Studying straight after matriculating might sound like what you are supposed to do, but for some of us, there needs to be a break between the studying in high school and the studying in university.
For artists, you might feel yourself in need of some inspiration before you head off to university or college, so your gap year should include activities that nurture your artistic spirit, such as seeing the vast array of African art on offer from galleries around South Africa. Below are some creative ideas on how to spend your gap year as a budding artist.
Visit as many galleries as possible
Living in South Africa means there is a plethora of gorgeous contemporary African art  to be found in our galleries, which is perfect for aspiring artists who want to make their mark. If you live in Cape Town, you can visit the Zeitz MOCAA, in KwaZulu-Natal, you can see the Tatham Art Gallery and in Johannesburg, you can see the Gallery MOMO.
Visiting all of these galleries will not only allow you to broaden your horizons in terms of knowledge but will also show you what to expect from the art world once you start exhibiting. Turn it into a road trip and bring your friends along. You can start in your own hometown and then move onto galleries that interest you, staying in the town in question and experiencing different cultures of the different provinces you visit.
Look for a photography internship
If you enjoy spending your time behind the lens, then you should look for a photography internship that will help you to build your skills, learn new ones and gain experience in the industry. Your internship does not have to be paid, but if it is, you can save that money to go towards a new camera or camera accessory.
As an intern, you will work alongside a professional photographer and help them with their day-to-day work, all while building up your own skills. You might work in the fashion industry, photographing models for magazines or in the wildlife industry, capturing perfect shots of lions chasing zebras. An internship in photography will push your boundaries and help you to develop your own photography style.
Teach art classes
If you have a knack for standing up in front of others and talking about a topic you love or if you are passionate about art and want to help others ignite this same passion, you could look into teaching art classes to children, teenagers and even adults.
You can teach these art classes from home, if you have the space, or look into renting a studio for the sessions so that there is enough room for all of your students. Teaching art classes can help to build up your confidence and improve your skills, preparing you for the university years ahead. You can earn some extra money by teaching classes, and use it to put towards new painting, drawing or sculpting equipment.
Practice your craft
While it might seem obvious to practice your craft during your gap year, many people do not think of this when considering what to do before university. This could involve working on new pieces or reworking old ones using new skills.
If you are a sculptor, look into using different materials, such as clay, wood or even boat foam. As a painter, you can look into painting African art on bodies of willing participants to see how your designs would look on skin. You have an entire year ahead of you before you head to university, so you should use it wisely and build up your skills and your portfolio. Your lecturers will be impressed that you spent this time on something constructive rather than just lazing about at home.
Take a few courses
This might not sound like the most exciting thing to do, after all, you have just finished high school, but taking some courses before you go to university can help with the transition and will even strengthen the skills you already have.
You could look for free online courses in art history or theory that you might not feel confident in, or you could find out about practical courses in your area in order to learn new skills. Digital art courses are an option you could look into, as many universities are now offering this as a course. You can take some online graphic design courses to brush up on your skills before you sign up to take the course when you get to university.
Enjoy each moment
A gap year is supposed to be one where you can relax and take stock of your matric year, and it can help to build excitement for your time in college the following year. You should take this time to relax and build up your skills or you could start out on a journey to see as many art galleries in the country as possible. Take some courses to learn about a new art style, such as African art, or spend time teaching art classes to children who are interested in the topic. There are so many options to choose from to have a fantastic, artistic gap year that will inspire you for your studies ahead.

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