Getting a Portfolio Together

Here are my own personal thoughts on the best way to get a portfolio application together – there are no rules and sometimes it’s just a matter of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

1: Keep things simple. You only have one chance to impress and now is not the time to show how versatile you are. I know it’s tempting to put in examples of all the different aspects of your work but you only have one chance to impress. Random pieces that do not relate to the main body of work are pointless – try to keep the look fairly uniform.

2: Presentation. All applicants are expected to be professional and it’s very important that the work is presented to the highest standards. It goes without saying that all the work should be clean – no crooked mounts, no dirty or creased margins. If you don’t think your work is worth presenting properly, then there’s no reason to think anyone else will.

3: Supporting work. Make sure it is relevant – don’t put in life drawings to support urban scenes, as I once did. You want to reinforce the thinking behind the work and hopefully increase the appreciation of it. If you don’t use sketchbooks, then try to show examples of the process you’ve used to get from the initial idea to the finished piece.

4: CV. Make sure it’s up to date, relevant and preferably on one page – a good exhibiting history obviously helps but so does an interesting project, residency or commission.

5: Don’t get discouraged if you’re not successful – people sometimes get in on the first try but it’s much more usual to have several attempts. The panels who review the portfolios change all the time and what gets turned down one year may well be accepted the next.

And just one more thing – all this preparation is important but at the end of the day, it’s the work that really counts…..

Elections for the RE

Every year the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers hold elections for artists who would like to become members. If you’re interested, you will need to fill out an application form (here) and return to the Bankside Gallery, London by the 27th January 2012. A week or two later, you will need to deliver a portfolio of (eight?) prints, together with a CV and some supporting material (a sketchbook, perhaps) to Bankside Gallery.
It’s a great society to be a member of – you make new friends, get to exhibit in Central London three times a year and you can use the initials RE after your name, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Anyway, if anyone is thinking of going for it, good luck – and if I can think of any tips, I’ll post them over the weekend……

A Change in Direction

To start the New Year, I needed a fresh perspective on my life, not all of which takes place in London now. I spend a lot of time by the sea on the North Norfolk coast and exploring this very different environment will present me with exciting challenges, or so I tell myself…..
I’ve felt for a while that I needed to take a few risks with my subject matter and find a new direction. Sadly change is not really my thing – I’m a creature of habit and I need to be dragged kicking and screaming just to try out a different pub. So leaving my comfort zone/rut of the London transport as a subject, albeit temporarily, has been surprisingly stressful.
And to be honest, I’d like to keep my galleries happy – the trouble is that commercial galleries are very keen on sales (fair enough) and would prefer you to keep making the work that they took you on for and for which they have a ready market.
They don’t especially appreciate being told that “yes, I did used to paint very popular views of cats in baskets but now I’m only able to paint post-Apocalyptic landscapes.”
Ideally we wouldn’t need to sully ourselves with the filthy lucre and we’d just go where the Muse takes us but unfortunately we all have bills. And I would definitely like to continue paying my studio rent, buying new materials and generally carrying on with my happy working life.
So here’s to new experiments – not too radical and proceeding cautiously, of course – steady now….. 

                                                   Pages from my sketchbook.

New Year Feebles

Yesterday I was by the sea in Norfolk.
Today I’m back home in London, sadly twiddling my thumbs and avoiding any work or studio related thoughts.
This time last year I rather perkily blogged about New Years Resolutions and the tricks I use keep myself motivated. (I even managed to throw in a quote from Chuck Close – ‘Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work’.) If you’re interested, you can read it here.
This year I’m mostly thinking about how bleedin’ difficult it is just getting into the car to go to the studio, let alone arriving there ready to do some work.
Oh well, I might as well leave it until Monday now…..