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'Art Is Where My Passion Lied'

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Luke James (Class of 2019) returned to Bolton School Boys’ Division to inspire GCSE and A level boys and girls interested in studying Art. Luke is currently in his third year of a BA in Illustration at the Cambridge School of Art. Having attended Bolton School from 2012-2019, Luke told how he was an A* and A student, and could have chosen any career path but he knew that ‘Art is where my passion lied’. 

He recalled how he announced himself upon arrival at Bolton School by winning a competition to design the Rugby League World Cup mascot Grubber and appearing in several local newspapers! During his schooldays, he gradually moved away from fine art and towards illustration, where, he said, you can do all kinds of things. 

Post-A levels he knew he wanted a fresh start and to set himself up as an individual and Cambridge ticked many boxes for him. He told how he was a course rep through his first year at Art School, explained how he did some talks about studying during Covid and how this year he is an Ambassador on his course. His big dream, he said, is to become a comic book illustrator and, one day, perhaps even produce his own graphic novels. 

In terms of where to study, Luke’s advice was to try and visit as many different environments as possible to see where you fit in. He said there will be one place that will feel different and that it should be your decision and that you should trust yourself to make that decision. 

In a short q&a session, he spoke about the increasing importance of having your own Instagram account as the world becomes more and more digital. He said you should show yourself off as a personality, saying people do like to connect and you should talk about what inspires you. He also said people don’t just want to see your finished work and that they enjoy looking at sketches which chart the evolution of your process. 

Asked about how to choose a university, he said it may well be a little detail that decides it for you – it is really down to what suits you. Considering the question as to how his college helps with getting a job, he told how instead of doing a dissertation in his final year, he had the alternative to do three weeks work experience over the summer, two in animation and one in a digital marketing agency. He kept a diary of his work experiences, which he has then turned into a report. Luke told how a lot of universities are increasingly promoting job opportunities and competitions. 

Reflecting on how Bolton School had set him up for life, he said it had definitely built his confidence and social skills. Career-wise he said he hopes to initially gain some experience within a company where he anticipates being faced with new and varied challenges and having a chance to work creatively. Ultimately, he hopes to go freelance. 

Spending the day in School, Luke also curated a display of his graphic art in the Boys’ Division Art corridor which has already wowed teachers and current pupils.


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