Building My Professional Brand

As a graduating modelmaker, I am finishing my course with a wide range of transferable skills and knowledge. I have come to understand myself as a versatile maker, curious to explore all kinds of art and craft activities, that I would like to continue to develop as part of my professional brand.

At the same time, I do not want to make and create for commercial purposes – I want to work closely with people, and use my passion for art to help them. Therefore, I would like to start gaining more experience in clinical settings, using my knowledge of visual arts as a helping tool. To do this, I need to define a personal professional brand that I can use to explain myself to potential future employers quickly and effectively.

To help figure this out, I started out by defining my Points of Parity (POP) that I have, and need to gain, and my Points of Difference (POD). I used my previous research into art therapy as a career, and also attended some Open Days (digital of course!) for various Art Psychotherapy Master’s degree courses. This has been really helpful in gaining a deeper understanding into what is expected from someone working with art in a clinical setting, and has made me even more excited and determined to do this.

Through defining my POP and POD, I was able to write a personal statement that I can use to introduce my professional brand to others. I used this statement as the basis for writing and designing all of my other professional documentation such as my portfolio and business cards.

There is a few ways I have worked to show what I mention in my personal statement in all my other professional documents. For instance, I have shown my versatility as a maker in my portfolio, through my selection of images. Each model and artwork I have chosen for my portfolio, has been significant for my identity as a maker, but also could be used by others to facilitate their wellbeing.

I have also chosen to use an outline of one of my models, as part of my brand. These are my little frog candles, which I started making first as stress management, and later turned into a small side-business. They are important to me, because they are made using the same mould from one of my earlier models, which showed me that I would like to work closely with people in the future. Other design choices include my muted colour palette, which considers the viewer and whether they have any sensory sensitivities.

Note – you can also find little illustrations of the frog candles on this page! Hint, they are used as bullet points.

Overall, I would like to portray my personal professional brand as a curious artist, maker, and facilitator.


Preparing for Graduation – Future Career Aspirations

For a while now I have been becoming more interested in Art Therapy as a field. After completing my dissertation, I have been even more inspired to pursue this as a future career. From my experiences working with both children and the elderly, I have become really passionate about supporting people through art.

Art therapist work with a wide variety of people to help them use art media as a mode for expression and communication. In the UK, they may work in many sectors, such as the NHS, private practise, schools, charities, prisons, social services etc. There are also rising opportunities in mainstream education, and museums and galleries. Most art therapists start up their careers on a self-employed basis and will often work with other professionals. BAAT (British Association of Art Therapists) explains that most art therapists are currently employed in the south of England and London. Important to note, sometimes there are generic and related jobs advertised on the market that may be suitable for an art therapist to apply for. For instance, ‘Officers’ in Social Services. These are great opportunities for the applicant to convince the organisation that they would benefit from an art therapist.

Practitioners in the field must first have the appropriate training and qualifications before they can start working as art therapists. While this differs in each country, in the UK they must complete a postgraduate diploma in art therapy or psychotherapy. This degree must be recognised by the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council). To apply for this degree, applicants require an undergraduate degree in an art-based subject, although other relevant degrees might also be considered.

These postgraduate courses require applicants to have at least an equivalent of a years full-time work experience working with vulnerable people. This can be done by volunteering and shadowing staff members in environments such as schools, hospitals, and other related areas that focus on supporting the welfare of an individual. Work experience can be particularly difficult to obtain for this career, as the nature of the work deals with sensitive information.

After qualifying and registering with the HCPC, an art therapist must continually further and develop their knowledge and skills.

Some of the important qualities of an art therapist include interpersonal and listening skills, imagination and enthusiasm, and ability to create a non-judgemental space to encourage trust and participation for the client. Entrepreneurial skills are also important – many art therapists will be networking with other health professionals, writing business proposals, and presenting to potential employers.

At the time of writing this post, there are several charities in Bournemouth which are looking for volunteers – although this has been affected by the pandemic restricting face-to-face meetings. Both the Dorset Mind charity, and the Space Youth Project are currently looking for Support Worker volunteers. After reading their relevant job descriptions, I think both would be amazing opportunities to learn more about the work both charities do and to learn how to work as part of a team to support young people through informal education and art.