Graduated… Now What?

When I first received that letter in the mail saying I was eligible to walk in April 2013, I fell into complete bliss. I was excited. I already felt this sense of accomplishment I was looking for, it was an amazing feeling. Graduating; one of the few things I thought would never come. I spent countless hours imagining what I would do after graduating: travel the world, work at a high paying design firm, or even running my own firm where beautifully created pieces of work would be sold in the art market in a snap for high hundreds to low thousands of dollars. I was lost in endless day dreams.

As the semester slowly reached an end and everything was set for graduating (including my fees) and my senior show was up. My grades were the highest they had ever been. I realized what I gained in my classes. I was taught about experimenting with materials, whether they were typical materials like paper, pencil, ink etc. and new materials like items around the house, different surfaces. I was shown pieces of work I hadn’t even heard about through art history classes. I became stronger with the help from my instructors, my environment, my experiences but most of all, my colleagues who, in critiques, pushed me to get the most out of my work. They helped me brainstorm where one idea became three. It’s like an endless web surrounding me with positivity, motivation and inspiration. Now that I have graduated, I realize I will have to find my own web.

Though restarting from scratch can be a scary thing, we all must face it. Things end so quickly, without warning. Being a recent graduate, I have thought about ways to keep the creative flow going in the “real world” as a new artist. In this short period that I have experienced the freedom of officially being an artist in this world, something I have realized is that I’m still learning.

One piece of work that reoccured throughout my studies was “The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth” by Bruce Mau, a designer currently working today. Sure I’ve read this (as any art student would at nine in the morning in class after pulling an all nighter) but it wasn’t till after graduating that I took a second look into it this manifesto and really considered it.

In a desperate need for some motivation, to find support and inspiration, the first lesson I thought about was the following: “Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.”

Graduating from college changes most everyone, and it’s a big step to take for anyone. This event changed my sense of freedom; I have this freedom that was never there before. I have no one to tell me what to draw, what to make, design, what think of or how to think. No one, but myself. Graduating showed me that there are many approaches to take and now I must create my own boundaries, my own web, and my own space.

Working at a cafe in Ann Arbor, you tend to talk to very interesting individuals, one of which is a gallery owner in Ann Arbor. She gave me some of the best advice I could hear just out of college: “Start small, stay local.”

Some of the best people and groups are in the same beginning steps as me. They share the same desire to walk through the threshold of success. Interactions with other students, instructors and business just like myself who are starting off by finding their network. Starting off small, local and intimate has helped me developed ties with publishing and creating a web.

As of right now, my web, starting small but strong. The Hive and the Warehouse have become great new networks of mine for support and publishing and as a place where other artists can gather and collaborate and continue to inspire each other.The last piece of advice I can give is to keep an open mind and explore everything. Opportunities will come your and must capture them in your web. I have since been published in web galleries, local, new magazines like Body Electric and now have gained support from the Hive and the Warehouse for space, contact, employment and inspiration. Keep moving forward and creating!

By Gretchell Herman


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