Juan Camilo Mutis Arenas | Middlesex University London
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Juan Camilo Mutis Arenas

Juan Camilo MutisGraphic Designer, Piensa Positivo. Artist.

MA Fine Art, 2013


What made you choose Middlesex University?

A combination of things, namely a good ranking amongst other institutions in the UK, a solid, interesting programme and of course the great advantage of being located in a world capital like London.

What attracted you to your course and made you apply?

I applied to various colleges and universities, both in London and other European cities. Although most of them had a very similar course structure, only a few offered the same dynamic and multicultural environment, which is very beneficial when studying art.  

What aspects of your course did you enjoy most?

I'd have to say the small size of the MA group (although one of the biggest in recent years) as this meant the tuition we received was very personalised, which I really liked. The tutors were amazing, talented individuals who had their own take on the issues we tackled during the course which was really inspiring. Oh and the facilities, in particular the workshops and library, are outstanding.

What is your fondest memory of life at Middlesex?

Summer as we had the studios to ourselves. It was the first time I had that amount of space and time to work on my own projects! This, combined with a quick workout at the gym and a walk in the fine weather to the tube, was bliss.

What one piece of advice would you give to a prospective student interested in studying at Middlesex?

Take full advantage of the facilities and tools at your disposal. In particular, try and work with interdisciplinary elements that you wouldn't usually make part of your common practice.

How did your course and time at Middlesex help you to get where you are professionally today?

Well, I'm only really starting now to build a career. Although I had previous freelance experience, it wasn't until a couple of months ago that I got a regular, stable job.

Having an MA from Middlesex really helped set me apart from the competition. It will continue to benefit me professionally and I think has also helped equip me for life on a personal level too.

What impact has studying in London had on your career?

It has had a really big impact. London is a renowned world capital with a vibrant, progressive art scene as well as a wealth of history. Having successfully obtained my postgraduate degree from a London-based university is perhaps the biggest achievement on my resumé so far but academic life is just one side of the coin. It was also the people I encountered, the places I visited and the life I lived in the city that helped expand my experience and education as these complimented my time at university and boosted my overall London experience.

 What made you choose the industry you work in and what are its pros and cons?

It might sound like a cliché but I chose art out of love. I had a genuine interest in the area, the elements relating to it and the debate surrounding it.

The cons are those that you would expect: lousy salary (if any), and a high chance of failure with all the consequences that that may bring. This said, the pros are far more motivating. Sure, there is a chance that you could make big money but what I find most rewarding is the opportunity to create, to produce something of value for you and potentially others. Once you start out on a creative journey, you embark on a journey that constantly challenges you in every aspect of life.

How did you get your foot on the career ladder post university?

Hard work and compromise for starters! I had to do some pro-bono stuff to complement my portfolio. I also had to accept rather a low salary but it is all part of the process as I am getting great work experience and a real opportunity to make serious additions to my portfolio.

What has been your defining career break or highlight to date?

Well so far it has been graduating with a distinction in my postgraduate degree. It has only been a few months since then, so I am still working on taking full advantage of this. Before this, it was showcasing my work following a call from a really big gallery at home (Bogotá). That gave me much needed reassurance.

What does the future hold for you?

Struggle!

What are the top three career tips you would give to current students and recent graduates?

That's a tough one. I guess firstly I would say make sure you do something that you truly love. This way you will stay motivated when things get tough. Secondly, take any opportunity that comes your way. All experiences benefit you in one way or another – most likely as a person before anything else. Thirdly, nothing can replace hard work. If you put in the effort, you will get places.

What one piece of advice would you give to the 17/18 year old you?

Things get hard(er). Keep going and stay positive!

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