Art, Craft and Design are words that go together easily. From fashion to architecture, and illustration to graphic design, Ireland has progressed from a thriving heritage of handcrafts, to an international reputation for its high profile contemporary designers.
This sector has its roots in the Early Christian era, when such staggering examples of Irish craftsmanship as The Book of Kells, the Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice were produced.
The Celtic Revival and the Irish Arts and Crafts movement (c.1895-1925) brought about a major resurgence of Irish craft and design, in stained glass work, printing, woodwork and metalwork.
Irish stamps, and especially coin design, has been praised for its design standards. Many of our coins have featured animals as a symbol of our agricultural economy. The designs were chosen following independence in 1922, by a committee headed by Nobel-prize winning poet W.B. Yeats.
One of Ireland's best known designers, Eileen Gray (1878-1976) was at the height of her career in the 1920s, as a pioneering modernist in furniture and architectural design.
Today, many Irish designers are well known for their clothing, textiles, accessories, ceramics and furniture. Designers such as Orla Kiely, John Rocha and Philip Treacy have reached celebrity status for their contribution to the world of fashion.
Ireland has also become famous as a hub for the design of software, games and animation. Animator and visual effects artist, Richard Baneham, won an Oscar in 2010 for his work on the film Avatar.
This year, Dublin was shortlisted to the top three, out of 56 competing cities, to be designated World Design Capital 2014. The process of mounting the bid was called Pivot Dublin. It built networks across design professions, education and research which today are creating exciting new opportunities for Irelands' young design talent. The Art, Craft and Design sector now reaches across, and connects to, a whole range of new areas of business.
The Art, Craft and Design Sector is a creative sector, with three inter-dependent disciplines, each having a different way of thinking. They can be distinguished in the following way:
- Art emphasises ideas, feelings, and visual qualities
- Craft emphasises the right use of tools and materials
- Design emphasises planning, problem-solving and completion, using drawing as a means of thinking
The sector has generated many thousands of jobs in Ireland and employs people in a wide range of areas. Recent research carried out on behalf of our Sector Expert the Crafts Council of Ireland (CCoL) put the estimated value of output from Irish Craft enterprises alone, at €498m.
Careers in this field deal directly with work that contains a very high level of artistic talent, creativity and energy. The sector typically attracts people who like to express themselves by creating a work of art, be it in the form of a painting, a new building, a video, a photograph, an advertisement or a piece of sculpture.
The sector spans a wide range of career areas including Architecture, Art & Design, Craft Design, Fashion Design, Furniture Design, Graphic Design & Visual Communications, Industrial/Product Design, Interior Architecture, Interior Design, Multimedia Design, and Textile Design.
The visual arts is the term used to describe those creations we can look at i.e. drawings, paintings, sculpture, architecture, photography, prints, film -;the creation of a two or three dimensional visual.
Visual arts are a sub section of Fine Arts, which also includes Dance, Music, and Theatre.[See Entertainment and Performing Arts Sector for a detailed description of Dance, Music and Theatre].
An Architect designs buildings and structures. Architects may be involved in designing widely varying projects, from a residential house, to a stadium such as the Aviva, to large scale town planning.
To qualify as an architect takes 7-9 years. You must first get a degree from a recognised school of architecture, followed by two years of approved practical experience and then succcessfully complete an examination in Professional Practice.
The Royal Institute of Architects Ireland (RIAI) is the registration body for the Profession. The EU has a directive on architectural qualifications and any course recognised under the directive is also recognised by the RIAI. The RIAI list currently includes UCD, DIT, WIT, UL, UCC, CIT, QUB and UU.
Photographers specialise in many different areas. Some take pictures for journalism and the print media, others for specialist medical and scientific publications. Some choose to run a small studio, but most are self-employed and work freelance and are in demand to cover all the special events in our lives such as weddings, christenings, and family portraits.
There are a variety of courses in photography available at certificate, diploma and degree level. Explore the course menus on the Left hand Side of this page. Check individual course details and specific entry requirements. A portfolio of work may be an entry requirement.
Printmaking is the production of images either on paper, or on other materials such as fabric, parchment, plastic, by various specialist processes of multiplication such as woodcut, linocut, lithography, silk screen, or etching among others.
There are no formal education requirements for printmakers, but a Bachelor's degree in fine arts with an emphasis in printmaking can serve as the first step toward a career in printmaking. An apprenticeship is a route for a student to learn the trade and to increase career opportunities. Many established printmakers teach and run classes to support themselves and finance their work. They may also offer technical or advisory support to students.
View the Sample Occupations menu of the Left of this page to explore Visual Arts occupations such as Artist, Printmaker or Sculptor in detail.
[Visit the Media and Publishing Sector for information on Film-making, animation, television and related career areas]
Craft is an area of the Decorative Arts, which also includes interior design. Craft means skill or technique - doing a job with careful attention to detail and discipline.
