Imogen Blake visited The Other Art Fair on Marylebone Road at the weekend to talk to four of the 100 unsigned artists at the fair selling their work direct to the public.
Sophie Bastien, a French graphic designer and painter living in London, offers advice to aspiring artists and chats about her background in art. Visit her website here.
Mark Powell, a 31-year-old artist based in London, draws elderly people on old envelopes in incredible detail using just a biro.
He said: “I enrolled at university on a fine art course by accident. I was staying in Huddersfield and I woke up a little late for my job. They fired me so I had nothing to do that day. I decided to look around the studios at the university, got talking to the head tutor and she took me to a studio space and said, “That one’s yours”.
“Directly after university, a couple of galleries from the US paid for me to spend a bit of time holding a few shows there. Coming out of university and going straight into shows abroad was a big plus.
“I stepped away from painting to do biro work about two years ago and it’s gone haywire since then. I’ve had a few offers from galleries but I’m doing fine as an independent artist. People get in touch from all over the world asking to buy work from me and I show as and when. If the right gallery comes along, I’ll happily sign but so far, I just don’t need to.”
Mark’s tips: ”Keep developing your practice and make it vibrant and interesting for yourself. Don’t get too downhearted if it doesn’t happen for you straight away. I was lucky but I had a period of a few years where nothing happened. Just keep doing what you’re doing and maybe things will come your way in the end.”
Visit his website here.
Héloïse Delègue, a 26-year-old French artist living in London graduated with a BA in Visual Arts this year after switching careers from marketing to art.
She said: “I completely changed my career plan; I was working in PR and marketing and I hated it. I’ve just graduated from Sorbonne University in Paris in June with a BA in Visual Arts. I did my degree by correspondence from London because I was living and working here at the same time.
“Obviously, it would be amazing if I could get representation from a gallery but on your own, you get to meet a lot of people, network a lot and see who likes your paintings and who doesn’t. It’s really interesting to see who likes your pieces as otherwise you don’t get a chance to interact with the public.
“It has been difficult but if you’re really going for it, things happen, especially in London. There are lots of platforms and websites where you can get exposure and it’s a really good place to be.”
Héloïse’s tips: ”Focus on your art. Don’t make stuff people like as then it’s not your art anymore; just do what you think is you. Don’t get away from that and then just go for it! Be a little obsessive about it: just do it constantly and try to get out there.”
Visit her website here.
James Thurgood, a 25-year-old photographer from London, graduated in 2009 with a BA in photography at University College Falmouth.
He said: “I had these pipe dreams of being an artist but it wasn’t until the end of my degree that I thought I could become an artist. The reputation of the London art schools was tempting but I really wanted to get out of London. Having that space really gave me time to define my ideas as an artist.
“My main objective is to keep exhibiting no matter what, which varies between showing in a mate’s front room where we pull all the furniture out and a show in an abandoned warehouse in Highbury. I work as a waiter in a restaurant in Soho, which is such a cliché but it gives me the money and the flexibility to do my work on the side.
“Gallery representation would be the pipe dream but I want to do a MA either this year or next year and most MA courses and colleges suggest that you have some time off from your degree to get professional practise under your belt and that’s what I’ve done. Coming out of a good college with a MA is quite a good attraction for a gallery.
“At the moment, I’m going to try and do as much as I can off my own back and learn as much as I can in the process. Every little success means a massive amount when you’re doing it off your own back.”
James’ tips: 1. ”Don’t get a job in an arts-related industry. It might seem like a good idea but as a graduate, you’re not going to get a job that will get you good connections straight away. Make your job completely unrelated to art so you can put all your creative energy into making your work.”
2. ”Believe in yourself. It sounds really cliché but the ones who make it are the ones who just stick it out. The idea of young artists coming out of college and making it straight away is pretty redundant. Even the YBAs (Young British Artists) had to make their own luck.”
3. ”Keep at it. It takes a lot of patience, dedication and to some extent quite a lot of delusion to believe you’re going to make it.”
Visit his website here.