10 tips on how to succeed in your Online Art Degree during lock down.
When lockdown first started in March and my MA in Fine art drawing at Camberwell University of the Arts London went online... I was gutted! I was scared that I wouldn't be able to learn the skills I needed for the future and that I wouldn't be able to network with other artists and build up an art community that would help me get a job in the future.
But looking back now that I've graduated I've realised that it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. The collaborative struggle of art students in the wake of having to do their degrees online has formed a body of emerging artists that are determined, resilient and eager for community. During lockdown I was forced into experimenting with materials and mediums that I had never considered before. I had to step out of my comfort zone, grow up professionally and invest in the artists around me.
Lockdown is a difficult time to work from home as an artist but as one of my lectures said to me "your experience is what you make it". So here are my 10 tips on how to succeed in your online art degree during covid, for any art students out their willing to give it ago, fight for what they want and not give up!
1. Get inspired
One of the biggest struggles I faced working from home during a pandemic was that my ideas and motivation for work dried up a lot quicker than normal and because of lockdown I had get used to being at home and not going outside. This became a real issue during August with a month to go till my MA deadline and I had no motivation left to do any work.
But things I found really helpful were getting outside and going for a walk and finding things in my local area and beyond that interested me. If anyone needs any ideas the Barbican Conservatory is a pretty cool place to visit.
Other things that helped inspire me included online lectures, e-resources & e-books from the Uni Library, podcasts (Serpentine back to earth, ArtTalk, ArtCurious), virtual gallery tours (you can visit any gallery in the world), physical galleries, online events and workshops.
2. Get plugged into community
One of my biggest fears moving my degree online was the fear that I wouldn't be able to make any friends at Uni or build up art networks. But I think lockdown has just made me more determined to make sure that I really invest in the people I do meet.
If your struggling to build connections with other artists you could organise a zoom coffee date with an arty friend, collaborate something together, get involved with online crits, look out for online showcases, online private views, events on social media and online interest groups.
If the groups and activities your looking for aren't there then take the plunge and set them up yourself! The networking and collaborating I benefited from the most during lockdown were the ones I formed myself by creating an open call to organise a graduate exhibition and nature art workshops I set up on Zoom for my peers.
3. Be ambitious
When I was doing my MA from home during lockdown, I was worried that I might not achieve as much as I could have done if I had been able to go into Uni.
But one of my lecturers said something that really helped to motivate me.
She said " your experience is what you make it and if you don't be ambitious you will miss out on what an MA in Fine Art can really do".
This really helped me and showed that although in some ways my development was restricted because I didn't have access to big print machines and ceramic studios at home. In order not to leave my MA disappointed and without the grades and personal development that I wanted. I had to be determined not to let my circumstance become an excuse for being lazy and giving up. I had to push myself to try new things and not stay in the safety of my comfort zone.
4. Find opportunities
Sometimes during lockdown when I was feeling demotivated I found it really helpful to look for new open calls, competitions and awards to get involved in and scheduled them into my calendar. Finding new online competitions on art-quest, art rabbit and Instagram really helped me get excited and know that not all doors where closed because of covid.
5. Work with what you've got
When I was feeling disappointed that I couldn't use the facilities at Uni I found it helpful to make a list of the materials, tools and products I had available to me. I also used the money I was now saving on not traveling into Uni every day to buy some much needed art supplies and see them as an investment in my art degree.
When you're working from home it can be easy to get stuck doing the same old thing because you're in the same environment all day. As we all know this gets pretty boring soon and doesn't help with motivation and inspiration.
So challenge yourself to shake up your routine every once and a while, work with a material you haven't used before or go back to an old favourite. Some times as artists we get caught up thinking we have to have a set style and do a lot of the same but your degree is your opportunity to push out the boat and try something new.
7. Take a break and go some where new.
Whether it's a city break or just a walk in a different park. Make sure you get outside and explore somewhere new. It will help re-inspire you and blow away the cobwebs.
8. Be disciplined, make a routine & plan your time.
Ahhh Netflix you're so distracting!!! I don't know about you but I've been a bit addicted to Netflix during lockdown watching The Crown and Anne with an E. Although these have been great and I have enjoyed them. I know that when I let Netflix time collied with making art time I just becomes really unproductive.
When you're working from home it can be difficult to play when you're supposed to be working and work when you really need to rest. Thats why being disciplined is important and planning out time for making, reading, writing, admin, networking, getting inspired, plugging into community and relaxing.
I often get bored quickly of any methods I've put in place for time management. But something I have found really useful is making a to do list on Trello. An online organiser and calendar which enables me to plan my time immediately when I get up or before I go to bed.
Also because its online and not in a physical diary I can't lose it!
Other things I have found helpful include starting each day with a little routine of coffee, Bible study & an exercise video. Then I crack on with admin tasks and leave the making till after lunch and finish the day with a walk or a run to get me out of the house. Find what routine works for you and stick to it!
9. Find a space that works for you.
When my husband and I used to occasionally work from home together, we would share the kitchen table to work. But as I'm sure many of you have experienced, working in close proximity to other just causes arguments.
I would be trying to get the paints out and get in the creative zone, while he was trying to talk to his boss on a work call. Which left us both feeling restricted and annoyed. But when lockdown happened we actively picked different rooms to work in and although this may be a luxury some of us can only dream of in London, trying to create a work space that works for you is really important.
Keep things tidy. I try to keep my work space tidy and organised because as soon as the coffee cups start piling up on my table and bits of art work are left here, there and everywhere. I know I'm going to start getting stressed because I can't find anything.
Be adaptable. I know one of my friends during lockdown was working in a studio apartment with her partner. So the only place she could have time to herself was in the bathroom! Obviously this was anything but ideal but instead of giving up she adapted her practice and went digital! Adapt your art to your environment and what you have available and check out Lucy's amazing digital collages and gifs at www.lucycorwin.com.
10. Buddy up with someone to work
Sometimes it can be hard to stay motivated when you're working on your own and that's why shared studios are such a joy to work in. As an extrovert I particularly struggle with working on my own and I can find that it effects my mental health when I can't share my questions with other.
So during lockdown I found it really helpful having my husband working in another room because when he was working it motivated me to work. But you may not have anyone in your home you can buddy up with. So why not work with someone over video chat? This way you can stay motivated and have company.
There concludes my 10 tips on how to succeed in your online art degree.
Thanks for reading