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What are Primary and Secondary Sources?

Updated: May 1, 2021

In this video you will learn what are primary and secondary sources in GCSE in Art & Design.

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Did you know that for your GCSE in art you are expected to work from both primary and secondary sources? Let’s find out more about this.

A primary source is anything you draw from real-life observation or a photo you have taken yourself. For example, you might set up a still life of flowers in a vase and paint them from direct observation, or you ask friends, and family members to pose for you and photograph them. A secondary source is any material produced by others and that can be any reproductions of images that you find on the internet, books or magazines, as well as other sources of inspiration such as artefacts from a museum exhibition, or even song lyrics, a poem, a story, or an article.

As part of your coursework, you are expected to make use of both primary and secondary sources. Most students however get comfortable and rely too much on secondary sources, which are mostly images found on the internet. Please do not fall into this trap, you need to show some studies from first-hand observations too. Of course, primary sources have their limitations; it is understandable that often you might not have access to specific subjects. For example, you might be studying the wildlife animals and skin patterns; and obviously, you are not in Africa, to see real leopards and zebras, so of course, you are going to make use of photos taken by others, which are secondary sources. However, if you are able to visit a zoo in your area then here is your opportunity to make use of a primary source, which might be more appreciated by the examiners.

I hope you found this helpful… Is there anything specific you want to ask me? Tell me about your questions or concerns, in the comments below. On the next vlog I will give you some tips with detailed examples on how you can effectively make use of both primary and secondary sources in your coursework. Also don’t forget to grab the guides at the link below and book for your first free trial for online tutoring.

· Click here to book your first FREE trial for 30 mins online tutoring with me.

· Download the guide ‘Quick Tips for GCSE in Art Students’, from the link below to help you prepare for your art studies.

· Do you want to excel in your GCSE in Art and create outstanding sketchbooks? Go ahead and check out my online course ‘GCSE in Art & Design made simple: The Complete Beginners’ Guide’ at

#GCSEart #GCSEartsketchbook

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