A little about Amber:
Amber is an art, design and lifestyle writer as well as an amazing curator and art director. You probably know Amber as she has contributed to The Design Files, Broadsheet, The Plant Hunter and Green Magazine. The amazing talent also released the book ‘Clay’ in 2016. A glimpse into the lives and practices of over 50 studio potters from around the world.
We particularly love Amber for her ability to find talented, emerging artists and bring them into the spotlight through press or the opportunity appear in one of her inspiring exhibitions.
Our goal here at The Arthouse Collective is to support emerging artists and one of our ways of doing this is providing artists with the opportunity to question industry professionals about anything they are needing help with, from a general direction to how to submit an application to a magazine or gallery owner.
We recently caught up with Amber as asked her an number of questions and here is what she had to say.
Where do you usually find your artists? Is there a particular place you look to find new talent?
I find new artists in all sorts of places! I am prone to spending the small hours trawling Instagram, looking for talent and have found many, many amazing painters and ceramicists this way. Grad shows are also another excellent resource for finding emerging artists. Sometimes I will see a one-off piece in a small group art exhibition or competition and I will approach the artist to see if they would like to show a larger body of their work. Other times I get approached directly by artists who are keen to work with me.
Do you feel like there is a formula for getting your work noticed as an artist?
Well, I think if you have the talent you will be get noticed regardless. But if you are keen to take charge of this and put your best foot forward, I believe that a website is important. It need not be elaborate, nor fancy – but it should be a clean, up to date portfolio of your work – preferably showing work by year so that the evolution of your work is apparent and what you are currently working on is clear. There are free online portfolio-hosting sites for creatives such as Cargo Collective that are very good and look slick.
I think an Instagram account is a brilliant tool for making yourself visible. Ideally it should show a mix of your work, as well as a visual diary of sorts. Put your website URL and email address in the profile too so that people can look you up and get in touch! Many times I have come across great artists, but they have no easy means of contacting them discreetly which can be frustrating.
Also, totally fine to throw the odd personal photo in the mix – but if you plan on posting dozens of pics of your Saturday nights out or selfies, maybe save that for a personal account and keep one just for your art!
I think it is good practice to enter as many relevant art prizes as you can, at both the local and national level. People will see your work and begin your recognise your name. Winning, or being commended in competitions can be listed on your bio and website and they add credibility to your practice – as well as show you are motivated and serious. It demonstrates you are willing to challenge yourself. (Also, many of them have lucrative cash prizes, which doesn’t hurt either!).
Do you have any suggestions for submitting work / the best way to get noticed?
Do your homework. If you plan on approaching a gallery or curator, make sure you are familiar with their aesthetic to ensure that it is a good match. A well written introductory email with digital samples of your work will get my attention. Would also be good to outline why you have approached that particular gallery or curator – so it doesn’t feel like a generic approach. Don’t aimlessly wander into a gallery and ask them how you can show your work there!
How much does the story behind the art matter when you are considering an artist?
To me – a lot! While it needs to be technically good and visually exciting, I do need to know that the work has meaning and is considered and personal. I don’t like to feel like the art comes from a production line, or that the same work can be churned out over and over or that it is delivering to a style that might be “on trend”. As a curator I think it is then my job to convey that story to the audience of people who come through my shows. Understanding the story behind the work allows people/ buyers to connect with the work at a deeper level.
Amber provides artists with some great insight into the world of a curator and how she scouts her talented artists. After speaking with Amber we had a little epiphany. We now understand that there are two very different paths you can take as an artist when you are beginning your career. We like to umbrella these paths / directions under two names. Traditional and Commercial.
Amber’s advice is really speaking to the traditional style artists. The artists hoping to be represented by galleries, involved in a couple of exhibitions per year and sought after by curators. Amber has extensive experience in working with artists of this description and is a wonderful inspiration and support to those artists.
So what is a commercial artist and which direction should I take?
Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will explain Traditional vs Commercial artist with helpful suggestions from industry professionals.