Ask the Expert is Riot’s monthly interview slot where we chat with people we admire working in the world of arts, culture and entertainment.
Today we’re speaking with Jeroen van Dijk. Jeroen joined the Royal College of Art as Marketing Manager in 2022 and supports with external and on-campus events both in London and across the globe. He is an architectural history and heritage professional whose research centres on LGBTQ+ perspectives on the built environment. He has researched queer heritage in London and Amsterdam, focusing on queer memorials and nightlife.
Describe your job in one sentence.
As Marketing Manager at the Royal College of Art I support incoming students on their journey before joining us – from sharing news about the College and our work during their initial stages of researching MA study, helping out with their application, organising Open Days and international events, and keeping them up to date prior to them coming through the doors in September.
You’ve always managed to merge your passions with your work. What was it about the role at RCA that drew you in specifically?
I’ve always worked in the creative sector following my BA in Art History and MA in Arts Management – this job at the RCA allowed me to engage with the art and design of the future. I work with our students every day and it’s truly exciting to learn so much about their groundbreaking work and research – playing a part in their journey to change the world or develop their creative practice is incredibly rewarding.
What are your top three tips for people looking to find a way to merge their passion for the arts and a sustainable career?
The creative industries are driven by people united through their passion for the arts. 1) Find your niche – what is it you are most interested and passionate about? The sector is incredibly varied yet also offers endless opportunities to move from one job role into the other. Are you most passionate about research, education, museums and exhibitions, contemporary art, literature, commercial art galleries? 2) Build your network – engage with the sector, visit shows, exhibitions, talk to the experts. Learn more about what’s going in within your niche and find out how to get involved. 3) Use your transferable skills. Identify where your skills are and apply them to your niche – do you like sharing stories through social media, curate a programme of events, teach audiences about objects and collections or identify partnerships and funding opportunities? Identify how you could fit in an organisation and how best to use your skills.
How do you see the relationship between marketing and other comms (PR, advertising etc)?
I see communications and marketing as a field that only works together if all strands (content, PR, marketing, advertising) are connected. At the end of the day we are sharing stories to audiences, and the communications outputs amplify the reasons we are sharing them, whether we are selling a programme, event, raising our organisation’s profile or announcing a news story.
If someone only had one day in London, what is the cultural place you would tell them to visit and why?
One of my favourite places in London is the Zabludowicz Collection in Kentish Town. It programmes a few free exhibitions a year in a beautiful former Methodist Chapel. They offer a varied programme of self-initiated group and solo exhibitions, commissions and residencies, drawing on works from the collection or new commissions, often engaging with digital media, performance and AR/VR technologies. The Rachel Maclean solo exhibition in 2018 was probably one of the best shows I’ve seen in London.
What has been the biggest ‘pinch me’ moment of your career so far?
Earlier this year I got to travel to New York to meet with prospective students and visit other art and design universities, including the Rhode Island School of Design. It was amazing to talk to prospective students abroad and learn more about the reasons why they decide to come study in the UK, as well as being able to see behind the scenes at other world-leading institutions.
Which project are you most excited to work on in the next six months?
This year will be my second year in Higher Education and I’m very much looking forward to the new cohort joining us in September – it’s incredibly exciting to meet new students, learn about their drivers on pursuing a postgraduate degree and learn more about their work and creative practice. I manage the College’s Student Ambassadors and can’t wait to start building a new community of student representatives.
What’s on your radar? Could you share what you’re listening to, reading and watching at the moment?
I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately and have been absolutely enthralled by Douglas Stuart’s novels. His Shuggie Bain and Young Mungo are beautiful accounts of growing up gay and working class, and despite differences in environment and time (Glasgow in the 80s and 90s as opposed to the Dutch countryside in the naughties and 2010s) it offers so much I can relate to directly. By chance he’s also an RCA alumnus, as he graduated from the MA Fashion programme in 2000.