Friday, January 28, 2011

Degrees Unedited Article: Becoming Part of Something

Being part of something

Rosalind Davis

Original article published in Degrees Unedited, a-n, June 2010

Graduation comes so fast that many students rarely plan for what happens on day one of becoming a ‘professional’ artist. The loss of the supporting educational environment and immediate peer network can lead to feelings of isolation. Making the transition from being a student to establishing a professional career, building a reputation and garnering interest in your work can be a daunting experience,

I started writing a blog on a-n in 2009. It was self reflective and analytical of my own practice. The process of talking about how I work and who I work with, made me aware that over a period of time I had become part of an ‘art community’. Being part of something is, I believe, crucial to self development as an artist and is utterly rewarding.

Some advice for the new graduate

Be realistic:

As an ‘emerging artist’ it is important to be ambitious, you wont get anywhere without drive and determination, but be realistic too. Not many people have sell out shows overnight.

Be methodical and understand the Art world. Find out which galleries you want to be part of and that are likely to appreciate your work. Start with smaller galleries/ project spaces and invite them to your exhibitions and build up from there.

An exhibition I had at The Residence Gallery only happened because I knew that the Curator was looking for emerging artists and that she appreciated my medium. I approached her and was offered a solo show soon after graduating.

Build your profile

Create a mailing list from visitors books at your exhibitions and then send out invitations to your subsequent exhibitions. Curators and buyers alike want to know you are active, progressing, dedicated and professional. You’re unlikely to get interest in your work if you don’t tell people about it.

Art Dealer and Gallerist Julian Hartnoll bought several pieces of my work a year ago. I continued to speak to Julian, sending exhibition invites and updates. Julian offered me a solo show in Piccadilly a year later

Create your own opportunities if needs be by putting on your own exhibitions, using empty shops as a base or even at the beginning hiring space and then promoting it to galleries

Be professional

If you are offered an exhibition, galleries and curators will notice your professionalism, or lack of it. Remember the shows success is not wholly down to them. Being professional and enthusiastic is much more likely to advance your career and networks than being arrogant and disorganised.

Nurture Relationships

Keep in touch with tutors, identify new mentors in your field of interest and create a critical peer network. Nurture these relationships and it will reward you intellectually, creatively and inevitably create opportunities.

Write a Blog

I was surprised how interactive a blog was; opening up opportunities for dialogue with artists, curators and many others. A blog enables you to be self reflective about your work, give others an insight into your practise and can be used as an effective marketing tool.

Join a studio

It took four years after graduation for me to get a studio and I realise now it is a relatively small expense that is invaluable in creating a peer network. As a result of many exchanges of studio members ideas with we have set up an artist led exhibition space; Core Gallery (

Build your confidence

You need to be articulate and engaging when promoting your work. This can take a bit of practice. Take part in networking events. Make sure you get feedback into your work where you can and understand what others read from your work. You can also join organisations such as and go to professional development lectures etc.

So to conclude; persist, be professional and remember that lots of other artists want to be part of a network too. Join them and be part of something.

Rosalind Davis is a painter, freelance writer and lecturer. She lives and works in London.

Artists are incredible !

After an inspiring first meeting with the AIR council, a very rich and resourceful, intelligent group I got to thinking about the 21st century artist. Who we are, what we do and why is it important....these are my sketchy first draft thoughts....more to come

Artists are incredible. What the general public don’t understand about artists is that they are talented, not just at the art bit,. practising artists know that this is not the only thing we have to do: out of necessity one has to do your own marketing, research and development, manage people, projects, understand law and legal frameworks,, create business plans, business development, marketing strategies, organise and manage finance, pr, network endlessly, be adept at negotiation and writing funding applications, leading and managing people, ,audience development, collector development, education, teaching, professional practice, social engagement and politics. Surviving rejection, funding cuts, knockbacks to name but a few things.....

Out of the desitre to survive and sustain and to nurture we learn countless skills: we are analytical , thoughtful, empathetic, compassionate, passionate, philosophical, aware of countless issues.

We draw on a range of skills, experiences, cultures. We are endlessly creative. We are endlessly self educating. self critical, self directive We challenge ourselves endlessly, we adapt, we try over and over. That takes courage, it all does,

The creative sector works damn hard at being everything we need to be to survive and you know what, we are pretty talented at all this plus the actual making. We need to be recognised and valued further for our contributions to this world. Dont forget artists are needed, and should be appreciated.

for those artists who are more high profile or established artists' give something back to those who are still climibing the mountain: those of us Campaigning, fighting to make better futures for artists in every way. Use your influence to create change. Dont isolate yourselves. Give part of something more than yourselves.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cracking on !

So, January is in full swing, I have had my ear operation, got a job with Matt Roberts (more on that later ) and Core Gallery is motoring ahead.

The xmas period was spent putting the final touches on DIY Educate, finalising our exhibition programme and looking at various funding applications as well as working on 2 curatorial projects within the exhibition programme.

DIY Educate is now launched and looks very exciting! A whole host of a-n bloggers are contributing as well which is fantastic and a-n and Artquest are partnering up with us.

So what is it?
DIY Educate is a contemporary evolving education programme run by and for Artists, Curators and Art Professionals to encourage artistic development.
DIY Educate is providing opportunities to learn, share ideas, network, and knowledge, providing impetus to develop your practice.

Basically that which we all need in this wilderness of an art world, plus the stuff that art schools dont always teach you.....We have 5 strands:

Nuts and Bolts Talks/ Workshops: Professional Practice( the nitty gritty of being an artists- tips and toolkits)

Engine ChatChat art crit: Peer Critique

Curators and Artist Talks:

Individual Artists Tutorials with established artists such as Graham Crowley

Discounts on practical workshops such as painting and photography Discounts on the Core Gallery Open Submission

DIY educate is just £18 per year and allows you access to all of these workshops either for free or at a concessionary rate plus more special offers and events to be announced.

You can read a lot more here

This week sees my first AIR council meeting and 2011 looks set to be ever so thrilling!