Sunday, 15 July 2012

On what they don't tell you when you graduate from Art School

I was having a good conversation over much wine with Bik yesterday about what kind of e-courses I'd like to offer.

One thing I've realised since being on the other side of the artist-gallery divide is just how many really fundamental, simple mistakes artists make and how many of these mistakes I made myself when starting out.  I've also met some artists who are so totally doing it right, and making a career from their work.

When you graduate from a Fine Art degree, there's a lot you don't know about working in the world as an artist.  

There's a lot of self-limiting stuff about never being able to make a living, too, which I've realised isn't true - not if you don't want it to be!  

On my degree, as on many, the focus is on perfecting your craft, which is great.  There is, however, very little on how to set up as self employed, how to approach galleries, how to market your work.  As a result there are A LOT of artists out there who just don't seem to have the faintest clue how to make a career. 

Worse still, many seem to vacillate between a crippling lack of confidence in their abilities and a full-scale case of Diva, neither of which are likely to get them very far.

I know this, because that was my state of mind.  I also know this because I deal with these artists all the time and, from this angle, it is painfully obvious the mistakes they are making.  

From putting themselves down in applications to singing their own praises just a tad too much, rather than just letting their work do the talking.  From throwing a Diva strop when you don't email them right back to never chasing up an application.  

It is painful, truly painful to behold.  Even more so when I realise the many reasons I didn't get very far with most of the galleries I approached!

Sure, the art world is full of artists, some of them really, really good - but get this.  Most of them haven't the first idea how to get from penniless graduate to respected artist in their field, or how to go about making some moolah from the whole thing so they don't have to work at a call centre most of the time they want to be painting masterpieces.

The wasted potential of many, many talented visual artists slowly losing their regular art practice as 'proper jobs' take all their energy makes me feel sad, so here's my little plan.

I'm going to put together a little course to help people who are recent graduates - say within the last two years or so, although it would be useful for anyone who felt 'stuck' at the post-grad phase.  

I'm going to find and interview some working artists to get their top tips on how to make your beautiful work into some beautiful earnings.  I'm going to add a healthy dose of bare-faced honesty and a lot of cheerleading.  Because I think there are lots of artists out there who really need it.

So, watch this space folks, I'm a-working on it!

1 comment:

  1. Love this!! So been (and am) there! :) Look forward to reading it xxx


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