Table of Contents » Chapter 1 : Pre Graduation » Chapter 1: Finishing School – Now What?

Chapter 1: Finishing School – Now What?

Ahhh! What in the world to do next, now that you are finishing school.

Often students are a little burned out after graduation and need a little time off. I have heard people say “if you stop making work you will never get back to it”. I have not found that to be true. When I finished school I just needed a little time off to figure out who I was outside of school. How did I want to be an artist in the world? What were the reasonable goals outside of the semester time frame? Much of what’s next for you is based on your personality.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Before you leave school, have clay and glazes that you can fire in an electric kiln, it’s harder to find a gas or wood kiln outside of universities and colleges.
  • You don’t actually need a ton of equipment to set up a studio and make artwork, get comfortable with the bare bones of what you need.
  • Don’t get a studio by yourself, it’s important to have people around you to share ideas, opportunities, and equipment with.
  • It’s ok to make work slower than when you were in school. Pay attention to what distractions are important/real and what is just a distraction.
  • If you are having a hard time getting back to the studio, make a list of what’s stopping you, and then look at it without judgment – are these real obstacles or uncomfortable changes?
  • Set up some goals for yourself, in one year, in three years…

Specific options:

  • Set up a studio with friends
  • Find a venue or create a venue to show your work to friends or the public
  • Find an existing community and join it, this could be through an arts center, a coffee shop, a bicycle shop, ultimate frisbee, join something!
  • Join a community arts center
  • Join an artist coop
  • Find a warehouse space or garage where you can make work but not be isolated
  • Apply for an artist in residency program near you, far away, in the US, or internationally
  • Apply for an apprenticeship
  • Apply for an internship (many places that offer workshops also have internship programs)
  • Make a plan to visit a museum or art gallery once a month
  • Become a docent at your local museum
  • Volunteer at an arts center
  • Get on the mailing list of the art activities in your area
  • Take a workshop
  • Teach a workshop
  • Develop an online community and a real-world regional community
  • Making work outside of school is hard – keep in touch with folks about what you are making.
  • Have a side gig where you make money – and maybe find a community or get excellent extras (for example, working in a hardware store = get a discount of needed tools, being a waitress = free meals)
  • Selling work is great, but very often it is not profitable for the first year or so, try not to put pressure of commodity on your artwork.
  • When selling work – think about the different goals, is it to make money, is it to be involved with a gallery, is it to develop name recognition – be realistic, and think big.
  • Revisit what gives you pleasure in making artwork.

Good luck my friends…

-Julia Galloway