Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Essential TIPS for First Timers at an Art Fair

I asked a question in the Art Fair Buddies Facebook Group on Sunday and had some amazing feedback - which I'd like to share.

Old Town Art Fair, Chicago rated as one of the top art fairs in the USA
The question was
I'm doing a lecture tomorrow and was wondering if people would care to share YOUR ONE IMPORTANT TIP for those who have never ever done an art fair before.
Sorry for the late notice - I want one slide of "voices of those who have been there/done that" - you say it so much better!
My lecture yesterday at the Heatherley School of Art was on How to make money from your art and it focused on the various ways you can make money from art - via either third parties or by being independent and doing things for yourself and trading independently eg online, in a pop-up exhibition you've organised - or at an art fair.

I wanted to create a two sides of A4 handout for those who had never ever done an art fair before.

Just before the start of my lecture last night at The Heatherley School of Art

The wonderful Art Fair Buddies came up with LOTS of tips which I then recorded in a two sides of A4 Word document and grouped according to the different themes which emerged which are:
  • Logistics Preparation and Set-up - covering: design of your stand, making/painting on your stand; location issues; keeping track of everything and comfort factors
  • The Do's and Don'ts of how to present yourself and behave 
  • Your Art Business - covering Learn how to sell; Pricing and Contacts
That Word document has now been converted to a PDF file which has now been uploaded to:
Alternatively, the direct link to the PDF file - which you can download for free - is embedded in the title of the document Essential TIPS for First Timers at an Art Fair

What are the essential tips for first timers at an art fair?

In summary, these are the tips from the Art Fair Buddies:
  • BEHAVIOUR: the major theme which got the most comments related to how to behave. You must be 
    • friendly and positive, 
    • smile until your smile muscles ache, and 
    • stay upbeat no matter what happens. 
    • BUT don't pounce as soon as people come on your stand)!
  • SET-UP: Various aspects relating to logistics and getting your set-up right also generated an awful lot of comments. Key points were
    • have a checklist
    • have a box of things you need which you never ever unpack!
    • plan the layout of your stand and where to hang/place whatever before you get there
    • think of ways to maximise the use of space within a very small space
    • bring the comfort factor to your stand - whether it's a favourite mug for your cup of tea to flat shoes because you'll be on your feet all day
  • YOUR ART BUSINESS: Finally, people highlighted the need think about your art business:
    • the most important one was to learn how to sell - and close a sale
    • get your prices right for that art fair - and make them visible
    • remember that lots of sales at low prices add up and can cover your costs
    • keep a record of people's contact details (and think about how these now need to be varied for GDPR e.g. no more visitor books!)
I'm wondering what your tips would be.

You can find more advice and information about Art Fairs 
on the Art Fairs page on my Art Business Info. for Artists website

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Art Galleries and GDPR

If you as an artist are sweating over GDPR - otherwise known by its longer name of General Data Protection Regulation - just imagine what it's doing for art gallery owners, directors and managers - and any and all art dealers.

The Financial Times has a particularly good article on this topic A secretive art world grapples with data protection which highlights some of the issues for art galleries and dealers and the scope to tear down the walls they keep around their major asset - information about individual collectors
galleries record extensive personal information about collectors and clients — from their tastes and their buying histories to their private addresses and even their dietary preferences. 
As from next Friday 25th May 2018 (i.e. 5 DAYS LEFT)if a collector enquires, an art gallery has to produce all the  data they hold about an individual.

Then there's the issues of
  • provenance which is important in relation to how long personal data is kept. Keeping a track record of purchases and sales of art is crucial to the maintenance of credibility and value.
  • the black lists - who is not allowed to buy art from a gallery
which appears to be leading to some interesting explorations of which records are and are not subject to GDPR (and hence whether or not they must be revealed).

Cork Street - as was - before the developers got going, pulling down buildings.....

For more about GDPR

What I've written so far

Facebook Groups and Other Resources

Other Articles

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT an expert on this topic - even if I know more than you! Nothing stated on this page is legal advice. Like you I'm just trying to work my way through the maze of online information about GDPR. Hence this resource should NOT be construed or relied upon as legal advice. You are not my client and I do not know your individual circumstances - meaning I have no liability to you in any circumstances should you choose to rely on any of the materials on this page - although whatever is published by the ICO should be more authoritative than most.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Call for Entries - Society of Wildlife Artists' Annual Exhibition 2018

Entries from non-members are welcome for the 55th annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists is open.  

You have until 12 noon on Friday 6 July 2018 to get your digital entry ready and upload it and complete your submission online.

