Artist Biographies, Statements and CV’s

In preparation for applying to residencies/jobs I have been researching into the difference between CV’s, biographies and statements…

Artist Biography

(https://artquest.org.uk/how-to-articles/biography/)

-About you and your career as a practitioner

-May include your name, medium, key themes you explore, art related education, where you live/work/were born, may summarise some achievements/exhibitions mentioned in the CV

Artist Statement

(https://www.gyst-ink.com/sample-artist-statements)

-About your art practice

-May include ideas, concepts, techniques

Artist CV

(https://artquest.org.uk/how-to-articles/artist-cv/)

-Brings together your professional achievements into one document

-(See some examples here: https://weare.guru/creative-cvs/) A creative design helps you to stand out and makes your CV memorable and personal. However don’t overdesign it.

-A CV may contain contact information, solo/group exhibitions you have been in, awards, publications, commissions, residencies, art education and art experience (e.g. working on projects/ in galleries- only if relevant though.)

To understand how different artists approach the above I have been looking at some examples:

  • https://www.helensear.com/about Helen Sear has a downloadable CV in PDF format. It lists solo/ group exhibitions, education, awards/scholarships, publications and residencies. She has chosen to include a photo. She begins her artist biography by summarising key parts of her CV, such as education, media and exhibitions. She has merged the statement and biography into a single text, highlighting key themes she explores. David Company, a writer and curator, finishes off her ‘About’ page with a quote about her and her practice
  • https://alecsoth.com/photography/about Alec Soth has different tabs that drop down for different sections of the CV, as opposed to a downloadable PDF. His biography contains his birth day and where he was born, the number of publications he has and examples of some more renowned ones. There isn’t a clear artist statement, he is very unrevealing about his practice, preferring to not go into detail about his ideas, techniques and methods.
  • https://mishkahenner.com/Bio Mishka Henner writes his biography in first person. It’s split into three paragraphs, the first covers where he lives and is from, ‘born in Belgium and living in the UK.’ He then elaborates on key themes, mediums and research, and finally lists a range of institutions he has exhibited in. He has chosen to include a photo of himself that expresses the nature of his practice and him as an artist. Below are contact details and a CV organised by year.

 

Christian Jago: Artist Talk and Photography Networking Event

On the 6th February 2024 I attended a Artist Talk and Photography Networking Event at Fabrica (https://fabrica.org.uk/events/photography-networking-event). The guest speaker was Christian Jago (https://christianjago.co.uk/), a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice revolves around ‘world building’. His process involves making models/sets, of fictional worlds that he draws out of his imagination. He’s interested in how space, tone and colour can tell a story, taking inspiration from visual effects and perspectives in films. Sometimes his sets are inspired by real landscapes and contain subtle references to real places.

His recent project is called Ephemeral Bloom (https://christianjago.co.uk/Ephemeral-Bloom) and in the talk he took us through the 6 chapters of the project. In short, the project is about nature and the lessons it taught him about his own mental health, such as change, growth and perseverance. The project amounted in a virtual exhibition, a form he enjoyed as it enabled him to curate the equivalent of a solo show. Although his style is very different to my own practice, I appreciate how well he executes his vision and when I look at the work, the colour and texture does make me feel different emotions. Images from the project…

In terms of professional practice he mentioned some opportunities he partook in such as Big Sky Studios (where he assisted photographers), East meets West and the Revolv Award. I have researched more into these opportunities:

Big Sky Studios: A creative complex of photographic studios in central London. They offer studio space, equipment, catering, set build, or post-production and content creation. (https://www.bigskylondon.com/)

East meets West: A collective of 22 UK-based emerging photographers, a  programme organised by GRAIN Projects (https://grainphotographyhub.co.uk/), FORMAT and QUAD. Through regularly sharing their work with each other, the individuals nurtured thematic and practice-based connections, becoming part of a valuable creative community. As a collective they partook in exhibitions and created workshops for the public such as zine making, photo walks and lumen printing.

Revolv Award: A prize that supports three early-career photo-based artists, via a year long mentorship with Revolv collective. (https://revolv.org.uk/Revolv-Award)

 

 

 

 

How to build a career?

I read the article ‘How to build a career’ featuring insight from, Alec Soth, Poulomi Basu, Justine Kurland and Jess T. Dugan, and written by Gem Fletcher. (https://www.1854.photography/2022/07/how-to-build-a-career-alec-soth-poulomi-basu-justine-kurland-jess-t-dugan/)

It began by acknowledging that the gap between emerging talent and world-renowned artists is often unspoken about, which, as of recent I have found true. It mentioned how daunting it can feel for a graduating or early career artist once institutional support is no longer there. When Dugan graduated they did a lot of freelance and part time work, trying to ‘meet everyone and learn everything.’ Working in museums and commercial galleries gave them insight into the kind of work these institutions were looking for. They noted that building a career is a long game and success in the arts is a hard thing to measure because financial and artistic success are often very different.

