One of this year’s Distinguished Alumni winners is Shima Iuchi, BFA ’03, an internationally-exhibited artist, TRU Lab Faculty Member, and former TRU-OL student who took course through Open Learning during the summer in order to complete her Bachelor of Fine Arts.
I thought Iuchi’s story was interesting for a few reasons. One, her route to art, and to Kamloops, has been circuitous: a BFA is her second post-secondary credential. After high school, she received a Diploma in Art Management from the Seian University of Art and Design in her native Japan.
And two, working on the creative side of the art world was what she’d always wanted to do, but she deferred her dream until she overcame all those negative clichés about starving artists.
Finally, she’s really good at what she does. Her art, which includes installations papermaking, video and photography, is thoughtful and beautiful. (She has exhibitions coming up this summer in Vancouver; keep your eye out for them.) Here, a few tips from Iuchi on how to do it all.
Concentrate on one thing.
Internal deadlines are good. But Iuchi says that external deadlines really keep you on track. In 2009, she was working full-time and had only three weeks to complete a major creation for three exhibitions. So she took used her holiday time to immerse herself in the project. “Basically I was working 14 to 16 hours a day,” she says. “I was working or I was sleeping.” That level of concentration isn’t something you can maintain long-term, but there’s nothing like an unmovable deadline to help you get a large project finished.
It would be lovely if no one experienced a motivation slump. But lapses happen. For Iuchi, surrounding herself with others’ great work has always helped inspire her. “I make an effort to go to major city centres, like New York, for inspiration,” she says. Not that you have to leave the country to be inspired. Usually, revisiting whatever it was that helped you decide to enter your field of study will do the trick; for example, try reviewing the job postings you can apply for once you have your shiny new credential.
Look to your peers.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes you can get a boost from other students or colleagues. A sense of competition may be what’s needed to rejuvenate your enthusiasm.