The Artists Web Newsletter November 2009
In this Issue:
Where they are, why you should enter and what you need to know!
How to do it, legal requirements, keeping it simple & making art
Whose it is and why we like it!
For top tips on getting the most out of your website, read this!
Put your feet up, lay down the paintbrush, make a cuppa and have a good read.
1. ART COMPETITIONS 2010
Art competitions are everywhere. There are so many going on at any
one time that it’s relatively difficult to keep track of all those
that are coming up. Entering an art contest, whether it’s being hosted
by a council, a gallery or a website online can prove to be a daunting
prospect to an artist who’s perhaps never entered anything of the sort
before. Yet it can provide invaluable experience, exposure and who
knows – you might just win something!
**To pay or not to pay?**
Many juried art competitions charge an entrance fee for artists to
submit their work and enter. This can prove to be a very real problem
for financially-struggling artists and can also prove to be the
nail-in-the-contest-coffin for those who were jittery enough about
entering in the first instance. So why do the organisers charge such
fees? After all, hopeful authors are not charged by potential
publishers to submit their fledgling manuscripts. Organisers argue
that it is costly for them to exhibit submitted work and for the panel
to jury the event. But surely this cost shouldn’t be saddled onto the
artists they are encouring to enter? Unfortunately it is a topic which
divides artists and organisers alike; some artists flatly refuse to
enter contests charging a fee whilst others think the exposure and
opportunity is worth it – and some organisers as a rule never charge
fees whilst others defend their decision to do so. It is ulitimately
up to the individual as to whether they go ahead or not. If you feel
that the competition is just too good a chance to miss but you’re
still struggling with the entrance fee, you can always voice your
concerns direct to the organiser. If enough artists feel the same way
and speak out, it may well bring about a change in future rules! It is
wise, however, to find out the following when considering to part with
your cash for the chance to enter such a contest:
* Is the prize fund substantially adequate in comparison to the
entrance fee? If you are being charged £30 to enter yet the prize is
only around £100, would you feel it worth your time and effort?
* Is the competition big enough to warrant a charge? Small-scale
contests shouldn’t charge for entries or at worst should charge only a
nominal fee; otherwise entrants could feel they may end up profiting
* Who is on the jury? If an influential figure in the art world is
judging the work, or even someone you have always greatly admired or
been influenced by, you may feel that the opportunity to expose your
work to them may be well worth an entrance fee!
* Can you afford it? You may want to check the requirements of any
other contests you are hoping to enter, otherwise they could soon
**You’ve decided – you’re going for it!**
Once you’ve decided to enter, you need to check the entry
requirements with a fine toothcomb. Make sure you’re very clear on the
format required, theme, file size if submitting your work online or
electronically, that the competition extends to you geographically,
that you can make the deadline without reducing yourself to a
whimpering heap and that you feel it is a good opportunity for you.
Try to focus on the positive aspects; namely the exposure your art
will get, being able to guage the standards out there and any areas
you may need to work on in the future if you’re not selected which
will only benefit you as an artist, the confidence boost it may
(and hopefully will!) give you – and the chance that you
might just win. Getting your art and creativity seen is what most
artists strive towards and taking risks is part and parcel of the
journey. Art competitions can provide you with a valuable platform and
the more you enter – the more your name and your work will become
If the voting is being done by the public, don’t be put off by
questions that might arise in your head regarding the artistic
knowledge of people who may vote….you never know who is looking at
your work in these instances and reaching out to as vast an audience
as possible is important. And if it is a public vote – tell everyone
**Where do I find out about art competitions?**
The internet is the obvious source for this, although don’t neglect
your local community. Check out venues in your area which host art
courses, the local library, word-of-mouth amongst your artist friends
and the local paper. Online, there are various sites which advertise
art contests (some of which we’ve provided links to below). Check in
on these regularly as art competitions are running pretty much all
year round. The more you network, the more opportunities you will find
– this is a great resource with frequently updated details and
– does what it says on the tin! UK comps divided by season.
– a good resource for contests, competitions and calls for art.
– art and writing contests for children (plus their parents and
– lists some important art competitions
– more opportunities! You can either browse some free listings or
pay a membership to have results posted to your email to cut down on
your search time.
Select your favourite works and go for it…..you’ve nothing to lose! Good luck!
