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.

Steven Swinney is a designer from Elgin, in Glasgow, not in London. He graduated from the Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design.

Since graduating from GSA, life has been super crazy and hectic. In the best way. Right after our Glasgow and London Degree Show exhibitions, I was employed by GSA to be in charge of coordinating and curating the Design School’s presence at the Commonwealth Games. My concept for this was an egalitarian art school which offered the public the opportunity to get involved with some of the processes involved in creative practice through a series of workshops led by graduates that I wanted involved in the project. I curated an exhibition of selected graduates’ work and this was available to buy at public-friendly prices – an attempt to further dispel the myth surrounding galleries and the cost of owning original artwork.

Since then, I have been nonstop grafting as a freelance designer, which is super, super hard work but really rewarding. I’ve been fortunate enough that I have had incredibly exciting cultural sector jobs come my way (hold tight Neil and Steve) that are rad to work on and keep offering up more opportunities.

I have been working as the designer for My Bookcase a new social initiative dedicated to the understanding, appreciation and dissemination of books. Being entrusted as the sole graphic designer and design advisor on a job as important as this has been really daunting but is really gratifying when you see your ideas being successfully implemented in the real world. This project has also led to off–shoot jobs, for example, myself and My Bookcase are running a collaborative workshop as part of Analogue Social’s 11 Mitchell Lane event at the Lighthouse in Glasgow – something which fits with my interest in design and education.

A recurring medium in my art school work was books and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to continue working within this medium since graduating. I’m currently working on two publications different cultural clients. Designing the book for the Fashion Cultures Festival has let me collaborate with the photographer Callum Rice and the illustrator Ailsa Sutcliffe, which has led to a really rich body of content to work with and the freedom the client has offered is crazy but great! I’m also producing a 3-volume series of books for the fashion designer Tommy Zhong whom I met whilst at GSA. There’s also the smaller jobs that you find out about through chatting to people in pubs or at exhibitions. I ended up redesigning someone’s business cards and a bar’s menus just through striking up a conversation with people.

I would like to offer the best advice I received in the run up to Degree Show, “Art School is a frame of mind.” – Neil McGuire, 2014. Big up.

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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