For any young artist starting out in the art world, the transition from art student to art professional is a big challenge. Most art universities don't cover all practical aspects regarding daily management of an artist career, and the challenge is quite significant. So how to best handle the transition? What are the first steps young artists should take post graduation?
British artist Chlo Elizabeth graduated from Leeds Arts University in 2017 and embarked on her journey to become a full time artist. Just before she boards a plane to New York (for a residency) we caught up with her to ask what was it like for her to transition into the art world from university.
You recently graduated from university with an art degree, can you share how is the experience of transitioning to the art world as a newcomer?
The first few months were really hard, and I managed to get a studio so I could continue to make-work. I also had a part-time job, so balancing work life and making art was challenging.
The first few months I missed that support you get in university, it was quite difficult, but I was lucky enough to have been shortlisted for an award with the Aon Community Art Award, that was great support, and it drove me to make new works.
It got easier as time went on, I made sure I had support networks and things I could use to inspire me such as Instagram which was really useful, and curators space was amazing for finding out about exhibitions. I quickly learnt how to manage myself financially and this enabled me to make work full time as I sold my paintings in London, which opened up new doors.
A few of your pieces have been acquired recently, how did that come about?
Aon community art award is where I sold most of my paintings. I’m currently on a residency with East Street Arts in Leeds, UK, and a few business partners of East Street Arts saw my work on Instagram before approaching me. I’m starting a new project for Rushbond PLC, they have asked me to paint them a mural for one of their offices, which will be fun because I’ve never painted a mural before! Will be nice to paint big again!
As budgets for public art institutions are being cut, what in your opinion are key activities that artists should take on in comparison to recent past?
The internet is a big help these days, we can self promote and find people that we never could before, find opportunities to apply for, put on our own DIY Shows, find grants, find work even! Public art institutions budgets might be cut, but I don’t think it is stopping people showing work or making work, it’s just changing the way we do things.
You will soon travel to the US for a residency, how did you manage to get the opportunity and what are your expectations from the trip?
I found the ChaNorth opportunity on CuratorSpace, and was lucky enough to get accepted! They wanted photographs of the work, links to my website and a short description to what I do and why I want to do it! It was free to apply for which was amazing!
My expectations are that it’s going to be so freeing and open, I hope to make lots of new work and make lots of new contacts, there’s a chance to win a solo show and meet curators and gallerists so it’s going to be amazing whatever happens.
I’m looking forward to being in a new country and seeing the sights as well, I will have to work smaller however as it’s hard getting the materials to the US and will cost a lot to work big so this will help loosen up my practice and enable me to develop in other ways which I’m looking forward to. I’m also looking forward to being with other artists from different backgrounds and different stages in their careers.
Chlo Elizabeth's upcoming solo exhibition Painting Demons will be at the Bowery, August 30th - November 9th, Leeds, UK.