2. BECOMING SELF-EMPLOYED
If you dream of selling enough of your art to be able to leave the rat-race behind for a life of indulging in and reaping the benefits of your passion, you’re not alone! Many artists have a day-job to keep afloat and fit their art around what little time they have left. It can be a very daunting propspect to leave your job behind and concentrate solely on your art as your main source of income. You may worry that you won’t sell enough art, your income will be too erratic and that you’ll get into financial difficulties. Yet the fact that you’ll be able to focus ALL your working time on doing the thing that you love can make a huge difference. You’ll have time to market yourself, exhibit more regularly, get your website looking its best and of course concentrate on your art.
Once you’ve decided to go for it, whether it’s part-time or full-time, you’ll need to register yourself as self-employed. This is crucial and a legal requirement – you can’t sell art if you don’t do this! – so don’t start trading without having completed the process first! Before you register, you need to make sure that you have the skills to manage yourself and the commitment. It can be very rewarding to be your own boss but it certainly isn’t without it’s challenges! Here are some things to consider before taking that step:
Is this what you want to do?
You don’t have to be 100% sure but if you’re 50/50 you may need to recondsider: the first year can be challenging financially and personally and it really helps if your heart and mind are totally committed. Setting up on your own can put a strain on your personal relationships. You’ll be working long hours and juggling so many balls at once you may feel you’re about to drop the lot at any given moment! You’ll need the support of family, friends and your partner if you have one. If you have children, you’ll need to make adjustments to your time with them – do you have babysitters you can fall back on? Are you going to have to collect your children from school every day if nobody else can? If so, can you get enough work done during the week to earn sufficient money to keep afloat? If you’re worried, make plans before you begin.
Do you have children?
Tell your friends/family/partner what you intend to do and keep them informed as you go along so they can support you. Try to work out early on a plan for childcare if it’s applicable to your situation. Are there after-school clubs your children could join to allow you to work a bit longer? Is your partner able to and happy to make adjustments to their hours to take on some of the jobs you may have done up till now? Can you afford to pay for extra childcare if it’s needed? If you aim to enlist your family’s help, make sure that you communicate clearly how long you’ll most likely need their help and agree to re-assess after a period of time if you need their help for longer than you intended; that way everybody will be clear on their role and nobody will feel awkward that it’s getting a bit much but they’re not wanting to say. As you settle into your new working life, you’ll most likely find that things settle down into a routine and these issues resolove themselves with welcome solutions – be as flexible as you can as you go along and above all, don’t feel guilty if you find your time with your children is cut much shorter than you’re used to! Setting up is difficult but the pay-offs can be huge in terms of finance, personal satisfaction and work/life balance once you’ve got things under your belt.
Can you handle working alone?
If you’ve worked in an office or similar environment up till now, working for yourself may come as a bit of a shock! You may be lucky enough to find workspace in a shared studio but if that’s not a possibility, you need to be prepared for loving your own company for a while. Setting definite work times for yourself can be a help; that way, if you’re feeling the need to communicate with other people, you know that once a certain hour arrives and your work is done, you can reward yourself with a cuppa and a chat with a friend! Getting out and exhibiting can break the monotony of studio work and be a great social opportunity – not discounting a great networking opportunity. Or you may find that you can fit in time to join an artist’s group; just because this won’t generate income in itself doesn’t mean that it won’t benefit you in your working life. Keeping in the loop with other artists can lead to great opportunities to network, such as private viewings, gallery openings and exhibition invitations.
Are you ready to lose your perks & gain an overdraft?
Being self-employed gives you freedom with working your own hours and without a boss breathing down your neck – but it also takes away paid holiday, pension schemes, bonuses, work parties, pay rises and promotions! You may find yourself devoid of a holiday for the first year or two if you don’t have enough in the bank to pay for it so be prepared for this. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t take a break! It’s crucial that you take some time out for yourself the first year as you’ll certainly need it. Even if you can’t afford a big holiday, look at visiting friends in the UK or even just staying at home, taking the work phone off the hook and indulging in doing nothing! If you budget efficiently you may find getting you-time is easier than you thought.
Speaking of the bank – do you have savings you can fall back on during the first year? Setting up in business is notoriously stressful financially as you establish your position in your new work environment. You may need to look at a business loan or overdraft to carry you through – and if you do this you need to make sure you can afford the monthly repayments. It’s a good idea to look around at various schemes banks run to help small businesses setting up. They often offer low-interest overdrafts and loan arrangements tailored to meet the needs of those starting up. Having an overdraft if you’ve not needed one before can feel like a negative progression, but always bear in mind that this is a means to an end and once you’re profiting from your business, you can start to repay loans/overdraft payments and then start to reap the benefits of your profits! Having a loan if you need one will enable you to invest in areas of your work that will help you look and feel professional and confident. It’s better to invest in areas that you feel will guarantee a return rather than struggle financially with constant worry that you’re not looking or presenting your art to the standart that you feel comfortable with.
