City Lit Blog

Q&A with Yishai White, Foundation Diploma Art and Design

Story added 9th Dec 2019

Yishai White, New Blades Graduate Show 2019


Yishai studied Foundation Diploma in Art and Design in 2016, we caught up with him to see what path he has taken since the year he spent at City Lit...

What inspired you to sign up to the Foundation diploma in Art and Design at City Lit?
I had completed three A-levels in academic subjects but upon finishing school decided I wanted to pursue a more creative direction. I had applied for university during my A-levels, (including the course I eventually studied), and was not accepted as I didn’t have a portfolio of work. I had always been interested in art and design, with my school desks always filled with drawings and sculptures (made from blu tack!). However, the foundation course was the first opportunity I had to formally study a creative arts subject. I went into the Foundation Diploma at City Lit with an open mind about where I would want to go afterwards, but ended up reapplying for the same courses with great success.

How did the course help you achieve your creative goals?
The course helped me to understand how to undertake a productive creative process and follow a brief, as well as how to reflect on previous work and improve on it. I also was able to experiment across a range of disciplines during the second term of the course and through this be able to understand which processes I wanted to focus on. The course dynamic changed through the terms, with the early terms being very tutor-led and all about learning techniques, and the focus being more on independence towards the end as we built up our own final major projects (although obviously still with great support from the tutors). The practical work was also supported with a theory element that provided a critical context within which to situate our work. Both of these elements prepared us well for the dynamic of creative arts university courses.

What was the best thing about studying at City Lit?
The best thing about studying at City Lit was the diversity of the backgrounds of the students and tutors, which reflected in the wide range of interests and personal topics explored in people’s work, as well as the diverse range of creative influences that we were introduced to throughout lectures, tutorials and in conversation with other students. Many of our year group have stayed in contact and it has been wonderful to see the different directions that people have gone in since completing the course three years ago – both those who went to university and those who chose other creative paths.

Where did your education take you following the Diploma at City Lit?
After completing the foundation course, I went on to study Model Design at the University of Hertfordshire. This is one of only a few courses in the UK teaching model-making, a broad discipline that blends sculpture, design, engineering and prop-making. My tutors helped me to tailor my portfolio to emphasise the skills needed for this course, especially technical skills such as CAD, (Computer Aided Design), and rapid prototyping, (3D printing). We also had a visiting lecturer during our sculpture classes who worked as a model-maker at a major architecture practise who was able to provide specific advice for this particular path.

During university I was able to advance skills that I had been introduced to on the foundation course, such as moulding and casting to create multiples of sculpted objects, 3D printing and paint effects. I had gained experience in these skills during my final major project on the foundation course, which was an architectural sculpture produced using a synthesis of digital and physical techniques. My specialism in the later years of the course was architectural models, which I would draw digitally and then use a range of CAM and hand-fabrication techniques to assemble at a particular scale. I had experience of technical drawing and working at scale from the foundation course, and had explored architectural theory during contextual studies, which was part of what inspired me to focus on architecture in my work.

Tell us about the ‘New Blades’ exhibition? 
The New Blades exhibition is a show in London for graduates of several model-making and stage/technical arts courses around the UK, where employers from a wide range of industries including film, theatre, product design, architecture and exhibition design attend.  I displayed my two final year projects; a 1:250 scale model of a government building in Buenos Aires, and a 1:20 museum model of an old East Ham tram (the vehicle this is modelled on is displayed in the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden)

And your current role at Foster and Partners?
Following New Blades, I had several interviews with companies in the architecture industry, as well as opportunities for prop-making work at film studios in London. I had an interview at Foster + Partners, the practise of Lord Norman Foster which has designed multiple major buildings in London including the Gherkin, Wembley Stadium, City Hall and the Millennium Bridge. I was offered a job in the model-making department and started work there in August 2019. In my role I work as part of a team of model-makers to work from plans for proposed buildings and create scaled models that can be reviewed by the client and the public in order to refine the design. Our time is split roughly into one third CAD work, one third using CAM to output parts and one third hand fabrication, assembly and painting of the model.

Final thoughts…
The foundation course at City Lit allowed me to re-evaluate my creative goals and how to best achieve them and enabled me to access the university course which allowed me to reach those goals. I was prepared well for university by the Foundation Diploma that the tutors and dialogue with other students helped to establish.

Yishai White, Foundation Art and Design Show 2016:

Yishai White, Foundation Art and Design 2016

Yishai White, New Blades Graduate Show 2019:

Yishai White, Model Making, New Blades 2019