Why Marketing Matters? at The Photography Show 2015

As a student, I was granted free entry to The Photography Show at the NEC in Birmingham on Tuesday 24th March. I consider myself a Fine Artist working with photography and moving image so I don’t tend to share the same enthusiasm and knowledge of camera’s and their equipment as those who consider themselves solely as a photographer. I guess it’s important that I at least attempt to gain more technical understanding before I start classing myself as a photographer.

One of the main attractions to the show was the number of discussions that were held by professionals in the field of photography. I attended a talk by Catherine Connor, founder of Aspire photography training titled Why Marketing Matters? This talk has now been published on Aspire’s blog online (see direct link below).

Catherine Connor held her discussion on two vital components that are critical to the success of your photography career; profile and profit. The entirety of the talk was focused on specific things that have a great influence on your business, including:

You

Your brand

Website

Blogging

Social platforms

Networking

Trade Events

Loyal clients

Collaboration

My instant attitude towards the talk was slightly negative due to the focus on expanding your business. Maybe I am wrong in doing so, but I don’t think of my art practice as a business or profit driven. However, I am dedicated to having and containing a strong profile. I have already started to develop an online profile within my final year degree as we have been required to create a website, CV, an artist statement and various social media platforms.

There was a reiteration on the importance of social media platforms during Connor’s discussion. A main point she rose was the possible implications or impact that specific language can have on your business, or your practice. This point held great resonance with me as the combination of visual information and language is significant to my art practice. I understand that each tweet, Facebook post, blog post or even the information on my website creates an specific impression of myself and my artwork to my viewer. The second point that seemed relevant to myself, was the importance of your online portfolio and what it can add to your career. Catherine Connors three key aspects were the look, feel and writing surrounding your photography.

Although the talk did reinforce aspects of my online material, it did also leave me feeling disappointed, disagreeing with parts of the talk. For example, Connor’s mentioned a quote that she abides by and uses when advising photographers requiring guidance.

“Market like Elvis, write like Jane Austen”

She asked questions such as “what would Elvis do?” and “what would Jane Austen have to write about it?”. In relation to Elvis, Catherine went on to say;

‘This is an intriguing quote and my motive within this quote is to remind all they have to be a showman or show-women. Our business is visual; it shows business of a gentle nature. You cannot afford to be shy in business, to hide or to wait for clients to come to you. Your purpose in the marketing camp is to take your business straight to the tribe, in a visual, attention seeking and attractive manner’.

Her point is that it’s about being confident or a ‘showman or show-women’ and her point about Jane Austen being that she tells a story well through consideration of tone and language.

‘All businesses need a voice, think Jane Austen, an amazing storyteller, who is timeless and appealed to a broad sector. Your business should too; your business voice, tone and language have a big role to play. Invest time and creativity into the development of your businesses voice, tone and language use. Remember to inspire your tribe; you are creating a magnetised business.’

Without being too blunt, I’m not sure that they would be the first people I would consider when questioning certain aspects of my business. Though I recognise their talents and perhaps even consider them role models, I wouldn’t necessarily consider them as role models for a topic so creative and art specific as photography, especially within a contemporary setting. Maybe this is something to do with my generation?

After reflecting on the talk, I am now starting to really question my role as a photographer and artist. There are many financial worries for creative people – the ‘poor artist’ is still very much a reality. I knew these realities before continuing my art education, but with confidence I was optimistic that I could break away from these expectations. However, creativity for me is not about profit and big business. I don’t feel it should be the core of why I’m creating.

http://www.aspirephotographytraining.co.uk/blog/why-marketing-matters-at-the-photography-show/

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Love Hours, School of Art, Birmingham.

Including: Amy Cox. Katy Gibson. Georgia Henn. Amy Huggett. Navi Kaur. Rachel Price. Tinisha Williams.

A collaboration of ten first year students at Birmingham’s School of Art curated the works of seven fellow artists to create the exhibition Love Hours. The simplistic title creates a clear association with love, towards something or someone, and the passing of time. Therefore, it wasn’t of any surprise when discovering the several works on show centred on the family. United in their choice to use art as a method of confronting traumatic or troubling situations, the works touched upon memory, and in particular, the loss of memory.

IMG_1369editThe view upon entering the space

Entering the space, the first works that are visible are those along the back wall. These consisted of a textile based piece and two photographic prints. Also within your view is the back of a canvas, placed upon the easel. Whilst at first, the canvas seems a boundary upon entering, once present within the centre of the space, its placement supported the positioning of the other works helping to transform the square room into a sphere-like shape.

