A Different Kind of Reflection

With my recent studio activities focusing on capturing reflections of light, perhaps it is now time for another kind of reflection – a critical reflection.

Here is a brief overview of where we are so far:


Online Presence

I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted my online presence to pan out through discussion with many artists (visual or otherwise).

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I have taken quite a lot of inspiration from the arrangements of Julie Macbean and some fellow students in that the website and blog would be separate entities.

The Portfolio website would be static and feature the best of my past work and exhibitions in a portfolio format.

The blog would act as a sketchbook, documenting the development of ideas and featuring mini essays where I incorporate theory into critical reflection.

The blog is linked to social media and shares posts from one platform to another.

Website

Through several recommendations I decided that Wix was the best option for me to create a portfolio website. The pricing seemed fair and would allow me to have a domain name (I think it looks quite bad to be advertising yourself as an artist and then not have your own domain name).

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Unfortunately finances just have not allowed for me to be able to connect to any of these premium plans in the long term and I am having to (through clenched teeth) use a wix domain name and a free site plan.

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In fairness, the free plan isn’t bad at all! I have been able to get a sufficient number of photos onto the site, it is extremely easy to use (taking me a matter of hours to get to grips with it) and the creative freedom you have is not something I have experienced with my blog. The blog has set templates that you must adhere to whereas the wix site builder gives you complete freedom to move anything anywhere! I think it looks pretty good.

If I could commit to a plan, however, I would do so in a heartbeat!


Blog

The blog continues to be a vital tool for me, having totally dispensed with using a sketchbook for some time now. I’ve found that regularly writing about my work helps to focus thought see the path ahead so much easier. There are times when I feel that I need to include theory in my blog posts which sometimes results in some blog posts making it online a few days after the work was created.

WordPress also gives me some insights into the performance of the blog:

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The blog appears to be gathering pace, my online presence is starting to accumulate followers way beyond my own social circle now.

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I do love my wordpess blog and would be hard pushed to give it up!


Facebook

Facebook also gives me statistics into how I’m doing:

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reach

I do really like the facebook platform for sharing my art practice but trying to get interaction from those it is reaching is near impossible. There are a dedicated group of around 5 people who interact with what I post to facebook so I am starting to wonder wether I should focus less on this platform.


Twitter

I’m finding that Twitter is brilliant, it is much more successful in getting my work seen by the right audience. My only real grievance is that I’ve yet to find a video format that works with it!


Studio Practice

Although I’ve not really got much in the way to show as a finished piece or concept in the studio yet, I feel that experimentation with clear plastic ABS in my drawings has put me in good stead to return to my insect drawings and eradicate all trace of ‘craft’ from my work. It has already proven to be quite successful when used in my insects as the sneak peak below shows:

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I am now feeling ready to consider my 3D work for exhibitions.


 

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Work, work, work?

Hello, me again! Here’s a quick look at what has been happening ‘behind the scenes’ in my practice.

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My presence in my studio was somewhat halted recently due to a well earned and greatly appreciated holiday in the Lake District. I didn’t stop working however! I was dutifully armed with Oliver Grau’s ‘MEDIAARTHISTORIES’, Gaston Bachelard’s ‘Poetics of Space‘and Tom Rolt’s ‘Railway Adventure‘ – the latter being my escape from the art theory! As you can see below I was also armed with my camera and, as a later blog post will show, my 3D printer pen.

Whilst in the Lakes I did keep an eye on the region’s local galleries noting that the tourist market was obviously their biggest seller. The area is saturated with lakeside paintings and photographs, separated by minuscule differences in the progress of boat a boat’s journey across a lake. This succeeded in creating a sense of déjà vu whenever you stepped foot in a gallery which I found most off putting and by the end of the week had not bothered to step foot in one gallery after seeing more of the same in the window display. I did wonder wether it was possible to assemble a stop motion film through documenting the repetitive nature of the work.

Saying that, however, there were some galleries I had found that shifted focus from photography and painting to small sculptural pieces and I did overall find the change in subject matter a welcome change from the national commercial galleries and their current flooding of a select few artists onto the market. One can also not deny that the Go Herwick lamb trail is a great bit of fun and reminiscent of Liverpool’s ‘Superlambananas‘!


Artist Vs Technology

As mentioned in a previous post, I had been trying to find some decent (and free) video editing software in order to show the 3D drawing process with my web. I thought I had found the answer with ‘Wondershare Filmora‘, it has an unrivalled library of effects and options for free software but it was only when I came to export my video that I discovered the downside. My video was hidden behind the largest watermark I have ever seen! The effects I had been so keen on were no longer the key element of my video.

