Goals, disillusionment & progress

Updated: Jul 12

At the time of writing this, tomorrow will be my 26th birthday, the deadline that I had set myself to achieve my goal of being able to sustain a living as a full time artist. Having exhibited my artwork consistently since I was a first year university student in 2015, there’ve been many moments that I felt that I was on the brink of achieving this in my early twenties; but it would seem that hitherto 2018/2019, disillusionment closely followed micro successes in my career.

Regarding exhibiting my work from the age of 19, I was far from the best art student, in fact I graduated with a 2:2. One piece of feedback I still recall from my tutors was referring to my artwork as “semi interesting drawings” and my mark making being called “rudimentary”. This served only to further galvanise my ambitions, though, in hindsight the works that I produced were underdeveloped. However, In that moment in time, I had to be steadfast in my beliefs that my practice had further scope. The ideologies that currently form the core ethos of my practice today, were built upon the foundations of the themes that I have been concerned with since my teens.

I feel that converting negative emotions into motivation to push yourself towards achieving your goals can be a powerful resource, but being too focused on proving other people wrong will only get you so far. From my experience, maintaining self belief throughout all of the turmoils and disappointments that come with being a young artist was imperative. As cliche or cringeworthy as it sounds, I would always affirm to myself that “I am not an art student, I am an artist”; this distinction made me focus more on my professionalism in the emerging art scene, as opposed to focusing all my efforts on ticking boxes within the constraints of the university milieu. It sounds simple and perhaps conceited but this mantra kept me centred and I was always able to see the bigger picture of what I aspired to achieve.

After graduating from Loughborough University in 2017, I continued to exhibit my work across the UK whilst working part time in promotions. The work was flexible, the pay was decent and I could work as much or as little as I wanted, making it the perfect fit at that time. Perhaps it was my own hubris that made me feel as though I deserved better than promoting wine brands or handing out leaflets at train stations. Sales of my artwork were too sporadic and I was spending less & less time making new work, so in 2018 I decided that if I wasn't able to be a full time artist by my 26th birthday that I would find a ‘real job’.

I recall looking online for work in the arts, when I came across a job posting for a role with Bloomberg New Contemporaries. I didn't have the relevant experience for the role, though I noticed there was an open call for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2018. I had previously been rejected from the first round a year prior but I thought I may as well apply and to my surprise I was successful getting through both rounds to be accepted into the prestigious touring exhibit