One night only. Degree show advice.

Picture the scene – you are the most exhausted you have ever been in your life . You haven’t slept properly for three months. Deep down you are shit scared about how you are going to pay the bills after graduation and the fact you may end up back in the bedroom you grew up in. So this degree show malarky has to be worth it – you have to make it count. Here’s what I reckon you should be thinking about ( in no particular order )

1. Context

Why is your work the way it is? What brief did you answer? What problem did you solve? This has to be very obvious.

2. Show me the mess

I want to see your process, your thinking, your mistakes and your learnings. I want to feel your personality. This why flat stuff on a wall that all looks the same is dull. This is also why rows of objects that you are not allowed to touch unless you’ve sanitised your hands is homogenous and easily forgotten. Show me the mess.

 3. What was the result?

I want to see the results of your work in a way that I can relate to. In the real world things don’t sit in boxes or on shelves – people use things and break things and make things their own. Things exist in homes, schools and bedrooms. Show me the real world using your work.

4. Who are you?

You get hired because of your personality. Fact.

5. What happens now?

What are you going to do now and what is going to happen next? You have to know the answer to those questions before the big night. Tell the truth – “I’m going to sleep for a week and then write down the one thing I’ve learned from all this” or “I’m going to get drunk and then make a list of the ten people I want to work for”. “I don’t know” is not an answer and shrugging your shoulders doesn’t count. You’ve had four years to think about it so make a plan. A half baked plan is better than no plan.

6. Prepare

Before the big night you have to sit down and ask yourself the questions you have been avoiding lately:

Who inspires you and why?

Who do you want to connect with?

What do you want to happen next?

Do you want to get funding?

What do you want to learn?

Who do you want to collabore with?

Who do you want to meet for a coffee?

MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: How much does your product / project / time cost?

7. Design an experience

Make your space one to remember. Make sure you are at your stand and talk to people who walk past – don’t wait for them to talk to you! If you have to pop off somewhere then make it easy for people to find you! Make a wee sign: “Be back in five or come and find me at the bar I’m wearing a red bow tie”

8. Say thank you

People who visit your space are interested and curious and that’s a big deal. Say thank you and ask questions ( eg. why are you here tonight? what are you excited about? what would you do now if you were me? )

9. Have an online presence. 

Just do it. No excuses.

10. Confidence

Find it. practice it. Make it part of you – find a confidence that suits you and your work and nurture it.

Lots of people have talent, but it’s the hard work that sets you apart.  To borrow a quote from Tony Wager “The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you do with what you know.”