Maria Grad


‘Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,’ – a famous phrase which seems appropriate as we dive into Maria Terry’s story.

Born in Ealing, London, before moving with her parents and sister to Morocco until secondary school age, Maria moved back to the UK and settled in the East Midlands, later studying a BA at the University of York and most recently a Masters in Performance Design at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School – thanks in part to The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity’s support.

“I have always been a ‘geeky art kid’ – ever since school,” Maria began.

“Hiding in the art classrooms and painting instead of going outside and playing – I’m sure many other art kids can relate! I started off as a portrait artist, before quickly realising I liked painting huge installations and big portraits. It was my art teacher who encouraged me to look at scenic painting and visual effects for theatre, film and TV and I’ve never looked back since.”

Having found out about STWLC through, and then being successful in her application for the Charity’s interest-free education loan, Maria commenced an MA in Performance Design at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

“During this time, I was awarded the John Elvery prize to recognise Excellence in Stage Design in my work towards creative collaboration, inclusion and sustainability. I completed my Masters slap-bang in the middle of the pandemic, so it was the biggest challenge of my career to date, but taught me the resilience and self-belief I carry with me today to continue on the often challenging – but fulfilling – road as an artist.

“I learnt a huge variety of skills such as model making, Computer Aided Design software, textiles, costume drawing, prop making, basic carpentry, lighting design, hair, make up, technical drawings, working in groups, art directing, collaboration, working resourcefully to tight deadlines and lots more.”

Furthermore, in 2021 Maria was shortlisted for the coveted emerging stage design ‘Linbury Prize’ for her integrated design approach towards sustainability, and is now working towards becoming a Carbon Literacy trainer for the East Midlands, accredited and supported by the Society of British Theatre Designers.

“Being able to access and pay for my MA degree, with the help of the STWLC, has had an immeasurable effect on my confidence, contacts and knowledge,” Maria continued.

“The journey post graduation has taken me to every corner of the UK, working on TV sets, giant commercial workshops or backstage on national tours. I have learnt from the many inspiring and skilled people along the way, all dedicated to their craft, and I fit in well with this multi-skilled, hard-working, highly adaptable, aspirational community and it’s an honour to work with the best of their craft.

“I went on to form and become part of East Midlands based collective ‘B Team’, who specialise in creating entertaining and educational theatre about the environment that provokes conversation and change.

“I am a regular guest speaker for Arts students at the University of Derby, Nottingham Trent University, London College of Fashion and for schools, youth theatres and community groups. I am passionate about passing on skills and knowledge to the next generation of budding creatives as each path is so different, and often not linear, and struggle is all part of the lifelong process of discovering your identity as an artist.”

Looking back on her journey to becoming a Performance Designer and Design & Technology Technician through Maria Terry Design, Maria concluded with a word on the impact that STWLC has had along the way.

“STWLC has played a vital role in shaping my career. The fact the loan was interest-free for 3 years before starting monthly repayments allowed me to find good permanent employment before paying it back. I now own a house, have a job I enjoy and have enough monthly income to rent a studio of my own, which has helped my practise to find its next gear. I am excited for the future – thank you STWLC!”

To find out more about Maria Terry Design, please visit or check out @mariaterrydesign on Instagram.

For more information about our interest-free education loans, which are available up to £10,000 to support with post-graduate tuition or living costs, please click here

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