Owen Normand is proof that it is possible to earn a living through painting, but looking beyond the confines of art school whilst still studying was vital to his success.
|Name||Owen Jack Normand|
|Degree Course||BA Illustration|
|Year of Graduation||2008|
Your time at the University
I had just completed a year at Leith School of Art and I was very inspired by drawing and painting, portraiture in particular. I couldn't wait to continue my studies at ECA. First year at ECA is a great opportunity to try out all the different subjects and departments in the art school. When I started the year, I was 100% convinced that I wanted to do painting but by the end of the year I had decided to study illustration.
I saw the discipline taught in the Illustration department as a positive thing: we learnt how to design images, meet deadlines, and studied life drawing weekly throughout our degree. I felt this structure suited me better than what the Painting department was offering and I did most of the work for my Illustration degree with paint anyway. The Illustration department also offers students access to the amazing print workshop and a chance to try a wide variety of printmaking techniques.
During my degree I was already trying to get my work out there. I made a good contact with a small gallery owner near my flat and started selling paintings, which helped with the bills.
I really enjoyed my studies in Edinburgh, especially because it is such a visually stunning city and I found plenty of inspiration there.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
I am a figurative painter and illustrator who specialises in portraiture. After graduating in 2008, I decided to move to the incredible creative centre that is Berlin to make a start on my life as an artist.
Winning the Young Artist Award at the BP Portrait Awards 2013 was a huge boost to my career.
Winning the Young Artist Award at the BP Portrait Awards 2013 was a huge boost to my career. Since then I have shown my work in New York, had a solo show in Lisbon, and have been named as one of 15 emerging artists of great promise in 2014 by Rebecca Wilson, Saatchi Art's Chief Curator.
I am extremely grateful for my time at ECA and the friends and connections I made there. I still stay in touch with some of my tutors and always love coming back to Edinburgh to visit.
I received a great piece of advice in my final year of ECA from my life drawing tutor. At the time, most of us were completely obsessed with our degree show and getting a good mark. He said that it was important to look beyond art school and have a plan for what to do afterwards - to prepare yourself by starting to make contacts, looking for galleries or commissions and entering competitions.
I found this advice really helpful as it can be a shock leaving the safe bubble of art school and making the transition from student to professional artist.