Our first talk for the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2019 took a look at the application process and what it means to both those who are filling them in and those who are receiving them.
We held a panel discussion chaired by our Marketing Director Caitlin to discuss this with previous entrants and our team.
We were so pleased to see some many familiar and new faces and be able to launch the prize, its new award (hyperlink award) and judges (hyperlink judges) so successfully!
Loreal Prystaj https://www.lorealprystaj.com @lorealprystajphotography
Loreal, originally from New York, is in her final year of her Masters in photography at the Royal Academy of Arts London. Work from her Reflecting on Nature series was shortlisted for the Emerging Artist Prize in 2018. Since then Loreal has exhibited her Fibers of Beauty series at Recontres D’Arles – the oldest and arguably most reputable photography festival in the world. This series then went on to the Tokyo International Foto Awards in Tokyo and will tour further later this year. Earlier in the year she presented her book Between the Cracks at Offprint photobook fair at Tate Modern and she is currently working on a new body of work which she’ll be sharing in the near future.
Brad Kenny https://www.bradkennystudio.com @brad_kenny_studio
Brad is from the UK. He was shortlisted for the Emerging Artist Prize in 2016 with one of his large scale abstract representation painting. Brad not long ago made the move to work full time as an artist. He has taught with Cass Art, been part of a number of group shows and just completed his third solo show (the last two shows were held at Cass Art Kingston and at Leatherhead Theatre, he organised and curated himself). Brad now has a fairly steady stream of commissions and sales and has a strong online following which you can check out via his Instagram handle above!
Conrad Carvalho - http://www.oaktreeandtiger.com @oaktreeandtiger
Conrad is our Art Prize Director and Panel Chairman. He has worked with both individual artists as a mentor, supplied corporate art services, given art investment talks and organised exhibitions as well, of course, as guiding our art prize! His current show, Meridian Skylines with artist Caio Locke, is on at the Embassy of Brazil in London and then at HKS Architects for its second instalment.
1. Do you feel there have been any particularly significant opportunities or moments that you feel have been important to reaching where you currently are?
Loreal: I really felt I benefitted from a residency I did, it put me in an environment with my peers and allowed me to explore creativity with the support of a community in a very supportive way. It was very different to the experience I am having through my MA.
Brad: There have been many moments and things that have been significant in me progressing. From support from my parents, to the confidence boosts successfully entering opportunities has given me.
The digital community has been very significant to me in terms of building my audience and also securing some sales, it’s allowed me to keep putting myself out there even if I don’t have an exhibition or a new work on show. I also think going to events like talks or private views have allowed me to create some great connections with peers which have resulted in further progression with my art.
Conrad: The Art Prize was of course a very significant moment for me which has not only allowed me to develop what I do with Oaktree & Tiger but also has taught me (and continues to teach me) a lot about what the real needs are of emerging artists nowadays.
Over time attending events and making time to meet with people who I’ve perhaps just had an interesting initial conversation with that I’d like to continue has meant that slowly I’ve built a network with the right people and opportunities now sometimes come to me rather than me going to them. I’d definitely say don’t discount the ground work you do or underestimate how long an opportunity might take to come to fruition – I have lots of clients that I’ve spoken to for several years before they bought an artwork from me.
2. In terms of the opportunities you’ve applied for how do you decide which are the right ones to go for you?
Brad: Cost often comes into play, there have to either be extra benefits other than winning or losing or I do a lot of research to really work out if I may be the kind of artist they are looking for.
I am dyslexic and I have to say I often discount certain opportunities if the entry form is too long or they rely on the text, form after form of text is required and becomes more about the language you speak about the art piece, rather than the art work itself. If it’s too hard for me to complete the form easily and make it worth it, then I will tend to avoid the opportunity.
Loreal: I agree with Brad on his points. I’m also dyslexic and find the application process hard, I think because of that I’ve always tried to make sure I present my work well. I supply good images files and make sure I research the opportunity and what they are looking for. I also think having conversations – with organisers, with previous entrants, etc., is a great way to work out if an opportunity is one you want to engage with.
I’ve had a lot of failures, we all do, and it’s important to remember we all will continue to have a lot of failures but it is good to participate, to engage with the wider art world and be present where possible. I tend to have a budget for entering opportunities and stick with this to make sure if I don’t win something I haven’t eaten into my funds for other things.
