Thursday, January 29, 2015

Social Media: How Long is Optimal?

Length is everything - right?

Especially in social media.

So the theory goes that there is (1) an "optimal length" and (2) that this can be measured scientifically.

Which is why, if you are an artist trying to talk about and market your art via social media you will want to read:

The Best Length for Social Media

  • characters in 
    • tweets, 
    • Facebook posts, 
    • URLs for domain names (excluding .com), 
    • hashtags, 
    • a Google+ headline, 
    • an email subject line, 
    • an SEO title tag - the first 55 characters are critical!
  • words in a 
    • blog post title / headline
    • LinkedIn Post
    • a blogpost
  • width (in characters) of an opening paragraph (remember everybody is now reading on mobile devices), 
  • length of:
    • a YouTube video
    • a podcast (how many podcasts start with the hosts droning on about how they are today and what they'd like to remind you about before they on to the nub of the podcast - how much time do they waste etc etc?)
    • a presentation
    • a slideshare
  • size of a Pinterest image
To snag a PDF version of the infographic, download it here
A more printer-friendly version has also been compiled by the SumAll blog and you can download that from here

[Note this is the wierdest infographic I've ever come across - the code doesn't produce an image that fits the blog width and any effort to produce an image which does fit doesn't work. It's absolutely impossible to make it the width or length you want - which is rather ironic in the circumstances!]

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cost-cutting and Petitions at London Art Galleries

Did you know a five-day strike is planned at the National Gallery?  There's also a petition suggesting that the public should say 'No to privatisation of the National Gallery' (see below).

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has called for a five day strike from Tuesday 3 to Saturday 7 February.  Members at the Gallery had voted for industrial action after management proposed to externalise the staff who are the public face of the gallery - namely c.400 staff who provide security, visitor services and visitor engagement.

Union members are also protesting planned cuts in gallery assistants at Dulwich Picture Gallery (see below)

This post is about why cuts in expenditure are being made, what action staff are taking - and what I think about the proposals. I'm interested to know what you think - do please leave a comment at the end.

Context for the Cuts

The continued stranglehold on public sector expenditure caused by the bankers' exploits pre-2008 and the need to exert control over the economy continues to create a very tight grip of public expenditure.

This in turn means that all public service organisations in the UK are looking for cuts to enable them to continue to provide a service within current funding constraints.
The Gallery continues to face significant and sustained cuts to grant-in-aid over the coming years National Gallery - Finance
The National Gallery's perspective is that it wants more
“more flexibility to meet the changing expectations of our visitors in an environment where our income is decreasing”.
Frankly, my perspective is that I find it very odd that:
  • on the one hand the Galleries have to go cap in hand to the banks for sponsorship monies which help them provide an effective service and ace exhibitions
  • at the same time as their grant-in-aid is being limited by a government still trying to control an economy lacerated by the very stupid actions of some of the banks prior to 2008!
It's not an easy situation for any manager, however as an ex-senior manager in public service I well understand the need to make changes which seek to preserve the outcomes (ie the service offered) as opposed to the means (ie the out-dated terms and conditions of existing staff).

National Gallery and the PCS union

The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square

The National Gallery is an interesting case. So far as I am aware:
  • The PCS Union has had a long-running battle with the Gallery's management for years and years in relation to the terms and conditions of staff who are members of the PCS 
  • The PCS is totally inflexible to negotiation about making changes for modern practices. 
In fact I'd go so far as to say the National Gallery is probably one of the few places left in the UK where the union is running the show.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Art from Auschwitz

Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. One of the very important functions of art is to record important life events and events in history.

This post is about art produced by Auschwitz survivors and others who want to record this episode in world history. We're all used to the term "history paintings". Below I'd like to introduce you to some of the art which also survives. What follows is a mix of links to articles talking about art from Auschwitz and artwork which is archived on the website of the Museum at Auschwitz.
To gas
Pencil, paper, 13,5 x 19,5 cm, KL Auschwitz 1942-44.
Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
Transport arriving at the unloading ramp
Pencil, crayons, paper, 13,5 x 19,5 cm, KL Auschwitz 1942-44
Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
Pencil, crayons, paper, 13,5 x 19,5 cm, KL Auschwitz 1942-44. Z
Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

Pushing chairs
Black watercolours, cardboard, 13 x 20.8 cm, Paris 1945. 

Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
  • The art of Jan Komski - a survivor of Auschwitz. He has produced drawings and paintings after his liberation of his memories of what it was like.
A portrait of Géza Schein
Pencil, paper, 14,5 x 10,5 cm, KL Jawischowitz 1944.
Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
Watercolours, cardboard, Indian ink, 15 x 11,3 cm, KL Auschwitz 1944. 
Collections of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum

and finally.....

  • Young artist and illustrator Gideon Summerfield has been working on a new project of creating pencil portraits of Holocaust Survivors called The Legacy of Survival which he complted in time for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps.
'THE LEGACY OF SURVIVAL' is a new project based on a set of portraits which feature Holocaust survivors with their children or grandchildren. For many years, a number of survivors did not talk to their families about their horrific experiences. The younger generation now know a great deal about what happened but as the years go by, the survivors will not be present to share their stories and it will fall to the next generation and their children to keep the memory alive.
COPYRIGHT: All images are from the Muzeum Auschwitz-Birkenau. Material belonging to the Museum may be used free of charge exclusively for non-commercial and strictly educational purposes, on the condition that its source is indicated in the following form: “”.
An additional condition to which there are absolutely no exceptions is that this material may be used only in undertakings and projects that do not impugn or violate the good name of the victims of Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Tate's BP funding figures revealed - less than expected

Today the Tate was forced to reveal the extent of its sponsorship by BP. Some, like me, were left thinking that its reluctance to reveal the figures was due to fact it was so very much less than people had anticipated.  How cheaply a prestige venue has been bought!

Below I explore the case for sponsorship and why it happens, why there has been an issue about BP's sponsorship

Tate Britain

Sponsorship of the Arts

Sponsorship of the Arts occurs because:
  • individuals genuinely have an enthusiasm for the arts and are well endowed enough to pass on some of their wealth
  • some people like the arts but they like having their name on things even more
  • companies know that their brand is enhanced if it is associated with a prestigious name.
My personal position is that I am all for the sponsorship of the arts so long as the organisations being sponsored extract as much as possible from those who know that their association with an art gallery or museum will enhance their brand and business.

Indeed I regard it as essential that any Director of an art gallery or museum knows the value of its brand and does not give away the chance to be associated with it too easily or too cheaply!

Why is there an issue about BP's sponsorship of the Arts

I'll state my case up front. I really am not in the least bit bothered by BP's sponsorship of art galleries and museums. I'm far more concerned about:
  • fossil fuel companies behaving in a social responsible manner 
  • those trying to repair their reputation paying a fair price to society for the privilege of being associated with a prestigious art gallery or museum which only exists due to generous state support.
Of course I'd rather that energy sources came from renewable sources. However until somebody makes energy consumption from non-fossil fuel a cost effective and efficient proposition for most of the companies and families in the UK (and elsewhere) I don't see much alternative to the continued use of fossil fuels.

That in turn means oil companies will be looking for ways of sanitising their image - and offers a wonderful opportunity for sponsorship - so long as this is at the right price.
Tate is driven by our charitable mission to promote public understanding and enjoyment of British, modern and contemporary art. We could not achieve this without corporate support.  Corporate social responsibility page of the Tate website
In seeking to attract corporate donations and funding agreements, the Tate has to act in the context of its Ethics Policy which means that it needs to consider whether it should accept funds if they
  • Harm Tate’s relationship with other benefactors, partners, visitors or stakeholders;
  • Create unacceptable conflicts of interest;
  • Materially damage the reputation of Tate; or,
  • Detrimentally affect the ability of Tate to fulfil its mission in any other way than is mentioned above.  
I do wonder just how many people are genuinely concerned about BP's sponsorship of the Museum. I recognise the activists are but if the gallery visiting general public were offered better accessibility to art vs give up the sponsorship I wonder which they would choose.

