A happy and prosperous New Year to you all. I thought I’d better say that now, as the date is unnervingly on the cusp of being regarded as the ‘New’ year and is hurtling headlong into the realms of being regarded as merely the year. Indeed, I intended to write this blog a few days earlier, whereby it would have been readily acceptable to wish you all a Happy New Year. Now, I am in the danger zone of being exposed as a socially redundant and cretinous human being, due to ill-conceived and inappropriate wishes of happiness that are misplaced against our relentless and ruthlessly organised Gregorian calendar. However, I think I have got away with it. Just.
Anyway, seeing as the last one-hundred words are largely irrelevant, I would like to swiftly introduce you to fourteen things I wish to do in order to develop my career in 2014:
1. Produce a quality body of work. The nature of my work is temporary, subject to mould, decomposition and rotting. Whilst I wish to retain this, I also wish to create a disciplined and permanent body of work, which will be informed by my previous endeavours. I wish to expand on the theme of subverting the genre of still life by focussing on specific avenue of empirical enquiry.
2. Sell my paints. I’m not talking about a few one-off sales. I’m talking about marketing my paints as a product: Available through an online shop, through independent shops, through shops in art establishments, and through my upcoming exhibitions. I wish to establish these products as part of my identity, and if the product is unique and of good quality then my identity will be enhanced.
3. Go to more exhibitions. This is a simple one and probably something that all artists wish they did more. Intrigue, inspiration, networking and the possible instigation of collaboration can all derive from going to more exhibitions and workshops.
4. Go to more restaurants. As an artist directly involving food, and the experience of eating food, into my work, I think it is appropriate to eat at as many restaurants as possible – not to mention a good excuse.
5. Carry out my upcoming exhibitions with success. Bit of an obvious one this, but worth pointing out nevertheless. I want my work to be well received, to make a bit of money and for it to lead to other endeavours.
6. Look for opportunities. Kind of obvious, again. But any opportunity that grabs me should be applied for. I want to get involved with as much stuff as I can.
7. Become better at networking. This is something I need to work on: Whilst I am ok at online networking, networking in the real world is something that I still shy away from: Probably due to my lack of experience. Well, this year I want to change that.
8. Do more workshops. One big revelation of 2013 for me was the value of workshops. Not just to the participants but to your own practice. I already have two paint making workshops lined up next year. But the more of them I do, the better.
9. Make a book. I’ve wanted to make an art book in the style of a recipe book for years. This year I’m ditching all the excuses and going for it.
10. Link my practice to a strand of the local community. Or rather, I wish for my work to be relevant outside the art world. Food, of course, will forever be an essential part of human endeavour. I would think that linking my practice directly to an organisation that deals with food in some way to be mutually beneficial and could develop my practice in a way that corresponds to the local community.
11. Improve my website. Actually, I wish to improve my online presence in general. Stuff like this is always in a state of flux, as the relevance and ever-changing nature of social networking is always assessed. But simply put, I’d like my online presence to work for me a little more – engaging people with my practice and producing opportunities to collaborate.
12. Hire a venue for a call for submission. I have wanted to instigate a call-out to artists to submit work under the theme of ‘Video Games’ for ages. This year I hope I can achieve this, or at least move several steps towards it.
13. Find relevant part-time work. Something that I can use to inform and develop my practice whilst receiving a consistent monthly wage would be lovely.
14. Make money. Experience has taught me of the stigma attached to appropriating yourself as an artist who actually wants to make money. Experience has also taught me to disregard these stigmas and seek to achieve your own goals.
I think these goals are relatively modest, and can help lay a foundation for an established career as an artist. I am still very much at the beginning of my career, but am taking steps to become more prolific and more successful.
I would like to think that the above list resonated with you in some way. And I would observe that my overarching goal, like the goal of every professional artist for this year, is clear: Do more.
I have burst onto the Sheffield art scene in irresistible fashion and have penetrated collective consciousness the same way a frozen shard of piss is able to penetrate a rotten lump of lettuce. Now that I’m fully immersed in my own practice I am able to destroy the boundaries of what Still Life can be with an informed approach and captivating methodology. And those who say otherwise are just embittered and washed up old relics who are nostalgic for the art of forty years ago because that’s the last time they were relevant.
Of course, this is a crass and grossly exaggerated account of my endeavours – it is grounded in a little truth, but fundamentally unfounded and overblown. It is done for effect; with the view that it will initially engage the reader and allow them to further regard my practice. It’s a tool that I utilise in order to register and sustain the interest of an established audience. Indeed, when I attach a little irreverence to the posts I write, I find my audience is able to grow. Though of course, the more people are aware of your practice, the more subject you are to criticism.
Now, criticism is indeed very useful as it enables the artist to retain the focus of their approach, to develop professionally and to gain an informed critical analysis of their conceptual dealings. However, increasingly what I’ve found when faced with criticism is that the critique in question is irrelevant to your practice, and is in fact a product of the vanity and ego of the critic involved. Usually, self-promotion is the key instigator as to why people feel the need to provide you with critique. All they offer is insight into their own work which bares no relevance to yours.
It is very easy to criticise without actually offering any advice, insight or intelligent thought. This is especially true online, where any old sod is able to bash away at a computer and spill out a dribble of barely comprehensible words.
Anyway, over the last few weeks I’ve been documenting attempts people have made of criticising my practice. You might well be able to relate to my experiences, or at least, made aware of the type of alleged criticisms out there. Here are my findings:
- A lot of people are bitter.
- A lot of people are elitist snobs.
- A lot of people have a firm idea of what ‘art’ should be, and won’t accept new directions.
- A lot of people will simply look at your work without reading any context or conceptual grounding, yet will offer critique based entirely on face-value.
- Those critical of your work attempt to reinforce their statements with their own approach to practice, which offers nothing except insight into their own work.
- Those who disregard the point of your work and begin to ask questions of grandeur and subjectivity do so because, within the realm of subjectivity, they are able to always be right.
- If you offer one piece of work for criticism, it is instantly regarded as the absolute pinnacle of your practice, and therefore evaluated as such.
- Someone who’s critical of your approach is so because it challenges the validity of their approach.
- It’s easy to feign intelligence by asking questions loaded with subjectivity and contradicting any answers given – but it offers nothing other than vanity and ego.
- If your work is seen to be challenging and innovative, there will be those to feel the need to criticise you in order to defend the stoic, antiquated and irrelevant nature of their established and painfully comfortable approach.
- There will be those who offer quotations from artists who died 50 years ago as suitable critique. Serving to highlight their disengagement with the present world.
So, if you ever find any of the above points a constant in the criticism you face, it’s probably best to just dismiss it as attention seeking, or to ignore it, or just find it amusing. And for anyone out there who finds themselves partaking in such criticism – it is time to resign yourselves to obscurity: And what I’m secretly hoping for is for those people to have only read the first paragraph of this post, before bombarding me with a crass, unfounded and overblown analysis of my endeavours.