Monday, August 21, 2017

A Portfolio Career as an Artist

A portfolio career is defined as a career which involves different clients/employers, different activities and income streams.

Thus rather than being just "an artist" you can be:
  • an artist and an art teacher (face to face or online or both)
  • an artist and an illustrator
  • an artist and a curator
  • an artist and a gallerist
  • an artist and a musician and a boring job which allows you time to be creative
  • an artist and an art teacher and another job which pays the rent
  • or any combination of your choosing which allows you some time for the activity you really want to pursue
This post explores the notion of a portfolio career and provides some food for thought.
  • What is a Portfolio Career?
  • Why do people have portfolio careers?
  • More (reading) about portfolio careers
The rear of Norman Rockwell's studio
Is this the ideal of every artist - the studio at the bottom of the garden, one major client and blue skies every day?

What is a portfolio career?

I first came across the notion of a portfolio career while studying for my MBA at the London Business School (see references to portfolio careers at the end). I was very fortunate in being taught by Professor Charles Handy, the Irish author/philosopher who specialised in organisational behaviour and management (and even became a global management guru). 

He wanted us to explore and develop our understanding of the cultures and ways of working of different organisations and what sort of people fitted them best. (e.g Handy’s four types of organisational cultures) I've kept my written assignment for him on the topic of portfolio careers - complete with his feedback notes which have had a major influence on my life and ways of working and how this has progressed over time.

He defined “portfolio working” as being a lifestyle in which the individual holds a number of “jobs, clients and types of work” all at the same time. 

For me, having a portfolio career is when you have a positive intent to develop a portfolio of interests, jobs, clients and types of work and ways of working - as the way you live your working life.

For example, I retired from my full-time professional occupation some 11 years ago and yet I've never stopped working at my interests - and don't suppose I will for many years to come.

I find aspiring artists often have an extremely unrealistic idea of how many professional artists actually spend all day making art

Very many of the professional artists I've met have recognised the reality of needing to reduce stress in their lives to remain creative - and that sometimes this is best met by introducing some level of certainty into their income streams. Which, in turn, can sometimes be best achieved by having a portfolio of interests with varying degrees of certainty as to the level of income that might be produced eg everything from
  • steady and unspectacular eg regular tuition fees from teaching art
  • feast or famine - from making art
Some individuals who have been very successful as artists have managed to combine this with having a full time career doing something completely different. 

It's all a question of how you manage your time and what your other personal commitments - for example in relation to the familial such as bringing up children, keeping a partner on happy and on speaking terms and looking after elderly parents. (While she's an author rather than an artist, I'm always reminded of PD James whose husband was in a psychiatric hospital for a long time before he died. She had to take over the role of full time provider for her daughters - became a hospital administrator and then a civil servant - and wrote her books starting at 5am every morning before she went to work for many years. Most of them were written while she was a senior civil servant at the Home Office.)

Why do people have portfolio careers?

People pursue portfolio careers for a number of reasons - the drivers are essentially economic and a blend of psychological and social.

Friday, August 18, 2017

President's Committee on Arts and Humanities resigns in disgust!

Yet another council of eminent people - the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities - is walking away in disgust at the "equivocation" of the President of the USA. Only one did not resign - it's chaired by Melania Trump.

Speaking Truth to Power READ THE LETTER HERE (link is via Politico)
Below are the reports of the resignations of members of the President’s arts and humanities committee. I'll add more in as I find them.

I'd like to say I tried very hard to get the most culturally appropriate screen for the Committee's website - but it was accidental!

website of the Presidents Committee on the Arts and Humanities



Thursday, August 17, 2017

Shipping artwork internationally - how to send art to overseas exhibitions and clients

Many artists sell art across borders to other countries these days - but there's not a lot of help out there in terms of:
  • what you have to do to move art through Customs
  • what's the best way to pack and label art and ship it internationally
a new resource for artists - all about how to master customs tariffs, documentation
and services to get artwork from your studio to its final destination in another country

My very first serious exhibition 20 years ago was in the USA. I had to learn pretty fast about how to pack art so it arrives safe and sound and which service works best for getting the artwork there by the due date - and the customs documentation and tariff codes required and how to display it so that the package actually got out of Customs and arrived at the Gallery!

Everything went fine - but it was a long wait until I got the confirmation everything had arrived safely!

Since that date I've heard of numerous artists who have messed up on sending their artwork to other countries. It's hugely disappointing to the artists who have invariably made their best efforts - but just didn't get everything right because they'd never ever done it before.
  • The artwork often remains in Customs while the exhibition goes ahead without them!  
  • Or the artwork arrives damaged because allowances were not made to what can happen to artwork moving overseas. 
  • Or it just disappears......
Which is how come I've remained interested in the topic and developed a site to share the information with those for whom sending art overseas is a new and mysterious challenge!

