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Josiane Keller

Edinburgh College of Art graduate Josiane Keller talks about building a career as an artist, and excessive salt in the Scottish diet.

Name Josiane Keller
Degree Course Postgraduate Diploma in Painting
Year of Graduation 2002

Your time at the University

Peter painted sitting with his friends 2012
Peter painted sitting with his friends, 2012. Copyright Josiane Keller.

I completed an MA at Leeds Metropolitan University in Contemporary Studio Arts in 2001 before moving to Edinburgh to do a Postgraduate Diploma in Painting at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in 2002.

My journey to Edinburgh was a long and varied one as, before I graduated from Leeds, I had already transferred universities twice. I did my first year of the MA at Bretton Hall, but their studios at the time were tucked away in a church in the woods, and I was the only student with no car. Hiking was healthy but tiring and not very practical . So after a year of renting my own studio space in town, I transferred to Sheffield Hallam, but this didn't work out either as once I had moved I found out that the funding had fallen through, and so I transferred, again, to Leeds Met.

I am originally Austrian and not a native English speaker and, after I graduated from Leeds, felt that I had spent too much time writing and had not enough time developing my painting. It was this that led me to ECA and the Postgraduate Diploma in Painting.

I chose Edinburgh, because I wanted a school with closer ties to the art market and one that could provide me with an accessible studio space.

Whilst at ECA I had various jobs, mainly in the catering industry, and enjoyed most of them. I was, however, once fired from a fish and chip shop for telling a customer that it wasn’t healthy to put so much salt on his chips!

I was... once fired from a fish and chip shop for telling a customer that it wasn’t healthy to put so much salt on his chips!

Josiane Keller

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University

I am very lucky that, despite some tough times, I have managed to work as an artist full time since my graduation. ECA was definitely the right decision because of the impact and status of the graduation show. ECA provides you with an opportunity to get your foot in the door and for important gallerists to see your work.

Via ECA I was also introduced to a lady from New York who had just opened her own gallery in Chelsea. She was keen to work with young European artists and had come on a scouting trip to Europe looking for new talent. She would not have had the time to look at smaller colleges and so being at ECA allowed me to feature on her radar. I worked with her for two years during which time my work developed in new and interesting directions.

I also took the opportunity offered by ECA to study abroad for a term and spent time in in Cleveland, USA, where I, coincidentally, live now.

It is ten years since I graduated from Edinburgh and my work has evolved. I am now combining media in creative ways and have used interviews as a way of expressing experiences that are not my own. With this in mind, I am convinced that my supervisor would appreciate the blossoming of skills that were acquired in Edinburgh a decade ago.

Alumni wisdom

I can only speak from my own experience, but I believe it is worthwhile studying, at least for a time, at one of the bigger colleges or instututions. The professional possibilities are so much greater and, if you want to make art your career, then this is really important.