The curators have chosen to separate duplicate works by each artist, thoughtfully structuring the layout of the limited space so that the variation in the scale of each piece and the switch between mediums is celebrated. A projection by Amy Huggett had been displayed off centre onto a corner and although this distorted the imagery and would therefore seem an unusual choice, its positioning mirrored the work of Tinisha Williams work. Tinisha presented four glass pieces that were placed on the floor between Navi Kaur’s photographs. Similarly Amy Cox’s and Katy Gibson’s work had been displayed individually. Presented at opposite ends of the room, directed towards the window, and insured that Katy’s paintings were enriched with natural light. The arrangement allowed the exhibition to be viewed and enjoyed as a collaboration of works, highlighting the theme and concept, rather than observing a series of each artists work individually.

Above: Navi Kaur, Tinisha Williams (also below), Navi Kaur, Katy Gibson

All of the artists involved are confronting and confessing significance moments in time that have some form of emotional attachment. Each work is an investigation of a personal relationship, for most, the relationship is with their own family and this is obviously through the use of their identity. Portraiture is a commonality between eight of the artist’s work. However, for the remaining two, text is the predominant form of expression. The overlap of imagery and text is seen in a couple of the artists included, in particular within My mum the lollypop lady by Amy Huggett, who insists that her text pieces are a vital part of her practice, offering a reflective aspect to her practice. Amy Cox has also combined textiles and text within her work. Her text also offers a reflective insight into her recollection of an ‘Anti memory’; a memory Amy claims she cannot recall.

IMG_1356edit Tinisha Williams work in which text has been printed on glass

The dedication displayed through the work was a reminder of the bonds we form as human beings and the impact they can have on us all.

How To Write About Contemporary Art

As I am faced with page 40 of How To Write About Contemporary Art by Gilda Williams, I am presented with a series of points, questioning the role of art writing in a contemporary context. These questions are as follows;

-Does meaning adhere to art, as an intrinsic core buried inside the artwork, extracted by the attentive writer/observer?

-Or is art’s meaning produced by the critic’s inventions?

-Do art-texts -as skeptics accuse- attempt to conjure a kind of spell, transforming ordinary things into precious art through the incantation of special words?

-Are art-writers ‘talking (or writing) artworks into existence’?

-Is art-writing a parasite, a surplus cleaving itself to artworks better off without them?

-Or is it like a helpful companion, trotting alongside artworks like a subservient, modest guide dog?

By contemplating each point, I start to evaluate my place as an art writer and more specifically as a art reviewer. As Williams discusses prior to these questions, there has been a shift in art writing. Rather than a review being a direct praise or criticism, it can now be described as a ‘interpretation’ or ‘contextualisation’. As an amateur writer, I am constantly being asked/asking myself what kind of writing i’m interested in and what my role as a writer is. My current feelings is that I am interested in art reviewing. However, when asked, the thought of saying that I am an “art review” or even worse “art critic” makes me want to cover my face and hide.

As an art writer, I do believe we are extracting a inner meaning to an artwork and to a certain extent, we create it’s meaning. It’s meaning is our own interpretation and is not set in stone. It is merely an explanation of a possibility and can be dismissed by the artist or viewer.

Going back to the title art critic or reviewer and referring specifically to question three; I do believe there are connotations surrounding the title due to specific art language or ‘special words’ used within particular writings. These words add hardly anything to the quality of an art writing, instead by using these ‘special’ words, the art reviewer is isolating an entire audience who are not directly involved in the arts. I believe that by including an interesting range of vocabulary, you can educate your reader and therefore engage them. Choosing the right words is vital to attracting, rather than scaring the audience. If an artwork is ordinary, the text can not transform it, however, it can be extraordinary in its own right. As a writer, it is partly our job to find something interesting about an artwork and in doing so, the text becomes an important document. Therefore, I do agree that art writers are ‘talking (or writing) artworks into existence’.

When trying to pinpoint the purpose of my own art writing, my prefered vision is the last question presented above. Though I dislike the term ‘modest guide dog’, I do like the idea of being a helpful companion. Whilst I believe that art writing should be challenging and critical when appropriate, I strongly believe that it should be relevant and helpful. In many cases, my interpretation of art discusses a personal experience that all can read, enjoy and learn from. It is very much an accompaniment to the artwork, however, it does offer an opinion which has been considered in a contemporary setting.

Website

I haven’t wrote a blog post on WordPress for a fair while now. Recently, I have felt more inclined to get to grips with regular blogging again. Though I haven’t had a presence on here, I have had a presence elsewhere online. As I am approaching the end of my three year degree, I have created my own artists website using Wix. As well as this, I have created a Facebook page which can be found by clicking the following link : https://www.facebook.com/amyhuggettart?fref=ts.

My website is dedicated to art practice as well as examples of my art writing.

http://amyhuggett.wix.com/amyhuggett