We are delighted to announce our annual Shed Summer Show of affordable art and photography. This years show will take place from Wednesday 20th of August to 3rd of September at the Malthouse in Lyme Regis. This years’ show takes as its title ‘MUSE’.
The idea came as one of the most fascinating aspects of any creative person’s work is what drives them to create or get up early in the morning to go out with a camera in hand. That illusive thing that drives us to create or capture: the dawn, a perfect portrait, rusting steel, a field of poppies.
The exhibition is open to anyone who is a member of the Shed both artists and photographers.
This year, as so many of you wish to take part in our selling shows, we have decided to curate the exhibition in a slightly different way. The gallery website has a category titled Muse. Simply upload or tag existing images (as we did with the Albion exhibition) in your profile with the Muse tag. This is done by logging onto your profile and editing each image.
Once you have done this please send the URL links of the images to email@example.com with the email subject ‘Muse submissions’ that you wish to be considered for selection in a word document titled Muse –Summer Show along with a 250(ish) text explaining what Muse represents to you. Your submission of images is unlimited however please make sure they come through in just one document per exhibitor. 20 exhibitors will be chosen for the start of the exhibition and will have 2 images plus the accompanying text that you have written on the wall. If you are submitting original work please make sure it will be available to sell at the show.
The closing date for submissions is June the 20th. We will then make our decision and let you know who has made the show by June 29th.
If you wish to give a talk or demonstration during the show then please contact me, Chelsea on firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be delighted to help you organise any ideas you may have.
Below are a few of my thoughts as to why exhibiting is so important.
Our exhibitions perform various functions.
They allow us to give life to some of the amazing images in the Shed by liberating them from a computer screen. It gives us the opportunity to ‘educate’ the viewing public that they can own an affordable, ready to hang photograph or original piece of art. They also allow me the opportunity to have frank conversations with the public and eavesdrop conversations as people walk around the show. It is also an important time for me to connect with the exhibitors in the Shed and have time to talk through concerns you may have or mentor exhibitors who would like some advice or feedback on their work. To help those of you who are making the leap to Fine Art selling and how to sell.
From these conversations the following issues seem to arise with frequency:
I have been making a living as an artist and photographer exclusively for the past 10 years. Before that, even though I studied at Chelsea, Valencia and the old Hornsey art college and turned down an MA in sculpture at the RCA (madness!) it took me many years to find my ‘voice’. As David Bailey says ‘When I see a Bruce Weber photograph I know it’s a Bruce Weber instinctively’. I believe now my work has a vein that runs through it that ties it to me. It took me years and travelling away from home to find it or allow it time to develop and evolve. I am fortunate enough that it is now my passion and my career, however making work does not automatically make it commercial. There are many images and paintings I make that do not translate into a ‘commercial success’ they are things I love and possibly a stepping stone to one day making a better version, part of the process or a piece that resonates with the buying public. Does that mean I don’t do it? No, but I may not pursue it when I’m planning for a ‘selling show’ or art fair. On the other hand I feel fortunate that I have taken a couple of images that seem to just talk to the public, my Cobb Steps being a classic example and sell when shown in the right place and possibly at the right time. It is a tough market out there as we are swamped by images but it can be done and we can all sell work.
Manipulation of images
Take care over processing work. There is a point of restraint or a tipping point unless that is the aim of the piece. There is magic to photography and photoshop has a place but can also create ‘unbelieveable’ images.
Psychology of buying
Time, place, timing, weather, couples arguing, couples agreeing, children running around, advertising, desire, curation, capricious shopping habits, lust are just some of the factors that go into the psychology of buying artwork. If someone stumbles across an exhibition while they are on holiday and happen to have spent years and years trying to find that perfect piece to fill that spot in the holiday cottage and have had a lovely relaxing time may feel predisposed to buying a piece of artwork. Trudging around endless art galleries and bickering will most certainly not entice someone to spend their hard earned money on anything other than a pint or cake. These and endless other variables all go into the psychology of the potential client. I try and read them and their mood when they walk in, sometimes a little persuasion is all that’s needed and other times the story behind the piece, some people don’t want to talk at all, others just want to look, comment, marvel but will never buy. Owning a photograph or a painting is a commitment like no other purchase. It is highly personal. It speaks of so many things and is rarely a flippant purchase. However many people give the gift of a piece of artwork or photograph and rarely fail to give a present that will be valued and adored for years.
The power of artwork is an illusive thing. One of the many stepping stones in my work was learning not to give work away and I can’t say I haven’t ever but I now know my ‘worth’ and this is my living. There are many stories of ‘would you mind just designing…..’ and it takes a while to politely say what your price is to ‘just’ photograph a wedding….It is always with good intentions and is highly flattering. I tend to now just take some sneaky shots, blow them up and send it as a present. Then friends and family may see it and ask for a copy and that is how selling your work starts. The other very important factor is to take pride in your own work. Surround yourself with it, hang it on the wall at home. Have a dinner party to show your work to friends. I’ve sold many pieces that way. If you live with your own work then others who may need a little imagination as to how it would look can then imagine it too. It is also a hundred times easier to show a physical example of what you do then opening up a laptop…trust me, there is no substitute for the physical presence of a painting or photograph. Also explore avenues however small to sell. Print work for an exhibition ask at the local gallery or shop if they would like to show or sell your work, take part in again however small, a group show. It may take a while but it will be a start and be BOLD! Photography in large format just transforms into artwork, have a go you won’t regret it.
Chelsea Davine, Creative Director, The Shed Gallery.