6 ways to nail your Virtual Degree Show

Struan Barker, Glasgow Clyde College

Art educators give their biggest tips for new grads.

This time of year usually sees us choose our Ones to Watch from unis and art colleges such as Central Saint Martins, London College of Communication (LCC), Brighton and Middlesex. Instead though we're seeing art institutions facing up to the challenge of social distancing by putting on 'virtual' grad shows, degree exhibitions you can enjoy online right now with our handy list.

Not all grad shows are yet to go live though, and if you're a graduate or educator looking for advice in putting on the best show possible, then look no further than these five tips from those who've managed to go through the process for the first time this year and pass with flying colours.

With the success of these shows, don't be surprised if they return for 2021 as either a replacement for physical shows or as a kind of hybrid-combination of the real and the virtual. Hopefully no viruses will rear their heads next summer, but it's always best to be prepared isn't it?

1. Start off with your best foot forward

"Not every student was able to complete work from the last block of the course due to the circumstances this year," reveals Victoria Brand, senior lecturer at Glasgow Clyde College, "so it’s really important to make sure that all of the work that you produce from the start of the year is your best work, that you really make the effort in every project that you do."


© Joe Gallacher, Glasgow Clyde College

2. Get clearance

"UCA always ask their students to clear ‘all rights’ for things such as music or archival footage in their work," says Professor Lyndsay Duthie, Head of School for Film, Media & Performing Arts UCA (and Professor of Media Education).


© Eleanor Beer, University for the Creative Arts (UCA)


"This teaches best practice and allows the students to exhibit their work as widely as possible in festivals and competitions. (And remember) that a virtual graduate show allows for a much wider audience."

3. Be flexible

"Some plans had to change with lockdown, for example, a stylish Tuscan shoot in Italy became a more sedate shoot in Farnham town centre," adds Lyndsay. "But, our students are resilient and have come out on top. We are very proud of them."

© Milda Kargaudaitė, University for the Creative Arts (UCA)

4. Maintain your portfolio

"Do not leave things to the last minute, because if this pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that anything can happen!" Lyndsay adds. "Keep building your portfolio throughout the year and not just with your coursework, experiment outside of the classroom to find your voice, and develop your signature style."

5. Ensure good connectivity for a whole load of uploading

"UCA had already begun plans to pilot an online show this year, albeit on a much smaller scale," says Lyndsay. "But, with the impact of Covid-19 we decided to ramp up our plans, rejigged the timeline, and made the decision that we would go live for all our graduates ranging from foundation, undergraduate, and postgraduate.

"This could potentially involve showcasing up to 2,000 students with an average of five pieces of work each. So that meant after students had submitted their final projects, 10,000 content items would need to be uploaded in just a two-week window."


© Milda Kargaudaitė, University for the Creative Arts (UCA)

6. Not enough time? Consider a Catalogue approach

"The fastest way for me to get graduates' work out was through a virtual show catalogue," says Victoria.

"I produced options for layouts and asked the students to pick the layouts and send through their work ready to drop in. It actually all came together quite smoothly and easily with minimal hiccups."


Lucia Saez, Glasgow Clyde College


See the end result here for Victoria's graphic design students.

Related: Enjoy these Virtual Grad Shows right now from home

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