The Freedom of Information Request

An application was made in 2012 by Glen Tarman, an environmental campaigner and an art collective called Liberate Tate using the Freedom of Information Act for the disclosure of the annual
amounts of BP’s sponsorship of Tate over the 23-year period preceding 2012.
Liberate Tate is a network dedicated to taking creative disobedience against Tate until it drops its oil company funding. The network was founded during a workshop in January 2010 on art and activism, commissioned by Tate.
Tate dragged its feet and came up with all sorts of reasons why it should not be made to disclose the figures. It ended up in court.
Tate also admitted to the court that it feared “protests might intensify” if the raw facts of the deal were revealed and that this would present a risk to health and safety, but the Tribunal were “wholly unpersuaded” by this argument. 
Arts Professional - Tate ordered to disclose details of BP sponsorship
On 22nd December the Information Tribunal ruled that the Tate must disclose the BP sponsorship figures from 1990 to 2006 inclusive in the next 35 days - and today was the deadline.  (This is a copy of the Information Tribunal's decision)

Why any public relations function thinks that releasing the figures on the very last day it has to makes an institution look good is quite beyond me! It speaks of 'dragging feet' and 'recalcitrant schoolboys'.

Ar last - the figures!

Anyway, what the figures revealed (and here I have to rely on newspaper reports as the Tate has not deigned to issue a press release!) was that corporate sponsorship funding from BP was
  • c.£150k pa prior to 2000 
  • around £330k pa between 2002 and 2007
  • I took a look at the published Annual Accounts and the latter figures represent approximately 1.8% of the current Annual Income in 2013/14 relating to Consolidated Funds of £178 million (Annual Accounts 2013-14)
I think most people, including me, were expecting rather more given the fuss made about the sponsorship.

There again maybe the fuss about the sponsorship has imbued it with far more importance and status than in fact it was due. It needs to be recognised that the Tate has a very wide ranging set of partnerships and collaborations with corporate sponsors and Patrons - and BP just happens to be one of them.

I also think it's possible that maybe Art Gallery Directors would do well to research the funding figures involved in other sponsorship deals involving other areas of the economy and other prestigious venues. As it happens I used to know know the level of figures involved in some of them and they are way in excess of what BP has been providing to the Tate - although I do understand the BP strategic approach to funding the Arts has been to spread its largesse around.

Comment in the news

Below are the articles which highlighted the issues relating to BP's sponsorship of the Tate published today and previously.

My vote is with The Art Newspaper!

The objective of the release of the information today should not be to say how easy it would be to give up. Quite the reverse - it makes the case for saying there should be an awful lot more funding required to get a corporate sponsor's name on exhibition banners outside a prestige gallery.  

I want Nicholas Serota, Director of the Tate to explain how come BP has provided so little funding for the Tate. Far from the Tate giving it up - I want to see the exposure of the funding provided to provide a stimulus to upping the ante and him going back for more!

Also I think it art museums and galleries need to think very carefully about making corporate sponsorship funding completely open and transparent in their accounts. I don't think this is appropriate for private individuals - but I do think corporate sponsorship of state funded galleries and museums by major corporations and banks should be completely open.

Today's articles

Note that other than the Art Press only one national newspaper picked up the story.

Previous articles


Part of the demonstration outside the National Portrait Gallery
22 June 2010

I witnessed part of the demonstration which took place outside the National Portrait Gallery on the evening of the BP Portrait Award ceremony in June 2010. This came after right after the awful disaster in the Deep Water Horison Spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010

I much prefer the National Portrait Gallery's approach which has seen BP's sponsorship of the Portrait Award, based at the gallery, contribute very significantly to the stimulation of overall visitor numbers over the period of the exhibition (over a period of some 3 months in the summer) and the resulting elevation of the status of the NPG on the world stage.

That seems to me to be a very intelligent use of sponsorship.