3. Do you apply any kind of process to filling in applications or have any tips for your peers to make sure they are learning from the process of applying?
Brad: I print all my application forms out and keep them as reference points. Filling in application forms is a good way to try and be objective about your work and try to see it from a different view point. It can help you learn about where you are and re-engage with what you are interested in. I also think opportunities like awards, open calls etc help you learn about the wider art world which can be hard once you’ve left education or if you are self- taught, I always try to make sure I attend the events or engage with the social media irrespective of whether I’ve been successful or not.
Loreal: I think applications really help you ask yourself questions. Like a personal crit. You can take a pause and really look at where you’re at that moment, why you’re doing it and what you’re interested in. They’ve always allowed me some self-reflection and helped me keep going. I also try to save my applications and think this is a good way to track how I am developing and I always try to make sure I am genuine with what I submit, I aim to find the right opportunities rather than change what I’m saying or producing to fit a certain opportunity. I think that authenticity is important to being able to keep going.
4. Conrad, what grabs your attention as the panel chairman?
Conrad: Good photos. If the work is well lit, there is nothing else in the images, these basics really help us get a good first impression.
If submitting more than one artwork and you’re working across varying styles or subject matter don’t be afraid to submit different types of work. We’re very aware as emerging artists you may well be still working out your voice so unlike some opportunities we don’t judge this as weakness. Also, keep in mind that we look at each artwork individually too, so you have more opportunities to be noticed by the judges.
Having all the text boxes filled in is really helpful – it helps us get a much more rounded view of your practice and gives us insight into you as the artist!
5. What extra things do you do (if any) during an application process to stay engaged with the opportunity?
Loreal: I wouldn’t say this is limited to the application process but I try to stay in touch with the opportunity, say thanks even if I don’t get it, congratulate winners, etc. It’s another potential relationship that might result in another opportunity later on (like this talk!)
Brad: I agree with Loreal, I also like to attend the events to support other emerging artists and if I really like or engage with another artists work I’ll post them on my social media – we have to support each other! Don’t be a sore loser, as it will close doors for you. Don’t become obsessive about the competition to the point it changes your art work!
6. To round us off, can you all summarise you top 3 advice points.
1. How do you define what are good ideas behind and artwork?
We don’t, but we hope you do! A strong understanding of your own art practice and confidence with what your submitting is all we look for. Don’t be afraid of it being simple and try to keep how you explain simple so that your ideas really hit home.
2. Is there such a thing as bad exposure?
Probably but as an emerging artist you have to experiment and further down the line you can always be more selective in what you include on your CV. Also, things can be deleted from the internet, or forgotten!
3. Why do you look at artists social media? If they don’t have it does it count against them?We will often take a look at an artist’s social media further along in the judging process when we’re getting towards the long list. We look only to get a better understanding of where they’re at.
You are in no way in with less of a chance if you do not have social media and we have had plenty of shortlisted artists over the years without it! You may just get a phone call from us instead!
4. What are the parameters around nudity?
This is a tricky one, mostly our parameters are set by the varying social media platforms we share artworks on. We have to be careful not to have works taken down, or at worst get ourselves shut down for a period of time.
In terms of what you are submitting we do ask that artists think about the exhibition space work is shown in if selected and the audience we engage with and use this to their best judgement. We’ve had works including a level of nudity previously so please don’t be too perturbed!
5. Does the physical size of a work affect what wins?
No! We know there is a current trend for creating huge works, we’re in no way judging based on this. Plus, our walls do end eventually!
6. Does entering more works mean you have more of a chance of winning?
One artwork is chosen to represent each Shortlisted Artist. So each artwork is considered on its own, and if you have a diverse practice or are still developing it and looking at different ideas and mediums, then it helps to show a wide range of artworks. But if entering 1 is what fits within your budget, just make sure you offer strong texts to back it up.
7. I suffer with dyspraxia/dyslexia, can I make that known via the entry form?
This is a great point, currently we don’t but Caitlin is keenly working towards how we can support our artists working with disability and specific learning difficulties. It’s really easy for us (as an initial step) to add a box on our entry form where you can add anything you wish to make us aware of, so we are looking into doing that ASAP and please, keep talking to us about how we can support this!
Learn more about the prize by visiting www.artprize.co.uk
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.