I've now transferred that information to my art business website.

Guide to how to send art to other countries

This is my new page about How to ship art internationally on my Art Business Info. for Artists website

Information is divided into two sections.

The paperwork for Customs

  • How to produce an export invoice
  • UK Trade Tariff - export commodity codes
  • HOW TO: Complete Customs documentation in the UK
  • ​HOW TO: Complete Customs documentation in the USA
  • The ATA Carnet​

What else you need to know

  • Size, Weight and Content Restrictions and Prohibitions (International)
  • ​HOW TO: write an international address correctly​

The page is part of a major section on my website which is all about....

How to pack, post and ship art

This is what my section on How to pack, post and ship art covers:

Packing your art

  • How to pack, post and ship art (Section HOME Page) including 10 Top Tips for Packaging and Shipping Artwork
  • How to pack artwork for shipping Overview: Generic advice about packing and shipping
    • Tips from artists, photographers, galleries, curators, museums, conservators, art societies, art collectors, shippers and more
    • How to create an internal package which protect and cushions artwork
    • How to create an external package for artwork which survives transit.
    • How to pack framed works
    • How to pack fine art prints and works on paper
    • How to pack pastel paintings​​
  • Packaging Materials for shipping artwork
    • The pros and cons of different types of packaging for the external and internal packages
    • ​warnings about how packaging can damage your art
    • how to be sustainable and reuse materials when shipping​

Special Shipping Challenges for Art

CN 23 Customs Declaration form for artwork valued in excess of £270
  • How to ship art to exhibitions Exhibitions bring a particular challenge when artwork needs to be submitted minus packaging!
  • How to ship internationally Information about all the documentation required for international shipping
    • How to produce an export invoice
    • All about export commodity codes
    • How to complete customs documentation 
    • How to write an international address correctly

Postal, Parcel, Courier and Shipping Services for Art

Royal Mail Services

Feedback please

I'd love to get any feedback
  • either in terms of practices or services you have found helpful 
  • or about queries you have which are not answered by this page or this section on moving art from studio to exhibition, gallery or art collector
Thanks in anticipation....

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Compilation - Van Gogh's Sunflowers on Facebook Live

This is a catch-up for those who missed the Facebook Live event when five Van Gogh sunflower paintings were reunited from five museums around the world yesterday.
(see my earlier post for what this event was about Five Van Gogh Sunflower paintings on Amazon Live on 14th August 2017)

Below are links to the videos on Facebook. Each post is also embedded. The links go to the Facebook Pages and relevant posts of each of the participating museums

Enjoy the FIVE VIDEOS BELOW - and take a look at my comments at the end.

Monday, August 14, 2017

65 years of Royal Gifts exhibition at Buckingham Palace

As Prince Phillip retires and the Duke of Cambridge steps up to his new role of representing the Queen on a full-time basis, there's a certain sense of an imminent sea-change in the operation of the British Monarchy.

It's not at all surprising therefore to find that there is a retrospective exhibition at Buckingham Palace of a very tiny sample of the Royal Gifts that the Queen has received in the last 65 years - since she ascended to the throne on 6 February 1952.

Put simply there will never ever be another exhibition like this one - simply because it will be a very long time before any monarch reigns for more than 65 years...

Also - if you enjoy the British Museum and its ethnographic displays of people and their heritage then you will enjoy this exhibition - where you can see some of the very best of the very best examples of craftsmanship, skills and materials from around the world.

Royal Gifts exhibition 

A view of the Africa Exhibit in the State Dining Room gives you a sense of scale
The extremely popular Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace (until October 1st) has an exhibition every year.

It's not at all surprising that this year's exhibition looks back at one particular aspect of the very long reign of Queen Elizabeth - and also one which will be of much interest to people from all over the world.  Which during August is most of the people on the streets of central London! ;)

I visited the exhibition last week (for a special Bloggers Preview) and was able to see and admire the gifts on display. (PS I had intended this post for Friday but Blogger went on strike!)

All the gifts were presented to the Queen
  • as part of official duties - such as state visits and audiences. 
  •  during visits she makes in the UK for various events - such as a visit to a School (and it was very pleasing to see a number of gifts related to children)
The exhibition explores Her Majesty's role as Head of State, Head of the Commonwealth and Head of Nation through gifts presented by people from all walks of life and from over 100 countries and territories during State Visits, overseas tours and official engagements both at home and abroad.
The exhibition is an excellent example of ritual and decorative art and has been organised by Sally Goodsir, Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts. She told us that she  aimed to select one piece from all the countries visited and to make that selection representative of the country and in particular of particular materials or skills unique to that place.

I'm going to give you a sample of images of items below from the different continents.

Plus an insight into the nature of the Tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales which comes at the end of the exhibition - to mark the 20th anniversary of her death at the end of this month.

