Me and Michael Borkowsky and currently putting together a plan to create a set of artist lead studios for recent graduates in Sheffield. I wanted to write a blog about why I feel that this would be a great idea, so here we are.
I found University frustrating due to the lack of guidance on “how to be an artist”. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that, although I was attending a BA in Fine Art, very few students wanted to go on to be artists, and therefore there was no real need to teach us how to follow any particular career path. We had a few very helpful guest lecturers speak to us in our professional practice module, but that was all really. I spoke to teaching staff, and asked them questions relating to working as an artist as I thought them up, and sometimes they struggled to answer me, although now I can see why. I think that, situations come up in a real world environment that you just can’t give an answer to in an academic institution.
There are two areas that I felt were most lacking: firstly, the emphasis that should be put on just getting out there and doing something/ making contacts, particularly while you are still at university, so that you can lay the foundations for the next step of your journey to becoming an artist. I personally tried to do a lot just from my own initiative, such as networking through social networking sites and making links back in Sheffield ready for when I returned to my home city. However, if I had known, I would have done much more and tried to take the most from my time as a student, since I had an income (from my student loan) and a free studio space! Secondly I feel that there should have been so much more encouragement to make your own work and develop your own ideas. I understand that a university has certain criteria that needs to be met, but I don’t feel that such a rigid structure works in an art context.
So after leaving university I was just kind of left to it. The foundations I had put down through social networking and links back in Sheffield were a huge help to me (which I why I think there should have been more encouragement for students to do this while they can), but that was all I really had to get myself started. It felt like most opportunities were open to people who had been out of university for at least a year, and I didn’t have the experience to get me into a residency as I would have liked.
And so I come back to the idea of graduate studios. Me and Michael both think that it would be a welcome idea to have an intermediate platform that welcomes recent graduates and helps them to develop their own practice as an artist in a real world environment. We are aiming to find a venue that can provide both studios and an exhibition space for graduate artists. We would provide support and advice, as well as planning a program of events, such as talks and workshops.
Our plans are still in the very early stages, but we would love to hear your thoughts on the idea, or even just for you to say “Hi” if you do, or know of something similar yourself.