- What kind of work do you make?
- What is your context and who are your peers?
- What is your arena? Who is your audience?
- How do you create an effective critical network?
- Art Angel
- Grizedale Arts
- Business Survival Toolkit
- Artist newsletter – public liability insurance for members
- Arts Council
- Axis Web
- Undead Painters
- Paul Hamlyn Foundation
- Pollock Krasner
- £10,000 is the medium income for artists
- only about 7% of artists are represented by commercial galleries.
- Most Artists careers have ups and downs and take many forms.
‘It all starts in the studio with some fundamental questions that you are already addressing through your work and mcp:
What kind of work do you make?
What is your context and who are your peers?
What is your arena? Who is your audience?
How do you create an effective critical network?
Artists now have to do a range of things: making, writing, curation, working in academia, presenting papers, giving talks etc. Artists are also asked to work in other media outside their core practice.
But artists are also often engaged in a range of jobs across the art world and creative industries – arts admin, artist assistant, museum and gallery work, art production, writing, teaching etc. Both as a way of supporting practice but also as main career choices.
Here are some examples of Wimbledon Graduates:
Ann-Marie James (graduate MA Fine Art) is a practicing artist who is represented by Karsten Schubert Gallery but has also worked as an artist’s assistant to Ryan Gander and Susan Hiller
Anna Larkin (graduate MA Fine Art) is the head of Communications at Artangel
Jonathan Griffin (graduate MA Sculpture) has been an associate editor of Freeze and is now a freelance writer and critic based in LA
Laurence Taylor (graduate BA Painting) is the production manager of the Fourth Plinth and co-founder of Open School East (we will be looking at Postgraduate study and alternative art schools on 4th November)
We are all very familiar with the international market that is referenced and critiqued at Wimbledon. Books that examine and critique the global art market include: Thompson, D. (2012) The $12 million Stuffed Shark. London: St Martins Press; Thompson, D. (2014) The Supermodel and the Brillo Box. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
However, you should be aware that there are a number of different art markets with very different audiences. An example is an artist such as Ruth Stage, winner of the£15,000 Lynn Painter-Stainers award for figurative art and member of the New English Art Club (NEAC) who has made a living from her work since graduating from the RA in the mid-nineties. The New English Art Club is just one of a number of art societies based at the Mall galleries under the Federation of British Artists.
Recognise that galleries are not the only context for the presentation and location of your work. A good example is Art Angel who commission site responsive work and are responsible for Jeremy Deller’s Battle of Orgreave and Rachel Whiteread’s House.
Other examples include:
Grizedale Arts is a curatorial project in a continuous state of development at Lawson Park, Grizdale. It is run as a small holding and working farm house, with a multifaceted programme of events, projects, residencies and community activity. Central to the ethos is the aim of implementing a more valuable function for art through cross-disciplinary education programme with a range of activities – all of which function to develop contemporary art in new directions. Underpinning this programme therefore, is a philosophy that emphasises a use value for art; promoting the potential for art and artists to experiment and affect change in practical and effective roles, as a central tenet of wider culture and society.
POST is the peer-led UK network for artists who respond to place. POST stages site-specific shows reflecting the diverse practices of its members. In a POST project artists from the network respond to one place – led and curated by members who have a personal involvement with that locality.
Post is also a good example of how artists with a shared interest create a critical network to share ideas, resources and to support and promote each other’s work.
Planning ahead/ Becoming a business
Should you see your self as a business and brand? This is something John Hammond talked about when he was in to discuss self-employment and finance last year. The work you do in the studio, your mcp and research journal will help you to identify your specific subject and the audience, arena and funding opportunities that align with your practice.
It might be useful to ask yourself where you want to be in 2,3,4 years time and to work backwards from there to identify the steps you need to take to fulfil your aims. The Business Survival Toolkit found on Artquest can help you with this.
Mark Fairnington is a good example of an artist who has identified specific research interests (collections, museums, natural history etc) and has sought out opportunities that allow him to develop and exhibit his work. He has worked with collections and institutions such as the Wellcome Trust, Natural History Museum, the Horniman and Imperial War Museum. There are also funding opportunites that can be exploited such as the Wellcome Trust who fund projects and collaborations between art and science/medicine.
This also raises the idea of interdisciplinary practice where experts from different fields come together to explore a shared interest. Examples include Simon Callery, a painter who has conducted funded projects with archaeologists such as Oxford Archaeology and Annie Cattrell who works closely in dialogue with specialists in neuroscience, meteorology, engineering, psychiatry and the history of science. This interdisciplinary approach has enabled her to learn in depth about these fields and informs her own research. She is particularly interested in where art, science and the poetic meet. Annie Cattrell’s collaborations include working with Professor Morten L Kringelbach, neuroscientist at Oxford University and professor at CFIN Aarhus University Denmark.
Make multiple applications and don’t be put off by rejections. Use a range of sites that list opportunities such as:
Art Quest, A-N, Arts Jobs & Arts News, Axisweb and get to know the broader resources available on sites such as these. AN campaign for artist’s rights whilst Axisweb supports artists’ online presence. Axisweb’s vacant space programme identifies empty spaces that can be used by artists for studios, exhibitions and other cultural projects.