Display of Diana Princess of Wales personal possessions
within the context of her timeline

Friday, August 11, 2017

Five Van Gogh Sunflower paintings on Amazon Live on 14th August 2017

I'm trying to upload images to a blog post but Google's Blogger has decided it isnlt going to work today

Which is why I'm posting this information about a brand new initiative to unite artwork and art museums around the world today rather than tomorrow....
Today five 'Sunflowers' paintings are located in museums across the globe and have never been united. Until now that is. On 14 August 2017, in a world first, all those 'Sunflowers' will come together in a ‘virtual exhibition’ bringing the paintings together in a way the artist could never have imagined.

Which sunflowers and museums?

The sunflowers are those in the following museums around the world

What's happening in the Amazon Live Event?

The museums are participating in a unique and unprecedented global collaboration to explore the 'Sunflowers' series, live on Facebook.

Over 95 minutes on 14th August 2017, there will be 
  • a consecutive relay of five, 15-minute Facebook Live broadcasts from the five museums - starting with the National Gallery at 5.50pm UK time (12:50 p.m. Eastern time) in London. 
  • Each will take place in front of a different 'Sunflowers' painting and all will celebrate and explore Vincent van Gogh’s life and work.
  • It will conclude with a broadcast by the Tokyo curator (from the Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art), starting at 2:10 p.m. Eastern time (7.10 pm London time).
This is the first time ever there has been a live Facebook ‘relay’ of this type between different institutions worldwide. The five galleries have worked with Facebook to create a fully immersive digital exhibition, Sunflowers 360.

To further unite the paintings, and in such a way that would be totally impossible in the physical space of a gallery.....
Using a combination of VR technology and CGI to create an experience that will look and feel as if the five paintings were actually together in one room, viewers can interact with Sunflowers 360 on Gear VR or view as a 360 video on Facebook. Entering the gallery in VR, people can rotate around a 360 degree environment to view each of the paintings, or go on a guided tour of each painting. Willem van Gogh – the great-grandson of Van Gogh’s brother Theo – narrates the experience, sharing personal memories of the paintings. Sunflowers 360 is released today (10 August 2017) on the Facebook pages of each museum and through the Oculus store.

In terms of UK time, theVan Gogh 'Sunflowers' Facebook Live Running Order – 14 August 2017 is as follows

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The Archibald Prize 2017 - Selected Artists and the winner

I love seeing the portraits for Australia's Archibald Prize - because they're so very different from the ones which get entered for art competitions in the UK.

Is it a hemisphere thing - or a cultural discontinuity about portraiture? Whatever - this post covers
  • the winner and the controversy!
  • selected artists
The prize (is) awarded, in the terms of the will of the late JF Archibald dated 15 March 1916, to
the best portrait ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia during the 12 months preceding the date fixed by the Trustees for sending in the pictures’.
This year, The 2017 Archibald Prize had
  • 822 entries this year 
  • 43 portraits selected for the exhibition.  (ie 5% success rate)
  • 14 of the 43 finalists are women – a third.
  • Of those selected almost half chose artists as sitters - 19 painted artists including a double portrait of an artist couple, James Drinkwater and Lottie Consalvo.

At the end of this post there's a review which compares the Archibald to the BP Portrait Prize - and it's a  recommended read!

Winner of the Archibald Prize 2017

"The Archibald Prize chronicles the changing face of Australia"
Michael Brand, Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales
Archibald Prize 2017 winner
Agatha Gothe-Snape by Mitch Cairns

© the artist

Mitch Cairns won with his Matisse-styled portrait of his artist-partner, Agatha Gothe-Snape.
  • Bio: born 1984, Camden, Australia
  • Education: BFA with Honours, National Art School, Sydney (2003-2006)
  • Previous Archibald: 2013, 2014 amd 2015 - he was highly commended in 2014 and 2015
Every portrait is usually of a significant Australian and artists painting each other is almost an Archibald tradition . Gothe-Snape is a significant contemporary artist exhibiting widely both in Australia and overseas.  So the couple have achieved a major win - of  prize money and major marketing for both their artistic practices!

Below you can read about the controversy triggered by this choice.

The Winner of the Packing Room Prize 2017 is Peter Smeeth's painting of Lisa Wilkinson AM
Other finalists are listed below. You can see images of the all artwork in the exhibition on the website. These are made much more accessible due to a voiceover of the narrative of each painting. It's a pity we don't see these more on exhibition websites for those whose eyesight finds text difficult.

There seems to be rather less preference given to the eminent Australians this year compared to previous years - but that's just an impression, I've not been counting!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

A Holiday at Mentone by Charles Conder

For those not on holiday, during August I'm posting paintings of those taking a break.