Craft involves the design and skilled making of an object or product in a particular medium, such as glass (blowing,casting or stained glass), ceramics (pottery, hand-building or industrial production), or metal(forging, fabricating or casting).
A craft designer can design and produce very functional work, such as tableware or watches, or very sculptural work, or anything in between. They can use traditional methods dating back thousands of years, or the latest technologies such as computer aided design (CAD). Craftspeople tend to set up their own studios, or work with others in a shared studio. The Crafts Council of Ireland website is a good place to view the range of objects which craftspeople produce.
There is a good market for contemporary craft design and many craftspeople work for themselves, designing and making their own ranges of work, or producing commissions for clients.
There are over 800 craft practitioners registered with the Crafts Council of Ireland who make a living from their craft and an addditional 900 people derive substantial income from the sector. Irish craft enterprises tend to be small and, of those registered with the Crafts Council, 87% have one or two employees and over 98% have under nine employees. The craft sector has annual sales in excess of €122m.
Visit our Sample Occupations menu of the Left of this page to explore Craft occupations such as Woodturner, Horologist, Jeweller, Potter, or Glassmaker in detail.
Craftspeople also need business skills for promoting and selling their work, organising exhibitions and having the skills to manage a small business. It is a good idea to gain work experience with an established craftsperson after qualifying, to learn more about the business side of things as well as practising and furthering your craft skills. Most local enterprise boards run business skills courses which can be a worthwhile further learning experience. Some craft designers also teach design, either full or part-time, as well as keeping up their own studio.
A feature of the craft sector in Ireland is that it is spread throughout the country. Many craftspeople are based in rural areas with few other sources of employment available.
There are many good craft design courses in Irish colleges of art and design. Different courses have different emphases, from functional production, such as industrial ceramics, to a more sculptural approach, and you should ask your careers advisor for further information or contact the relevant department in the college where you are thinking of studying. The Crafts Council of Ireland also offers technical courses in jewellery making and pottery skills.
A design is a plan or a blueprint for a visual work of art. It is also the outcome, or the product produced from the the design plan. The term 'design' is most often used to refer to the creation of buildings as in Architecture. However there are many other areas where design is required, for example Industrial Design, Graphic Design, or Fashion Design:
Industrial design, or product design, is the design of commercial products. It involves a blend of science and engineering to mass produce products rather than handcrafted goods. Product designers are innovators. Making products that are safe and durable and that look and feel attractive is becoming essential in a competitive marketplace.
Graduates of industrial and product design courses from the Institute of Technology Colleges are currently experiencing good employment opportunities. In Ireland and abroad, many designers work as consultants to industry. New technologies have made it possible to compete with design consultancies abroad. The central role that product design can play in industry is opening up exciting opportunities for product designers.
Graphic design is sometimes referred to as 'visual communications'. The work of graphic designers is all around us - adverts in newspapers and magazines, illustrations in catalogues and brochures, design on almost all packaging, the graphics on websites and multi-media products, even signposts, maps and directories, are all the work of the graphic designer. On screen, graphic designers create websites, animated promotions and interactive material. The commercial and business world has now come to depend on design for its success and there is a good demand for graphic designers in Ireland.
There are many graphic design courses
available at Level 5 and Level 6, and Visual Communication courses at Level 7 and Level 8 are offered at AIT, CIT, DIT, IADT, IT Catlow, LKIT, NCAD and WIT.New Media /Multimedia Design
This area includes the design and production of websites, DVDs, games, digital television and mobile communications etc. It involves working with digital photography, digital video, virtual reality, image processingstreaming technology, graphic design, data visualisation and representation, 3D audio and digital sound processing.
There are numerous course options
available in this area. You can study full-time or do a one-year add-on course after completing a diploma or degree in a related area.
Multimedia designers usually work as part of a team in an office or studio environment, using their various skills to create a project together. New technology is being developed all the time and keeping up with the speed of change in technologies is both exciting and vital throughout your career.
[Visit the Media and Publishing Sector
for related infomation on areas such Journalism or Animation]
Most art related courses through the CAO system are restricted courses. That means that applicants require a portfolio of work and applications must be in by the 1st of February in the year you are applying for the course. Students are graded for entry to most art/design courses by way of Portfolio and basic Leaving Certificate grades (or equivalent).
Fashion design is the product development activity of the commercial clothing, design, manufacturing and distribution industries. Most people who work in Fashion design work for small fashion designers. The work involves producing the design, cutting the pattern and finishing the garment. They produce ready-to-wear collections that are sold through selected shops. Others work for large wholesale manufacturers and create designs suitable for large department chain stores. A professional fashion designer will need to posess specialised skills and an in-depth knowledge of their chosen field as well as a deep understanding of the fashion environment.
[Fashion is covered in detail in the related Fashion and Beauty Sector
Furniture Design is the creative and technical development of furniture and related products. Furniture designers may be working on once-off custom designs, product ranges, or design items for mass production. They may work alone, or in teams, be self-employed or work for a large design company.