This post highlights the new advisory guidelines on the sort of work the SWLA wants to see submitted.
The Selection Committee of the SWLA seeks to encourage all forms of three and two dimensional artwork (see 'Acceptable media' below) that is based on representing the world’s wildlife. The Committee is particularly keen to encourage all artists with fresh visions to submit work to the Annual Exhibition that shows imagination, artistic ability, originality and genuine creativity.
SWLA Exhibition - Main Gallery last year

Call for Entries: 55th annual exhibition of SWLA

The SWLA call for entries is administered by the Federation of British Artists at the Mall Galleries and you can find more information below and on their website

For full terms and conditions, click here.

Prizes & Awards (subject to final confirmation)

There are many prizes and awards available to win, including:
  • NEW The Terravesta Prize: £2,000 for the best work exhibited
  • Birdwatch Artist of the Year Award (£1,000 plus Swarovski equipment)
  • The Roger Clarke Award: £500
  • The Langford Press Printmaking Award: £200 cash and the winner's choice of ten titles from Langford Press publications 
  • The Langford Press 3D Award: £200 cash and the winner's choice of ten titles from Langford Press publications 
  • RSPB Award
  • Dry Red Press Award
  • PJC Drawing Award
  • Birdscapes Gallery 'Conservation through Art' Award
  • Eligible artists
  • Any artist over 18 may submit.
North Galleries last year

Eligible artwork

The artwork must be of wildlife 
In summary, the SWLA Selection Committee is looking for:
  • two and three dimensional artwork inspired by the natural world
  • work that displays a deep knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, based on ‘in the field’ observation
  • work that reflects a personal, original, and creative response
  • work that displays a high level of technical skill
  • work that showcases interesting approaches and emerging new talent
Wildlife includes any non-domestic animal such as birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, crustaceans and insects.Works depicting domestic animals or purely botanical subjects are not permissible.
Works depicting wildlife divorced from its environment or without place, setting or context are rejected in many cases.
Biological or scientific illustrations are in most cases not permissible.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Review: Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition - Unstuffed!

The reason for the curious title is that this year the Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters has
  • finally lost its stuffed shirts
  • included more portraits of women
  • improved its hang
  • and members have painted portraits as interesting as the open entry!
It's quite a transformation!

You can read about the Prizewinners at the 127th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in my previous blog post.

This one is just about the exhibition. (Don't forget! If you mention "Making A Mark" at the admission desk you can get Free Entry for Two - normal admission is £4, Concessions £3)

But first some portraits by somebody who has been featured rather a lot on this blog of late

Portraits by Daphne Todd (centre plus two on the left) and Antony Williams (two on the right)
Top left is Daphne Todd's portrait of Des Volaris,
the omnipresent representative of BP on the BP Portrait Award selection panel
The painting in the centre has also had quite a few airings on BBC1 of late.

Exhibition Metrics and the Open Entry

The Selection Committee this year only had two people who were selectors in 2017: Simon Davis and Antony Williams. The rest were new and were Richard Foster (the new President), Andrew James, Anastasia Pollard and Mark Roscoe.

These are the numbers (the "exhibition metrics") 

There are 220 works hung in this exhibition of which 111 works (50%) were by members 

  • OPEN ENTRY: over 2,000 entries were submitted by non-members
  • The ratio of members' work to non-members is 51:49 - it varies from year to year but overall it appears that the ratio averages out at around 50:50
109 artworks are being exhibited by 92 non-member portrait painters
  • the big change in 2018 is fewer artists are being selected and more are being invited which I guess is another form of selection
  • the good news: around half the artwork in the show is NOT by a member
  • the bad news: less than 5% of the entry gets selected
  • the good news: which is better than the percentage selected for the BP Portrait Award
  • the bad news: however this open entry is more competitive than the RA's Summer Exhibition!

Open Entry

  • 90 works were selected from the open entry and exhibited by 69 artists 
  • The average number of selected paintings per selected artists is 1.3 - most just have one although a few have two or three - typically those who are moving up the ladder towards being invited to be a member
  • Open entries selected for exhibition: percentage selected is less than 4.4% (based on an entry of at least 2,000). This is a reduction on last year due to the increase in artists invited to show a work.

Invited Artists

  • 18 artists were invited to exhibit a portrait - up from just five last year. Typically those invited are artists who have been selected previously and presumably there needs to be a good reason why they are invited (see my example below). Also some (such as Gareth Reid) also had a work selected via the Open Entry
Changing Faces Commissions
Small wonder then that we have the very odd situation where
North Gallery - where most of the open entry typically hangs
In the centre are Carl Randall's portraits of Nick Park, the animator and Raymond Briggs the illustrator
Hero Johnson with her portrait of Sir Alan Parker - and her subject.
Hero won the Changing Faces Prize at this exhibition in 2016
and was shortlisted for the the RSPP Self Prize in 2013 
and was invited by Mark Roscoe RP to exhibit at the exhibition.
She was also selected to exhibit at the BP Portrait Award 2017
What's also very interesting - although I have no statistics to validate this - is that there seem to be a lot more international artists entering the competition - and the Chinese appear very taken with the RSPP!

