Could you describe your typical working week?
I have no set order to my working week other than the main priorities, I should do but find it just doesn't work out that way. I get a bit single minded about things, either I get on with something, or leave it hopefully on a to do list for later. It can be a battle to keep away from distractions to actually sit and work on a painting or drawing as I work best submerged by what I do.
I group my jobs together but draw or paint anywhere from 9 am until 10 pm, sometimes on weekends. I find an empty mind where jobs are committed to lists and ignoring the world helps me sit and concentrate. I love to take breaks in the garden to adjust my mind by something as simple as pruning and tidying around. A walk, cycle or riding the horse can help to switch off if I get stuck emtionally.
My artwork can absorb my attention and there is no quick and easy way to produce it. It is technically heavy work to make and there appears to be walls and fence to get over because of the way it is made. I am now moving towards experimenting with my output as I realise I need the change.
Has the economic climate had any effect on the type of art you have been making recently?
The economic times have effected everything I sell as no doubt it has for many. This said I seem to maintain an ok level of existence and block it out. The returns from gallery and show sales is just lumpy and unsatisfying on the whole. I have cut back on more expensive shows about 4 years ago, I will return when I think things have picked up to reduce the financial risk.
My sales have dropped for everything, especially for the animal art. All I do know is there are a lot of animal artists about now and a lot who produce similar work to each other and near enough to what I have produced historically. Quick to produce art has taken over as well. It is a saturated market where it is difficult to differentiate yourself. Unless I was to put myself out there at bigger shows often and work only on animals, I don't think I could take my work forward enough to make a living out of just animal art. I enjoyed my animal portrait work for having a brief to work to and it stays online currently and I am still taking commissions.
I have traditionally got a good amount of my income out of reproductions. I have had to reduce the amount of reproductions in circulation where possible due to cash flow. Sales are not what they had been so close control of stock has proved useful. I check stock lists carefully to keep track of what is where and try to save money by not over producing or I try to swap things around in galleries. It is tough for all of us.
Selling greetings cards has become a shadow of what it had been 4 years ago. My originals go steadily in general and the commission work is unpredictable. I regulate how much of my own work and commission work I produce. I now think commissions are important to do as soon as I can to keep cash flow good if needed as survival is key. There is no set pattern where you can plan what sells best and where in 2017.
The public mood and psychology when shopping has changed in the last few years. There are less serious shoppers and more browsers but hopefully they will become a returning customer.
You had a SWOT chat with us was there any advantages in assessing your career thus far?
The SWOT chat with Grey was a very good idea to see what I had missed. I am full time so anybody to talk to about business is a good feeling especially when isolated working alone. Someone to reflect off and also things I had not thought of or did not know about. Another business mind on art is great. There are a few things I've improved on. just making my direction shifts is all I've needed a commitment on and the rest follows with inspiration as I've gone on. It is about asking yourself the right questions with the help of another outlook. I would recommend it for anyone, self anaysis in the right productive way is the right way to go!
What changes have you made in the last couple of years that have benefited your art business?
A picture at a time is my way of looking at it. Experimentation has been tough at first for me but it is getting easier to move forward. I see the potential within my ideas. I made the mistake in the past that I could be quite commercial but in all honesty I found the idea boring when I compared what I wanted instead. An old tried and tested theme for years is not me.
There is a commitment to sitting and putting the time in to a range of protocols to really fly with promoting myself further with the IT networking side of my business, it seems a science to get it right but a distraction most days. Online selling is an area I am going to improve on.
One thing that is missing from my business is an artist's assistant to work with to make a greater success of everything I'm not good at, don't have time for or simply the missed opportunities I realise eventually. If anybody has those skills to offer let me know?!
|Derbyshire Trophy Winner, Pavilion Reflection by Mark Langley|
You have won some major awards in the past year could you tell us what they were and would you recommend others have a go what outcomes have you had because of them?
I wasn't interested in going for awards or winning competitions for years with a couple of exceptions. Since 2016 I felt I should try a few exhibitions where the competition element was there. In the past I have sold the originals before they could be entered into an appropriate competition or I wanted to have them in a gallery or at shows instead.
I was very lucky to get 3 awards for my watercolour "Scriviner's View" at the Buxton Spa Prize in 2016 - Highly commended, Buxton Festival Choice and People's Choice. It was my first attempt at entering the Spa Prize so it was amazing to win a prize, but to win three was incredible! It was especially gratifying to win the people's choice award as it is based on a public vote, knowing that my painting got the most votes in such a strong exhibition was amazing.
I also exhibited at the Menier Gallery in London with the UK Coloured Pencil Society for the second time and this time got Best Building and Transport in the annual show for my colour pencil drawing "Haddon Hall II".
I feel very excited to have recently received the top prize in the Derbyshire Open Art Competition - The Derbyshire Trophy, which also means that my picture "Pavilion Reflection" (above) will form part of the permanent collection at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery .
|The Derbyshire Trophy|
How do you see your practice progressing over the next year or so?
I'm going to carry on with a few animal pictures in future as well as any commissions. I think wildlife appeals but I'm not setting any goals other than keeping the quality and high detail. I will focus more on architectural drawings and natural subjects such as trees. I'm leaving landscapes wide open for experimentation with media and style.
I want to develop a range of small designs purpose made for greetings cards as I also want to experiment with bold and colourful in the small format.
I intend to keep prints in low runs or simply have paintings as one off and no prints.
Apart from trying maybe a new society or 2 I intend to try new galleries where my work will fit in with the gallery's general direction. I will keep my detailed work alongside experimentation. You can follow my progress and process on social media.
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Read more about The Derbyshire Open in this great article by Belper Nailed here http://nailed.community/2017/06/28/belper-artist-wins-derbyshire-trophy-open-art-competition/