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Owen Normand

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
Owen Normand

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.

Owen Normand

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.

Alumni wisdom

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.