Poulomi Basu said ‘Success is not about talent. It’s really about putting yourself out there.’ She said her deep self-belief and powerful vision was critical to her survival against institutionalised racism and gender bias. She had to constantly break out of being put in boxes for the type of artist and work she made.

Alex Sloth said the internet was an important platform for getting his work out there, especially as a shyer person. Like Dugan he also found solace in working in museums as opposed to assisting commercial photographers, which he feared would kill his passion. He faced a lot of rejection as an emerging, no-name artist but advised not to take it personally because lots of factors are at play.

The article spoke about how an artist is not successful because they are a singular genius, but because the arts community lifts them up, and we all participate in that. This was illustrated in the example of student tuition fees, which fund the wages of mid-career artists. We are all participating in the proliferation of photography in the world.

The article concluded itself with Basu talking about about choosing an art life, a life that navigates vulnerabilities, motivations, happenstance, systemic inequalities, privilege and mental health, it’s not about a profession, it’s about a creative path.

I found this article very informative and reassuring. It’s helping to reframe misconceptions I have about what a successful photographic career looks like. I feel like the idea of success may not be so applicable to a creative career, so much as the words challenging, stimulating and self-satisfying. I think what Basu said may be true, that it’s about choosing an art life, which isn’t a safe or easy life, but the journey could be fulfilling in its own way. Being intimidated by a career in the arts is very rational, it’s my choice now to either persevere through the instability or seek something more stable, perhaps there are moments in my career for both.

Photoworks

In October 2023 Photoworks came to talk to the 2nd and 3rd year photography students about an opportunity to be part of  Dreamyplace Festival, I signed up. To begin we partook in a writing workshop, responding to photos we’d taken. We were then paired up and given a fairly open brief in which to make a photograph to be exhibited somewhere in Brighton. We were given two weeks to create a concept, source props, organise a test shoot and final shoot, edit, print and create some writing to accompany it. The best part of the project was being able to collaborate, it was great to have a constant creative dialogue through each of the stages and we worked really well together.

Our outcome was printed on blue backed paper and pasted onto a telephone box with wallpaper glue and a wide brush. Our piece commented on the increased pace of life, depicting a man in a suit emerging straight out of the water after a morning sea swim. We captioned it ‘There’s bigger fish to fry,’ and the model is barging through the overlayed letters. We took inspiration from sport photography and advertising, wanting to create something slightly crude, but eye catching and accessible in meaning. For Dreamyplace festival there was a tour of everyone’s work, in which we had to give a short explanation.

I found the whole project really enjoyable, it’s nice to work more collaboratively and be involved in all the stages, from idea generation right through to installation.

Photos of the installed work…

 

Wedding Photography

Sumer 2023 I shot my first wedding. It was for a friend of a friends and I was one of two photographers attending. In preparation for the event I did some research, watched online videos and looked at example work. I also reached out and had a coffee with a local wedding photographer to get more advice from someone experienced. As a result of this she lent me some extra lenses and a flash. We also had a teams call with the bride to discuss her ideas, expectations and the itinerary of the day.

The day itself began very at 6am as I had to commute into London for it. The other photographer and I arrived early to scout out the church before walking to the brides home to take the first pictures of her putting on her dress. The whole day was quite stressful and lighting was a constant battle, with super bright sunlight and the dark interior of the church. I think I would manage better if I shot the same event today, with my improved understanding of lighting. It taught me how important having a variety of lenses is, especially having a zoom lens, so you aren’t to intrusive in tender moments of the ceremony.

I came away from the event not particularly keen to do another one. I found it hard to get inspired by shots because I didn’t have a connection to the subject matter. I realised that photographing events, where the photograph is not ‘the event’ itself is probably not for me, I think I prefer photographing in a less spontaneous and more controlled way.

Here are some photos I took from the wedding…

Ola Teper: Developing ideas for a phD

Ola talked us through her creative journey as a photographic artist. She looked back at work she had made for her BA at Brighton, discussing the research and technical experimentation she undertook to resolve the work. It was interesting to hear her describe her process as ‘reactive,’ by this she meant that she constantly took inspiration from things that were coming into her life.

Prior to the talk I didn’t have much understanding on what distinguished a phD from a masters or BA. She helped clarify the differences, some of which included: A phD student researches a subject where there has been little  literature/research covering it, the phD is a self-structured course and you are paired with a supervisor whose research interests overlap with your own. Although it sounds interesting I don’t think doing a phD is something I am interested in doing any time soon.

The last point they made, which seems to be a recurring theme of these talks, was emphasising the importance of joining a collective. Post-graduating it’s important to have a creative circle of peers in which to bounce ideas off and keep each others creativity alive.

