Things to do once you graduate from art school.

Pauline Le Pichon
4 min readJun 6, 2024


In June 2014, I graduated with an MFA, which marked the end of my studies. I was more than happy to graduate but didn’t really know what I was going to do next. Now that 10 years have passed, I’m going to share with you what I would and wouldn’t do if I graduated these days.

Look for a ‘day’ job related to your studies

As soon as I graduated, I started looking for two types of job: a job related to my studies (such as working in a gallery, museum, etc.) and a day job that would be easier to get and would therefore allow me to earn money quickly. I knew the first one wasn’t going to be easy to get as there weren’t many opportunities, but I found the second one quite easily. In fact, I started working near underground stations handing out free magazines and leaflets. I did this job for about 4 years, while looking for art-related jobs, working on my artwork and taking photos for commissioned projects. But as I’ve been an instructor for almost 3 years now, one question keeps coming to mind: why didn’t I look for an instructing job sooner?
I mean, sometimes I feel like I’ve wasted my time.

Let’s be clear: I don’t see my job as a teacher as something I do just to earn a living. It’s much more than that. As I said in a previous article, I love teaching, helping my students improve their English skills and introducing them to art and artists. That’s why I think I would have been as capable back then as I was three years ago.

You should always look for a job that you enjoy, that fits in with your studies and that doesn’t take up too much of your time. I know it’s hard to find one, but you won’t regret it. I remember handing out magazines and thinking that I could do something much more exciting. I was absolutely right.

Stay productive and don’t be negative

I know that not finding a job in the art field, or not being chosen for exhibitions, grants or residencies can be very difficult to deal with. That’s probably why many artists quit their careers. Indeed, it’s quite easy to believe that your art isn’t good when no one wants to exhibit it. I know, because I’ve often felt that way… and I still feel that way sometimes.
But you should always stay active and produce art.

After I graduated, it took me a few months to come up with ideas for a new series. This break was probably due to the fact that I didn’t really know what to do. Once I started working on this new series, I felt both challenged and excited. It was a challenge because my teachers were no longer around to tell me what they thought of my work, but taking new photographs was so good for my mental health. I also started submitting my series to numerous calls. It got a lot of rejections… but fortunately a lot of people liked it too. I realised then that the people who selected (or didn’t select) my work were a bit like my ‘new teachers’. I wanted to carry on creating because I’ve always loved doing that and the people showing my work have always been another form of motivation for me.
So that’s what I’ve been doing for years.

It’s not always easy, as many things can get in your way, such as your personal life, your day job or even a lack of inspiration. But if you feel you need to say things through art, don’t give up and keep creating and submitting your work. It’ll keep you busy, make you proud of yourself and keep you creating your own world. So set aside at least one day a week to work on your art. Don’t forget that you can also seek professional advice to improve your work.

Pauline Le Pichon, self-portrait, 2014

Don’t rush

Every artist wants to exhibit their work as quickly as possible, as if it were some kind of emergency. The same goes for artist residencies and grants. But you know what? That takes time too!
So don’t send your work to every open call you come across. Trust me: it’s a waste of time. At first, I thought it was a good idea so I sent my work out to a lot of calls for applications in the first year after I graduated. As you can easily guess, it didn’t turn out as I’d hoped. Now that I think about it, I can’t help thinking that I was pretty stupid at the time.
So my advice is to take the time to create something that you like and is good enough to show… and then you can start finding open calls that match your work. Don’t waste time doing things you know deep down are useless.

Keep doing things that have nothing to do with art

I love art. I create works of art, I teach English using art and artists as topics of conversation, I very often read art books, I love discovering new artists and visiting museums… in short, art is one of the most important things in my life.
BUT it also feels good to do things that have nothing to do with it. Art is a passion, but I also need to take a break sometimes. So I cook, I go to the gym, I travel, I spend time with the ones I love, etc.
Doing things that aren’t art-related allows me both to de-stress when things get a bit overwhelming and to come back to art feeling more ‘refreshed’.

I hope this article has been helpful. If you’re a young artist, don’t be too hard on yourself. Take the time to find out how things work.



Pauline Le Pichon

I’m a French visuel artist, freelance photographer, and instructor