How to write a good personal statement

As visual people, some of us struggle to organise our thoughts and ideas especially when it comes to writing! We try to delay the process as much as possible, which, unfortunately, is not an excuse in the creative world as you will always be required to critically evaluate your work and express ideas and opinions. This will particularly apply to HE study when preparing for self evaluation processes through group crits, essays, and finally, writing your dissertation.
There are many tools to help you structure your thoughts. Keeping a journal and doodling or jotting ideas down as they come to you is a great starter. It doesn’t have to be in any order and you can use highlighters and colours to make a note of important points.
This will ease the process much more as you won’t feel so overwhelmed alongside producing visual work for your course.
One of the areas many students struggle to confidently express themselves is writing a personal statement. Where do you start, and how do you effectively structure a page long statement all about you?! Yes, very daunting. However, I have produced a guideline for creative students on how to best structure your statements giving the reader a clear and concise understanding about your inspirations, creative journey and future ambitions. You can use your journal to jot down notes before you take them into structured sentences and paragraphs.
I will say it now to avoid you worrying; it is not going to be a perfect first draft, so you will need a tutor to check it at least three times before it becomes a star shining statement! Take a deep breath and go for it…

How to write an effective UCAS statement


Your statement needs to be approximately one page long
It needs to highlight your passion for a subject, the steps you have been taking to achieve this, personal interests and a concluding paragraph to explain why you have the qualities to deserve a place on your chosen course
It should be approximately 4/5 paragraphs explaining the points above


This is your opening statement so you need to convey your passion for your subject.
Along with this you need to be professional so writing ‘I have loved art ever since I was a child’ does not convey this. Also, ‘art’ is a very very broad subject, so it is important to be specific.
Which area are you proposing to study? What are the key features in this area that excite you? E.g. ‘I am excited by colour and the impact it has on emotion as clothing’ speaks volumes about your personal interests within fashion design.
Your opening statement requires around 3 sentences to elaborate on your passion for your subject.


This paragraph is where you need to write about your current practice and how it is influencing you as an artist/designer. This is the main body of your statement as it explains your exploration and experimentation processes as a person and how you are progressing in your subject area.
What are you studying at present? Is it a foundation course, short course? Only mention your current status, as it reflects your progressive attitude towards your specialism. Mentioning techniques you explored at GCSE stage, while you are currently on a foundation course two years on exploring a new set of skills, does not highlight your awareness to be contemporary as an artist/designer or identify growth in your learning potential.
What techniques/processes have you learnt? Printing, sewing, life drawing?
How has this pushed you and your perspective towards your work?
How have you challenged yourself as a creative individual?
Have you been on trips to museums/galleries? Which places were inspiring?
Who are your artist/designer inspirations? Why? Which materials/subject matter do they explore? Only mention a maximum of 3 artists.


This paragraph addresses your extra skills and hobbies which showcase your overall personal development
What are your hobbies? Do you like to read? Exercise? How do these interests positively impact you as a person? Does reading stretch your creative imagination? Does exercise give you self discipline or a sense of being a team player?
Do you have a part time job? What have you leant about time management? Does your job entail responsibilities and organisation skills which will be essential when applied to studying at HE level?
Have you been on any internships or entered competitions?


This paragraph closes your statement so it is necessary to explain what would make you an ideal student for the course
What will studying at BA level teach you? E.g. sharing ideas with peers, independent study etc
How do you envisage to improve as an artist/designer over 3-4 years on the degree course? Look at the course you have applied for, what are the key traits which excite you, and explain how this will benefit you and prepare you for industry.
Finally, conclude by stating you believe the course you have chosen is ideal to provide you with the necessary tools to enhance your skills for your future practice.

Additional resources:

How to Write the Perfect Personal Statement
Nailing an Oxbridge Personal Statement
Personal Statement Advice

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