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I searched around for alternatives and eventually settled on VSDC video editor. Whilst this program doesn’t have the same extensive effect library in its free version it does allow for exporting video without a watermark and allows greater freedom to edit your video, working in much the same way as Photoshop.

Watching the footage back I did rather grimace and had thought the footage to be at all flattering, it was therefore important to me to disguise myself as best I could and draw more attention to the movement of the drawing.

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Basic black and white filter.

The basic black and white filter certainly removed a lot of the distracting elements in the film. I tried various ways of editing the film, some are pictured below.

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Low contrast.

 

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Not entirely sure what is going on here…

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Motion blur edit.

I eventually found the ‘motion blur’ effect which, in the film, now appeared to be dragging myself into the corner of the image, as if I too was part of my web. I set about really playing of this effect and increased the contrast before deciding that I was completely satisfied.

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Final film still.


Exercise in Social Media

WordPress

So what’s happened with the online side of my practice since my last update? I’m finding wordpress so easy to use now, in many ways it has almost become my sketchbook – documenting my thought progression.

Facebook

Facebook is constantly providing data on the performance of my art page, seeming to suggest that overall page views are down 67% since 18th July and likes have also slowed down for the minute.

My post reach and engagement are on the up, as can be seen from the data below. My total video views are at 432 which isn’t bad either when considering I only have three videos!

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Another element of facebook’s feedback element is the ability to determine from what platform people are viewing my page. As you can see from the chart below most people are using mobile devices which is one reason I suspect that my mini essay style blog posts are performing at substandard levels, people do not want to be redirected away from the social media platform. Another reason being that the vast majority of my page likes are friends, friends who have better things to do than endure some art theory!

I did have a bit of a panic after my review of Martin Creed / Dub Vampire / Moderate Realism / Sally Gilford after receiving likes Dub Vampire’s facebook page and then likes from front man of Dub Vampire, Brian Turner! At last my page is being liked by outsiders to my own social circle.

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Twitter

I am feeling comfortable with Twitter, it seems to be where my essay posts are more greatly appreciated for now. In an effort to streamline my social media posts, after finding that my posts between facebook and twitter were greatly different, I have enabled my facebook to share what I post there to my twitter account too. Whilst this is great it does also mean that blog posts from wordpress are shared twice to my twitter. I will have to work on this.

Instagram

I have really started to use my Instagram app on my phone, unfortunately only for editing photo and video. I have yet to really engage in its social media aspect.

Portfolio Website

I expect that this week I will take the plunge and get a nice portfolio website set up (as opposed to a ‘orible one). Having spent a long time looking and deciding just what I want I feel that now I am able to proceed further.


The Learning Curve

I did recently receive the news that a commission I had put many hours work into was no longer wanted. Understandably I was disappointed and not at all happy, having just lost out on a nice bit of money that I was rather relying on earning.

Undeniably the loss of money could have been prevented if I were better prepared but as they say, we learn by doing.

In future commissions from myself will require a down-payment before work is started in order to cover material costs and ensure the project is followed through.

I will also charge by the hour for my efforts.

A final charge for the finished piece will also be added (this probably applies more to copyright for design work).


I think that is all for now, expect more updates this week!

Larry

What’s this?

drawing

Could it be? Have I been doing some actual work?

I am afraid so, however I don’t want to give too much away just yet.

I want to do this right and for me that means being able to provide a half decent contextualisation of my practice alongside postings of my work – something which I am still working on.

Another aspect of showing my studio activities has also delayed what I can show you due to the unique way in which capitalism works with technology.

That aside, progress of my work is due very shortly, I promise, but for now here is a teaser image of me in the studio to wet your appetites.

Larry

Sitrep

With my initial intention to post everyday being largely unsuccessful I figured it was high time I updated you all on what has been happening.

The Exhibition

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Above: My work, “Shipwreck 13”, in situ at Chapel Gallery.

Friday evening saw the preview night of “West Lancashire OPEN Exhibition 2016” at Chapel Gallery in Ormskirk.  The standard of the work shown was incredibly high – I really do not envy the position the judging panel were in having to award the prizes among such a pool of talent! The work sat well within the gallery space and also complemented the other work around it. The atmosphere was incredible and staff were keen to engage in conversation about the selected work.   It was great to see how inclusive the gallery was with regards to painting, drawing, print making, ceramics, sculpture, installation and mixed media work. I did, however notice a lack of digital work (work displayed digitally). Whilst perhaps digital artwork is not the cliché “chocolate box” image the public conjure up whilst thinking about art, it is no longer the emerging art form it was, it is no longer emerging, it has emerged, it is current and quite possibly is the backbone of what recent artistic habits and practice are built on. Without greater recognition and inclusion, particularly in smaller galleries, our recent cultural history could be erased or forgotten. This aside the show was fantastic. I was particularly taken with Elizabeth Munro’s ‘Jekyll & Hyde’, a mixed media miniature cabinet containing potions and concoctions (and winner of the student prize). Emily Rusby’s ‘Vending Machine No1′ was very well received on the night, interactive art is highly effective in encouraging the public to interact with art. The piece was a fully working vending machine, inserting 20p would result in the user receiving a snippet of the Communist Manifesto in a capsule. Overall the night was thoroughly enjoyable and I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved.

