Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Apprentice

When I first arrived in London and began my search for employment to sustain me, I spent a lot of time looking into the possibility of an apprenticeship. The UK government has an apprenticeship program in place so I applied for it. I received a response the week I started my current temp position, notifying me that I was not their ideal choice for a candidate but good luck with my endeavours.

The thing is, nowadays when someone thinks of an apprenticeship, they think of the trades. They want builders, carpenters, electricians. They want to be teaching these skills to willing and able "youth". As I'm now 25 the term "youth" no longer applies and since I'm a fine artist and a writer, there aren't any true apprenticeship opportunities available to me.

There was a time when you couldn't be an artist without having an apprenticeship. The masters had droves of students; they would be stretching their canvases, mixing their paints, managing their sales. Without an apprenticeship you couldn't get anywhere.

Of course the wonderful benefit of being alive today is that you can market yourself. I continue to establish my role through my blog, my website and my twitter feed. I can make my own business cards with some photo paper and a decent printer. I can organise a gallery showing in my own home and expect a wonderful attendance. If I really wanted to I could drop a load of money and go to school, where I'd learn art history and get to play with different materials and experiment to my hearts content.

But there's something to be said about that one on one experience. There's something so essential to having a teacher who not only shows you the craft, but also has you running the business so you get a true life experience of what it's like to be a professional. At the moment I consider myself semi-professional. My artwork is not available for free but it isn't yet selling at a rate which means I don't require a second job.

I still find myself perusing the interweb, searching for artists in London who might want me to attend to their studios, assist with their gallery showings, clean their brushes and at the same time, observe the career they've built. I don't know if I'll ever find such a person but I'm keeping my eyes open.

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