10 Tips for Struggling Art School Graduates

wild dog attacking a woman and child

Here are ten tips for art school graduates who are struggling to find their place in the (art) world while paying off student loans after graduation.

1. Turn It Around

You can still turn things around. No matter how bad things seem, you can find positive in the negative. Albert Einstein said: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” Find or create your way forward.

2. Remember That You’re Not Alone

If you’re sitting under a mountain of debt, remember that there’s no such thing as debtor’s prison. Millions of people across the country owe millions of dollars in student loans, and many just live their lives.

3. Keep Making Art

Make art about how you feel. Make art about your struggles. Make art about your successes. Whatever you do, keep making art.

4. Tell Your Story

When people feel down, they tend to close up and hide. Instead of shutting down and shutting in, share your story. People around you will:

A. Become your friend
B. Offer you an opportunity
C. Consider ways to help you
D. Share their own, similar story

Sharing your story can spark conversations that lead to opportunities for collaborative thinking, which can build community, and solutions.

5. Don’t Pretend

Sometimes, when things get tough, people like to pretend that everything is okay. Fake people attract fake people. Keep it real and you’ll make real connections. Real connections lead to real opportunities.

6. Seek Help

If you’re struggling, it’s okay to seek help. In fact, you should reach out. There are all kinds of services available to people who are in need. Do an Internet search. Ask around. Ask at your local library. Ask your college. Ask your lender. A little help can go a long way. Keep making art.

7. Keep In Touch

No matter if you graduated from college ten days or ten years ago, once you leave you can always go back. Let your school and/or classmates know what you’re up to, or what kinds of opportunities you are seeking.

8. If You Have Wiggle Room, You’re Not Stuck

Sometimes it seems like you’re stuck in a rut and will be there forever. That’s not the case. Even if you have to stay where you’re at for longer than you prefer, look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Getting through the dark times is easier to do if you keep making art.

9. Remember Your Mission

When you entered college, you likely had a goal, dream, or mission that you were pursuing. After graduating, it’s easy to go off course, because life gets in the way. The good news is that you can always get back on course. You can jump into a new direction or you can slowly turn towards it. Take at least one step towards your goals and dreams every day.

10. Stay in the Game

It’s up to you to make your choices, but don’t blame yourself when things don’t work out. The world works in mysterious ways. Nothing is over until it’s over. You can always make things more interesting. Keep making art.