Make things happen
Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, initiate your own projects. Many well known projects have been initiated by artists to fill gaps, create opportunities or resources – from Space studios to Grizdale, from Turps Banana Painting School to The Approach Gallery amongst many others
Setting up an organisation: if a project starts to become successful and to make money you may need to turn it into a charity or business. Artquest has information about different types of organisation such as a charity, co-operative, community group, sole trader, partnership etc. It also has an example of artist Simon Goode who, on identifying the need for studios and workshops for bookbinding, printing, and related disciplines established the London Centre for Book Arts. The first open-access centre dedicated to book arts in the UK.
Networks and support
As we have already seen through the example of Post, networks are can be very useful and important for supporting your career. Networks can be established at college, through group shows, studio groups, critical forums (for example, Wimbledon graduates undead painters), conferences, residencies or through the social side of the art world (attending private views). Large things can grow out of small beginnings: when Phoebe Davies visited last year she spoke about how being a member of a critical forum had encouraged the development of a project that has found an outlet in the Tate Exchange programme. Da Thirst have built a critical network around their online magazine and through staging launch events at places such as the ICA. Through networks you can share both practical and intellectual resources. Contemporary British Painting has been able to successfully propose group exhibitions to public galleries and museums in both the UK and China.
And for your interest there is the UAL alumni page
Stuart Morrison came in last autumn to talk about commercial galleries and specifically The Hales Gallery. It is important to understand early on what a particular gallery will do for you (a show every few years, access to a clientele, logisitcs etc.) and equally what they expect from you.
Paul Cole and Natasha Khan from DOLPH projects talked about running an artist-run-space and the establishment of the Sluice Art Fair. They talked about the way they had appointed selected trustees who had lent their expertise for free and had helped them, for example, to make funding bids to the Arts Council.
You can find advice on contracts on Artquest.
Henry Lydiate will talk about this when he visits in December.
You can also find advice about working with curators on Artquest.
Residencies and fellowships
Layla Curtis will be addressing this issue specifically on 11th November. Residencies allow you to work in brand new contexts, give you time, space and often pay a wage and/or give a space to work and even live. The location of residencies varies hugely and you can find yourself working with new colleagues or engaging with new audiences. Outcomes can include exhibitions or publications. Res Artis is an association of over 550 centres, organisations, and individuals in over 70 countries, dedicated to offering artists, curators, and all manner of creative people the essential time and place away from the pressures and habits of every-day life to develop their work.
Artquest also list opportunities here
Funding, grants and commissions
Layla Curtis will also be talking about commissions and funded projects.
Artquest lists grants opportunities
Whilst the Paul Hamlyn Foundation list is also a useful resource.
There are different sources of funding:
Crowd Funding can support a range of projects – e.g. Mark Fairnington’s exhibition at the Horniman Museum earlier this year was part funded by a Kick Starter https://www.kickstarter.com/ campaign as was Anne-Marie Creamer’s film ‘Treatment for Six Characters’
Become aware of the breadth of these organisation’s activities – Matt Carter talked through the scope of Lux’s activities, as a commissioner, curator, archive and research resource during your stage 1 PPD talks.
Phoebe Davies talked about the production support she has received from Artsadmin.
Be resourceful and look for the funding opportunities in unexpected places. Last year, Verity Jane Keefe talked about utilising the money set aside by law by property developers to fund cultural projects.
Artquest talk about a range of legal issues that you might encounter when taking on commissions and signing contracts.
You can use the internet to raise your visibility and extend your network through websites, blogs and social media. In this Artquest sound cloud Rosalind Davis talks about the advantages of using Twitter and the fact that you can use filters to receive messages from those who are of most interest to you and that as there is no gatekeeper it can be a very direct form of communication allowing you to get in touch with people who might otherwise seem out of reach (Linked In is also good for this). Twitter’s pyramid effect (the fact that things get re-Tweeted) means that it can have a very wide reach. Also consider artists who use other platforms such as Instagram (Paul Housley is a good example of this).
Publications and catalogues
Fraser Muggeridge talked about his practice and collaborations with artists such as Jeremy Deller and Giorgio Sadotti on 14th October. You will constantly have to think about the ways you represent your self through invites, posters, websites, catalogues etc. The internet has made it possible to make modestly priced publications whilst there are cost effective but interesting forms of printing such as Risographs. Hato Press is a good source of this. Consider the distribution of your publications and using isbn numbers to catalogue them. For more information see Nielsen UK.
Artquest’s ‘frequently asked questions’ on art and law is a good introduction to the range of legal issues that artists can face.
Henry Lydiate from The Henry Lydiate Partnership will be in on 3rd December to talk through a range of art law issues.
Self-employment and tax
John Hammond gave a presentation about self-employment and tax last year whilst you might remember Phoebe Davies listing her multiple sources of income. At any one time, artists can find themselves selling work whilst being involved in any number of funded projects and paid work at the same time. It is important to get control of your tax, vat and national insurance arrangements. a-n provides guidance on pensions for artists.
Getting paid a fair wage
Artists often find themselves doing things for little or no pay. A number of organisations and campaign groups have been addressing this problem in recent years:
a-n also provides ‘Guidance on fees and day rates for artists’