Alison Jardine, painter
Born in Yorkshire, Alison now lives and works in Dallas, Texas making paintings with unusual media such as cement. She explains her career journey and offers tips on becoming a visual artist.
I am from Yorkshire, England, and currently live and work in Dallas, USA.
What job do you do?
I am an artist, making paintings with interdisciplinary media such as oil paints, cement and sculptural digital installation.
How did you become an artist?
I believe an artist is both a type of person as well as a ‘job’. I’ve always been the former. Then, when I quit my other job in 2009, I became the latter
Take classes to improve your skills.
My family and I had moved to Dallas, in 2003, and for a few years I had no work permit. It was the perfect time for me to take up art again!
Before we moved, I worked in publishing, my final job in the UK being as a project manager for Amazon, where I had worked since 1998.
Later in 2009, I decided not to continue to teach as a full-time career option (I had been taking long-term substitute teaching jobs), but rather take the plunge into making a success of my art career. It became my full-time focus and I haven’t regretted it!
What qualifications do you have?
In terms of those handed out by institutions, I have a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Birkbeck College and am currently completing my MFA (A Master of Fine Arts) in Painting & Drawing which is like the PhD of the art world.
What do you do for your job?
Currently, I spend most days working on creating my art work and handling marketing and administration. In August, my work was on exhibit at Erin Cluley Gallery in Dallas, who represent me. The ECG was recently awarded 'Best Gallery in Dallas', by D Magazine (2016).
I believe an artist is both a type of person as well as a ‘job’.
I occasionally enter my artwork into select competitions as well, and recently was a finalist in the 'Hunting Prize for Painting & Drawing 2016'. The Hunting Prize is free to enter and offers a $50,000 prize, so it’s too tempting to miss.
I also found out recently that my work is going to be featured in New American Paintings which is a prestigious quarterly art publication, in October (West edition, 2016).
Currently, I am finishing up my MFA at the University of North Texas College of Visual Art & Design. I also teach drawing to undergraduates two days a week.
In addition, I am in the final stages of writing a book about art on the iPad, called Make Great Art on the iPad (Octopus Press, London; pub. June 2017), which takes a lot of time too.
What is the best thing about your job?
The fact that my job and myself are indistinguishable. So what I do all day arises seamlessly out of me. I also think I am very lucky as an artist to be able to sublimate my experiences and thoughts into material artworks. It stops my holding on to them.
And the worst thing?
It can be quite solitary....which is a great thing until it suddenly isn’t.
How do I become a visual artist?
1. Make 100 artworks and see if you have anything to say and the aptitude to say it.
2. Take classes to improve your skills.
3. Attend gallery and museum shows to plug yourself into the scene, and to meet like-minded people. Having artist friends is crucial to surviving this difficult but often deeply satisfying life.