Zoe Arnold

I graduated in 2003 and have gone on to set up my own business as an artist/jeweller.

I did my foundation at Central Saint Martins and then went on to do the jewellery course for my degree. This wasn't what I had expected to do. I had always seen myself as doing the sculpture course, but during the foundation I realised that I loved working in fine detail, and with metal, so took up the jewellery course as a way of learning making skills. Now I try and combine the two in my work.

Why did you decide to study at Central Saint Martins?

As with my fellow artists, because I had heard it was the best. I remember some of my school friends thinking I was mad at the time, because they thought the students there would be snooty or unfriendly, but I found it to be the opposite. A place where I met some of the most important people in my life.

What was the best bit about living and studying in London?

I didn't live in Central London, I commuted in, but London is the place to be. A vibrant, dirty all-encompassing ball of energy, anger, boredom, and elation...a place where you can lose yourself, or find a home. Get sucked in and spat out. It's up to you to get away from the tourist traps and see it for what it really is - a creative hub. Full of stinking back streets and secret gardens, with artists crammed into any cheap space going. I love it.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Work hard, keep your vision, but be open to new experiences. Network like a crazy person, and network with anyone or anything, even the cleaner could come in handy in the future.

Enjoy yourself, and play, this is nearly it, you're almost out in the real world where you might have to get an actual job, so experiment while you can. 

Find out what you enjoy, so you'll know how to use that in the future. Be different, you're competing with the whole world out there, not just your class - your individuality is your strength. Artists don't follow the fashion, they run before it. Work experience, work for free while you still can, it'll get you the job in the end...

And for students about to graduate?

Keep your eyes open, looking back I think I had my eyes closed most of the time while at college. Take a step back from your work, you're probably sucked right into it at the moment. Have a look at where you want to be, and start talking to the right people to get you there... do this now, before you leave. And get everyone's contact details... students have a wonderful ability to disappear after graduation, London is a big place.

Most importantly don't worry. I didn't do half of this advice I'm giving, and I did alright. (Also I didn't get all that much attention at my graduation show, so don't give up.)

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

Now I have my own small workshop in my garden, where I make one off pieces of jewellery or sculpture. I show through a few select galleries, though I try to keep this to a minimum, the rest of the time working to commission and towards shows. I've just finished showing an installation at COLLECT at the Saatchi Gallery.

I got here through hard work but also luck. Connections I made at college, and an influential collector have helped me enormously. But I have also stayed with my vision, have not accepted every offer going, and tried to keep to quality with regards to who I work with and what I make.

How has Central Saint Martins helped in your chosen career path?

It gave me confidence in myself and my ideas. Once you've faced those 'crits', you can face just about anything.

Visit Zoe's website