If you happen to find yourself in London in the middle of January, be sure to take some time to drop by the annual London Art Fair, being hosted at its usual residence in Islington, the Business Design Centre. There are several new features this year, as well as the return of a few old favourites, but most notable this year is the participation of the Hepworth Wakefield.
In case you're not up on the UK gallery scene lately, the Hepworth Wakefield is one of the most exciting new galleries around, based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The building was designed by famous British architect David Chipperfield for an impressive £35 million, but the cost was easily vindicated by the impressive attendance numbers racked up in the first 5 weeks it was open, with over 100,000 visitors gracing its halls. The Hepworth Wakefield's contribution to the London Art Fair will be an exhibit titled 'Barbara Hepworth and the development of British Modernism' curated by Frances Guy, Head of Collections.
Many other galleries from around the world will also be contributing various exhibitions, including a presentation of 1950s Japanese avant-garde group GUTAI by the Whitestone Gallery out of Tokyo, which recently concluded a major exhibit of the works at the Guggenheim in New York City. Nearly 100 galleries in total have contributed works to be exhibited, ensuring the London Art Fair's place as one of the largest exhibitions of its kind in the United Kingdom.
Among the returning favourites this year are the 'Art Projects' and 'Photo50' sections of the fair. This year, Art Projects will be curated by Adam Carr, who has acted as guest curator at the Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, and Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Turin, Italy. This year, the focus will be on collaborative and interactive pieces from galleries around the world, many of which will be working together for the first time. Photo50 will be curated thisd year by Charlie Fellowes and Jeremy Epstein, both of whom are directors of the Edel Assanti Gallery. The exhibit is entitled 'Immaterial Matter', and explores the increasingly blurry distinctions between the digital world and the material world.
The London Art Fair is open from Wednesday, January 15 until Sunday, January 19, with tickets at the door costing £17.00 (although you can save yourself £2 and buy online in advance for £15.00), and children under 12 can attend for free.
As we mentioned in our recent piece on the documentary Samsara, the winter months can be rough for artists. Well, they can be rough for everyone, but lack of sunlight and the inhospitable outdoors can lead us down the road to lethargy and creative blocks. If you spend a little bit of time thinking about your work and how you could use freezing temperatures as a means to experiment with something new, you'll start to realize that the things you originally saw as blocks can actually be guides that allow you to step outside your traditional assumptions.
If that doesn't pique your curiosity, then perhaps you'll find some inspiration in the stunning winter-only works of artist Simon Beck. His day job involves map-making, and he took those skills, combined it with his love of precision and turned into some beautiful artwork. Originally from Bracknell, Berkshire, he spends his winters in ski-friendly areas of France where snow is plentiful. But his artwork is highly unusual for one simple reason: he creates it entirely with snowshoes.
Sometimes walking as much as 40 kilometers over the course of a 10 hour day, Beck creates truly massive and stunningly intricate mathematically inspired designs in snow. If you've ever seen pictures of 'crop circles', you'll get a sense of what his designs are like, but on a much grander scale. Beck explains, "The biggest was about 10 soccer fields. It's a bit hard to measure, but a decent-sized project is about three soccer fields. That takes one day if conditions are good."
Once the enormous designs have been completed, he then spends time hiking to the top a nearby mountain, if one is available, in order to take pictures. If there isn't one nearby, he sometimes charters a small aircraft to allow him to take aerial pictures of his work. Because each footstep has a distinct and differentiated depth, as the sun progresses across the sky the changes in light and shadow can create some amazing contrasting patterns.
Check out an interview with Beck here, and see how he creates his masterpieces.
If that doesn't get you inspired to get outside and try something new with your art, check back with us soon for a piece on some winter-based experiments for different types of art - no matter what medium you work in, you'll find something that gets you inspired!
As those of you in the Northern Hemisphere living through it right now know firsthand, winter can be some of the hardest months for artists. There's something about the way the world feel that can block out creative inspiration, and despite the fact that it can make it easier to spend a lot of time in the studio, all the time in the world isn't any use if you're uninspired. This week, we're going to take a look at one of the most beautiful pieces of modern documentary filmmaking, the truly breathtaking film Samsara.
One of the most unique and visually inspiring artefacts out there in the world today, Samsara takes its name from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth found in many of the world's Eastern religions (namely Hinduism and Buddhism, among many others), making it both perfectly timed for the winter months when the world seems most noticeably being reborn and an excellent metaphor for the often-cyclical nature of inspiration.