“West Lancashire OPEN Exhibition 2016” at Chapel Gallery in Ormskirk is open until September 7th 2016.

Online Presence

My aim, ideally, was to post on the blog (here) every day. For one reason or another this has not come to fruition. I have, however ensured that I posted on social media everyday at least, be this Twitter, Facebook or both.

WordPress – I did run into a bit of difficulty with wordpress over the last week which resulted in my lack of posts. I found that I was unable to get more than one blog post to appear per page. I found that this was cured by creating  custom menu in the settings.

Facebook – 

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Above: Statistical insight from my facebook page. 

Whilst facebook is the quickest and easiest way for me to keep the online community updated on my goings on within my practice, it is rather unrewarding at present. My facebook page audience is largely made up of friends. Interaction with them on my art page is ineffective with friends preferring to like/comment on my art through my personal account rather than the art page. Facebook does give me handy statistics of how my page and each post is doing though. Definitely worth pursuing.

Twitter –  Twitter still seems to be where I get the most interaction and feedback on my art by strangers and professionals. I did have feedback from Hollis Fortune Art : “Interesting commentary on FB vs Twitter. Then you have to throw Instagram in there too! Hope you got some hot water…..TY4TF.“. This has resulted me in downloading instagram! I am still rather getting used to that but will keep you updated. I do, however get feedback on both platforms from a good friend, Peter, who was my first real customer and has supported my practice ever since. Without his support I may not have continued with my practice.

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Above: Capsule from Emily Rusby’s ‘Vending Machine No1’, taken on Instagram. 

In the studio – Having moved studios last week and after further investigation with my 3D printer pen I feel in a position to bring you news and updates from in the studio. Watch this space!

 

Larry


References

Grau, O. (2010) MediaArtHistories

Opportunity Knocks

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I will be the first to admit that I am a terrible artist. Perhaps not in terms of skill and ability but in terms of professionalism.

What follows is a message about getting yourself to exhibitions and the opportunities that could be passed up should you fail to do so.

Local exhibitions in small venues are just as important to attend as those hosted in large, national galleries; I recently attended the opening night of “We are who we are” at Bankley Studios in Levenshulme, Manchester. The exhibition showcased the work of  Samantha Mayo, Laura Daniels, Cecily Shrimpton. Farhaana Katun, Hannah Connor, Danielle Harrison and Olivia Brittain exploring the themes surrounding feminine social concerns, stemming from a range of female perspectives.

Firstly, the exhibition. The work gelled well within its surroundings and having seen some of it previously in another show I feel that it worked better in this environment. The environment in question, an old industrial building, provides an intimidating sight as you approach it, followed by a steep climb up a cold and narrow staircase. Having ventured this far little changes in the gallery space itself; the space is the same familiar white walls that we are used to but, perhaps because it is painted brick, the coldness seems to radiate throughout and seep into the work – adding new layers to the work. The atmosphere seems to radiate within the work, the comforts of our everyday lives seemingly removed; we are cleansed of our physical comfort and daily ignorance upon our journey to the gallery space through the front door and shown the world in a different light – a female perspective. This world is also cold and appears to lack a warm, human touch – a world in need of fixing.

Secondly, the opportunity. Going to see local exhibitions, studio open days and preview nights is a fantastic way to support your local artists – also, if you are an avid wine enthusiast this is also a good opportunity to partake in some sampling of the “refreshments”!

Local exhibitions and galleries are exceptionally good places to find leaflets and flyers for other galleries; perhaps you’ll find something to cure that “artist’s block” or perhaps, like me, you’ll find a leaflet containing those magic words “Call for Artist’s”. Many galleries put out a call for artist’s to submit work into an ‘open’ exhibition. This is usually a showcasing of many local artist’s with no real theme to what work is selected. You will be expected to frame and label your work according to the individual galleries taste and then take your work to the gallery where it will be judged on its worthiness for inclusion within the exhibition.

