IMA Studio: From Art Student to Art Professional

This month we met with WardWilliams Creative clients Samantha Y Huang and Amit Sharma to find out about their new business and creative development platform, IMA Studio.  Both from artistic backgrounds they saw a flaw in the journey from art student to art professional.  Creative Industries can be challenging to navigate.  As much support and practical advice as possible is needed in order to succeed. IMA Studio is an organisation that hopes to bridge that gap.

Samantha studied her BA at Chelsea College of Art & Design & MFA at Kingston University in the UK. Within her art practice Samantha uses second-hand books to create mesmerising sculptures and mixed media installations.  Amit also has a BA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art & Design and an MSc in Psychology from Roehampton University.  Amit is also a working artist practising in sound and composition, and freelances as a documentary video filmmaker and editor.



Samantha Y Huang working in progress at Cambridge Waterstones
Samantha Y Huang; work in progress at Cambridge Waterstones


Inspiration behind IMA Studio

The idea for IMA Studio came from Samantha’s own experience as a graduate artist in London.

“The art world is very complicated.  The arts industry has many different moving parts and there are many roles an artist can play – or is sometimes forced to play. It is difficult to navigate even with help because there are also so many limiting factors like finance, or not knowing the ‘right’ people. With IMA Studio I want to seek new possibilities to change aspects of this path and provide a new kind of support system.

IMA Studio exists to bridge the gap between the student art world and the professional art industry. Our aim is to provide practical knowledge and support for the arts community. We especially focus on providing opportunities and support for international students and graduates who come to London and have their mind set on pursuing an art career.”

Creative industries are competitive, and the transition following graduation can be difficult, with plenty of arts graduates unable to find work in their chosen field.  This is all too familiar within creative industries, and the statistics can be quite disheartening.




Samantha and Amit both felt that where art school is invaluable at providing the space and freedom for a student to explore their creativity and hone their skills, there was a lack of advice on how to survive post-graduation. They felt there was a shortfall of advice on how to actually break into the art world as a practising professional.

Breaking the Art School Bubble

IMA Studio is able to provide a service where graduates can be connected to professionals who can offer practical advice. This will improve their chances of a career in the arts rather than becoming another statistic that falls between the gaps.  This advice includes;

  • guidance on how graduates should price their work
  • how to make deals with galleries
  • how to work with curators
  • what to expect to pay out for in terms of studio rates, printing, framing and processing

All these things are not a consideration whilst at university where everything is “safe and provided for you”.  They affectionately call this “breaking the Uni bubble.”

Building trust and relationships

Collaboration is key to IMA Studio.  Samantha & Amit are passionate about building relationships with universities, artists, students, galleries, curators and investors.  This is nurtured through practical advice but also by being realistic about the more emotional side of working within the creative industries – how to deal with rejection and criticism, and most importantly to be a support network that will not allow artists to give up!  IMA Studio can offer the opportunity for students to showcase their work at art fair events.  They provide a shared-cost opportunity for those eager for this experience.

“Our programs and projects have the core principal of either sharing knowledge between participants or immersing the participant in actual situations where they can interact directly with the art industry and learn about their audience. IMA Studio wants to foster an environment where participants get to develop their career opportunities. More than any other arts organisation we have come across so far, we put immense importance on giving participants a rich learning experience. 

It is so important that every relationship we make with an artist, student, employee, client, or company is something that is mutually beneficial. We believe this is the heart of the arts: communication and collaboration.”

The idea being that the collaborative ethos behind IMA Studio will become a cyclical thing, students will in turn become mentors as they achieve their ambitions within the art world.


Left to Right: Lui Gruduls, Chloe Chiu, Amit Sharma, Cosia Lapsa-Malawska, Samantha Y Huang, Sabrina Collares
Left to Right: Lui Gruduls, Chloe Chiu, Amit Sharma, Gosia Lapsa-Malawska, Samantha Y Huang, Sabrina Collares


Artist Lee Yuan Ching

IMA Studio have  two shows coming soon presenting the Taiwanese artist Lee Yuan Ching. Lee is a practising artist of 40 years and also a teacher in Taiwan. Having met with Lee he sympathised with IMA Studio’s goal as he too felt this experience of “being lost after graduating”. Only through support was he able to work, establish himself and develop his practice.  He is now giving back to the arts community in Taiwan through teaching. Lee has donated a series of his works to IMA Studio. It is his wish that the proceeds from the sales go towards IMA Studio continuing its work.

IMA Studio are putting together a collection of talks, seminars, and workshops that will coincide with these shows. They will be announcing these and other developments through their newsletter.


Get in touch

IMA Studio is looking to work with like-minded creative individuals, teams, groups, and organisations to enrich and enhance an arts education experience in the UK. If you, or someone you know, might be interested in what they are aiming to do please get in touch at [email protected] and sign up to their newsletter here for up to date news.

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