Friday, October 05, 2007

Tina Mammoser - The Cycling Artist

Paintings by Tina Mammoser
currently in a featured artist exhibition at the Skylark Gallery, Gabriel's Wharf
for more details see paintings and galleries and events

Tina Mammoser has a talent for branding and being business-like. I've known Tina Mammoser online for some time now and we’ve been talking for a bit about her doing an interview for my blog. She recently reinvented herself as a new brand – the Cycling Artist – so I decided it was about time to provide some insight into who she really is. Below you'll find out about the focus of her artwork, why she developed her new brand and what was involved in its creation.

Those of us who know Tina also know that she readily admits to having a bit of an obsession with the business side of art. After the new banner logo for 'The Cycling Artist' you'll find what she has identified as being barriers to being creative AND organised and some of her tips for making time for making art - in Tina’s words edited by me. All quotes in this piece are by Tina unless otherwise indicated.

First some background. Tina was born in Chicago in 1970, always wanted to visit Scotland and managed to do her (non-art) post-graduate studies (that’s grad school to Americans) for 3 years in Scotland before moving down to London where she took up painting as a hobby. She started to take lessons with a local artist and became immersed in her tutor's creative lifestyle. It all took off from there!

The creation of “The Cycling Artist”

For any artist its's important to be able to talk about yourself and your work - even if it's always changing. '”The Cycling Artist” brand came about simply by talking about and presenting my last two years work at different shows.
Tina has been painting a variety of water-based subjects and themes in oils for a long time. Two years ago she started to combine cycling along the south coast with painting it back in the studio. She started when she took a bike trip along the Kent coast in snowstorms! She then developed her paintings of the sea when she got back....and then realised that she could combine three of the things she liked the most - cycling, painting and the sea – as an ongoing project. (See Follow my coast journey to see how far she has got and you can read about the process here and in the blogposts listed at the end.)
Having such a focused project has really helped me talk about my work to people - I now have an engaging adventure to share! The sea is also so near and dear to the British that the theme also seems to speak to everyone on some level.

An art fair visitor helped me with the brand idea. Having talked to me at a previous exhibition, when he saw me again he remembered “Ah yes, you’re that cycling artist”.

I realised then that I had a story/presentation that was effective and memorable and a potential gimmick. At about the same time Alyson Stanfield was discussing the importance of better story-telling on her ArtBiz blog and highlighting the importance of a good website design. It just all fell into place.

The first thing I branded was my blog – it was simpler to tackle and slightly separate from my general promotional materials and official website. To further define the brand with a domain I purchased and forwarded it directly to the blog. I reworked my artist statement and CV too. It didn’t take long for me to see the potential for rebranding everything.

With two shows coming up in October I’ve had professional giclee canvas signage made, relaunched my website and am purchasing large printed patches to velcro to my bike bags for advertising when I’m out doing the actual cycling! That is where something like ‘’ domain works better than my regular domain name – it’s memorable and ties in with what people are seeing as I zip past or sit drawing on the beach.

Being creative AND business-like: what gets in the way

Being business-like means Tina has identified what are the sort of things which can get in the way of her painting if she lets them. These include:
  • Getting started
  • Getting distracted
  • Short attention span
  • Clutter
  • Spending too much time on activities like blogging, updating websites and making promotional materials!
Being creative AND business-like:
What works for Tina – and helps Tina work

Tina’s worked out what helps her work efficiently and effectively. Here are a few of her tips and strategies.
I’d never get around to painting some days if I didn't tell myself, repeatedly "Just do what's necessary"
  • Doing what’s necessary involves avoiding approaches which are over-complicated or too-advanced. My advice is ‘do what works for you and what you will actually do’! Don’t choose a tool that feels like barrier for you or to getting the job done. If you truly hate computers then don’t use one for your accounting or inventory.
  • I personally need a clean studio with white walls and limited visual stimuli. Palette swatches, art postcards and even just my extra supplies and mediums all need to be on one wall – preferably screened off - so not in my line of sight while working. (Obviously some artists actually need the opposite!)
The dance of avoidance upon arriving in the studio is inevitable - learn to see through it and begin
Ian Roberts
  • If I have a problem getting started or feel useless I reread the chapter on distraction and avoidance in Ian Robert’s Creative Authenticity – it really hit home the first time I read it.
  • Having a studio at home makes a big difference. My ability to access everything easily (computer, internet, paperwork, phone, painting, canvas prep) is vital. (However when starting out I very much needed the discipline of an outside studio!)
  • I acknowledge my tendencies and work within them by varying my tasks during the day. My focus tends to last for about 20-30 minutes and then I move on to something else so I keep focused by actually allowing my focus to shift! I alternate creative tasks with mundane ones, computer with non-computer.
  • I use a daily/weekly to-do list to make sure things get done.
    • The list never gets smaller! I’m always adding new things as I cross some off each day. Each week I start a new page in my reporter’s notebook. Each night I put circles next to the priority things for the next day.
    • On very bad days I find I actually need to strictly list my entire day in 15min intervals with specific slots for everything, including eating – this fortunately isn’t too often.
Some advice given to me by a business advisor many years ago is to remember that we never finish a to do list – it’s easy to get downhearted about not achieving enough in a day but in reality most business people might cross off 50% of their daily list. That should be considered a success.
It’s so easy to fall into a routine of beating yourself up about not being productive when actually you’d be more productive if you stopped for a bit and refreshed.
  • Limiting my worktime and having a break helps a lot.
    • As an artist I find I can just keep working, and I usually work weekends as well. So I now have an 8pm stop rule.
    • I've recently discovered the benefits of an afternoon break, usually about 2-3pm in my case. Do whatever works for you. Stop and have a meal and get away from work entirely like any office worker would, go for a walk, have a workout, or meditate. I personally do a very cheesy Meditainment narrated self-motivation meditation, and I have to say I love it despite being very set against it at first. So now I visit a little Highland cottage in a thunderstorm when I need a break. And I don’t even have to cycle there!
Tina Mammoser's work is in private collections in the US, UK, Australia and Japan and is represented or exhibited regularly in London and the southeast. Paintings have also been shown in group exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery and with the Pastel Society and Royal Society of Marine Artists at the Mall Galleries in London.