On that basis I'd expect the international entry to keep on growing....

What has changed

Very few stuffed shirts and lots more women!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Back stories to exhibitions and activities at the RA

This week saw two television programmes exploring the back stories behind exhibitions and other activities and recent developments at the Royal Academy of Arts

This is to do with:
  • the 250th anniversary of the RA is this year 
  • the fact that "The New RA" opens next Saturday on 19th May 2018. (The Friends Previews are 16-18 May 2018)
Below is a brief synopsis/review of each programme
  • The Private Life of the Royal Academy (BBC2)
  • David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts (ITV)
Plus there's also a treat for Hockneyphiles at the end of this post.

The New RA - new buildings and spaces and activities

The Private Life of the Royal Academy (BBC2)

Discussing plans for the Summer Exhibition 2017

The Private Life of the Royal Academy was shown on BBC2 and can now be seen on iPlayer for those who missed it
See behind the scenes of the New RA in our very own documentary.
This didn't really do much to avoid the notion that the RA is some sort of exclusive club which has only started to get to grips within thinking about adding in more women as members since 2000.

It's been made partly because of the RA's 250th anniversary. Part of me is convinced it has been made for an American audience and future benefactors in terms of what it  focused on e.g. history, the royal connection, lavish dinners etc and the rituals associated with being a member.

It did show you around the RA - although I've seen much of what it revealed on a trip I did in connection with the building project. It showed you how the RA Summer Exhibition worked - from an Academicians perspective and we had an endless number of views of the signatories over the years when people became members and Grayson Perry floating around in another costume that the students at the London College of Fashion have made for him.

It was interesting to hear that the Friends Membership Scheme generates something like £10 million per annum - and is their bed rock of funding in the absence of any government grant.

However I'm a Friend and have been thinking of giving up my membership ever since they took away the Chesterfields in the Friends Room. It was particularly interesting to hear what the membership was supposed to deliver in the early days (i.e. what I want) compared to what it now delivers now i.e. bigger spaces for doing more things which are no interest to me.

Great Art: David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts (ITV)

The Bigger Picture at Burlington House in 2012
David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts is the first episode of the second series of Great Art - featuring Tim Marlow (the Artistic Director at the RA). The programme is based on
  • the 2012 RA exhibition, in the very large main galleries: A Bigger Picture - of outdoor plein-air landscapes, (See my blog post Review: David Hockney RA - A Bigger Picture  January 17, 2012) and 
  • the 2016 RA exhibition, in the smaller Sackler Gallery: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life show, 
  • and on extended interviews with Hockney himself.
In the context of the 250th anniversary of the RA it's unsurprising that Tim Marlow wanted to feature the biggest exhibition they've ever had at the RA i.e. the 600,000 people who visited The Bigger Picture in 2012.  There are times when I think Hockney is keeping the RA afloat all on his own.

It's not very penetrating interviewing and I spent most of the time predicting what was coming next - but that might be something to do with how many times I saw A Bigger Picture!

However it was wonderful to see the rooms and the paintings in the exhibitions again. In some ways it was better because of course the rooms are empty and hence you get a much better sense of some of the works.

It tended to focus on the paintings and didn't really do justice to either his drawings or the ipad digital work. It also skipped lightly and quickly over the reasons for moving back and to between California and East Yorkshire.

It's more interesting about the processes of paintings (e.g. each portraits was the product of  three concentrated days of painting - and none of them are commissions) and provides less insight as to why. Other than Hockney likes a big project and a challenge!

What was interesting was hearing extended interviews with two of his portrait sitters RA contemporary curator Edith Devaney and Hockney author Martin Gayford - although we need to remember both probably have a financial interest in making Hockney look and sound good! See also:
Curator Edith Devaney introduces David Hockney’s portrait exhibition, giving an insight into this remarkable series of work and Hockney’s relationship with portraiture, as well as her own experiences of sitting for the artist.
  • Videos on the RA website - In the studio with David Hockney RA (4 minutes) 
David Hockney RA talks to curator Edith Devaney in his Los Angeles studio, ahead of his Royal Academy exhibition '82 Portraits and 1 Still-life'.

The series is adapted from full-length feature films originally released in cinemas under EXHIBITION ON SCREEN.

