Sunday, December 30, 2012

Learning about Art & the Art Business - Making A Mark Awards 2012

On to the next part of the 2012 Making A Mark Art Blog Awards - this is the section related to Learning about Art and the Art Business.

There are three awards:
  • The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal
  • The Make Me Think Gong
  • The Best Book by an Art Blogger Blue RibbonThe Home Front
This particular section of the awards focuses on our personal development - whether that's via:
  • regular posts on a blog wholly focused on the development of artists
  • a really good series of posts on a particular topic of major relevance to artists
  • a new art instruction book
  • a new book about the artist and the art business
The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal

The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal
values those art blogs which aim to share useful information for artists - including what they have learned with/from others

Previous winners are:
The problem I'm having this year is that the process of choosing somebody for an award gets progressively more difficult.

Sharing is a frame of mind - it's a mindset if you like.  You've either got it or you haven't.  If you've got it, sharing just seeps into everything you do!

Belinda del Pesco (Belinda del Pesco Fine Art) has got the sharing bug.  She takes photos of the various and different processes she uses for creating her artwork - in watercolours & printmaking - and posts the images with a narrative on her blog.  Thus not only do you see the finished artwork (which is pretty nice!) but you also get to learn how she did it.  She recommends what has helped her - whether that's art supplies, art books or art videos. Her emphasis is on her artwork rather than blogging - hence she only posts once or twice a week - however her posts are always high quality.  Plus she provides some ace quotes from other artists!

The 2012 Winner of 
The FAQs and Answers Really Useful Medal 
Belinda del Pesco

The Make Me Think Gong 

The Make Me Think Gong
for the person who makes me (and others) think and offers insights that are transferable to the activity and business of being an artist. 

This award leans more towards matters relating to career and business aspects of being an artist rather than artistic practice per se. So less "how to paint" and more "how to avoid being a starving artist"

Previous winners:
In the area of people who blog about art business we have various models for blogging business advice

First everybody does a bit of it but most don't say enough on a regular basis to be considered for this award.  Next we have those who do say more - and then decide to set up a separate blog - and then run out of time or content.  For example - I absolutely loved Cindy Haase's What Are You Really Selling? (The Nitty-Gritty Nuggets of Selling Art Online) and it showed lots of promise - but it stopped after four months (for reasons I can well understand) and has not resumed.

Nest we have the dedicated art business person who has a financial commitment to delivering a good art blog.  Then there are the bigger commercial enterprises which may or may not deliver a lot online in the form of a blog.  My view is that this award is for independent as opposed to paid bloggers and hence this rules out some good blogs and some not so wonderful blogs.  For example, I exclude all print journals with a blog online as they are clearly involved with paid blogging.

This year I started keeping an eye on Cory Huff's The Abundant Artist First off I liked his goal which focuses on trying to figure out how to build a successful art business.
My goal is to teach artists to be empowered to take charge of their own art business, and to not let others dictate to them whether or not their work is good enough, commercial enough, or fits some pre-determined mold of what an art career should be.
Next, I liked the idea of a site constructed by somebody who was internet savvy (as in he's a Strategic Business Analyst at Janrain) and was already helping artists to succeed.  There's not a lot of posts but by and large they're good quality and they feature people who are success stories - who tell you how they did it.  The advice also seems to be very much of the "now" as opposed to adapted from the past. It was a recommended bookmark this year and I think overall it's continued to impress  and so......

The 2012 Winner of 
The Make Me Think Gong 

Cory Huff and contributors at "The Abundant Artist"

The Best Book by an Art Blogger Blue Ribbon

The Best Book by an Art Blogger Blue Ribbon
for the most helpful book written/produced by an art blogger 

Previous winners
The criteria are that
  • the author MUST be somebody who blogs about art - BUT they don't have to be an artist.
  • the book MUST 
    • have been published in the previous two years ie after 1st January 2011 in the case of the award for 2012. This is to avoid any bias towards books published in the early part of this year as opposed to those which have not yet had time to build a following.
    • add value as opposed to being more of the 'same old, same old'. or just nice to look at.
My aim is to find a book which does NOT follow the conventional publisher's recipe for a lot of art books.  I also don't apply the three year rule to this award on the basis that there's only a small set of people who write art books!

Typically a "blue ribbon book"
  • will have a structure, content and design which speaks of the passion and priorities of the artist blogger who has written it (ie "identikit books" will NOT win this award!)
  • may have been produced and marketed by the artist blogger. 

There was never any question which book was going to win this award in 2012.

The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The World by Gabriel Campanario.   is the first book created via contributions from participants on the Urban Sketchers blog. It probably couldn't have been created without blogging.  It's also an excellent book. It provides a comprehensive guide as to how to sketch in an urban environment - on locations around the world. Plus it displays a wide variety of freehand sketches done from observation - of different subjects by different people.  However one of its main claims to fame - in terms of spreading the gospel of sketching from observation - is its stonking sales record! (link for those who need the Brit definition of the word!)
  • The book topped the Best Seller Lists for Drawing Books BEFORE it was published on 1 February 2012.  
  • In went on to notch up the #10 spot in the top 100 books in the Arts and Design Category on Amazon (which now includes music) on the strength of pre-orders alone. 
  • It then sold out immediately it was published
  • It went straight to reprint which also sold out within a few weeks. 
  • It's now on its third print since publication. It's proved to be so popular that its sales and ranking have only been limited by how fast this book can be printed!  
I think one of the reasons it has consistently attracted very good reviews and lots of sales is that's been written by people who actually do something rather a lot of people would like to be able to do. It's also written by people who people who are NOT writing to an pre-determined editorial recipe provided by a publisher.  As happened with the James Gurney books, when people are allowed to wrote about what they want to write about, it makes a difference!

The 2012 Winner of 
The Best Book by an Art Blogger Blue Ribbon


Gabi Campanario and Urban Sketchers for 
"The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The World"

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