Student Karen is retraining in Art & Design

Photo of Karen who has red hair and is wearing glasses with a green frame.

Karen Fiddler from East Lothian rediscovered their passion for creating and decided to retrain at Edinburgh College. Karen studied our UAL Art & Design Foundation Diploma and is now moving on to HND Textiles. We caught up with Karen to find out more about their college experience and what their plans are for the future.

What were you doing before coming to college?

I was working in Learning Support at a Primary School.

What made you want to study at the School of Art and Design at Edinburgh College?

I had two years previously bought a Summer house and this enabled me to rediscover my passion for drawing and creating. I was at a point in my life where I was no longer enjoying my job. I went to a careers advisor and they suggested retraining. It had always been in the back of my mind to go back to college, (30 years ago I studied a HND in Design & Typography for Print) but didn’t think it would be financially viable. This was a big decision to leave a permanent role, during a pandemic.

I also considered if I didn’t do this now, when would I? So, went for it, with the support of my family.

How has your experience of studying at the School of Art and Design been?

I have enjoyed studying over the first year. It was very daunting to begin with. Using IT and navigating my way around.  Even though most of the year has been working remotely, I have still been able to meet with some students and have kept in touch with them, and some moving onto Textiles also. Working remotely, there was a friendly atmosphere within the groups I was part of in workshops on Teams. A positive for me has been that I have a designated space to work. The negative was that getting feedback from other students, so we formed a focus group that met once a week for our final unit.

Some art work by Karen.
Art work by Karen Fiddler

What is it like learning online during the COVID-19 pandemic?

It was a steep leaning curve, for both the students and staff. The staff were always very encouraging when dealing with any difficulties. They did their best to find solutions for any queries or hurdles any of the students had to enable them to complete the briefs. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been in such a short time to try and reconfigure a course to an online platform. Therefore, the process for me was enjoyable and fulfilling.

Has learning online provided any opportunities for you which studying face-to-face wouldn’t?

I have engaged in Instagram much more than I would have. It is a valuable tool for artist’s research. It was also invaluable to see the other students work as we worked remotely.

Which platforms have you been using for online learning and how are you finding using them?

Initially, it was all unfamiliar – Moodle and Teams. It took me a while to navigate around them. The lecturers were very supportive with this. The most successful was Life Drawing online, this was a triumph, being able to zoom in on the subject.

Have you had to overcome any challenges during your studies, and if so, how did you do this?

One challenge was my confidence. The work I have produced over the year, I had no idea I had in me. The course has opened and enabled me to create in a direction I would not have previously considered. There is also a very good support network within the college if you have any issues with IT, deadlines or personal matters.

Some art work by Karen.
Art work by Karen Fiddler

What are your plans for the future? What course are you studying next and what is your end goal?

I hope to study HND Textiles over the next two years. I would like to create personal work for clients that encompass items and memories for them. This client base could take many years to build up and I hope to get knowledge from the college to enable this.

If you could describe your college experience so far in three words, what would they be?

Supportive, creative, professional.

If you’re interested in retraining in Art & Design, view all Art & Design courses on our website.

Photo of Karen who has red hair and is wearing glasses with a green frame. Text reads "Student Stories. View Art & Design courses."