First things first, believe in yourself! I am at heart a populist. Discussions about obscure 18th century Abyssinian art movements can be left to know-it-all art students. but whether the art itself is interesting/beautiful/cool is free territory. You have the right to an opinion and the good news is, since you can’t be wrong, you don’t have to be intimidated by people who know more than you.
2: Get some opinions
This is absolutely key; you can torment yourself for hours and hours weighing up the pros and cons of a play; stand motionless in front of a painting scouring your soul for reaction, or simply adopt a judgement at random. I recommend the latter. You can find cheap opinions in newspapers or online, steal them from friends or choose bizarre reactionary ones with absolutely no justification. Be prepared to defend them unashamedly until it gets completely out of hand and you end up explaining to someone why Big Brother is an example of high-concept installation artwork parodying the petty-bourgeois nihilism Of Our Time. If all else fails, quote Nietzsche, who said: “It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!”
3: Stay up-to-date
Staying up-to-date isn’t at all expensive either. You can go to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden for £5 and the Entry Pass at the National Theatre gives under-25s tickets for £5 each and some freebies. Cheap Theatre Tickets is a site which offers cheap day and lottery seat tickets for London musicals. In terms of Art galleries, there are so many free ones, you need never pay an entrance fee if you don’t want to.
4: Become an Artist
Imperial is more than its academia, there are at least four societies who produce several plays and musicals each a year, there are societies for fine arts, photography, radio, television, film and getting cheap tickets let alone books, philosophy and all the rest. If you have ever felt artistically inclined before, now is the time to let rip or rejoin these societies. Even if you have no interest in creating the stuff, you can make friends with these people; nothing says aficionado like “The exhibition of a friend of mine…” Remember that Imperial also has its own art gallery in the Sherfield building, created by Mindy Lee.