Tips and Tricks for Artists: Part 2

Last week, I wrote about websites and social media. This week, I’m going to talk about creating a portfolio, and submitting to juries. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

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ABOVE: David McDonough, Nightwatch, mixed media, 16 x 20 x 2.5 inches

Creating a Portfolio

  • Your images are important. If you can’t shoot them properly, hire someone who can.
  • If you do shoot your own work, make sure you always do so with a tripod.
  • Shoot in natural light if you can. Play around with other light sources if you can’t.
  • If possible, shoot with an external flash. Your camera’s built in flash will not do.
  • Shoot each piece many times with many (if not all) your camera’s settings. Pick the best ones.
  • Get Photoshop (or an equivalent) and learn how to use it.
  • The order in which you place your images matters.

Submitting to Juries

  • Juried shows and fairs are a great way to build your resume. When starting out, they are obligatory.
  • You should apply to many, but be weary of online competitions. I only apply to them if they’re free.
  • Pay close attention to a show’s theme/subject matter (if they have one).
  • A standard application includes: bio, statement, resume and 5-10 images. Have someone proof-read your written materials, and make sure your images are sized according to the juries’ requirements.
  • Artistry is subjective, consistency is not. Ten good images of a similar theme are better then ten excellent images of different themes.
  • Accept rejection. It will happen.
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Tips and Tricks for Artists: Part 1

I have been producing and promoting my art for a few years now and in doing so, I’ve learned a lot. Here are a few tips and tricks I thought I’d share. More to come.

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ABOVE: The home page of my website, www.david-mcdonough.com

Website

  • Have a website. This is obligatory.
  • Make your name your address (e.g. sarahsmith.com).
  • Keep it simple. It’s best to assume everyone visiting has ADD.
  • Pages to include: bio, artist statement (optional), resume, gallery and contact page.
  • Don’t show everything in your gallery. Include your 20 best images and add and subtract as you produce more work.
  • Include prices or at least a range. Would you contact anyone to ask?
  • Include links to various social networks. These will help your search engine results.
  • Embed your blog (if you have one).
  • Provide some contact information (at a minimum, your city and email address, but preferably your phone number too). You’ll appear shady otherwise.
  • View everything on multiple browsers and devices. They’re not all the same.

Social Media

  • Research each network. Pick the right ones for you.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Take your time and do it right.
  • Post your passion.
  • No one likes a complainer.
  • Be social. You need to engage with others in order for them to engage with you.
  • Set a posting schedule and stick to it.
  • Don’t buy followers

Next week: Creating a Portfolio & Submitting to Juries’

Michael Craig-Martin on Being a Successful Artist

I’m always reading about art, and every now and then, I come across advice too good not to share. If you’re an aspiring artist, or know someone who is, this is for you.

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ABOVE: Michael Craig-Martin, Full Life, 1985, oil paint on aluminum and steel, 83 x 102.8 x 3.7 inches, © Tate, London [2015]

Earlier this week, the following article came up in my Facebook feed: Michael Craig-Martin RA: advice for an aspiring artist. I’m really glad that it did, because the advice Craig-Martin gives is brilliant:

“By far the most important characteristic for anyone wanting to be an artist is desire: the passionate, inexplicable desire to make art. This desire is more important than talent. To have enviable talent but qualified desire is not enough; to have little obvious talent but overwhelming desire may lead to success. Desire can be encouraged but not taught. In my experience, a driven person lacking any recognizable talent may, out of necessity, invent a way to work at which they excel. This is what we call originality.

“Pleasure in doing is the essential basis for making art. When you love what you do, no effort is too great, no time too long. We are all capable of doing a lot of things for a while, but not for long. Art can only come from what we are able to sustain.

“I would never advise anyone to become an artist. If you have another option, take it. Most people who end up as artists rarely feel they had an option. Art is the only endeavour I know that models itself around the abilities, experiences and needs of each individual who engages in it. It is entirely accepting, respects everyone for who they are, offers no strict rules of right and wrong. It enables one to turn everything about oneself, one’s limitations as well as one’s strengths, into advantages.

“Much of the best art has been made by those who failed to succeed in other more conventional activities. For art to work for you, you must work at it in the ways that give you the greatest satisfaction, that reflect your interests and your passions, that occupy your time without effort, that change with you as you change over time.

“Don’t try to be too inventive. The more your art reflects you, the more it will speak to other people. If you are not sure what you should do, just do whatever comes into your head or catches your imagination. Gradually, it will lead you to where you should be. Making art is a path not a destination.”

The above excerpt comes from Michael Craig-Martin: On Being An Artist. If you want more (I do), you can purchase the book here.