It would be unusual for an artist’s professional career to just “take off” and for galleries and curators to be falling over themselves to represent an artist. Even more unlikely for any self taught artist, like myself though. So here I will put down one two ideas and tips that have helped me so far, but i must add that hard work and commitment are vital. There is extra pressure on the artist to be multi skilled, with such a huge growth of art in the digital world. An on line presence with a web site and social media is not enough though.
An interest and a real dialogue must be grown with both “the followers and the following”, it is more than just likes, it is about “engagement” (perhaps an overused word but there we are!). Through twitter I was really thrilled to be considered and subsequently accepted as artist of the month for Sketch social.
You can on occasion, even ask advice about how to do something that you may have not mastered, like making a short storyboard, using an app for displaying/ presenting work. I notice many people use video in the form of YouTube, I have not managed to get this working for me as yet, but I am getting there.
There are many sites offering artist opportunities. Some seem to be more fruitful than others for me however. There are the big heavy hitters in the U.K. such as ; Parker Harris, one of leading visual arts consultancies in U.K. whose clients include trusts and foundations, SMEs and multinationals to charities, arts organisations and individual artists. At this level the prizes and publicity are big and the competition pretty fierce. The Wales Contemporary for example is represented by Parker Harris, a £15 entry and with some generous prizes too. However it is worth keeping an eye on and selecting one, perhaps two, open calls at this level to go for in a year. There is an argument that this keeps us artists focused on a deadline and the subject of the specific call. Speaking personally, I try to identify and target recurring calls, about two years ahead, so I can be truly selective in what I propose to submit for. This also gives the advantage of being able to look at the submission application and have a practice without submitting, reviewing it, prior to the real submission and improving it.
Then there are subscription organisations like a-n, who are an artist’s information company with a subscription of £35 per annum. There is also Curatorspace, who offer project management for curators and artist’s. Curatorspace offers a basic membership which is absolutely free, or a choice of subscriber memberships “artist” and “artist plus” at £ 25 and £35 per year respectively. Both these offer members access to artist opportunities as well providing a personal “gallery” to show works or portfolios. Curatorspace for £25 annually will match up artists to prospective curators, which is great and it works. Curatorspace has a great “previous projects” page which I find helpful. There are some fantastic opportunities that are available to members, crucially there are some that charge a nominal submission fee and some that are free. I have found that the opportunities that state “free entry” and “payment only taken if the artist is included” are not perhaps as giving as they may seem. Make sure you check where the opportunity is, it may be that applicants need to live within a certain area, or it may mean costly transport of work…just saying. That said I submitted to an open call for an Artist of the Month, paid a small fee of £7 and won for the Month of June. I believe budgeting and trying to consider a return on your investment is definitely worth bearing in mind.
Let’s face it a glossy magazine that drops an email to you via your website, may well be inflating your ego and selling valuable column cms. I was offered one column x 5cm in the back of a very well known magazine recently…an eye watering £440 plus vat per month (the deal was for 3 months!) …it was not for me.
Most rewarding for me has been the my involvement with an amazing charity that means so very much to me, the charity is Outside In. I have had help in creating a gallery on the website https://outsidein.org.uk/, writing an artist statement and quite frankly human support. I signed up to be an ambassador for the charity, as it has meant so much to me and I wish to share this help with others. Well the big surprise came earlier this month… the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. https://outsidein.org.uk/news/outside-ins-artist-ambassadors-receive-the-queens-award-for-voluntary-service/ .
Here is an example of the latest open, Outside In call-out and a national exhibition. https://outsidein.org.uk/national/
So if you have a passion and you care about an issue make sure you show it through your artwork and your commitment too what you really believe in.