Student & Graduate Stories - Art, Design and Fashion

Anna Younie

Ceramics Designer

Anna Younie

After graduating in 2018, Anna returned to her native Orkney to continue her practice as a Ceramics Designers.

What have you been doing since graduation?

Since graduating I set up a mini studio in my garage at home (and bought a second hand kiln which was very exciting!) and was able to begin working on pieces I had received orders for after the degree show and New Designers. I also initially took on a part-time job in a local gin distillery as a tour guide which allowed me to be earning money that could help pay for my materials and the running of my wee studio at home - meaning I can continue to make work for a couple of local shops here in Kirkwall. I have also been involved in a few local exhibitions organised by The Pier Arts Centre in Stromness and slightly further afield at The Maiden Bridge Art Gallery outside of Manchester, as well as being invited to hold a ‘Meet The Maker’ talk at the Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh in 2019.

What does your current role involve and what do you most enjoy about your current activities?

Basing myself back in Orkney where there is such a thriving craft scene is something which allows me to exhibit amongst so many other talented makers as well as being able to try my hand at curating an exhibition held in our events room at the distillery I work in. 

Having a job as well as being able to continue making my own pieces also has its positives in terms of there being more of a social aspect, working in your own studio can have its lonely moments compared to working in a studio at university full of people to bounce ideas off.


Why did you choose to this particular course?

After initially applying to study Communication Design at Gray’s, I was pointed in the direction of 3D Design and I’m so glad I ended up picking this course. Throughout my first 3 years I worked on a variety of projects, including ones that had a specific client/company brief, as well as being allowed to try out each aspect of the course (Ceramics & Glass, Product Design & Jewellery) before specialising in your 4th year, was something I really welcomed. I wasn’t 100% sure what road I wanted to go down in terms of having a specialism. This course really allows you to explore and experiment with a range of materials – many of which I had never worked with before. The staff are great at pushing you and encouraging you to think outside of the box and your comfort zones to help you get the best out of each project.

What advice would you offer to an applicant who is considering a course at RGU?

RGU has such a wide range of courses, however I particularly liked how specialised they can be. For someone like me who knew I wanted to study a design course but was never 100% sure which route to take, the courses at RGU through your third or fourth years of studying, are designed to be able to help you to find your vocation, setting you up for employment almost as soon as you graduate.

What advice would you offer to current students?

Really take advantage of the advice and knowledge of the studio technicians and lecturers you have as well as the work spaces and resources you can access. Also, don’t give up! Art school can be extremely confusing at times but it can also be the most rewarding and it’s definitely something I wish I could do all over again. 

Where did you study abroad and how did this benefit your student experience/studies/learning/career?

I chose to study at PXL University in Hasselt, Belgium. Taking part in the Erasmus Exchange is something I would definitely recommend if you get the chance. It was interesting to come from a design-led course into something that was very fine art based, which took a bit of an adjustment to get into a different way of thinking and working but I really learnt a lot in terms of looking at something from more of a conceptual viewpoint. The projects I did at PXL helped me to my focus on my 4th year project back at Gray’s. Getting the chance to work on a much larger scale on bigger pieces in Belgium, really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I don’t think I would have arrived at my final concept in my last year of university, had it not been for taking part in the Erasmus Exchange. 

What was the best thing about studying at RGU?

I really liked how every department was so open. You could visit the different courses’ studios and pick each other's brains for ideas no matter what course you were in. It was encouraged for the different year groups in a course to visit each other’s studios – I really loved how social it was and it's something I wish I had appreciated more at the time. Particularly going from a workspace surrounded by people to a small studio on your own upon graduating. I also enjoyed the briefs where the courses became mixed - be it working on a live client brief or a collaboration between courses.

What was the best thing about studying in Aberdeen?

Being close to home whilst studying away was important to me. I really miss how friendly people in Aberdeen can be and I’m forever grateful for the course mates and friends I made in Aberdeen (including some of the staff!) who I keep in touch with today. I am glad I chose to study in Aberdeen, particularly at RGU and it’s a place I really, really miss.

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