7 Top Tips for Surviving and Thriving after Art School - by Rosalind Davis

Rosalind Davis is an artist-curator and a graduate of The Royal College of Art (2005) and Chelsea College of Art (2003) and has exhibited nationally and internationally.

We had the pleasure of welcoming Rosalind back to Hotel Elephant last week to speak about how to survive after art school and maintain a practice long term. As curator at Collyer Bristow Gallery and co-author of ‘What They Didn’t Teach You At Art School’ (2016), Rosalind is a fantastic source of practical tips and creative motivation.

Today on the blog, she will share with us some of her top tips on how to survive as an artist after art school! 

rosalind davis.jpg

Be professional
If you are offered an exhibition or opportunity galleries and curators will notice your professionalism, or lack of it! Remember the success of the exhibition is not wholly down to them. Being professional, engaged, present and enthusiastic is much more likely to advance your career and networks. You need to be organised and meet deadlines and then nurture these relationships. Its really important to also say thank you and be appreciate anyone who works on the exhibitions from the front of house to the Director.

Nurture Relationships
Keep in touch with fellow artists and your tutors, identify new mentors in your field of interest and create a critical peer network. Nurture these relationships, be generous and it will reward you intellectually, creatively and inevitably create opportunities. 

Build your confidence
You need to be articulate and engaging when promoting your work. This can take a bit of practice. Take part in networking events. Make sure you get feedback into your work where you can and understand what others read from your work.

Build your profile and Network!
Online networks are hugely important to connect with new networks; curators, galleries, press and most importantly other artists. 

Rosalind Davis is a successful curator while also successfully exhibiting her own art. 

Rosalind Davis is a successful curator while also successfully exhibiting her own art. 

How you get opportunities:


•Networking (online & offline)

•Building Relationships


•Seizing / creating opportunities

•Word of mouth

•Being creative about space.

•Being organised and professional

•Being present and memorable

•Being kind and polite!


Rosalind Davis - StrangeLands (mixed media on linen)

Rosalind Davis - StrangeLands (mixed media on linen)

Create a mailing list from visitors books at your exhibitions and then send out invitations to your subsequent exhibitions. People in the arts want to know you are active, progressing, dedicated and professional. You’re unlikely to get interest in your work if you don’t tell people about it!


Have all these things ready and use them for marketing:

• Website

• Business cards & postcards

• Press Release

• Newsletters

• Social Media

• Do not spam anyone or cold call with your work. It does more damage than good and will build you the wring kind of reputation. 

• Spend time on marketing and your artists statement – both are more important than you might think!   

(To learn more about marketing, check out our blogpost with Crafty Fox Market with helpful advice on e-mail marketing and newsletters here! )


Rosalind Davis - Free Fold (Fabric, Thread, Canvas and Steel works 2016)

Rosalind Davis - Free Fold (Fabric, Thread, Canvas and Steel works

When you get an opportunity consider all the possibilities that opportunity brings (and make them happen!)

• Create / realise new work

• Introduce new audiences to your work

• Expand your networks

• Collaborate

• Build your professional reputation

• To get other exhibition opportunities

• To learn

• To teach

• To inspire

And occasionally if you are lucky you might also sell work. This is really the one area you have no real control over so it is really important to focus on these other aspects.

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Find out more about Rosalind Davis' work at www.rosalinddavis.co.uk and https://www.collyerbristow.com/art-gallery

Follow Rosalind on Twitter @rosalinddavis and Instagram @rosalindnldavis.