What Now? Life After Uni #1 10 Jun

With degree shows just around the corner we are running a series of blog posts aimed at students who will be graduating this year. Leaving university can be a shock to the system and knowing where to start on your creative career can seem like a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t have to be. We spoke to artists, designers and creative professionals to find out about how they found the challenge of leaving university and if they had any tips for progressing in a creative career. The first in our series looks at networks and studio spaces.


In university your studio space and your lectures form a network of support. You have the opportunity to share work, test ideas and get genuine feedback which all helps towards your creative development. Outside of university there are plenty of ways that you can develop a network and still receive peer support, feedback and guidance.

Castlefield Gallery Associates, Manchester


CG Associates is a membership scheme that was developed to support not only creative graduates but any practicing artists, curators and writers. Castlefield Gallery developed the scheme to support members in developing their work and careers by providing information, skills, opportunities, resources, promotion and critical dialogue. Jane Lawson helped set up and has co-ordinated the scheme since graduating from the BA Visual Arts course at Salford University in 2012.

Leaving university was a shock to the system and I really missed being able to focus on making work every day. But I’ve been really lucky to find work at Castlefield Gallery, setting up and running the CG Associates scheme, and I’ve learnt an enormous amount about the contemporary art world in Manchester and nationally. It’s been great to see the benefits people get from being members of CG Associates, in terms of feeling part of something, meeting other artists and getting information about opportunities as well as the events and training that we run. I’ve also seen how a lot of opportunities for artists at this level come from other artists, and also how artists who create opportunities for others – eg through putting on group shows or competitions – benefit from it.”

Jane Lawson, artist and Castlefield Gallery Associates Coordinator

CG Associates membership is open to artists, writers and independent curators, it cost £60 a year and you can join here.


a-n The Artists Information Company, nationwide

a-n is a membership scheme for artists, art students, producers, arts professionals, researchers, arts organisations and universities. With members across the country a-n strives to support visual art practice and provide advice and guidance for artists. Once you are a member you have access to artists insurance, jobs and opportunities, advice and the chance to connect with like minded professionals. You can join up here.

Studio Spaces

Whether it is a desk somewhere in your living room or a space in an artists studio, one of the first thing to sort out after university is where you will continue to produce your work. Steve Oliver is the Visual Arts technician at Salford University and believes that a space to make your work is the most important thing to consider when leaving university.


A studio space is any nominated space, which you go to every day with the sole purpose of making your work. This could be your shed, a spare room or a space in a designated artists studio. Without one an artist struggles to gain traction, to be spontaneous in their responses, to maintain momentum and progress their work. Get as much space as you can, you will never really know what the work wants to be until it has the room to appear in front of you.

Steve Oliver, Rogue Artist Studio holder and Visual Arts Technician at Salford University

In Manchester we are fortunate to have several great studio spaces which artists and makers can rent:

#1 Rogue Artist Studios
#2 Islington Mill
#4 Mirabel Studios
#5 Bankley



Next week in our series we will be looking at internships and exhibitions.







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