The entire film is based around the moving image, with a complete lack of dialog or subtitles, only a haunting and moving soundtrack composed especially for the movie. Taking you on a journey around the world from the temples of Tibet to the wilds of America to a Chinese Shaolin school and the depth of Europe's most stunning chapels and many, many other places, the story (such as it is) is told in the sequence of the scenes themselves. It simply has to be seen to be believed, and can't be explained with mere words. The filmmakers were very careful to avoid any political themes in the work, although despite this there does seem to be subtext of the comparisons of what we find beautiful around the world, and what we place the most value on.
Released in 2012, the film was shot over the course of 5 years in 25 different countries widely spaced around the world, shot in truly stunning 70mm film. Currently available in full 1080p HD, it should be watched at the highest resolution you have access to - and if you're one of the lucky few who has decided to take the plunge into the early generation of 4K television, Samsara is one of the few pieces that will be available in the format.
Simply put: watch it, and take yourself away from the winter doldrums for one of the most visually impressive films you'll ever watch in your life. Check out the trailer below - and be sure to watch it in HD, full screen with your sound on. Enjoy!
Those of you who are used to working in digital media will no doubt have already heard the term 'workflow' bandied around quite a bit, and those of who you are used to more traditional media may have run into from time to time and been a bit unclear on what it means. Really, though, it does what it says on the tin - it's a way of describing the art process from creation to digitisation (if necessary) to editing to finalisation to production (again, if necessary). The term is most popularly used by digital photographers, but anyone looking to sell artwork online has to dabble in at least some aspects of a digital image workflow in order to get their work onto the web.
Taking a look at your digital workflow is especially important when you have a large number of images to work with - this is probably why it's of such importance to digital photographers, as dealing with thousands of images can quickly grow difficult if you don't have an optimised workflow. Most of you probably won't have that many images to work through, but a good workflow can still save you a lot of hassle and headaches, and ensure that your output is consistently high-quality.
First of all, when you're digitising your physical pieces, ensure that your photo settings remain consistent throughout the process. If you have to switch things up for any reason, try to group as many images together as possible so that you wind up with as many files as possible that share settings.
Once you've digitised everything and you're ready to work on the computer, open your first couple of images from your first group of photo settings and make whatever edits you think are necessary to give your photos the most accurate colour and contrast. Most good quality editing programs will allow you to save these settings as presets, which will then allow you to import all the rest of your photos using those same settings. (Note: if you have never bothered to experiment with using dual monitors for your computer, you should definitely give it a shot - it makes the editing process infinitely more enjoyable, as you can dedicate an entire screen to your image and keep all your toolbars and palettes on the other monitor).
Do this for each of your photo groupings. As you go through and review the results, you'll probably want to make minute adjustments to some of the images - this is totally fine, but you'll have saved yourself hours of effort by using these presets instead of going through your images and customising each one.
The same concept applies when it comes time to save your photos - establishing the proper presets and then using what's known as a batch process to save your outputs will save you even more untold hours of work. As you get more comfortable working with your image editing program, you'll be able to expand the process even further by automating the process of adding in digital watermarks to protect your images from theft and any other enhancements you want. Happy automating!
You may have noticed it the last time you bought artwork online, or perhaps when you bought a piece of furniture, or almost anything else: the colours you saw when you were browsing online didn't match the colours of the product you received. For many things, this isn't really a big deal , so we shrug and move on with our lives. But when it comes to artwork, colour is another story completely. When working in a digital medium, even if it's just to create images to sell your offline work, you absolutely must have a properly colour-managed workflow. It's frustrating, but true, there's no way around it. Fortunately, this complicated world can be made much simpler with a small investment.
In a nutshell, the problem with colour is that every monitor is slightly different. You've probably noticed that the colour displays at the office or your friend's house look a little different, and you'd be right. Each manufacturer goes out of their way to provide a great viewing experience without any additional setup, but that can often mean compromising accurate colour representation in favour of added drama. Greater contrast and more saturated colours tend to be the real problem, and that goes double for black and white artwork.
Fortunately, there are now a number of devices available known as colour calibrators (technically, 'colourimeters', but you may have better luck asking for a monitor calibrator if you're not technically inclined) which can be had for less than $100 that will take all the hard work out of colour management. A colourimeter plugs into a USB port on your computer and is positioned directly over the monitor. The accompanying software then displays a number of different colours on your screen, which are detected by the colourimeter. The software then automatically computes the difference between what is being supposed to be displayed and what is actually displayed, and creates a colour profile that your computer uses to ensure your monitor is displaying accurate colours.
More advanced (and, typically, more expensive) colourimeters should also include a method for calibrating your printer, which can be very useful if you plan on selling prints of your digital artwork and handling the production aspects yourself. Printer calibration uses the same process as the monitor calibration, except you print out a selection of test sheets which can then be 'read' by the colourimeter.
