What is art? The answer depends on who you ask. Art is a painting or a sculpture. Art is whatever you want it to be. Art is whatever the artists says it is. Or, according to one of the world’s most famous artists, Andy Warhol, art is “whatever you can get away with”.

But whatever way you look at it, Art is something that people are passionate about, and when they decide to study it educationally, or pursue it as a career, it's passion that is the driving force behind their decision.


Ella Small, who studies a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design, is delighted that South West College has provided a platform for her to pursue her passion in the subject.

Ella says, “I enjoy studying at South West College because they treat Art like a real subject. At South West College there are so many opportunities and the facilities are much better. There are lots of jobs in Graphic Design, Fashion and Ceramics, you just have to look for them and have a passion for it. I think a lot of people are scared and that’s why they end up pursuing an academic route. You need to have confidence within yourself for Art, which will help your talent shine through.”

Like music or writing, art is one of those passions that people sometimes get criticised for pursuing as a career. It’s often seen as self-indulgent, over ambitious, or even a bit foolish, but that’s not necessarily the case. If you’re studying art because you’re passionate about it and want to find a career that allows you to use this passion professionally, then there are more possibilities out there than a lot of people think. From this year alone, the Diploma in Art and Design at South Wet College has produced students who are going onto to University in courses as varied as Fashion and Product and Graphic Design. While last year, former SWC Art student, Megan Dunbar, unveiled an exhibition
in Ulster Bank, Darling Street, Enniskillen as part of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Pop up Exhibition Programme.

Megan Dunbar is an artist based in Sheffield. Having studied Art and Design at South West College, she went on to study Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University.

Art isn't the only course at South West College encouraging students to follow their passions. Last year South West College’s Performing Arts Students delivered a run of performances of American Idiot, which was played on three nights, in front of several hundred people in the Burnavon Theatre, Cookstown.

Like any production of this scale it was a result of months of rehearsal and it offered students a real insight into every side of professional performance. However, it also proved to them - and those around them - that they could achieve great things when they follow their passions.

One student said, ‘Performing Arts isn’t always supported, and then when people do come to see a show like the one we just did, they think ‘wow, that’s great’. That’s why people need to get more involved, and I think this course really pushes people to do what they want.

'While I've been studying this course, people, including my friends, have said to me, ‘why are you doing that? It’s not going to get you anywhere.’ But it’s a dream, and if you want to accomplish what you want to do in life, you’re not going to just give up, you’re going to keep going and keep fighting, and that’s the way that I think this course really brings out the best in people.’

This week, NICHE, a Digital Creative Expo being held in SWC Enniskillen, will see a series of events that showcase how students can get into careers such as Games Design, which ten years ago would have been seen as fantasy careers, with very few realistic opportunities. Through a series of talks, NICHE will raise awareness of opportunities and practices within the design and development of creative solutions to modern business practices.
The event is aimed at students who are keen on careers in creative media and the gaming industry - careers that didn't seem plausible ten years ago.

Of course, finding passion in your work doesn't mean choosing a non traditional career, and other courses at SWC, such as Beauty Therapy, Hairdressing and Sport also encourage students to embrace the passion that interested them to take up the subject in the first place.

High up on the list of reasons for why people get into beauty therapy, hairdressing or sports therapy is a pre-existing passion for it, meaning that when they do, they’re in an environment they enjoy and can be creative in. It's something they’re qualified in, but also genuinely want to be doing. There’s also the added bonus of generally being in a friendly, relaxed environment where people skills are usually paramount.

It’s no surprise that hairdressing is widely considered one of the happiest jobs in the world - and if we had to guess, we'd say other careers that allow people to follow their passions aren't too far behind!