Art & Design Employability





Students are responsible for the organisation, planning and hosting of an occasion involving an audience, e.g. fashion show, degree show.


Organisation, research, development and planning, time management, co-ordination, ability to communicate with people of various ages, capacities and backgrounds.

Example 1

Project Title: MFA Auction
Student Name: Dominic Watson
School/Department: MFA
Year of study: Two
Project Length:  Six months
Project Location: Glasgow School of Art Student Union


The original aim of the project was to collaborate as a year group to produce an event that would raise money for the final year students of the MFA. Any money raised would go towards post-degree projects that students proposed to carry out after they have graduated.

What happened:

The project consisted of both a live and silent auction, taking place on the same night in the Student Union of the art school. The live auction was of work made by professional practising artists. Some had a specific affiliation to either GSA in general or the MFA in particular; others operated beyond the remit of Glasgow. A list of artists was originally compiled by the MFA students and then given to course leaders to decide on the final 20 or so artists. This decision was based on who had or had not donated artworks to auction in previous years. Future MFA auctions were also considered, with an eye on diversity. Participating artists included: Christine Borland, David Shrigley, Jim Lambie, Karla Black, Ryan Gander, Duncan Campbell, Martin Boyce, Toby Paterson, Eva Rothschild, Claire Barclay, Michael Fullerton, Sarah Tripp, John Shankie, Christina McBride, Stuart Mackenzie, Alistair Payne and Jeremy Deller.

The MFA Fundraising auction is an annual event with artists recognising it as something good to donate to. Many of the artists are graduates so already have a good relationship with the school. Essentially the practising artists were emailed with the background of the event with an explanation of the different format – i.e. that this event was helping the Students’ Association, as well as the MFA. I think it’s important to say that, as well as a strong relationship with the school, the majority of the donated works came from people with fond memories of the Students’ Association and what it stands for, this was a major pull for them.

The auction took place in the large function room of the Student Union, with complimentary food and drinks. Artworks were installed on easels, borrowed from the continuing education department, which spanned the length of the wall. This gave guests and potential buyers a chance to look at the artworks up-­close before the auction began.

The silent auction mainly consisted of work by students across the two years of the MFA programme. This acted as a precursor to the main event. Over 40 artworks were installed in the two smaller galleries of the Student Union. Here, guests could bid anonymously, using a bidding number they were given when they entered. The premise for this auction was that the works are sold at a much more affordable price, encouraging bidding from people who may not be in the business of collecting art.

External or internal partners involved:


Project outcomes:

The auctions raised approximately £15,000 for the MFA and the Student Union.
The money was split 60/40 in MFA’s favour. This is because it is a recognised MFA annual event and the Students’ Association collaborated on this one occasion.

Money for the MFA went towards the extracurricular activities that students arrange across the year including exhibitions, film screenings, talks etc.

For the Students’ Association, the money went to the newly established charity set up by Sam de Santis (Students’ President) and Alex Misick (Vice President) during the restructure carried out while in post. The money essentially keeps the free-to-use galleries in good condition, it funded student projects and ensured free venue hire for GSA and external charity events. The three charitable objectives for the Students’ Association are the advancements of the arts, advancements of education and to benefit the wider Glasgow Community. The money contributed to all of these.

Unfortunately, the funds raised were not as much as previous years. Due to the fact that the MFA collaborated with the union for the first time, this meant that there was even less money than students had anticipated, which was rather unfortunate considering the effort put in by everyone.

Skills students gained from undertaking the project:

The skills gained from this experience were largely focused on communication and organising. Being in charge of the installation of both auctions, students were expected to effectively liase between themselves and with tutors and the union, to plan and secure the necessary installation equipment and contact other departments within GSA to assist.

Example 2

Project Title: Degree show
Student Name: Petter Yxell
School/Department: Fine Art – Painting and Printmaking
Year of study: Three
Project Length:  Approx. three months of production, three days of installation
Project Location: Top floor of the Mackintosh Building


Artistic aims: To comment on the ongoing restoration of the Mackintosh building as well as the partial demolition of the Student Union, affectionately known as ‘The Vic’, during the construction of the new Reid building. Presenting highly developed work representative of lines of enquiry into architecture, history, installation art and material, pursued during time spent at GSA.

Practical aims: To prepare for the process of exhibiting work in a public building, go through a proposal process, adhere to health and safety concerns, manage helpers, produce a catalogue and organise invigilation.

What happened:

An early desire to make a site-specific installation, referring directly to both the Mackintosh building and the Vic necessitated knowledge of the allocated space. For the first proposal hand-in, a small maquette was built, based on the specific dimensions and layout of the top floor studios. While the final installation differed greatly from the one outlined in this model, being proactive and specific at such an early point vouchsafed an ongoing conversation with tutors about requirements.

The process leading up to the installation period was largely dedicated to three very ambitious casts, which required intricate time-management, having to work in parallel on the three pieces and estimate (through constant discussion with the casting technicians) the time required for each stage of the processes and negotiate access times to the workshop.

Three helpers (two from third year and one from second) were delegated specific tasks that made full use of their full-time commitment over the three allocated installation days; they also voluntarily contributed help with a few things in advance of this.

Three meetings were attended to discuss the design of the exhibition catalogue, which took account of former years’ catalogues. During the second meeting, students discussed and voted between a couple of main alternatives (format, amount of details and paper) and for the third they met with the designer (Sebastian Kalvik) to talk through ideas.

External or internal partners involved:

The casting workshop, with Helen Kalmijn and Billy Teasdale, was invaluable in the months leading up to degree show. Helen played an integral part in helping with resin cast, while Billy taught invaluable tricks for making a jesmonite cast.
This was complemented with several visits to the Architecture workshop for tips on how to build the original model from which the jesmonite cast was made.

The Mackintosh wood workshop and the wisdom of Kevin Pollock greatly facilitated the woodwork elements and numerous MDF-parts that made up the skeleton of the architectural model.

The helpers from the school were Phoebe Barnicoat, Alexander Haukrogh Jensen and Fran Caballero.

Project outcomes:

The installation really came together during the last two days, and seemed to establish somewhat unexpected relationships with the other components. The installation generated three specific mentions in the media, and was handpicked for the Royal Scottish Academy New Contemporaries. One of the pieces was sold to a classmate.

Skills students gained from undertaking the project:

Resin-casting: this was the first time transparent resin was used, which has since been used in artist assistant jobs.

Jesmonite casting: glass fibre-reinforced jesmonite was used for the first time, which was redeployed when helping Michael Stumpf with his Glasgow International exhibition.

Mouldmaking: The intricacy and scale of these casts required many a little invention that expanded any existing skillset considerably.

Architectural model-making: Many of the materials and techniques (foamex, plastic strips, plastic weld) were new.

Stress-handling and organising: The degree show was a major undertaking, foreshadowing other time-consuming installations.

The scale and length of the process leading up to the degree show provided good training in planning and in communicating a project to curators/exhibition helpers.

Video Interviews

Fine Art – 3rd Year – James Haggas

James describes his show as documentations of his artistic journey and hopefully the 1st of many shows.

Fine Art – 3rd Year – Shannon White

Gives an emotive account of her journey from art foundation through to final year degree show.

Furniture – 3rd Year – David Kelly

Once you hit the final year of study the question of the next step looms over all. Final year furniture student David Kelly voices how he feels his degree show could help.

Graphics – 3rd Year – Katy Needham

Students plenty of course based skills whilst working on project briefs but none come close in scale to those developed in organising a show. Katy discusses why she volunteered to take a lead role.

Related Pages


The Studio


Visual Literacy


Student engagement