At a-n, we’ve got a spring in our step as we look forward to what this year’s crop of graduating students has to offer. Is there a more exciting time in the contemporary art calendar? There’ll be failure and success, disappointment and delight, and no doubt a few tears of joy and sorrow. Would we want it any other way?

With this year’s a-n Degree Shows Guide, guide editor Chris Sharratt and designer Alan Ward of Axis Design have tried to reflect a little of the energy and anticipation of this time, both for the graduating students and the rest of us. The guide also looks to the future and what happens next, once the shows are over and the real world beckons. There are tips on life after graduation, but also advice on buying work at degree shows.

Francis McKee, director of the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, offers his take on the wider significance of the degree show, and we talk to four a-n Degrees unedited student bloggers about their work and shows. Elsewhere, Northern Art Prize winner Leo Fitzmaurice picks his top three a-n student blogs, and four established artists – Michael Fullerton, Emily Wardill, Rachel Goodyear and Phoebe Cummings – talk about their first steps after graduating. And of course, there’s a wealth of information about degree shows the length and breadth of the UK.

Did we say we had a spring in our step? We’re positively bouncing…

Find a-n Degree Shows Guide 2012 here.
Read more about a-n and their projects here.