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Is This A Good Theme for Art GCSE or iGCSE?

By The Arty Teacher - May 23, 2023

This blog post is for all the students who contact me and ask “I’m thinking of doing this theme, is it a good idea?” Or “Is this a theme?” or “ What artists would be good for this theme?”

I understand that it is difficult to choose a theme to pursue at GCSE or IGCSE, or for any independent course.  You will be working on it for a long time and it needs to stimulate lots of ideas.

Here are some things to consider about any theme you are considering:

Start Broad or Combine

Start with a broad theme and then narrow it down. For example, if you are attracted to the idea of song lyrics start with the broader theme of ‘Art & Words’. Alternatively, combine your theme with another idea, for example, if you are interested in cyberpunk, start with some research pages on cyberpunk and then research either something dystopian that ends the world, e.g. Look at viruses (You could do some wonderful drawings of viruses viewed under the microscope) or scientific equipment.

Is This A Good Theme for Art GCSE or iGCSE?

Ideas

Does your theme give you lots of ideas? The word ‘ideas’ appears in three of the GCSE assessment objectives. Do many visual images pop into your head when you think of your theme? Creating a mind map is a great way to start. It is okay to ask your friends and family what they think of when they hear your theme. This isn’t cheating; it is collecting ideas.

If you struggle to find inspiration, you have probably chosen the wrong theme.

It’s your job to come up with ideas.

Is This A Good Theme for Art GCSE or iGCSE?

Photography

Choose a theme that makes it easy to take high-quality creative photographs. If you do, you are making it possible for your teacher to award you marks.

Of course, if your theme makes it impossible for you to use your own photographs, (e.g. Indian Gods) that is fine. You can use images that you find from the Internet, books or galleries, but you will not be awarded marks for them under the ‘ recording’ assessment objective but rather under the ‘ critical understanding’ assessment objective. 

If you struggle with accuracy in drawing and painting, taking your own excellent photographs can boost the recording assessment of the objective. 

Finding Appropriate Artists

Finding artists that really inspire you can make a huge difference to how you progress. There is a huge list of artists categorised by theme here.

Is This A Good Theme for Art GCSE or iGCSE?

Trying to Choose

If you are struggling to choose between two different themes choose the theme that gives you lots of ideas and also an idea of what to photograph. Write each theme down and write the ideas you have around each. Which has the most? Choose that one.

Just Go For It

Sitting there like a fart in a trance isn’t going to get you anywhere. In the end, you are going to have to choose an idea and go for it. The sooner you do, the better. Go for it.

I hope this helps.

If you are an art teacher and have enjoyed this post on ‘Is This A Good Theme for Art GCSE or iGCSE?’ why not register to receive my weekly newsletter? You’ll be able to download 3 of my free art lessons each month too.

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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