Oliver Hoffmeister

Drawing Year 2023

BA Fine Art, Newcastle University

Oliver Hoffmeister

Tell us about your practice and the part that drawing plays…

As a painter, drawing has always been at the centre of my practice. I think it was Matisse, like many before him, that believed that drawing was the root of all painting, a statement I find myself agreeing within my own practice. Drawing allows me to play with composition, create new marks, think through ideas and teaches me how to observe and look at the world around me.

What were you doing before The Drawing Year and what drew you to apply?

I was living and working in Newcastle prior to coming on The Drawing Year. I graduated from Newcastle University in 2018 and decided to stay afterwards. I had always known about The Drawing Year and was set on joining, so much so that I applied straight out of university in 2018 but I wasn’t given a place. So I decided to get a studio in Newcastle and work until it felt right to apply again. Luckily I was successful on my second try!

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Which courses have most impacted your practice?

All of the courses that I have taken have impacted what I do, even if during the time I didn’t enjoy the course. Sometimes that's needed, something to push back against to understand what you’re doing. But In terms of the course that most impacted me, its a toss up between Line of Beauty with Mark Cazalet, City Gardens and Greenhouses with Kathryn Maple and Sara Lee Roberts or any of the Etching courses led by the amazing print room tutors. All of these courses developed my work, sometimes in unexpected ways and sometimes less through the course and just through talking with the tutors about art and they’re outlooks.


Tell us about the sense of community on the course

At first it was quite hard for me, during the first term I was struggling to find a place to live in London and then just adjusting to the change of pace. However, after I got settled the community that is fostered by the people on The Drawing Year is amazing and transcends your cohort. You grow to make some great friends and ultimately have a great time together on the course and then once you graduate you enter into the wider alumni community that is equally as welcoming and supportive. Even the internal staff have a great community, openly welcoming students to help out in paid roles. Its been one of the highlights of the course for me.



Which tutors have you most enjoyed working with and why?

Again this feels quite hard to single out the tutors as I have really enjoyed working with all of them. But having said that, I did really enjoy working alongside all the etching and printmaking tutors. They were really open, friendly and knowledgeable. You would be tutored but sometimes it felt like you were both working together to figure out how to develop an image and push it towards its potential. You had the vision and they had the know-how. I’m very proud of the printed work I made whilst on this course.


What are the most important things that you've learned during the year?

Accept failure and to trust in my own intuition. I remember being sat in a lecture hall in University whilst Paul Becker, a lecturer at the university, spoke poetically about the idea of ‘failing better’. It was helpful but I don’t think I fully accepted failure until I was on The Drawing Year. It’s part of the process of making good art and until you accept it, the work you make isn’t going to develop. The fact the course isn’t graded really allowed me to experiment and fail, and thats something I really needed.

What has surprised you about The Drawing Year?

It’s intensity. When you research the course and read that it’s between 3.5 and 5 days a week, it doesn’t seem too monumental. But after weeks of sometimes 9am-9pm of drawing daily, you begin to have a respect for the courses integrity to drawing and likewise its intensity. I remember Harry Parker (Head of Education) in the first week saying that the course is like going to the gym daily but for your brain, you have to be careful otherwise you can pull a few muscles along the way.

How has your approach to drawing changed since the start of the course?

Prior to the course, although I believed drawing to be at the centre of my practice, I wouldn’t have said that I had a drawing practice per se. Drawing at that time was mainly used as a crutch in the studio to work out problems with paintings, mainly being small sketches on the back of ready meal boxes! But now having been on the course, I have a developed drawing practice that isn’t supplementary to my painting, but that supports it whilst having its own autonomy. It has become apart of my make up to carry a sketchbook with me wherever I go now.


What opportunities have arisen due to The Drawing Year?

The first that comes to mind is the residency that I am currently on. I am writing these answers on residency in Italy, this opportunity is open to alumni of the school along with other internation residencies. I was also lucky enough to be awarded the Jack Goldhill Studio Practice Prize at the end of the year. The year can certainly put your artwork in a spotlight that can elevate your career.


What are you going on to now you have completed the course?

Having just completed the course, I am currently job hunting. I think I plan to stay in London for another year (maybe). But so far, I am job hunting and trying to continue my artistic practice.

What does it mean to you that the course has no fees and a free studio space?

This is the only real reason that I could have furthered my education. With so many Masters courses being so inaccessibly expensive, I doubt that I could have been able to develop my practise in the meaningful way that I have, if not for the course at The Drawing Year remaining fee-less whilst providing a studio space. It is truly making education accessible to everyone that it can.


What is it like to study and live in London?

In short: expensive but great!

I found it hard at first. I struggled finding somewhere to live and was commuting via bus to and from Newcastle at the start and end of each week, whilst I stayed in hostels during the week. It was difficult. But once I had found somewhere, London really opened up for me. I have never lived somewhere with such an amazing and busy art scene, there are so many shows on all the time, its impossible to see them all though I did try. There is just so much to do and you get a great sense of the city whilst on the course as you’re bouncing around the city to go from one out of house class to another.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for the course?

Be yourself and don’t be afraid to show drawings that aren’t “finished”. The course is very much about learning to look and how to think through the practise of drawing. So when putting your portfolio together don’t be afraid to show your rough sketches that you use to think through ideas or quick notes. They all build a bigger picture about your relationship with drawing rather than just showcasing that you have technical ability. Have honesty and be bold.

Find out more about The Drawing Year