Interview with AN Magazine

I was recently interviewed by an Magazine:

What have you done since graduating?
I have obtained my own studio and contributed to a variety of publications including a-n Magazine and Dazed and Confused.

Have you stayed in the same city of the university/college at which you studied?
I thought it essential I remain in London after graduating. I had developed a variety of strong working relationships during my MA and on the whole my peer group remained in this area. London is the second highest exporter of visual arts and essentially I have more access to a greater variety of different work here.
Furthermore the studio complex I currently reside is relatively cheap and run by artists who understand the challenges recent graduates face.

Who is the most unlikely person to have influenced you since graduating?
I worked as a temp at a museum for a short while. I met many people with different backgrounds to my own, not necessarily visual arts based. Working with archaeologists in particular gave me a wider perspective and influenced many of the issues I currently write about (in particular creolisation and the bonds between time and space).

What is the most rewarding thing that you have done since (that is relevant to students now, but not necessarily arts related)?
After my contribution to the April edition of a-n Magazine I was offered my first solo exhibition at the Red Gate Gallery, London. This kind of clarified the intertwining nature of being an artist for me: that we have to almost operate as an entrepreneur, operating within different fields to become successful.

What is the worse job you have done since graduating, and what is the best thing that you took from it?
I worked in a museum warehouse stacking books. It was such a mundane and repetitive environment but it just made me more driven to succeed. The worst moment came when I was told off for reading a book. I found it incredible that an institute supposedly designed to nurture knowledge could be so oppressive. The worst thing was I was reading a chapter on the burning of the Jaffna University Library by the Sinhalese United National Party at the time…! Nevertheless, it made me very aware of the levels of control major organisations, particularly in London, have on how we understand the visual arts.

When you were studying, what advice/support did you feel was missing and can you provide this information to students that are completing their Degrees now?
I do not believe enough emphasis is placed on art as a business. This leaves graduates unprepared for post-education and unaware of the level of financial know-how they need to have a sustainable practice. I believe 50% of art education should be dedicated to teaching students how to be self-employed. For every Alain Badiou text students read they should be studying Charles Leadbeater and NESTA’s Attacking the Recession.

Is there any advice/support that you did gain whilst studying that you would pass on to the people studying arts based degrees now?
Prepare thoroughly: If you do not spend time finding out about whom you will be working with, whether a certain gallery exhibits your type of work, what percentage cut a gallery takes in any work sold, who is responsible for insurance etc. you will be in trouble.

What other information or advice can you provide that is relevant to your profession now that you would consider as particularly relevant to students?
Know your strengths and weaknesses. If an open submission is asking for ceramic artists and you are a painter do not waste yours and their time by applying. Be specific about what you want to achieve.

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