A new crop of graduates are currently taking the first tentative steps in their career at the moment. This transition between the academic and working world is at once exciting and daunting, sometimes it can be easy to forget just what is important at this stage in your professional development. We spoke to a clutch of creatives to ask them to share advice and insight into the things they feel are key to remember at this time.
1. Things aren’t always going to be easy, but hopefully they’ll be worth it
No one ever said working in the creative industries would always be plain sailing. Hell, it’s competitive to find work; and freelancing can be precarious – not to mention taxing when it comes to things like, er, tax, invoicing and time-management. “Pursuing a passion for the creative arts means choosing a path that might not be the easiest but is certainly the most rewarding,” says Nigel Carrington, vice-chancellor of University of the Arts London. “The creative industries are hungry for the innovation and fresh perspectives offered by each new generation of creatives and the demand for them is global.”
2. Don’t worry too much about who or what you are
Am I a fine artist? A designer? An illustrator? It doesn’t really matter too much what you define yourself as, as long as the solution to a project is well executed and the right one. “Doing an arts course I think you should feel free to experiment and try as many things as seems right for you,” says artist and illustrator Jon Burgerman. “Once you graduate it’s not really relevant what course you were on – all that matters is that you’re interesting, exciting and ready to go!”
3. Your success is about more than your work
The way to win clients is, of course, about making lovely work; but it’s also about getting on with the people you’re going to be working with, or for. This goes for job interviews as well as collaborators. “For God’s sake smile— this is not the dentist, and you should look like you want to present your work,” says Phil Cleaver, author of What They Didn’t Teach You In Design School. “The work should sell itself, so you have to sell yourself. Be true to yourself ; you have packaged yourself the way you are, now it’s time to unwrap that package and shine.”
4. Make the most of your own network
Not as Patrick Bateman as it sounds: what we mean by this is collaborate with your friends. The people you met at art school are in the same boat as you when you graduate, so make the most of each others’ time and skills. You can learn from each other too, or even skill-swap: could an animator teach you some basic animation software? In return, can you give them a crash course in lino printing? Make the most of the people around you and have fun.
5. Don’t panic if you haven’t got everything (or anything) figured out yet
No one expects a graduate to be perfect, or to know what the hell’s going on. Art school is a time to experiment and learn – about your work, your skills and your self. There’s no reason that should change once you graduate. “I wish I had known that I would not necessarily find out what kind of work I wanted to make and what my style was,” says photographer Alma Haser. “I would tell my student-self to not worry, to experiment as much as possible and not to expect to be the best photographer once you graduate.”
If you want more helpful advice like this, words of wisdom from past grads and ideas about places to go and websites to visit for inspiration, download our specially created Grad Pack here.
Supported by G . F Smith
It’s Nice That’s Graduates 2016 is kindly supported by G . F Smith, whose gorgeous range of papers and services can be just the thing for new and soon-to-be creative grads. The 130-year-old paper company has a long history of working with designers and artists at all stages of their careers, with its high-quality and innovative paper products offering a huge range of creative possibilities.
About the Author
Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.