As a second semester junior for whom senior year is creeping up way too fast, I went into the Art After Guilford event with a fair amount of excitement but an even larger amount of existential angst. I have no idea where I’m going with my art or my life when I leave college. Would these alumni have any advice for this young artist who has no direction in life?
Art After Guilford is put together every year to give former Guilford art students a chance to talk about their work and how they’ve fared after graduating our little bubble of a campus. This year the speakers were Bryan Stacey ’09, who opened his own tattoo shop and art gallery Anvil And Ink Studio; Lindsey Emery ’14, who owns a ceramic home goods company called Suite One Studio; and Scott Lyman ’08, whose work was recently exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.
Bryan and Lindsey are very business-minded. Bryan talked about how it is hard to find a job at existing tattoo shops, so he decided to just open his own. This seems like a scary prospect to me, but you could tell that Bryan is really dedicated to what he does. “I’m obsessed,” he said, in response to someone asking if doing art as a job makes them less passionate about it. Lindsey described building her business from nothing. She showed us the first sale she ever made, on Etsy of course, of two not-so-great-looking ceramic mugs on an ugly background. Six years later, she has a nice website with products that sell out almost immediately and have been featured in many magazines and publications.
While Bryan and Lindsey are doing impressive things, their testimonies left me feeling apprehensive because they both clearly have a focus and a passion that has driven them for a long time that has led them to where they are. Bryan knew he loved drawing and tattoos, and Lindsey knew she loved ceramics; they both took their creative focus and made something great out of it. This makes me very nervous though! Because I don’t have a focus yet in my art. I don’t know what medium I prefer, what themes and ideas I want reflected in my art.
After listening to Bryan and Lindsey’s presentations, I just felt lost. What are you doing with your art?? What are you doing with your life??? My young adult identity crisis is definitely upon me.
When Scott spoke, however, I began to feel better. When Scott left Guilford, he immediately went to Harvard for graduate school to study theater. After graduating Harvard and being an actor for a little while, Scott decided it wasn’t for him. “I was tired of people always looking at me,” he said. When he went to London for a second masters, this time in art, he reported feeling a little out of place. He spoke though about how his different background actually helped him, in the long run.
Hearing Scott talk was really helpful to me because he is almost ten years out from graduating Guilford, and he doesn’t have a business like Bryan and Lindsey. He didn’t have a focus in his art until recently when he found a way to meld his theater and art backgrounds into film. His career could really go anywhere from here- and that’s okay. Maybe one day ten years from now it will be me talking to current Guilford artists, assuring them that it is going to be okay.
I don’t know what type of art I will be creating, but I know I’m going to love it.