Bottom line this is a programme which is compiling and using bits of various footage which has been released over the years and re-issuing it in such a way that it feels quite fresh - even when you know you've watched bits of it before!

You can also purchase it as a DVD in the UK, USA and Canada.

More about David Hockney

I've written about David Hockney on a number of occasions on this blog. You can READ my posts BELOW - they're organised backwards by years.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Prizewinners at the 127th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters

The annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters opened to the public today at the Mall Galleries and continues until 25th May. Those interested in commissioning artists exhibiting in the exhibition will want to know that a special commissions desk is open throughout the exhibition.

If you mention "Making A Mark" at the admission desk you can get Free Entry for Two (normal admission is £4, Concessions £3)

Below are the prizes, followed by the events - and then details of this year's 'how to enter' if you are interested in entering next year and past blog posts about this exhibition.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend yesterday's Private View due to problems with my feet (the sort that stop you being able to wear shoes!) and I'll be doing a blog post reviewing the exhibition generally just as soon as my feet stop being a problem and I can walk again!


The prizewinners are listed below together with the prize they won, what it was for and a brief bio.

Winner of The Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture

Prize: £10,000 + Gold Medal - awarded for the most distinguished portrait in the Society’s annual exhibition
Winner: James Hague for Mette

Mette by James Hague

Background to the Award

This year's winner of the Ondaatje Prize was born in 1970 and comes from Derbyshire. James Hague's art education comprised
  • National Diploma in Art and Design (1987-1988), 
  • ollowed by BA Hons Fine Art - University of Northumbria at Newcastle (1989-1993) and 
  • an MA Painting - Royal College of Art. London (2004-2006).
His MA at the RCA came only AFTER he had already won the BP Portrait Award in 1996 with a self-portrait. (one can only imagine his application!) His self-portrait was described by the Independent at the time as angular and morose (Check out the Getty Image of him with his self portrait 22 years ago) 

His portrait of Sir Michael Caine, that he was commissioned to paint by the National Portrait Gallery as part of that prize is now in the NPG's permanent collection and regularly on display.

You can see his approach to painting portraits in a speeded up timelapse video produced for the BP Portrait Award: Next Generation Summer School in 2014.

Winner of The £2,000 Prince of Wales’s Award

Prize: £2,000 and framed certificate for a portrait in any recognised drawing medium
Winner: Anna Pinkster for Em and Bruno

Em and Bruno by Anna Pinkster 
“In this charcoal portrait of Em and her beloved cat Bruno I have endeavoured to capture a quiet, reflective moment in time as Bruno neared the end of his life.”
In 1994, Anna Pinkster was awarded a first class BA degree in Fine Art by the West Surrey College of Art and Design. Since then she has exhibited largely in London , Bath and Somserset. She has been elected a member of the Bath Society of Artists

Winner of The £3,000 de Laszlo Foundation Award

Prize: £3,000 plus a Silver Medal for the most outstanding portrait by an artist aged 35 years or under
Winner: Emma Hopkins RP

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

How to make money from your art

Most artists when they start out are fixated with getting representation by an art gallery.

The questions they ask vary between
  • How to get your work in an art gallery?
  • How to get into an art gallery?
  • How do I go about getting an art gallery?
  • How to submit art to a gallery?
  • How to get art gallery representation?
  • How to approach an art gallery with your paintings?
  • How do galleries find artists?
However art galleries are NOT the only way to generate an income from your art.

Plus some galleries have very naughty habits when it comes to the income they make from artist's work.  Then there's the whole question of just how well they sell art and stay in business....

Consequently - rather than putting all their eggs in one basket - any self-respecting artist who wants to make a career out of their art needs to take a long hard look at some of the alternative options for making money from their art.

I'll be giving a talk called How to Make Money from your Art at Heatherley School of Art in Lots Road, Chelsea on Monday 21st May 2018 (4.30pm - 5.30pm)

Admission is FREE and all are welcome - although there is a limit on seating....

If you're interested in finding out more 
- especially about the notion of risk management 
in relation to generating income from your art - 
why not come along!

Heatherley School of Art, 75 Lots Road, London SW10 0RN

How to make money from your art

This talk looks at the world ​of selling art ​ and why it's essential to look beyond the art gallery and expand your opportunities to make money from your art

Why relying ​on ​ an art gallery ​for sales and income ​ is risky

  • how to reduce your exposure to risk
  • why an income portfolio is essential

​How to create an income portfolio

  • art galleries and art dealers
  • open exhibitions and art competitions
  • selling from home and open studios
  • selling online and eCommerce
  • commissions (contracts and business regulations)
  • commercial art (eg book, product development, interiors)
  • licensing and illustration (eg newspapers and magazines)
  • commissions
  • teaching