Bearing in mind I had picked up this leaflet (for Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk) on the 1st of July and the final day to submit your artwork (in person) was July 2nd, I was cutting it very fine! Luckily I already had two artworks labelled and ready to go from a previous (and unsuccessful) submission into an open exhibition. Galleries will often charge the artist per entry into such exhibitions and the fee (in my experience) is reasonable. It is often worth looking out for discounts on entry – this could apply to multiple entries, student/senior categories etc. It is also worth noting that you must be able to get to and from the gallery to submit and collect your work – these events can often be within days of each other.

By the 5th July I was notified that one of my two entries were successful, not bad at all for a lazy artist! To think that it had been less than five days since I was even made aware of the call for submissions. I am truly humbled to have been selected to have my work included and had it not been for my local artist’s I would never have had this opportunity.

Now, my work is hung on the walls of Chapel Gallery awaiting the preview night (Friday 15th July 7pm-9:30pm).

Supporting your fellow local artist’s is also beneficial for you too!

Larry

What have we learnt so far?

As I sit and fester in my own little cloud of rage, directed towards the shower which seems intent on withholding any level of warm water from my morning routine, I am at least granted the opportunity to reflect on what I have done so far in my efforts to establish my practice online.

WordPress 

WordPress has become quite the favourite of mine, I love its inter-connectivity with social media sites resulting in me only having to post something here and it is instantaneously posted on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. I guess this also ensures that my ramblings reach an audience too.

It is easy to navigate. Yes, at first trying to get to grips with a new way of doing things was completely baffling and I was worried for a while that my posts would be lost in a sea of un-ordered chaos. I did, however, discover the ability to tag posts and have them categorised resulting in all posts of the same tag being grouped together. This is certainly one advantage over tumblr but for a blog am I now running the risk of it looking too tidy?

Facebook

Creating my facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LarryWalkertonksART/ , was a bit embarrassing to start off with. Having seen many an amateur photographer with their facebook pages, uploading over edited photo’s of over photographed “tourist-fodder” for three weeks one summer before it trailed into nothingness, I was certainly not wanting to be seen like that. I don’t intend it to be a hobby, I’d quite like to make a career from this. I guess the worst part is the worry of what your facebook friends will make of you when they get the invitation to like your art page, will they think you’re an ego maniac? What was wrong with posting it on your profile like you were doing?

The response so far has been very good, at the time of writing I’ve invited people to “like” me and had 66 do so. I am slowly chipping away at my friends list, unfortunately it seems I am unable to bother my friends list en mass and invite everyone.

At least with my Facebook audience the transfer of art from personal profile to Facebook page seems to be a positive one with similar numbers in audience interaction.

Twitter

I am still rather confused by Twitter, I get that having a limited character number makes for concise and direct messages but what is it really for? I don’t change what I post based on the platform of social media being used. I have less friends who use Twitter in the same way they do Facebook. Twitter, it seems, is where the professionals and businesses seem to congregate. There is no end of galleries on Twitter, as they do Facebook but Twitter seems to be where you, as an artist, are closest to them. They are much more likely to interact with you on Twitter than they are on Facebook. Gallery interaction seems much more personal on Twitter – worth bearing in mind.

Trial By Social Media

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So the time has come, I can put it off no longer. Kicking and screaming I make my way to my laptop and am forced to accept the inevitable, that I must complete the task I had been avoiding for so long – creating my online presence.

As a current MA student in Contemporary Fine Art wanting to make a career out of my artwork after graduation, having an online presence in today’s technology obsessed world is vital. We are blessed to live in a time where artwork can be seen globally by thousands of people and potentially within minutes of completion.

It would, therefore, be absurd to ignore taking advantage of a tool that could grant a global fan base and potentially turn a hobby into a career.

I did briefly have a tumblr account which acted as my only online presence from 2013 – 2015. I had intended for tumblr to act as a portfolio of my work and also a record of my exhibitions however soon I found that posts seemed to pile on top of each other and get lost in the archive of my activity. I had not found a way to separate my work into categories and so finished work would sit clumsily next to the end result of an impulsive visit to an evening life drawing class. It was this, combined with an ever encroaching job in retail slowly but steadily drove my attention away from creating art and thus maintaining my tumblr blog.

Having had quite enough of the awkward conversation that would follow “So, have you got a website?” or “Can you send me your portfolio?”, I have decided to take things seriously and do things properly this time. My presence on social media will be split down two paths:

Path A: Portfolio Website showcasing the best of my work (This is still a work in progress)

Path B: WordPress Blog (this one) linking to social media to display work in progress and my artistic ramblings. This is where the clutter will occur.

So what’s next? I am still investigating the best way to proceed with my portfolio website, the advantages of going through a web hosting service, does buying a domain name matter? How much should I be paying? Should I be paying?

Stay tuned for more gripping tales!

Larry.