How To Survive Art School: Why Can’t I Have Fire On Campus?


KitMapper user Chloe Spicer shares something you may not know about how to get the institution on your side, letting you run wild with projects as you so choose.

We caught-up with Chloe Spicer, a recent Fine Arts Graduate who frequently uses KitMapper, and asked her a few questions about how to survive Art School. After completing her course, she’d come-up with a few tips to give current students. You’ll need her insight on how to get around the bureaucracy of the educational world, which could present some barriers if you aren’t clued-in.

Tell us a bit about your studies.

I come from a performance background, with a few years of librarianship thrown into the mix. Initially, I studied Art and Performance at Dartington College of Art, before graduating with a BA in Fine Art: Print and Time-Based Media from UAL Wimbledon College of Art in 2015. I was a bit of an interdisciplinary all-rounder. The central theme of my relationship to books has tied my passion and education altogether.

1. What do you know now which you wish you had known when you started art school? What would you do differently?

The people on your course are your network! I wish I’d taken more opportunities to collaborate whilst at art school. It’s much harder to find time to begin collaborations post-graduation as everyone’s so busy and time a bit more precious.

The network that I did build in college has been so invaluable to me from skill and equipment swaps to just cups of tea and critical/social support. I only regret that I didn’t take advantage of that whilst getting my degree.

2. How did you get ambitious projects off the ground whilst at art school? What were the kind of barriers that you faced?

I’m a sucker for an impossible project. I’ve always been interested in teasing the boundaries of college bureaucracy. Why can’t I have a fire on campus? Why shouldn’t we have a rave in the library? I learnt very quickly the best way to get what you want is to be a goody goody, with an undercurrent of sickly sweet rebellion.

The biggest barrier I found was the Institution’s fear of risk, or setting a precedent of risky practices. The trick I found was to really get to know the rules and systems, then come pre-armed with a kick-ass risk assessment and ethics proposal. That way there is nothing you can say no to — you’ve got it covered. Apparently, I was the first student to ever be given permission to have a fire on campus — of which I’m pretty proud! I was then able to share my risk assessments with other students and staff to get their projects off the ground as well! I built my career on the library raves I had approved!


3. What do you do now?

I’m a bookish artist and library curator. I founded and curate the alternative book arts studio Object Book, which has been in residence in South West London for the past year. We run a program of widely book arts-ish workshops, events and screenings to explore accessibility for the book. We’re planning a move to East London, and hoping to open another location in Liverpool, so it’s all go!

I also run freelance interventions, events (like the library rave) and workshops in libraries, museums and festivals. You can also often find me at artist’s book fairs. I do often exhibit, but my practice is focussed on public dialogue. I like to get out, pop-up with some odd bookish art and meet people.

It can be daunting to navigate the nuances of student-life whilst also networking and sourcing equipment for projects. Through the How To Survive Art School Series we’ll highlight knowledge that graduates want to pass to the next generation of art students. It’s our goal for to you succeed and save money whenever possible.

Chloe Spicer is just one of many who have listed kit with KitMapper. Find Chloe’s amazing silent disco kit that was used for her final degree project on our website, or check out her website to keep up-to-date with the current projects she is working on.


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