Personal skills that can smooth out the bumps!
Working for yourself can reveal personal skills that you never realised you posessed. If you’ve been used to working in a team environment, whether in the workplace or at art college or university, you may find the transition to working for yourself a strange one. The following qualities can help you on your way to presenting your art confidently, enthusiastically and in a way that draws potential buyers in.
* Self-confidence. Don’t apologise for your work; believe in it, believe in yourself as an artist and try not to compare yourself to others; it’s YOUR work you want to sell, not anybody else’s. A buyer can be inspired by an artist’s passion and belief in their work and your enthusiasm can prove to be infectious!
* Commitment. Agree from the outset that you’re going to be in this for the long-haul. There will be peaks and troughs during your first year but don’t expect everything to run smoothly – and when it doesn’t, don’t bail. Try to tackle each problem head-on and with a calm mind and objective to find a solution. That way you’ll find yourself coping with the good and the not-so-good which is essential to staying the distance when you’re self-employed.
* Initiative. You’re about to become your own boss, PA, publicity officer and admin staff! You’ll need to market your art to the public; use your imaginiation and take up any offer that comes your way, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time. Word-of-mouth can be a great tool for getting your art out there. Make sure you have a website, business cards so people can look you up after seeing your art at an exhibition and so you can hand out to anyone you feel may be able to help you progress, a portfolio that is up-to-date and time to invest in marketing. It’s no use being the best artist in your area if nobody knows you’re there! Take initiative and sign up to galleries; getting invites to private views can be great for networking and getting an introduction to the gallery itself. Get involved in local exhibitions. Hold one of your own and notify the local media. Use any tactic you can think of but have fun with it and think outside the box!
* Being resiliant. You may come across criticism (constructive or not), setbacks and pitfalls along the way but try to stay focused and positive. Be able to take criticism. Be able to acknowledge when you’ve made a mistake, learn from it and put it down to experience. When the going gets tough, keep going and stay focused on whatever end goal it is that you’ve set yourself; whether it’s art-world domination or just a happy work/life/art balance with enough in the bank to enjoy your life!
Being self-employed has it’s moments. Long hours, tax returns (ugh!), accounting, working alone, no paid holidays – but the rewards can be huge. You work when you want. You do what you want. You can attribute your access to nobody but yourself and work wherever you choose. It’s a lifestyle many envy so keep at it, believe in yourself and in your art and celebrate every little success that comes your way! Enjoy the journey.
Next Month: Registering, National Insurance Contributions, accountants and tax returns – all the fun stuff!
3. ARTISTS SITE OF THE MONTH
This month’s fave site is (cue drum roll……) – Lindi Kirwin!
Lindi has been a member of The Artists Web since 2007 and her site reflects her passion for the art she creates as well as the beautiful aspects of her work! Lindi works in a variety of mediums; dry-brush acrylic, oils, mixed media and pen illustration. Lindi’s site is a perfect example of just what you can achieve with a website of your own; it has not just been used to display her work for sale and that which has already sold – it also gives a great insight into Lindi as an artist.
Points we really like!
- Lindi’s site includes a detailed biography, outlining her artistic background, her inspirations, her passion and contact details, followed by a fascinating mini-feature about one of her works bought by Dragon’s Den entrepreneur, Theo Paphitis!
- Each medium is given it’s own section with clear, beautiful images, explanations of how she achieves the effects and information of how to view more.
- A clear exhibitions page (featuring both past and present) – great to keep up-to-date to encourage those taken with your work on the site to see it ‘in the flesh!’.
- An interview! What a good idea….a real insight into Lindi’s personality and work as an artist. She also offers some tips for other artists here.
All in all, a great site; informative, fun, well-managed, clear and with lots of pictures of the all-important art.
Great job, Lindi!
To see Lindi’s site for yourself, follow this link:http://www.lindi-kirwin.co.uk/
For some tips on how to maximise your own site, read below.
4. MAXIMISE YOUR WEBSITE!
You’ve signed up, you’ve got your site – but is it working as well as it could be for you? Are you selling as much as you hoped you would? Are you not sure what’s wrong? There are a few simple things you could do which could turn things around pretty quickly! Read on for our tips on how to get the most out of your site.
Upload and update!
