How To Survive Art School: Make Mistakes, Find Support Networks and Give Good Hugs

Inês firmly believes in the power of support networks to keep you alive and thriving during your studies. For good measure, she throws in a couple of hugs here and there. I think we can all learn from her approach to conquering the droves of uni work.

Inês Neto Dos Santos is a multidisciplinary artist, working across film, photography, installation and performance. Her practice deals with concepts of human relationship to spaces and landscapes. Inês is interested in exploring how these can hold emotional value, and how we project feelings, memories and voices onto them. She has just finished an MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art and is applying her projects to residencies and exhibitions, while working freelance as a photographer and running a creative Supper Club in London. Her insight proves valuable, especially for the over-achiever.

1. What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started Art School? What would you have done differently?

I always like to think I wouldn’t change a thing about experiences I’ve been through. But in this case, if I could go back, I would tell my younger self: know that whatever mistakes you think you might make are actually fine and often really great, so just go for it!

In University my work revolved mostly around film and photography when I started, but experimenting with sound and installation brought me so much satisfaction that I often wish I had done bigger, crazier things. Never be afraid to experiment as much as you can and go wild. Try the things you’ve been wanting to do for ages but never have. Get involved in societies and focus groups. Why not start your own?

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

I feel I was very lucky in terms of the people I went to art school with. Having them as my support network really helped me trust myself and move forward with the obstacles I was facing. I think the most challenging project I did was actually my final show piece. I decided to curate a series of events, performances and installations in my exhibition space. I’d worked on these pieces throughout the whole year, and they would change every day. With some people telling me I was insane, and while everyone was sleeping off the stress and pre-show pressure at home (and believe me it gets tough), I was coming in every morning to set up a new piece. I was so exhausted that I honestly felt like quitting many times! But when I stepped back I realised that it all made sense and this was the only way to do justice to the work I’d produced during my MA.

I think it’s really important to go with your gut, trust yourself and push yourself as far as you can during art school — you’ll come out much stronger and with a positive sense of appreciation for your craft. This crazy plan also meant needing way more equipment than what the school had available, so I had to pull favours here and there to get extra speakers, projectors and amp, in return for drinks, dinners and hugs. It worked!

3. What do you do now?

I somehow always want to do lots of different things, but now I’m mainly trying to get my feet on the ground in terms of settling my practice. I started a series of Supper Clubs during my MA, and am now organising a few events around London which I’d love for you to checkout!

Alongside this, I’ve been developing my final project – which looks into the emotional dimensions of landscape, particularly the sea — and submitting it for residencies and exhibitions.

We love the drive that Inês exudes. She’s truly passionate about her craft, and re-working it until it’s in it’s best form. You can follow Inês’ other projects on her personal site or on social media. Get in-touch with her you never know what collaborations could take place, or how she could be added to your support network.


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