How to leave school?

Collectivise now!


Something you don’t learn in art school is how hard it will be afterwards. In school, the focus is on your artistic practice, and maybe that is how it should be. We need to explore without consequences, and be guided in this process in order to grow. But after graduation, without your peers or mentors it can be difficult to navigate: everything from finding affordable studio space to applying for subsidies to juggling jobs in and outside the field is a challenge.

Remember to imagine and craft the worlds you cannot live without, just as you dismantle the ones you cannot live within.

Ruha Benjamin

In the arts field, it is not always clear how to get in contact with your peers for advice or support or even to know who they are! There are no obvious water coolers to chat around at a break. You have to build water coolers yourself. Think of a walking or reading group, a monthly dinner club, a planning committee for political action, or a peer group with your classmates and tackle some of the hurdles on the path to entering the art field collectively rather than individually.

Some suggestions to try

  • Compile your collective knowledge by making lists of residencies, institutions of all sizes, artist-mentors known in the field, spaces for ateliers or rehearsals
  • When some of you are writing applications, do it in the same room
  • Create moments of peer support: everyone comes with a need, and together, the group helps each person devise ways to get past their block and move forward
  • Create moments of emotional support: moments to vent about difficulties and moments to celebrate progress
  • Make a list of your resources (spaces, skills, networks, etc.) and find out how you can share them
  • Organise a reading group to discuss a text
  • Map your ‘artistic ecology’ (which conditions, people, things allow you to make your work?). See where it overlaps with others. What’s missing? How can you share care for what is missing?

Illustrations by Laeticia Gendre