Gordon Cheung gives Kingston art students 10 tipps on how to breakthrough in the art world

Gordon Cheung, a British-Chinese artist, has made his way up from Kingston College, to the Royal Academy of Arts and into galleries and art shows all over the world.

As he remembers, his final break-trough came when he was chosen to exhibit his work at the British Art Show 6.

This year his paintings and stock listing collages will be shown at Frieze 2012 in London.

Despite his success, Gordon, 37, was told during his A-levels at Kingston College that he would never get into St. Martins to do his BA, yet he got in. Later, at St. Martins he was told that he would never get into the Royal College. He applied to the College and got in.

With a smile on his face he said: “So that was the type of art school teaching I had.”

“The BA course was very open but I had some tutors who wanted you to be some mini versions of them. I liked the idea of having a mentor or something like that. So I was pretty much left to my own devices.”

At art school he learned the most from watching other artists growing next to him and taking daily decisions with their art.

“These are the lessons I found most valuable at art school.”

But still, he thinks that going to art school is definitely worth it.

Most importantly, students have to consider that doing a BA differs from doing a MA, because people who are doing the MA “have a belief and this is a completely different environment.”

10 tips Gordon Cheung gives exclusively to KU art students, however, this may not only apply to art students: 

  1. Focus on what you really want to do because after your course it is all up to you.
  2. Listen to advice but only take on board what makes sense to you  – and skip the rest.
  3. Start organizing exhibitions as early as possible.
  4. The people on your course will be the people you will be exhibiting with. For the first few years if not for more.
  5. Get hold of art galleries’ e-mail lists.
  6. Put your work on free websites.
  7. Make sure you are always visible.
  8. Don’t put boundaries on your creativity.
  9. Always look at things, look at raw material.
  10. Never limit yourself by censuring yourself. As Picasso said: “Genius steals.”


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