Building Visual Art Graduate’s Resilience Capabilities: Current tertiary educator strategies and methods

Eileen Larsen
2015 Conference

Tertiary visual art graduates are vulnerable to many risks and stressors when transitioning from study to work in the creative industries. Employment precarity, difficulties establishing healthy social capital, varying pressures from peer competition and client or gatekeeper expectations are some of the many risks that graduates need to manage. These risks are potentially exacerbated by limited industry-orientated education and opportunities to develop supportive, professional networks. Resilience is of significance to visual artists because it is seen as the ability to reduce vulnerability, however there is limited scholarly focus in this area. Although there is significant focus on resilience in areas such as education, social work and nursing, the current body of literary knowledge regarding the integration of resilience strategies into tertiary art education is lacking, with extant research largely focused on the music and performance disciplines.

By exploring visual art educators’ current focus on both the relevance and the development of graduates’ resilience capabilities, this research seeks to add to debates concerning the preparation of graduates, in order to assist them in responding to challenges they will face in the workplace. To do so, interviews were held with a sample of tertiary visual art educators in Australia in the areas of illustration, design, photography and film. The knowledge that emerges from these interviews reveal various perspectives on resilience and vulnerabilities relevant to the training of visual artists. The research also presents a range of opportunities for further investigation regarding the preparation of visual artists for a globalised world that is complex and rapidly changing.

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About the author

Eileen Larsen is a research student in the College of Arts, Society and Education at James Cook University, Townsville. The focus of her research is to explore how tertiary, visual art educators prepare graduates for their transition from study to work in the creative industries. Eileen is also assisting with a Townsville City Council and James Cook University joint research project, titled Regional economic development through the creative industries. This project seeks to identify the supply and demand capacities of Townsville’s creative industries. As a local resident of North Queensland, Eileen is passionate about assisting regional artists and creative businesses.