There are many different furniture design courses available. All will cover the fundamentals of design. Some will be geared more towards design and manufacturing, others will crossover with related design areas such as interior design. Explore the course list
on the left hand side of this page.
Career options range from self-employment to working with large-scale furniture production companies that employ furniture designers as part of an in-house design team. Some furniture designers even design for film.Interior Architecture
The interior architect shapes the way that people move within a built environment. Their focus tends to be on space planning, conservation, signage issues and the relationship of internal space to external architecture. Interior architects work mostly in the commercial sector in conjunction with architects.
To be recgnised as an interior architect in Ireland requires minimum of Diploma in Interior Architecture (Level 7), although most professional firms will prefer students to hold a degree level qualification. View a video on Interior Architecture here
. Interior Design
Interior design is the formulation of creative, technical and practical solutions to an interior space. It goes beyond furniture, atmosphere and colour, to materials specification and costing. The space is conceptualised by the designer, using technical drawings and computer-aided design. Interior design solves problems of access, specification, acoustics, ergonomics, heating, lighting, internal arrangement and the suitability of space for its purpose.
Interior designers may work only on residential projects, or across the spectrum of office, hotel and retail environments. They may choose to work freelance or for an interior design or architectural firm. This is a great way to learn from senior designers and to work as part of team.
You do not need to have studied art or design at school to become an interior designer. Level 7 & 8 courses in Interior Architecture and Interior Design are available at CIT, DIT, IT Sligo and LIT.
A textile designer needs to have great colour sense, a love of tactile qualities and an innovative, contemporary design eye. Craft and technical skills are required in this area, which brings together creativity with both traditional and modern technology.
Textile design courses have a strong emphasis on drawing. Computer aided design (CAD) plays a big part in modern textile design, from digital printing and computer operated weaving, to computer generated embroidery.
Courses are available at Level 6 -Level 8. Explore the course menus to the Left hand Side of this page. Course entry may be restricted.
Are you theatrical? Good with props? Creative? Welcome to your new career. Department store and shop windows are only one of many options for visual presentation. Museum exhibits, fashion shows, and showrooms all use this technique. A description of professionals in this field reads “They are storytellers in three dimensions, creating environments that inspire, inform, and persuade.” Several Degree programmes in art and fashion include modules in visual presentation.
Art and Design
The vast majority of students entering a career in the Art and Design area take a course of study in colleges of Art, Institutes of Technology or PLC Colleges located throughout Ireland. Explore the course menus on the left hand side of this page.
Assembling a good portfolio a year or two prior to entry is essential for third level courses in the area of art and design. It is possible to take a Portfolio Preparation Course as a Post Leaving Course (PLC) in a college of further education.
In general, your art portfolio should reflect your style and interpretation of different media through a range of varied pieces. It is a good idea to include preparatory work in order to display your work at the different stages of development. Take photographs of any work that is too heavy or cumbersome to carry. It is always worthwhile to have your work neatly presented and well laid out.
Explore a full list of related CAO and Post Leaving Cert (PLC) Courses through the menus on the Right Hand Side of this page, or view a list of Art Portfolio Preparation Courses HERE.
It is important to check out the courses and investigate the course content behind the course title. Courses with similar titles can differ in emphases and offer different areas of specialised study. Courses in design tend to offer opportunities to specialise in areas such as illustration, and graphic design, photography, multimedia and new media and design for industry. Fine Art programmes offer the student the opportunity to work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and interdisciplinary studies.
Art & Design Education
Careers in Art and Design include education. The importance of arts education in the lives of young people has gained firm recognition in recent years , opening up many opportunities for Arts Education graduates. An Art Education qualification will enable you to teach in a second level school, or in other educational settings such as museums and galleries, or community settings. Many graduates continue to work as artists, alongside teaching.
Theatres, art galleries and arts and cultural centres, such as The Ark in Temple Bar are typically run by Arts Administrators.
Visit the Sample Occupations menu on the Left of this page and explore these and related occupations such as Illustrator, Cartoonist, Animator or Display Artist in more detail.
Although the climate in Ireland has changed in recent years, many artists make a living from the sale of their work alone. Others supplement their income with employment in areas related to their creative work such as teaching, lecturing or arts administration.
The most recent research from Indecon International Economic Consultants on the significance of the craft industry in Ireland estimates that its contribution to the economy is €498m. The sector employs an estimated 5,771 people and generates domestic sales of €373.5m and exports of €124.5m, with significant potential for growth.
At the launch of the Crafts Council of Ireland Strategic Plan in January 2013, emphasis was very much on the development and delivery of an export strategy for Irish craft and design, in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, as critical to the success of the sector. The continued development of Showcase and coordinating the participation of Irish makers at international trade shows are all part of the strategy, to maximise exposure for Irish craft on the world stage. Renewed consumer interest in buying and owning Irish craft was alos highlighted: "The message is getting out to consumers that Irish craft and design is unique, affordable and authentic."