Struggles of an Art Student

Most days I question why I have chosen to even attempt to become an artist and study it at university. The daily battle with my own ideas and creativity would be enough to put any normal person off their chosen career, but not artists. For some insane reason we like to feel this pressure and frustration, its like a rush of adrenaline when you finally get something the way you want it to be, or complete a piece of work that may look simple but has been created through hours and hours of torturer in their studio or place of work. The many nights spent lying awake because the ideas will not stop! The challenge with being told it is not a “real job or degree”. This gift of creativity is often taken for granted, and those who don’t have it, do not always appreciate it.

Whilst currently studying for my Masters in Fine Art I have learnt that most art students go through the same daily struggles, so here are my top 10

  1. You learn to accept there will be mess EVERYWHERE! Whether you work in paint, clay, textiles, printing medium, metal, wood, there will always be some sort of mess, not only in your studio or working space, but also all over you, your clothes, in your hair, on your face. Its something artist tend to get used to, and the longer you have been working as an artist the less ashamed you will be of other people seeing you covered in random substances. It is okay to go to the canteen in paint covered overalls (I have done it too many times).
  2. Most Non-Creative people will never take you seriously. All through school, college, university, and life thereon, some people just don’t understand how it can be a profession. The same questions will be repeated, “Can you really get a job with that degree?” and “it’s just a hobby isn’t it?”, and this will never change. 
  3. Supplies are expensive, VERY expensive. Why have we chosen such an expensive degree?.. and no, my student loan does not cover the cost of materials. No matter how much we try to grab every free piece of material going, when you walk past the art shop, the beaming light of hope that is bouncing off the paint just grabs you, and you have to get it, for your education purposes of course…
  4. Yes, we do actually do work, and a lot of it!!! So many people seem to believe artists do not do anything. Of course we sit and drink tea and smoke cigarettes all day, but this is only a small active part of our day (That is if we are not doing this alongside working). The endless amount of artist research and sketchbooks that we have to produce means we do not actually sleep a lot, caffeine seems to help with this. 
  5. If we forget our headphones, we wont be getting a lot of work done. Most artists struggle to work with lots of background noise and in a studio, people are constantly talking. Everyone seems to be in their little bubble with their headphones in, listening to music, and if we forget them, there wont be a lot of work going on, boredom will set in quickly and going for another cup of tea every 30 minutes seems to become ok. 
  6. You will always wish you are doing what someone else is doing. Looking at everyone working around you gives you a little bit of practice envy. Even if your a textiles artist, if you see someone painting, it will make you want to do it. Its good to try out new things, but try not to get distracted by what everyone else is working on.
  7. Carting work and materials to and from your studios is a daily occurrence. No matter how organised you to try to be, you will always forget something! If it gets to the end of a busy day and you decided to take work home, this usually means a long walk carrying heavy bags. Try and get used to working in the studios mainly, this will also mean you can step away from your work and get a fresh outlook on it the next day. 
  8. No, I do not just draw all day. There is reading and writing involved. Essays don’t compose themselves and references do not leap onto a document when we click our fingers. There is a lot of reading involved, and to be an artist, you need to understand art, and this only comes with theorists and art movements. Do not be overwhelmed by it though, that is what your tutors are there to help you with, and an academic adviser also comes in pretty handy. Oh, and more tea.
  9. You will become dependant on tea, coffee and anything with caffeine in it. Any excuse to go to the canteen again or to keep you awake, it works for both.
  10. It will be the BEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE! Take advantage of every moment being surrounded by artists. No matter how annoyed you might be at the deadlines you have, and the bugging from your tutor, just be in the studios. Its the only time in your life you will be able to explore whatever medium of art and it will be easily accessible. Learn from your peers as well as your tutors and having a beer at the end of the day is never a bad thing.