Following on from our previous posts “Why You Don’t Need to Debut”
This post is addressed to new graduates who are wondering what to do next, and who have perhaps considered attending one of the “how to get into the art buisness” schemes (see for more info)
So, what to do?
You have decided not to go to an art ‘finishing school’ aka ‘charm school’.
OK, so far so good. So what DO you need to get on?
A massive reality check. A copy of Alastair Gentry’s book Career Suicide [http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/alistairgentry] It’s funny and entertaining but gives you a lot of useful information. It might burst your bubble, but better to let a book do it than you having it burst all over you!
Some basic self marketing skills. Learn to make a simple attractive website using free tools such a Picasia and Blogger, put up the best photos of your best work, and your contact details. Eschew the desire to put the hideous statement they made you write at art school. Keep everything as real as possible.
Find some like minded people. You could start with ones you went to art school with, or you could join a studio. Remember all the £ you are saving by not going to charm school? Use that to fund a space no matter how small, in a lively studio.
Club together and put on your own shows. Publish a zine. Make videos of your show and interview your fellow artists and put it on YouTube.
Seek a mentor. There are artists out there who are willing to work with new artists without a fee! They will help you in exchange for studio assistance and so on. At Studio75 we have been doing an informal mentorship programme. Young artists work with us as assistants and in exchange they get all kinds of tuition, from learning to Photoshop their pictures to drawing techniques. How did we find them? They found us. We do not take everybody. The chemistry has to be right. And they have to work like the devil.
Join group shows, but avoid things with hefty entrance fees. You are not experienced enough and you will just lose your money. If you want to join these things (e.g. Jerwood prize etc.) go and see the shows for a few years till you get a measure of what they actually want, and if it fits with what you want to do, go for it. Open exhibitions have clearly-visible yet never-mentioned agendas of what they like, no matter who’s on the jury. See Emily Speed’s blog Getting Paid [www.a-n.co.uk/p/497389/]
Keep working. Whatever else you might be doing to make money, art is your full time job.Do your fellow artists a favour and make this post viral!