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What they didn’t teach you in art school

January 5, 2017

A lovely thing about working in a library is stumbling across interesting, inspiring and intriguing books on a regular basis. 

I devoured this book of advice for artists today, dipping back into it at every opportunity. 

It is a simple concept- a small book of practical career advice for would-be artists put together by working artists- and it is done really well. A concise, well-designed, informative, realistic yet kind-spirited book to guide and inspire, I’d highly recommend this to anyone considering or already grappling with an artistic career. 

I particularly loved the insights of the artist, Harry Pye, whose day job is working in the bookshop of Tate Britain. “I like working with the public and I find working at the Tate more educational than being at art school. Most of the people I work with are either well-educated and know a lot about books, or they are an artist, or they are just nice. So I am happy.”

Right now I’m not working actively as an artist or illustrator. But I’m lucky to work in a place where interesting books and ideas are regularly crossing my path and I’m surrounded by great people. This is great fuel that helps artistic ideas to keep simmering away, plus a nice way to work anyway.

So my advice for would-be artists would be this:

  1. Read What they didn’t teach you in art school by Rosalind Davis and Annabel Tilley.
  2. If being an artist still appeals, go to art school.
  3. Stay true to yourself and your art. Allow yourself time to develop slowly. Your art career is not a race.
  4. Find a complementary job if you want or need one, (libraries, bookshops and museums are recommended).
  5. And finally remember that your success and happiness as a human-being is always more important than your success as an artist.

Good luck to all the artists out there. I wish you the inspiration, luck, time, talent, patience, networking skills and self promotion prowess to find success. But most of all I hope you enjoy creating and find joy in life.

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