Skip to main content

For creatives

A city without a strong creative and cultural sector is a city without soul, vibrancy or voice. From DH Lawrence to Jake Bugg, London Grammar, Vicky McClure and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, creativity emanating from Nottingham has inspired and entertained millions of people across the world.

For creatives

See how university support helped Isobelle launch her career as an illustrator

Isobelle Farrar is still reaping the benefits of winning the Nottingham Young Creatives competition some years ago.

Supported by both universities, the competition is a springboard for creative young people across the city, offering a cash prize and short design course at Nottingham Trent University to the winner.

Isobelle entered the competition while studying an extended diploma in art and design at Nottingham College. It was her tutor who encouraged her to put forward her coursework design as Isobelle wasn’t confident enough in her work. Just a few weeks later she found out she had been shortlisted in the design category for her work of 10 illustrated letters spelling out Nottingham. Each letter depicted parts of the city she liked and some parts she thought could be improved – such as the H which represented homelessness and homeless shelters.

Isobelle Farrar drawing and looking to camera

At the time Isobelle suffered from anxiety and was taken aback by the scale of the competition. She wasn't sure she'd be able to walk on stage at The Playhouse awards ceremony should she win her category. But when her name was announced she plucked up the courage and accepted her certificate. Then her name was called again - as Isobelle was named the overall competition winner.

Two years later she says she is still reaping the rewards. She got to see her artwork displayed in Nottingham Bus Station, completed a short graphic design course at Nottingham Trent University as part of her prize and was asked to design the invitations for the Nottingham Goose Fair dinner which she then attended as a guest. For 19-year-old Isobelle, however, the biggest reward was the confidence she gained in herself and her work, confidence which is now allowing her to strike out as a freelance artist.

Isobelle Farrar drawing in a coffee shop with a coffee next to her

“Before I entered the Young Creatives competition I wasn’t very confident in my artwork and myself personally but since winning I’ve gained a lot of confidence creatively and discovered I am capable of a lot more than I think I can do. The university has been a big support as part of my prize was to complete a week long creative course at Nottingham Trent University which was an amazing experience.”

Isobelle Farrar, Nottingham Young Creative 2017

Read more stories like Isobelle's below.

Explore the impact of the universities in more detail

The Universities supported 251,600 visits from local families, school children and members of the community to arts and culture facilities and programmes last year

We support the creative industries directly through cultural organisations like Nottingham Contemporary, the Creative Quarter Company, the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies and Nottingham Lakeside Arts

NTU’s The Big House offers around 5,000 hours of dedicated support to local creative businesses each year

Over 205,000 people attended an event at the University of Nottingham’s public arts programme at Lakeside in 2017/18

NTU academics are working closely with the team refurbishing Nottingham Castle, developing a virtual resource to track its development over time


volunteers from the University of Nottingham helped transform the archive room at the Theatre Royal, discovering lost stories, posters and photos and making them available online