Creative Director- Claire Wearn

Claire Wearn works free lance as a creative director. Her work is project based and her role is to find creative solutions to bring projects into actuality. She supports the project throughout its evolution, from idea to execution, working closely with artists and technicians.

Projects can be of varying length and each brings its own, unique challenges. The variety within the job is something that really appeals to me. She worked on a project with Martin Parr to archive the Black Country. The industries there still worked according to traditional manufacturing and production methods. The project bought challenges in figuring out ‘how do you archive a specific place at a specific time?’ They decided to photograph a range of social occasions and attributes from weddings to funerals, domestic homes, the oldest factories and the newest factories. The project was displayed in the community art gallery in the form of a wall of small prints. It was displayed in this way because it was important to the creators that everyone in the community was represented on the wall.

Early on in her career Claire realised the value of art in community. She’s interested in making more space for art and making it more accessible to people. This could include displaying the work in public spaces (such as billboards and shop windows,) or working with people who wouldn’t consider themselves artists. She worked on a project with David Goldblatt called ‘Ex-offenders.’ This was a collaboration with prisoners. The prisoners would return to the location of their crime and have their portrait taken. She expressed how her role for this project involved a lot of relationship management between the prison, prisoners, photographer and the photographic company. The project was exhibited in prisons and logistics concerning the installation of the prints needed problem solving- you weren’t allowed any sharp objects, such as frame corners and nails.

I found Claire’s talk very engaging. The projects she described felt like a rewarding application of photography, they lacked commercial gain and didn’t have a capitalist agender. It’s interesting to hear how you can be innovative in the creative field, without being the artist. I like the idea of being a facilitator and a collaborator, as opposed to having a solo photographic practice. Working on such diverse projects, and for the whole duration of projects, would meet my need for variation in a job.

 

Phoenix Artspace

Phoenix Artspace has been on my radar for a couple years now. The exhibitions change relatively frequently, it’s a dynamic space. The Open Studios, as part of the Fringe Festival, are a great opportunity to speak to practicing artists, learn about their journeys and current projects. Similar too are the artist residencies, in the main gallery space, last year I had a great chat with April Yasamee about the carful compositions in their work. Going to the opening night of Real Utopias, Photo Fringe 2022 gave me insight into the Brighton photography scene, I ended up invigilating Will Morgan’s exhibition ‘A City Inside Out’ at Regency Town House.

The current exhibition at Phoenix Artspace is ‘Are you a woman in authority?’ Hearing from Kitty Bew, the exhibition coordinator, furthered my appreciation for the exhibition curation. The media was diverse, video, painting, sculpture, but the themes linked. She spoke honestly about challenges with funding such ambitious exhibitions and her role in finding these funds. She provided insight into curation logistics, how art pieces are loaned or have specific display requirements. I asked about how they try to encourage people to come into the gallery space and she spoke of the importance of promotion via social media and family workshops. Workshops would be organised by an Art Facilitator. I like how this job makes art accessible and maintains an art for arts sake approach rather than something for commercial purposes.

Kitty’s personal journey to the position of exhibition coordinator started with her volunteering on the front desk and slowly working her way up to paid roles. She emphasised the importance of attending things, exhibitions, talks, opening nights and how mailing lists are a good way to be in the loop. I am looking forward to the 2024 Photo Fringe and will keep an eye on other local photography organisations like Photoworks for upcoming opportunities.

 

 

Tempest Photography- Summer 2023 Graduations

Tempest Photography provides photographic services to institutions such as schools and universities. They mainly specialise in classic portraiture taken within a studio environment.

In the summer of 2023 I worked with them for two weeks, at two different graduation, one in Canterbury and the other in Brighton.  As my manager put it, this style of commercial photography is a conveyor belt of image production. The company has a strict vision for the images and the goal is to blend with this vision rather than utilise your own creativity.

The training day covered technical skills such as how to set up the studio and how to position groups of varying numbers of people. However no amount of practice can prepare you for your first day of work.

Finding my work flow took a couple days. Because the work is repetitive you quickly find a script that works for you, you learn what words make the best instructions and how to be in control of your studio space. The diversity of families you photograph are broad and you learn things such as to stand on a stool for tall people and how to balance heights in a group. Having a good relationship with your co-worker in the neighbouring studio is important when you are struggling to make a composition work or fit everyone onto the backdrop.

Although the work is repetitive, you are juggling a lot and with each client you are at square one of building a relationship with the graduate and family. I personally enjoyed the pace of the job, I liked creating a precisely composed image, according to the criteria of Tempest, it made a nice contrast to the way I usually work with a camera. It felt fulfilling to make images people liked of themselves and to photograph a proud family achievement. I enjoyed the lifestyle of the job, paid food, board and travel. I can’t imagine myself doing photography of this nature full time however as a freelance opportunity I think it’s well suited to me. This November I am looking forward to working for them again.

A group portrait taken at Brighton Graduation

The laptop and printer set up at Brighton Graduation