Over the past several months I have been seeking out opportunities for new artists, particularly in and around London. As a self-taught artist with no artistic background, I have been researching all the different institutes, galleries, open call exhibitions, and artist societies, looking for opportunities to take part and learn.
It has been a real big eye opener for me. I have been overwhelmed at the amount of emerging talent in the art industry, and really enthused to learn of so many wonderful opportunities for new artists. I was also warned of the issue of disillusion that many artists suffer when they are faced with countless rejections. I have had rejections, understandably so. I am a new artist, right at the beginning of my career, just setting out on my creative journey. I am discovering what my creative identity is, or what it might be. I am developing my skills for drawing, wood burning, and selecting raw materials and choosing my subject matter. I am also learning how to behave as an artist. I am learning how to approach different galleries, what to say and (more importantly) what not to say. I am learning how to select galleries based upon their current collections, does their work and their ethos compliment my own work, is my art going to be something of interest to this particular gallery, person, or institute? Most noticeably, I am learning to accept compliments of my work, and to be proud of my artwork rather than shroud it in self conscious modesty. I am learning to enjoy the creative journey and let myself experiment with mediums rather than only produce items that I think I can sell. I am learning to be comfortable and confident in my own skin, and in the work I produce. I am learning to let my own art style dominate my work rather than let it creep in apologetically by mistake. It is these differences in my personal outlook of my ability as an artist that come accross in my art and are picked up on by art collectors.
In the past two months I have had one piece in particular, “Big Fish”, selected by two internationally renowned art societies.
Firstly, it was selected by the International Confederation of Art Critics, to celebrate “some of the best entries” for their art competition for emerging and established artists. My work was published on their facebook page and issued (along with other selected artworks) to various press outlets to promote the competition. I was utterly in disbelief when my work was featured alongside so much talent, I couldn’t quite believe that my work would have been noticed at all. The winning artists were beyond apprehension in their skill. Their submissions were completely breathtaking, extensive experience and art knowledge oozing from the artworks. Although I would have liked there to have been more winners with less experience, it was humbling to have been noticed in any small way when next to established artists with such impressive and daunting C.V.’s.
The Society of Wildlife Artists also pre-selected “Big Fish” for their Annual Show open call. I will be delivering this piece to Mall Galleries in London this weekend, where it will be assessed by the societies judges. If it get’s through, it will go on sale at their annual exhibition, if it is not selected then I will be collecting it next week. Again, simply being considered for such an event is a really positive move for me, and gives me the faith that I am moving in the right direction.
Both these opportunities surprised me, not only because my work was submitted alongside internationally established artists, but that of all my submitted artworks, “Big Fish” was the most unapologetically “me” art piece. “Big Fish” is inspired by my favourite fish species, koi carp, and my pet goldfish “Brenda the Beast”. It is my own representation of an animal, which gives focus to the aquatic relationship between fish and water. It concentrates on the movement of fish, the shimmer of submerged scales, the transparency of the tail as it swishes amongst the current, and the way in which fish are almost shaped by their watery environment. Not to say that “Big Fish” was not challenging-far from it, but each of my other works submitted were more photo-representative of the species matter. Each of my other works were more challenging in the way of pushing my artistic boundaries – to produce a photographic representation of an animal, rather than it come from inside my head. Yet “Trunk” and “Noggin” were not selected in either cases, instead “Big Fish” caught the judges attention. I have taken this as a positive sign, that it is ok to produce work that has not only the essence of the animal, but the essence of the artist.
In all, I think the biggest thing I have learned in putting myself out there is this: It is really important as an artist, to take each small achievement and really appreciate it. It’s important to see it as just that- an achievement. Take on board the feedback, follow advice, and keep enjoying the creative process whilst searching for the right opportunities for you. Create art that you are passionate about and the rest will follow.