Hazal Özkeleş, from Turkey, studied Art and Design Foundation at Kings London before starting an Illustration degree at Leeds Arts University in 2017. Now in her second year at Leeds, we caught up with her to find out how it's going, and how the Foundation course helped her get there.
Hi Hazal. Are you pleased that you chose to study at Leeds Arts University?
I'm absolutely pleased with the university — I don't think I could have made a better choice!
I especially love the fact that it's a specialist arts university so all I get is artists, friends and tutors that are actually in the industry, so it's great.
What made you choose this university?
After I decided that I wanted to study Illustration I started researching universities that gave good Illustration degrees. When I was researching I was in between three universities I guess, but Leeds Arts was my top choice because the reviews, student satisfaction and everything about it was really nice. So I made this choice as soon as I got my offer.
How did the Kings Art and Design Foundation prepare you for this degree?
Kings definitely helped me build a varied portfolio, it even had architecture in it. I'm studying illustration but I think that kind of helped the course leaders — when they were interviewing me — to see a wide range of skill. Thanks to Kings for giving me that kind of variety in my portfolio.
When you started at Kings did you know what you wanted to specialise in?
No. I think in the beginning of the year when we were experimenting with what to do – because Art Foundation means that you have to go through different kinds of art to realise what you want to do. That beginning part was really helpful for me to understand what I liked or what I hated and didn't want to do at all. So, I guess the experimentation part was really helpful.
How did you find doing your portfolio?
It was stressful for sure because you want to get the best portfolio possible to be able to get into the university you want to go to. The tutors really helped me keep calm — I have a personality that can get stressed really easily. They helped me manage my time because I can get lost trying to do things — think of details too much that I lose my efficiency I guess. So they helped me with that.
What were your favourite aspects of the Art Foundation, and would you recommend this programme?
Yes, definitely — especially to international students like myself. You come to a country that you know nothing about even if you think you do, and then there’s a different system, in life, in education, in everything. Foundation year kind of gets you ready to live in that country I think.
My favourite aspect was that I was finally doing art so everything about it was just fine. But I really enjoyed trying out different genres of art — I guess that's what gives you the needed variety of ideas and helps you to choose what to do afterwards.
What do you hope to do after your graduate?
I still don't know yet to be honest. As I learn more about illustration I know less what I want to do as it's a vague road, art. I think I definitely want to pursue doing album art for musicians I love because I'm very passionate about music — that would be a nice thing to work with. Apart from that I would like to do editorial illustrations because I think I like the challenge of visualising the ideas that are already written by someone else.
Tell us about Leeds…
I did a lot of research about Leeds before coming to this university. Apparently it's the UK's biggest student population because we have a lot of universities here. I would think that it's the best city to be in when you're a student. It's not as enormous as London but it's still big enough to have every kind of activity in it. You can have the nightlife and the arts scene on the side. You also have the countryside — Yorkshire is great for that. Also you can walk everywhere in 20 minutes, which is a crucial thing as a student!