‘Making it out there’ career talk by Director of National Scheme AA2A

Wendy Mason sitting in front of a slideshow

Loughborough School of Design and Creative Arts recently hosted special guest, Wendy Mason, National Director of the Artist Access to Art Colleges project (AA2A), for a talk aimed at informing students and graduates about self-employment as a career option.

Wendy was able to impart a vast amount of knowledge around being self-employed, with great enthusiasm. The informative session covered topics such as the difference between self-employment and being a Limited Company, types of tax and how to work out rates of pay, to name just a few. Wendy also shared useful web resources and tips from AA2A participants. One piece of advice that stuck out was the advice to “give it three years”; she explained it takes three years to really establish a routine around running your own business, tasks become less daunting and just part of the yearly cycle.

A background as a self-employed jeweller and silversmith inspired Wendy to help others with art and design skills to continue their creative practice after graduating university. This drive to see others succeed propelled Wendy into launching AA2A in 1999. The national scheme provides visual artists and designer makers with the opportunity to use workshops and supporting facilities in fine art and design departments of Higher and Further Education institutions which they would not otherwise have access to.

Loughborough University is partnering with the Artist Access to Art Colleges scheme for the second year in a row, currently hosting four practicing artists. Participating Loughborough graduate, Emily Arnold describes the time between graduating and being accepted onto the AA2A scheme as directionless. “Having access to the studios and facilities at Loughborough was a big motivator to keep developing my practice. The freedom to use technical hubs again and the opportunity to be in a creative environment have been so beneficial. As a student, you can’t appreciate the amazing facilities you have until you’ve graduated.”

The benefits go both ways, as the scheme allows students to interact and learn from local artists, gleaning insights into the technical processes and career prospects. Current student, Jack Drummond, commented “the working relationships I developed with the AA2A artists was unlike any I've found during my studies. They were more than happy to pass on their knowledge of craft and of making a living in that craft, which made for an amazing learning opportunity.”

We are pleased to offer students new opportunities to learn and engage with a range of practitioners and are currently looking for AA2A student representative to help by talking to other students about the artists and arranging events such as studio visits.

For more information, please email Amy Page-Ward, the University's Administrator for AA2A who would be pleased to advise you.