Now we’ve hit the first full working week of 2017 it’s time to refresh your plan and goals for this year. Below Art Prize Consultant Caitlin Smyth has put her top Artist Resolutions to help inspire your 2017 push!
1. I’ll do it tomorrow: What is the saying, don’t do tomorrow what can be started day? Spend a bit of time pulling together a list of opportunities, their deadlines and their submission requirements that you can track and possibly enter this year. Even if you don’t enter it’s helpful to see who and what gets submitted and of course who the winners are to help support your knowledge of the industry. You can do the same kind of thing with art fairs and exhibitions if you’re feeling very organised!
2. Lose the art speak: Anyone else sick of fundamentally juxtaposed, yet simultaneously obvious ideas permeating work yet? Nope I’ve got no idea what you’re getting at either! Lose the overly complex language and elongated sentences this year. The simpler the text the larger the number of people that can relate to it and the more likely they are to engage with your work. Simple language suggests confidence in your ideas. The same goes with the structure of your writing, focus on one idea at a time, you don’t need to come up with 100 reasons to justify making your art, commit some time to working out that one resounding theme at least a couple of times a year.
3. Look at old work: It may make you cringe but it can also be very affirming to how far you have come and help you assess how your practice; the work itself and the ideas behind pieces, has evolved. Knowing where you have been can help you understand where you are going.
4. Power in your Peers: It’s time we understood the power of peers. Connect through platforms, support each other, offer feedback, go to artist run events and exhibitions. The more people you know the more chance you have of making valuable connections that will in turn support your own development.
5. Don’t Work for Free: Now this doesn’t mean only work for money but there has to be a real benefit to you that may come in the form of exposure, connections, payment etc etc. Set your own acceptable parameters based on what you want to achieve this year – if you want to make money focus on paid opportunities, want to widen your network, maybe look at open calls etc. And don’t be afraid to say no if it isn’t right! Keep the connection and down the line it may be useful.
6. If you don’t ask, well then, you don’t get: Despite how much you want to pretend you had nothing to do with being unsuccessful at getting that group show or being selected for that residency, I’ve got news for you, you do have a degree of control – over your own actions. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, follow up, ask for feedback, ask questions and connect on a human level with the people you want to gain something from. Relationships can take time to build but all it takes is one person to remember you to result in a potential opportunity.
7. Small fish, big pond: However, following from the above, try not to over analyse if people don’t get back to you straight away. It’s easy to start slamming this Director or that Consultant because they missed you email or follow up call but people are busy! Back it off until a more appropriate moment and don’t burn any bridges by acting the diva, it will get you nowhere! Keep them in the back of your mind.
8. Trash Talk is Exactly That: Put your work out there and encourage feedback but also put on that thicker skin and let anything that isn’t constructive wash off. Chances are someone who comments that they’re 20-year-old, one eyed Labrador could have made that was never interested in what you’re doing in the first place, and never will be. Don’t let it waste your time but instead think about how you can make your work even more accessible by explaining it in a different way.
9. Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: Well, it’s not if you’re an artist Oscar! Plagiarism is a real thing but what are you going to do – hide your art in a box and let no one see it just in case? We think not. In a modern age which is increasingly globalised there are going to be artists working in a similar manner to you, equally if you put it out there someone may take ‘inspiration’ too far, but I always find that an idea plagiarised shows through immediately as lacking authenticity and in depth understanding, of course, you don’t have to take my word for it, but you could take it and get your work out there anyway. Be confident in your work and that it is the most authentic out there.
10. Go and be part of it: It’s easy to get stuck in your art world but don’t ever think that what happens in the auction houses or is exhibited at big art fairs won’t permeate different levels of the industry, go and see, pay attention, look, understand and be a part of the industry you throw yourself into.
Follow Caitlin Smyth on:
Oaktree & Tiger Team
Art experts giving advice to emerging artists to build their careers and find success. Organisers of the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2020, artist agent and art consultants.