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In 2017 Oxygen College will be offering a new course, a Diploma of Visual Arts. We had a chat with head trainer Glen Smith about what the course will offer, as well as giving him the chance to talk about his own art.


Thanks for taking the time to have a chat, please introduce yourself and give us a brief back ground into what you do?

First and foremost, I am a practicing visual artist. I have been making art and undertaking exhibitions for the last twenty odd years. I also work as an arts educator and have taught for around fifteen years. I also take on roles as an arts worker and have facilitated many projects for the local city council and other arts bodies.


You have a background in high school education; tell us about your own education and subsequent career path?

In terms of my education pathway, I started out undertaking an associate diploma through the TAFE system here in Geelong. I then headed to Melbourne to undertake a Bachelor of Fine Art in painting, moving across to focus on printmaking for my honors year. Following this, I completed a Diploma of Education to consolidate my studies. This gave me the option to support myself by teaching and to share my knowledge with others, as my career in art evolved.


As a professional artist, where exactly do your talents and skills lie?

Having sustained in the industry for quite some time, my skill set is pretty diverse now. In terms of practical skills, I have strengths in painting, drawing, printmaking and photography. But within an industry context I now have skills ranging from public relations, such as writing media releases and liaising with local Government through to gaining management skills earned by coordinating public art projects and festivals.


Can you expand on your journey to this point; in terms of your art what have been some highlights?

In terms of career highlights to date, last year I was invited to participate in the Australian Print Biennial which is the pinnacle for a print based artist in this country. The year prior to this, I undertook a large scale mural of the Ritz Flats in the foyer of the Geelong Gallery which was also quite significant. Outside of these two events, being represented by Boom Gallery in Geelong and Port Jackson Press in Melbourne are also major achievements to me.


You are currently a trainer at Oxygen College, overseeing certificate courses and about to run your first Diploma of Visual Arts course – tell us about the Diploma course for 2017?

I am super excited for the Diploma course launching in 2017! It has been a long time in the works and I am hoping that it will see a unique approach to arts education in the town. It will focus on combining deep knowledge and real hands on skills based training with practical industry training to ensure students have the best opportunity to exit the College and sustain a career in the arts.


What are some unique things you like to offer your students as a trainer?

As a trainer I attempt to have little bias when looking at students work, so that my taste doesn’t come into the equation. I also try to be very supportive and encouraging to help students develop their confidence and build on their art making skills. I like to also think of myself as a very calm and patient trainer, who will do whatever I can to help students succeed.


What are some unique opportunities the 2017 Diploma course will offer students?

Some of the unique opportunities on offer for 2017, will be all students will gain an opportunity to exhibit their artwork in a small solo exhibition and a larger group exhibition. They will learn a solid set of foundation skills in drawing, painting and printmaking as well as have time to develop their own body of artwork. On top of this our goal is to bring as many established professional artists through the doors to work with our students by giving them genuine insights into the art world.


In other exciting news, you are working tirelessly on an exhibition about to be launched at Boom Gallery?

Yeah, I can finally say that as of yesterday the exhibition is all complete and on the wall ready to open this Friday (12/8/16). It has been a solid six or seven months of work to get to this point and balancing teaching, personal life and day to day chores can get tricky. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!


If you were to summarize your mantra when it comes to art and education, what would you say it was?

In terms of art; it is work hard, continually experiment, submerse yourself in the industry and don’t give up. Support other artists and only compete with yourself. Following this method, I feel will lead to success. In terms of education; never stop learning, go easy on yourself (we are generally our own worst critics) and just do your best.


Anything you would like to add?

Everyone is welcome to come to the exhibition on Friday night!



Exhibition Details

11 August – 3 September
Opening Celebrations Friday 12 August 5:30pm – 8pm

Boom Gallery – 11 Rutland St, Newtown 3220
Mon – Sat 9am – 4pm