Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Five Things I've Learnt About Life With An Art Degree

Art student? Or considering a career in the creative industries? Here are 5 things I've learnt about life post art degree. 


I have a vivid imagination, which means that I've always imagined my life going in a variety of (possibly unrealistic) directions. Since a child I've wanted to be a nurse, a cafe owner, a riding instructor, famous (just, you know generally famous), an archaeologist, a writer... you get the idea. I've always imagined myself doing so many things that I've never been focused on just one.

At school I was set on pursuing Geography, then at the last moment I switched to art school. I made it through a foundation degree, loved and hated it, and applied for an Illustration degree course. As I made it to the end of my final year people kept asking me 'Well what are you going to do now?' And I just didn't have a clue!

That was four years ago now. I didn't cease to exist at the end of my degree. These are some things that I've learnt over the time.

1. When you tell people what you did your degree in (or that you make artwork) they will always tell you about their second-cousin's niece's ex boyfriend who once did a small watercolour of a boat and they didn't really understand it but the two of you should meet up sometime to discuss artwork (because, it would seem, you are the only two people to ever have held a paintbrush.)

2. You probably aren't going to make a living from your art, at least not to begin with. Even if you do decide to pursue a career in art, but you would also like some luxuries of life, like food for example, you are either going to need a second job to supplement, or someone else to leech off. You may find that your 'second' job takes over and rather than supplementing your artwork, your creativity is confined to margins doodled during meetings and phone calls.

3. When you are trying to work on your artwork your friends and family will constantly interrupt you, either entering or calling you out of your creative space. Without the clear boundaries of a 'proper' job, they'll think you are always available. They will find it very difficult to understand that you have been working hard for a month when you have nothing to show for it (because you've tried seventy-two drawings of that duck and they all ended up in the bin.)

4. People love your artwork, and want to commission you to do a drawing for their new yoga logo (even though you aren't a graphic designer and don't design logo's). They already know exactly what they want it to look like, which obviously is the opposite to your actual style. Oh and they can't pay you, but they'll give you the credit.

5. The skills your course taught you never leave you, and they are really useful. Art schools don't teach you what to think, they don't teach facts, they don't fill your brains with other peoples ideas. You learn to think differently, to come up with something no one else did, or even could. You aren't confined to doing things that way because that's how it's always been. You try new things, experiment, and aren't afraid of critique or failure. Sometimes you'll make suggestions that will leave everyone staring at you with blank confusion, and yes, some of your ideas are probably a bit too quirky, but every now and then you have a moment of genius that solves the problem nobody else could. And those are the moments you sit back and think, yes, it was in fact worth it.


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