Artist Interviews

Back to school with Medeia Cohan-Petrolino

We met Rise Art curator Medeia Cohan-Petrolino to discuss her new project in the School for Creative Startups, her growing emerging art collection and why working in the arts is such a rewarding challenge!

By Lorena Muñoz-Alonso | 15 Aug 2011


Talk about experience! Rise Art Curator Medeia Cohan spent more than 5 years running the Emerging Artist Programme as Head Curator at the University of the Arts London, and the Alumni Relations department. It’s not hard to image the extensive understanding of the needs and hopes of emerging artists she gathered there, as well as the peculiarities of the art industry. An asset she is now using in her new exciting role as Programme Director at School for Creative Startups, where she currently works with former Dragon's Den panellist Doug Richard to design a state of the art one year programme to teach creative people how to realise their business ideas.


Medeia Cohan-Petrolino

So what exactly is the School For Creative Startups and how exactly does it help young, creative people?

The aim of the programme is to teach the critical skills that new creative businesses need to succeed and to provide support throughout the vulnerable first year of business. We provide accelerated business training that helps any age and any stage entrepreneurs launch more successful startups and run more successful businesses through a tailor made one-year programme. We have face-to-face and online lessons, business networking events to connect small businesses and create supportive, self-sustaining communities. We also have mentor schemes that provide one to one advice from industry experts… Pretty much everything you need to know to start your creative business!


What was most exciting and challenging thing about running the Emerging Artist Programme of the UAL?

The most exciting thing about it is in fact very similar to what excites me about working in the School for Creative Startups: discovering and nurturing talent. Getting to be involved at ground level and helping to build something and watch it grow is a really satisfying feeling. Whether it's an individual artist or a small startup the pleasure in helping people achieve their goals is always immense.


Print by Mike Ballard, one of the artists in Medeia's collection

Do you collect art yourself? Could you name some of your favourite artists?

I collect emerging art and design. I have a range of mediums in my collection including print, sculpture and painting. My favourite pieces include a concrete diptych sculpture piece by Alexander Hoda, a lovely painting by Christine Aerfeldt and several insane prints by mix media artist Mike Ballard 

You have sound experience in working with and supporting emerging artist, and have been involved with Rise Art from the very beginning as a curator. What do you think that makes this company special? 

Rise Art has many strengths, but the thing that differentiates them most from their competitors is a caring and committed staff base from which the company was built. It was easy to get on board with a site where critics, curators and peers are encouraged to vote and feedback to the showing artists. Additionally as the site grows the selection of work is becoming really interesting and of a certain calibre which is exciting. 

Painting by Christine Aerfeldt, another artist in Medeia's collection

Why did you decide to work in the art world and what would be your advise to someone who wants to work in this difficult industry?

I have worked in lots of different sectors and the creative industries are by far the most exciting and fulfilling. I believe that this is a steadily growing area and the one that will start the reinvigoration of the economy in the UK, so it's the right time to get in. My advice is if you love the arts and want to work in this field, do it! It is wonderfully rewarding in many other ways that will compensate for a glamorous office and massive salary. If you want to make a lot of money and like art, keep it as a hobby and get a desk job - it's really that simple!

What projects and ventures do you have coming up?

We launched School for Creative Startups on the 1st of July and we are now seeking applicants to attend the programme, which begins September 19th with an intense bootcamp with Doug Richard. I am so excited about S4CS because it's a life-changing programme teaching creative people how to live off their craft. I can't wait to get stuck in! I encourage anyone who might be interested to visit the website to learn more about what we're up to and apply now for a place on the course.


The School for Creative Startups’ launched on the1st of July 2011

For more information, please visit the School for Creative Startups website.

The deadline to apply for this year's course is the 30th of August.




Related Artworks

Related Guides









More From