You can currently see Tina's work in two exhibitions in London - details below - plus you have an opportunity to meet her on 12th October at the Skylark Gallery 1 or at the Prelude Art Event in Spitalfields from today and over this weekend.



  1. What a great post, Katherine. Very interesting, although I personally would worry about having to stick to one subject, or the expectations that come with a very specific brand. In the end, however, collectors what you to easily articulate what you're about so they can seek a connection.

    I think for now, I'll continue with a life of ambiguity :-)

  2. I'll let Tina speak for herself when she gets back from Spitalfields but I think what she's saying is that:
    - your art needs to be about you in some way
    - you change, your art changes - but you still need to be able to make the art coherent for others - and a branding approach can help you do this.

    It's really all focused on how can you tell your story simply.

    And I guess Tina is pretty confident she's never going to give up cycling! ;)

  3. Great interview Katherine!

    Tina - ooh I'm so envious - a clutter free studio! I took away some very helpful information - thank you for doing this.

    Now what brand can I use.... hmmmmmmm

    a question: when you say brand - what other types of things could be a brand? I've been somewhat successful with New Englandesque still-lifes with a contemporary component... then I have another area where I do offbeat still-lifes such as shoes, paper, aluminum cans - they can be anything that strikes my fancy and has a grahic quality of its own.

    Is there any benefit to having 2 areas instead of focusing on one? Or is that not generally good?

  4. Thanks for the interview Katherine.

    To address ed's concern, I would just say that my work naturally developed in this way. So I'm not worried about sticking to one thing, it's just the way I work. :) I actually do have another series (the Nereids) that is ongoing and slightly different in nature. The important thing is, as you imply, to be true to yourself. If you do several things that's great, it's just finding what makes you 'you' and building on that. It did take 10 years to figure out this 'brand' for myself! My work has been developing and changing, all leading up to this. I'm sure the brand won't be forever and I'll adapt. In fact my logo sign for fairs doesn't have 'the cycling artist' on it so that it is slightly more flexible. My 'cycling artist' sign is a separate one so it can be used when it's most appropriate.

    And no, I probably won't give up cycling. At least not voluntarily. Though I really do have to stop crashing into trees, canals, and ditches during my "fun" cycling (mountain biking) if I'm to continue. But then that would take all the fun out of it!

  5. Wow! Thanks Katherine for the terrific post. Along the lines of "things become available to you just when you need them", I've been drifting away from what I need to be doing. Every little bit helps to keep me from letting distractions win over. Big thanks out to you and Tina for offering such good suggestions!

  6. Tracy - glad to be of help!

    Nicole - I think Tina's right. I think a brand is one of those 'you'll know it when you see it' things.

    I know I've talked to you about how I set out to do art, knew I loved research and then discovered that I really enjoyed writing. For me 'Making A Mark' was a really fortuitous choice of title for the blog - but it's certainly turning into a brand.

    What strikes me about your art is that it has always been about relationships. First with the cafe paintings and now with the arrangements of objects. We always used to enjoy making up the back story for your earlier work. Maybe the brand for you is going to be about relationships and story telling - about a concept - the story behind the still life - rather than about what you draw per se.

    Tina - I now have mental pictures of you popping off your bike into all manner of things after that last comment!

  7. Do check out Tina's blog too - she's currently musing on the pros and cons of galleries versus art fairs.

  8. I can't believe I'm just now reading this. Terrific post. I think I'll send some people over here.

  9. Hi Katherine,

    This is a fantastic post!! Thank you!

    ~ Diane Clancy

  10. Came to your blog via Art Biz Blog, and WOW! Fantastic resources and articles. You've spent loads of time developing a rich artist's blog. Thanks and I'm a new subscriber!s

  11. Here via Alyson's link.
    Terrific and informative interview.
    Thoroughly enjoyed reading and looking at Tina's art and am going to explore yours here!
    Oh, how I related to her "to do list." Yes, it's never ending, yes one needs to remind oneself that if 50% is checked off that's great (as well as those chunks to eat! I have done that, penciling in routine needs to keep me focused).

    K, you've "made your mark" with a through and interesting interview.
    I love connecting to other artists.
    Thank you

  12. Very nice! It's great to see a little more in depth info on an artist through an interview like this. Our websites and blogs give a certain point of view but an interview asks different sorts of questions and gives a more overall, objective view. Nice work!


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