Has anyone ever told you what actually happens after art school? The ‘are you going to be an art teacher?’ question is commonly asked by friends and family. What else is there really? This week Central Station has asked art school graduates to share what they’ve been up to since their graduation in the Life After Art School series.

Barreirinha Beach Funchal - Cliff Andrade
Barreirinha Beach Funchal, from social landscape series Saudade

Cliff Andrade is a Communication Design graduate from Glasgow School of Art. Here he tells us what he’s been doing since graduating last summer.

I am an artist, the majority of whose personal practice is currently made up of long-form, research based photography projects. Professionally, I am pursuing a career in the lighting and shooting of moving image.

I have a vision of myself in the future. In this vision, I work as a (probably world famous) cinematographer, mainly on feature films. In between shoots, my long and tough weeks/months on set earn me the right and opportunity to engage in self-initiated long-form documentary photography projects. The solitude of the photographer forms a necessary and valuable counterbalance to the highly collaborative nature of the cinematographer, and each one reinforces the other. My photography projects are well-received by the ‘Photography World’, although whether this is due solely to my skill as a photographer or whether I am trading on my reputation as a cinematographer I’m not quite sure.

The Taking of Old Flo - Cliff Andrade
The Taking of Old Flo 

In reality I am, of course, a long long way from this – a recent photography graduate working hard to gain any and all experience he can to progress in approximately the correct direction. However, that I am able to put together a semi-coherent idea of what I would envisage myself doing in the future, however outlandish, is encouraging. This is the result of spending the months since graduating working in a variety of freelance jobs and gaining work experience: anything from running for TV shows and short films to assisting photographers on an ad hoc basis. Some paid and, unfortunately, many unpaid. Some which people have been kind enough to recommend me for and others sourced after endless hours on the internet and hundreds of ignored emails.

Vanessa - Cliff Andrade
Vanessa, from social landscape series Saudade

I have also been lucky enough to have my own photography work selected for a few exhibitions, and was an award winner of the annual Jill Todd Photography Prize back in October. More than anything, these things give you self-belief in your work and the invaluable opportunity to meet and converse with others in the industry, be they experienced individuals or others in the same position as you. Off the back of this and the positive feedback I received, I continue to plan and develop my own personal photography projects and plan to carry these out alongside paid work. I think it’s important not to neglect your personal work for the pursuit of paid work. In fact, I think it’s essential for my sanity.

After leaving art school most of us knew we wanted to work ‘creatively’. I knew that for me this work would be centred around photography, either moving or still. The trick is finding out exactly what the world out there is like and where you and your skills are best suited (and how to get there). This is, unfortunately, something art school cannot teach you. The only real way to figure it out is to get out there and work away at finding this out for yourself. Some days most of us will go through feeling like this is beyond us. The important thing to remember is that to feel this way is absolutely normal, and that it will pass.

Jill Todd Exhibition
Jill Todd Photography Prize Exhibition

Monte Bom Sucesso - Cliff Andrade
Monte Bom Sucesso, from social landscape series Saudade

To see more of Cliff’s work check out his showcased work here and our GSA Degree Show review from earlier this year.

Comment below or on Twitter using #LifeAfterArtSchool & mentioning @CenSta with your experience after art school.

Stay tuned for updates from art school graduates all this week. In the meantime see a what to expect from the upcoming Life After Art School features here.

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