant changes, but some elements will be similar to my time.

Enjoy the city of Aberdeen

The city of Aberdeen is a magnificent place. The granite buildings are beautiful, the people are nice, there’s mock chop suppers, and a wonderful football team. At Gray’s School of Art the building is a fantastic piece of architecture. The area of Garthdee is close to the centre of the city, and you are a couple of minutes from the beautiful Deeside countryside.

What to watch out for

Avoid at all costs any students with a whiny Central Belt accent constantly whinging about how much better everything in Glasgow is – in particular Glasgow School of Art. They are almost certainly just homesick, missing their Mum, and using a front of superiority to cover this up. Ideally there should be a toll at the Tay Bridge that stops these people getting that far North.

Ignore your tutors

Or listen to them, it’s up to you. Being a tutor at an art college is really not that hard a job. You take talent, you point them in the right direction, off they fly. The idea that at Edinburgh, St Martins, or anywhere else there are better art tutors with better qualifications, or better people skills is just academic elitism. Your perfect tutor maybe doesn’t exist. Your art comes from within. Listen, evaluate, go with your instincts.

And finally

Try not get chucked out at the end of second year. Like I did. It’s a long hard struggle without a degree to make it in design, but it’s not impossible. And if ever you come across former Gray’s School of Art head of Graphic Design Ian Cargill, say hi from me. You can read more about the supremely talented and gifted trio of Ian Cargill, Malcolm Brown and Professor Eric Spiller here.

P.S

You are welcome. I suppose an honorary degree is out of the question?

Dores Inn, Loch Ness Scotland

One of my favourite places to visit whenever I am back in Scotland is The Dores Inn restaurant, in the village of Dores on the outskirts of Inverness by Loch Ness. The food is fantastic, and the surrounding scenery is sensational. May be worth booking in advance to avoid disappointment.

If you are looking for a place to stay in Inverness from which to visit, I recommend Bannerman Bed and Breakfast as it is a lovely bed and breakfast in a great location in Inverness – I designed the website, and my sister owns Bannerman B&B!

If you use the code <I know your brother> you may get an extra sausage* for breakfast.

*Other breakfast options are available.

Dores Inn Loch Ness

loch-ness-inverness-scotland

Labradors running into Loch Ness never to be seen again… Nessie likes a labrador. Dark chocolate or white chocolate, she’s not fussed.

Loch Ness Scotland

Told you…

Inverness Loch Ness

dores-inn-loch-ness-scotland

 

Press and Journal

Working as a cartoonist for the Press and Journal newspaper

Willie Miller Aberdeen F.C.

Cartoon for The Press and Journal. A wee hint of Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) in the brush work.

In the early nineties I worked for Aberdeen Journals’ Press and Journal newspaper as a layouter at their Lang Stracht headquarters in Aberdeen.

I was contributing cartoons to the Aberdeen f.c. fanzine The Northern Light at the same time. I eventually plucked up the courage to submit a couple of cartoons to The Press and Journal. It was a paper that sold 110,000 copies per day, six days a week back then. Covering the area from the Shetlands down to Dundee, and over to the Western Isles. The highest selling newspaper in the area, with an estimated readership of 220,000. The subs, the chief sub, the Assistant Editors, were nice but intimidating people – you wouldn’t want to mess with them.

Four hours after nervously offering two cartoons to the Chief Sub, I was holding a still warm from the presses copy of the P&J in my hand with one of my cartoons on the front page, and another on the all important back page (the football page).

The cartoons were topical and needed to fit in with that day’s news. A sharp learning curve in, coming up with material under pressure, drawing quickly, and accepting the random nature of what others considered funny (editors and sub-editors).

The Press and Journal doesn’t sell as many copies now as when my cartoons appeared. This may or may not be a coincidence.