I'm starting with Charles Conder's painting of "A Holiday at Mentone" which is one of the best loved of all Australian Impressionist paintings. Its home is the Art Gallery of South Australia
A Holiday at Mentone by Charles Conderoil on canvas, 46.2 cm × 60.8 cm (18.2 in × 23.9 in)
Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide
I first saw this painting earlier this year at the exhibition of Impressionist Paintings by Australian painters at the National Gallery - see my blog post Australia's Impressionists at the National Gallery - review.  I can well understand why it so well liked by Australians.

Some facts about the painting

  • this was the first painting by Conder that he painted in Melbourne; 
  • the painting was found to have sand embedded in the painting suggesting that this was painted or at the very least started while at the beach
  • This painting is one of the first to capture the intensity of Australian light.  The weather is sunny and bright as are the colours; the shadows are also coloured
  • Its theme is one associated with life in Australia - it celebrates the light, leisure opportunities and the beach - and consequently is very popular with those who love the be in the sun and go to the beach. Both figures reading on the beach are reading 'The Bulletin' magazine known as 'The bushman's bible' because it celebrated outback life and culture
  • the building to the right is a bathing enclosure - used for segregated bathing
  • the use of the bridge to bisect the painting is suggested to be reminiscent of the bridge device used in paintings in Japanese art and as used by Whistler. This was also the age when Japanese art had a great influence on painting - see my earlier posts on The influence of Japanese Art and Japanese Art
  • the education page highlights the conundrum of the figures in the painting

an image that continues to intrigue generations of viewers - the curious drama in the foreground, involving three people who may or may not be aware of each other, poses several questions: Is the man lying on the sand just sleeping? Will the young woman ever notice that her umbrella has blown away? Will the self-important young man (standing at right) retrieve it and introduce himself?

Some facts about the painter:

  • Charles Conder was just 20 when he painted this painting. He was born in 1868 in Tottenham (then in Middlesex, now in the London Borough of Haringey)
  • Conder lived in Australia between 1884-90
  • he was sent to work for his uncle, a land surveyor for New South Wales, Australia at age 16 however he wanted to draw the landscape rather than survey it
  • he became a key figure in the Heidelberg School
  • in 1888, he Arthur Streeton, and shared a studio with Tom Roberts, two other key figures of Australian Impressionism
  • Conder left Australia in 1890 and moved to Paris where he studied at the Académie Julian
  • He spent the rest of his life in England, although he visited France frequently
  • he died in Virgina Water in Surrey in 1909 - he was insane

Some facts about the location

  • Mentone in the 1880s was a suburb of Melbourne - the railway had not yet reached it and consequently it was quieter than some other locations
  • it was one of the favoured sites of painters associated with Australian Impressionism

Another painting by Conder made available by the Google Art Project selection of paintings by Charles Conder is that of Bronte Beach - which is painted on cardboard.

Bronte Beach (1888) by Charles Conder
oil on cardboard, h226 cm x w330
National Gallery of Australia

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Adebanji Alade - an Addictive Sketcher

I've written before about the need to put in the hours if you want to get good at anything - see
The first comment on my 10,000 hours post is from a friend who put in the hours and became (in chronological order) a very successful pipe band player, then an artist and now a very successful author of amongst other things a #1 New York Times Bestselling series optioned for television!

She made the very important point that it's also essential to know how to learn and when putting in the time to make efficient use of it. It includes the following sentence
The long time is acquiring proficiency -- everything after that, if you're still learning, is acquiring brilliance. 

So here's my theory: talented people are those who know how to learn. They know how to practice, to find patterns, and most importantly, to not reinvent the wheel. They shave years off their 10,000 hours by being able to look at other people in their field who have succeeded and define and incorporate why they are successful.
I've known Adebanji Alade for a long time - and all the time I've known him he's been sketching - and moving his career as an artist onward and upward.

Mostly he sketches people. Mostly he does it while travelling on public transport - meaning that he never loses a moment to sketch. Mostly he does it because he always has his sketchbook with him.

What prompted this blog post is his video of his sketchbook used during 2016-2017 - from beginning to end - and it takes 9 minutes to get through it!

He's now started a new sketchbook

As a result of his constant looking and sketching of people and places from observation it has helped him hone his artistic practice.

Some of the things he has achieved as a result of what he has learned about making art and becoming a successful artist are:
Afro XXI by Adebanji Alade
(in the section on Charcoal
in my book Sketching 365)
which contains lots of great advice

He's been making videos for a long time - having spotted the opportunity they give to raise your profile amongst lots of people doing the same thing as you.

This is The Life of the Artist made in 2012 - which was the year he got my Travels with a Sketchbook Trophy. This is an artist who packs a lot into every second of every day!

This is Adebanji back in 2010 when I photographed him with his work in the ROI Exhibition 2010.

Adebanji Alade - with his painting "Summer Crowds, Pavilion Theatre, Cromer" £1,650