It may sound obvious, but make sure you upload lots images of your art, whether it’s up for sale or not. For a buyer or even somebody just browsing artwork, to click on a site filled with clear images of art is a treat. It entices them to look at other pages on there, to see what else you have on offer. A ‘sold’ page is helpful; all other art should be separate so the potential buyer isn’t confused as to what is and what is not on offer. ‘Sold art’ pages also validate your success! Always appealing!
Keeping your site up-to-date is crucial; if left untouched for too long you may appear to be not trading anymore. Anyone who has favourited your site will likely check back periodically so keep new work listed to keep their interest!
Make it very clear
Ensure that your images are clear to look at and not blurred, cropped or too small. Once a viewer clicks on a thumbnail of a picture/artwork they’re interested in, it will expand to a larger picture – but if the file size was wrong when you uploaded it, this bigger picture could appear grainy or blurred, which is not what you’re after when trying to seal a deal! If you’re in any doubt about file sizes, check on The Artists Web under the Wiki (listed under ‘Resources’) – all you need to know is right here.
Biographies are your spotlight!
Make sure you have a biog. An interested viewer or buyer will want to know about YOU as well as your artwork. Don’t be afraid to list what’s inspired you, your passions, and your favourite point about being an artist. Make it personal; your art is a huge reflection of you and the more you present yourself the better. Include any awards/prizes you’ve felt proud of, any achievements which proved to be a real turning point in your career – don’t shy away from promoting yourself as well as your art.
Info, info, info!
When it comes to images of your art, it is imperative that you’ve filled in as many details on the ‘upload page’ as possible if people are to locate your work on the web. Tags act like flags which help a buyer interested in your genre of art to find you amongst the many others who are also producing work of that genre. When a viewer searches for artwork on The Aritsts Web, the words they put into the search engine will only match up with artwork that has those words in their tags, which the artists puts in when he/she uploads them. Additionally, once a potential buyer has arrived at the work he or she is interested in, it is very frustrating if there is no information such as size, price, medium, title and so on attached to it! Some artists skip writing the info when they’re starting up their site, thinking they’ll come back and do it later – after which it’s easy to forget to go back and do! So take the time as you go through the setup process to fill in the blanks…it will save hassle for the buyers later on and make your site an enjoyable one to browse rather than a frustrating one!
T’s & C’s
Don’t forget these! An interested buyer will need to know your terms and conditions so make sure you include them.
Have fun with your site…take the time to update it regularly and keep it informative and inspiring and you’ll be attracting page hits like bees to the honeypot!
COMING UP THIS MONTH ON THE ARTISTS WEB…..
We hope you’ve read (and enjoyed) our interview with renowned sculptor, Richard Wilson, who so happily (and kindly) gave up some of his gold-dust time to speak to us about his work. Hot on the heels of our interview with Richard, we have the art gallery owner who is famous for picking out the great-and-good artists-to-be before they’ve hit the big time. Fraser Kee Scott owns ‘A Gallery’ in London’s Wimbledon and has a fascinating outlook on art and its place in the world today. The ex-chairman of Tate, Paul Myners, said of ‘A Gallery’; “I don’t see what is so different here (in A Gallery) than in the Tate”. High praise indeed! Make sure you look out for our chat with Fraser on the Blog very soon.
Our next ‘Spotlight’ interview is with Wendy Massey, who has been a member with The Artists Web for some time. Wendy’s insights into her work, how her path has progressed and her work/life balance makes for interesting reading!
WE’RE OUT AND ABOUT……
The Artists Web isn’t just about being online! We’re always out in the art world and making sure we’re seeing first-hand the amazing creations that are being produced. Look out for our reviews and reports on various private viewings and galleries – and if you’re attending any, drop us a line and let us know!
THE ARTISTS WEB ON TWITTER
Our Twitter site has been running since February this year and has already attracted over 4,000 followers! Make sure you log in and follow us – the more people we get to visit The Artists Web, the more art buyers we’ll attract, the more people will be browsing through your art….you get the picture!
COMMENT, COMMENT, COMMENT!
We love feedback! Good, bad and ugly – although the good’s always so much nicer to get! If you read and enjoy a particular article on our blog, leave a comment and have your say. It’s always great to know what you all think and helps us to channel our site to meet your needs and requirements more effectively. So don’t be shy. Also don’t forget the forum…always popular with our members…get in there and get advice/offer support/chat about your art with your fellow members.
That’s all for this month…we’ll be arriving in your inboxes again inFebruary!
Thanks for reading!
The Artists Web