Life After Art School

The first thing you have to decide, when you start to write something or draw something, or create anything at all, is to ask yourself; who is it for? Who will read it, who will hang it on their wall, whose life is it supposed to change? If you’re not changing someone’s life, even in the tiniest, most imperceptible way, then why are you even doing it?

For most of my life, this question has only had one answer: me. My essays haven’t been educating anyone else but myself, and my pictures haven’t been hanging on anyone’s walls but my own. Maybe what makes the real world so strange is that now I have to go out and find other answers to that question. Answers which, when you think about it, should probably not come naturally to someone who’s spent their entire life up until that point in a bubble of hypotheticals and “one day…” reassurances.

But that’s what art school is for. It prepares you, it gives you the nudge, it dips your toe in. It helps you to become confident in your own unique ability to affect the lives of others. I truly believe it has done that for me, and it is something for which I am immensely grateful. In fact, in the form of a few certain people, it is continuing to support me with incredible generosity and kindness. I am certain that in years to come my debt of gratitude to these people will only grow.

As I write this I am sat in a coffee shop, sipping Earl Grey tea and tapping away on my macbook pro like a seasoned hipster creative on a lunch break. I’m surrounded by others doing much the same, and in an hour’s time I will return to my second shift at my new restaurant job. This sounds like the narrative of someone who’s fairly settled in the bustle of life, and I suppose I am getting there. I live in a lovely house with four equally lovely people, I get to talk to cool arty people on the radio every Thursday, and a few days ago I found out that a conversation I took part in will be published in CCQ magazine. Perhaps weirdest of all, last week I sat in front of a room full of students and talked about my life. And they listened! In my ears, Jamestown Revival are telling me that ‘the golden age is all but through’, and a few months ago I would probably have believed them. But now I’m not so sure.

It is remarkable to think that I’ve only been back in Cardiff for six weeks. The amount of things I’ve learnt and people I’ve met in that short time is staggering. My perception of the city and its cultural community has been blown wide open, and I am truly excited to be a part of it. The summer had been a tedious slog of boozing and working, and the last drops of post-graduation euphoria had evaporated. I was desperate to be back, with the inspirational people I’d surrounded myself with for the past three years; turning new pages rather than re-reading the first familiar chapter over and over. I needed that feeling again.

Well it’s safe to say I’ve got it now. From the very first day, even before I’d put sheets on my bed, doors started to open. Suddenly I was able to say ‘yes’ as if there was no second option, and I started looking at the world as if it was a jigsaw and in my pocket is a missing piece. I can’t wait to see what things look like in a few months’ time.

So what about that question? Have I found other answers? I think I’m starting to. As for this blog, I suppose I’ll find out. At the moment it’s nice to turn my thoughts into writing just for the sake of reflection, but there are other reasons and there will be more to come on that. Stay tuned.

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