For many artists, the most difficult thing they ever have to do is write about their own work. Even for those lucky few who are gifted with the talent to write, it can be a struggle to discuss their pieces. Somewhat irritatingly, though, writing about your art is one of the most certain ways to help boost your sales volume. Not only does it give your piece a huge SEO boost - not to mention a huge SEO boost for your Gallereo page as a whole - but it helps your readers and potential buyers connect with you on a basic human level, understanding who you are and how you got here.
Backstory is one of the many things that make art unique - and, therefore, more valuable. If you were considering two pieces to purchase, both of them executed with equally dazzling skill in similar styles and at similar price points, and you knew the story behind one of them and nothing about how the other was produced, which would you end up purchasing? Nine times out of ten, I'll bet you would buy the one with the story behind it. While there's something to be said for mystery, creative lineage has far more value to it.
So at this point, you may be thinking to yourself, 'But my pieces don't have good stories behind them!' - which, if you're honest, probably isn't true. This is one point where keeping a decently organized process book can really help you to remember the development of each of your pieces. Odds are, there is a pretty decent story behind each one, if only you can remember it. If, somehow, you feel there really isn't a story worth telling for each piece, then take a good hard look at yourself and your art career instead. People love reading about the plucky artist overcoming the odds and creating beauty out of a world of confusion, and while we don't all have an archetypal story to tell, any story is still miles better than no story.
There's another benefit besides the sales pitch to this process. Taking stock of where you were, where you are now and how you got here can be a huge wellspring of both creativity and self-confidence, two invaluable resources for any artist. Don't be afraid of writing - embrace your story, and use it to both empower you and drive you further ahead in your career.
As winter closes in around us in the Northern Hemisphere, those of us lucky enough to be able to get some time off work tend to look on it as a chance to get away to somewhere tropical and warm - but for those of us who love art, vacations are chance to see some of the world's greatest masterpieces. Here's a list of vacation city suggestions that host some of the world's most expansive and extensive art galleries. They're not listed in any particular order, because everyone has different tastes, but no matter what you like you're sure to find someplace that will suit your fancy.
Paris tends to be one of the first cities that art lovers go to on vacation, and with good reason. Not only is the city itself incredibly beautiful and romantic, even in the depths of winter, but Paris boasts a truly impressive range of world famous galleries. A gallery that almost everyone in the world has heard of, the Louvre boasts one of the most extensive art collections in the world, with somewhere in the neighbourhood of 35,000 pieces on display. For the more controversialist among you, the Centre Pompidou has polarised the Parisian art community since it was built, showcasing an impressive array of modern art. These are just two of the most famous, but there are far more galleries and museums than anyone would be able to see in a single trip, so plan out your visit carefully.
If modern art is more your style, you may want to consider a trip to either New York City or Chicago, both of which have world-famous modern art galleries. Chicago boasts the Museum for Contemporary Art, which does more or less what it says on the tin, as well as the Art Institute of Chicago, which features works from some of the greatest modern artists, including Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. New York is no slouch when it comes to modern art either, boasting its own truly staggering array of galleries, many of which are centred along a stretch of 5th Avenue that has become known for this fact. The Guggenheim Museum is located here, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art is nearby, along with the world-famous Museum of Modern Art which has recently re-opened its doors after an extended hiatus.
Back on the other side of the pond, one of the more typically overlooked cities for art lovers is Vienna, where you can find the Kunsthistorisches Museum, known to us in English simply as the Museum of Fine Arts. MuseumsQuartier Wien (Museum Quarter) also boasts a huge collection, and the modern MUMOK caters to all branches of modern contemporary art. Vienna is also an incredibly beautiful city to visit, with a huge number of architectural styles on display, making the city a work of art in and of itself.
Watch for our upcoming post on cities that have a burgeoning art scene if something a little more avante-garde is more your taste!
We've been spending a lot of time on this blog helping you get things sorted out when it comes to your Gallereo page. Tips for setting your pages up to sell, how to manage work and life and art, and all sorts of things like that - but there's one thing we've been neglecting lately in our own posts: the art! So despite the title, we're sorry about that. Today, let's step away from the minutiae of how to go about selling your own work, and look at some of the artwork that's happening in the world around us. To that end, we're going to look at the documentary 'Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry', the brainchild of young filmmaker Alison Klayman, featuring the Chinese activist artist Ai Weiwei.
