BIS graduate Alan Hurley currently runs his own small business as a visual artist and is also one of the Directors of a local volunteer group called Reimagine Cork, regenerating run down buildings around Cork City
Why did you do BIS?
Throughout my time in secondary school I had only ever thought about doing art in college. After I graduated, I completed a year in CIT in an art course, but I wasn’t enjoying it, and after the first year, I dropped out and thought about what I could do instead, as I had never really thought about it before. I continued to work in the department store that I was working in while I thought about what to do. BIS interested me as I had an interest in computer programming (though no real talent) and I thought I could learn something about business that would benefit my future art career. So after speaking with a few current students of BIS at the time, I decided that BIS was the course for me.
What was the best thing you got out of the course?
I was never a brilliant student but the lecturers and year heads knew I had other talents that were worth nurturing. Even though I struggled with some aspects of the course, I was greatly encouraged by the support that I was given by the teaching staff. BIS really instilled an entrepreneurial spirit within me and I wouldn’t be doing what I do now if I hadn’t done BIS.
Where did you go on work placement in 3rd year?
I worked for Portable Medical Technology, a start-up developing apps to be used in the medical field. I was writing code for a decision support tool for oncologists called Oncoassist.
Where are you now?
I’m running my own small business as a visual artist and I’m also one of the Directors of a local volunteer group called Reimagine Cork. We identify run down areas of Cork City and try to regenerate those areas with paint, greenery, workshops, street fests and community engagement. We’ve achieved quite a lot in less than a year and have plenty of new projects on the horizon.
How did you get this job?
I saw a few lads painting an ugly, graffiti tagged wall last summer in the City and I approached them and asked what they were up to. They just told me they want to clean up the City and I decided I wanted to be a part of it since I love Cork and I thought I could be helpful. Throughout the next few months a small few of us laid out plans so that we could hit the ground running in 2016 with bigger projects that we really wanted to do. I got the job by turning up every week and working.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given relating to your career?
For my art career it would probably be to “be patient and not to give up”. I’ve seen many artists get frustrated that they see no return over a few months or even a few years. I know from my own experience that it takes time, but each year is better than the last provided you work hard for it. It’s a long game and you need to last the 90 minutes if you want to win.
There was no advice with Reimagine Cork as it’s something we’ve been figuring out as we go. Though we’re very much a voluntary organisation, it’s run like a start-up. I’ve realised the best thing to do in an organisation like this is to turn up. If you want positive change in a community, a city, or an organisation then you’re going to have to turn up and lead by example if it’s not being done already.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge with both my art career and Reimagine Cork is going in blind. We learn as we go and if we encounter any speedbumps along the way we use our passion and drive to keep going forward. If your career is something that you absolutely love, then not knowing what lies ahead can be fun. Most of the time!
Looking back now, is there anything that you would have done differently?
I don’t really believe in looking at the past and wishing “Oh I wish I did that differently…” What’s done is done. I’d always try and learn from my mistakes though. I’ve been running my art career and co-organising Reimagine Cork blind and I’ve made plenty of mistakes. These are usually simple things like packaging art, pricing, artistic techniques, or with Reimagine Cork it could be figuring out how to manage a large group of people on the spot, building public art pieces or planter boxes out of scrap, and dealing with City planners, engineers etc.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone considering doing BIS, what would it be?
Do it. You’ll be qualified for a range of professions, you’ll make a lot of great friends, live in a great city, attend a top university, and get fantastic support from the teaching staff. I don’t regret my decision doing BIS, and I would certainly recommend it every time.