The film, which was initially released in 2012, won a special jury prize at the famous Sundance Festival, and was the premier film at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto in the same year. It chronicles the struggles of Mr. Ai against the oppressive Chinese government, while showcasing a number of his exhibits that have been featured in major galleries around the world, including the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany, and the Tate Modern in London, England. Even as Mr. Ai's artwork is highlighted, the skill with which Ms. Klayman handles the entire documentary is equally impressive.
Strong critical reception of the documentary has also raised Mr. Ai's profile in the art world, and shed light on the violently oppressive practices that are still a hallmark of life in modern China. If you haven't seen the film yet, you're strongly urged to go see it - especially when you find yourself stuck in a bit of a creative slump. The trials and tribulations that have completely enmeshed Mr. Ai and fuelled his creative expressions are an inspiration to all of us; if he can find the strength to keep creating in an environment as hostile as that one, then perhaps there's some hope for even the most blocked of us. In his case, his creativity is born out of the desire for social change, but that's the message he needs to spread in light of the current social climate of his homeland.
The holy grail for most artists is to be able to support themselves through their art alone. After all, we do this because we love it - why let work get in the way of art if you can get paid for doing what you love? Needless to say, this remains a dream for most of us - but it IS possible to turn your dream into reality. If you're serious about turning art into your primary career, here are some great tips that will help prepare you for this monumental change in your life and keep you on track once you start.
The first question to ask yourself, though, is whether or not this is something you really want to do. While it's a great system if you can make it work, you really have to be 200% committed to making it work. If you ever find yourself coming up with excuses to avoid the studio, it might be best to keep your artwork as a secondary job for the time being. It's important to be able to tell the difference between a hobby you enjoy and something that you're willing to dedicate your life to.
If that hasn't scared you off, great! Let's get down to brass tacks. Firstly, you're going to have to be working two jobs for a while. Unless you've got a bunch of money saved, and you're willing to live on that while you get things off the ground, you're going to have to start working on your art business while you work your normal day job. No sugar-coating: this will be stressful, but worth it.
Start getting used to living on less income than you're currently making. Not only will the savings help you through the transition period when money stretches thin, but giving up some of the luxuries you're used to at the moment will help motivate you to really work hard on your art business to get them back.
Get used to working on your art business in a serious way. Put in the hours, whether you feel like dragging your feet or not. You don't get to choose when you show up to your current day job, and your art business shouldn't be any different if you're going to be successful with it. By the same logic, treat your time with the respect it deserves. If you have a home studio, be sure that your family knows that you may as well be at the office and that you shouldn't be interrupted.
Finally, make sure that you're focused on making sales. All the well-intentioned work isn't worth anything if you're not making sales or commissions. Produce, produce, produce, and then produce some more.
All that being said, once you get past the rough initial stages, it will become fun again. A new job is always complex and can have some difficult times at the beginning, but you get the hang of it. Work hard, persevere, and you'll wake up one morning to find that you're doing the thing you love with your life - and getting paid well for it. Who could ask for more?
One of the best tools for your Gallereo page is the blog feature. You've probably heard us urging you on to use it, but perhaps you're holding back for some reason. Not every artist takes to writing, and some truly hate it, but a well-written blog really can make the difference between making a few sales and more dynamic success. One of the most common problems non-writers struggle with when starting out, though, is what to write about. Hopefully, this post will inspire you to take your blog out there and turn it into a fun, exciting project that stops being a chore and starts being a great tool for your art sales.
The most important thing to do with your blog is to write about things that interest you. Even if you're not the best writer in the world, your readers will be able to tell that you care about the things you're posting about, and it will resonate with them and they'll want to come back. Passion helps your natural 'voice' to come out in your words, and you'll see the benefits of it almost instantly, as you grow to enjoy it.
You've probably already embraced the art world fully into your life - most artists don't work in a vacuum, they live and breathe art even if they have to deal with a day job. When you're on the net or out in your hometown, keep an eye out for things that inspire you. Listen to what speaks to you, and use that as the kernel for a post. It doesn't have to be a thousand word essay on the relative merits of modern expressionism (although kudos if that's what inspires you) - even a simple image can reach out and touch people.
If that doesn't work for you, or you've already tried it, remember to talk about you. While you don't want every post to be about you or your artwork, it is your blog and you should be using it to inform your readers about what's happening. Are you excited about a piece you just finished? Share that excitement with us. Are you struggling with a piece that's been in your studio for months that just won't end? Tell us about it, and maybe your readers will provide you with the inspiration and encouragement you need to finish it up.
Above all else, make your blog reflect who you are as an artist. If you're not sure who that is, exactly, then try using your blog as a tool to help you figure it out. What would you want to post? What would you want to read about? What do you see that makes you want to turn to the person next to you to share it with them? That's what your blog should be about. Enjoy!