At the end of the day, in relation to the Tate, I keep being reminded of the old adage "no publicity is bad publicity" and wonder whether the protestors have rather shot themselves in the foot.  Far from making a case for BP's sponsorship to be eliminated, I think they may well have made a much better case for it to be increased.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Plagiarise at your peril - the Luc Tuymans case

Luc Tuymans was found guilty of plagiarism by a Belgian Court last week. This post examines:
  • the facts and reporting of the case
  • the copying of photographs by artists; and 
  • the use of 'parody' as an exception from the law on copyright in the European Union
  • the importance of country in relation to copyright
  • a key issue relating to freedom of expression and appropriation art; and 
  • an upcoming exhibition by Luc Tuymans in London.

The Tuymans Case 

the article in a Belgian newspaper
De Morgen about the case

Luc Tuymens has been found guilty of plagiarism. 

The Belgian painter is prominent in the contemporary art world (Tate, MOMADavid Zwirmer). He was taken to court by a female photographer Katrijn Van Giel.
  • He had very clearly used her 2010 photograph of politician Jean-Marie Dedecker as a reference for a painting completed in 2011 - A Belgian Politician (2011) - without her consent and without a licence.
  • He lost his case at the civil court in Antwerp. 
  • The Belgian daily, De Morgen, reports that a fine of €500,000 (£384,000 / $580,000) was identified. What's not entirely clear (translation issues!) is whether this relates to any more ‘reproductions’ of Van Giel’s work or whether it relates to whether and where the painting can be exhibited and, consequently, the legal and geographical boundaries of this judgement.  
  • I don't know what sort of award if any award was made to Ms van Giel for the infringement of her copyright. My understanding is that the current state of play is that there is to be a further ruling on whether Tuymans owes Van Giel damages for the plagiarism.  I understand she was asking for an award of $50,000 damages.
  • The painting in question was bought by the American art collector Eric Lefkofsky and can now only be seen online within the context of the many news reports of this case.
  • An appeal against the decision is planned by the artist according to newspaper reports.

Coverage in the press

There have been quite a few articles as a result - but I think some of them are missing the point.
Her lawyer, Dieter Delarue, said that after she discovered the portrait in a catalog she tried for more than a year to discuss it with the artist, who never responded to letters. “When you are a movie producer, if you want to make something based on a book, you contact the author,” Mr. Delarue said. “It’s not so difficult. All artists do that except that Mr. Tuymans feels that this five-minute phone call somehow limits his freedom of expression.” New York Times
The court furthermore considered that Tuymans in bad faith had acted as he himself had stated earlier that the photo of Van Giel was a strong image, which he did not have to change much on. De Morgen
This is the article in the specialist plagiarism blog PlagiarismTodayArtist Luc Tuymans Loses Plagiarism Case, Raises Questions

The overall conclusion is that
  • Tuymans clearly used the photograph but did not have permission to do so - and would not enter into any dialogue with the photographer
  • the court was very clear that his legal argument of 'parody' had no merit, 
  • not all commentators agree with the court - but might well be arguing from an artistic perspective rather than a legal one
  • this case might not be over - there is to be an appeal
  • It might come to represent important case law for other photographers in the EU taking similar action in similar circumstances.

An invitation for other photographers to inspect his back catalogue?

To my mind, the decision in this case in effect calls into question a considerable body of work created from an unlicensed use of a photograph - by Tuymans AND OTHERS.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Holbein: Eye of the Tudors" - Waldemar Januszczak's Culture Show Special tonight

Tonight Holbein: Eye of the Tudors  - Waldemar Januszczak's programme about Holbein - airs on BBC2 tonight at 9pm. It looks at the life and work of Holbein, how he came to paint King Henry VIII and the Tudor Court and the secrets of his paintings.

The BBC has published an article about Holbein on its website Dark arts: Holbein and the court of Henry VIII

[Note: I've removed the BBC video clip - it was coded to open automatically and was driving me crazy every time I opened my blog!]

Here are links to video clips from the programme:

More information about Holbein

Hans Holbein d. J. - Portrait of Thomas Cromwell - WGA11548
Portrait of Thomas Cromwell - painted by Han Holbein

Friday, January 23, 2015

Artes Mundi - A new kind of Art Prize?

Did you know that:
  • the biggest contemporary art prize in the UK is the Artes Mundi - or that it is worth £40,000?
  • that the exhibition is held in Cardiff and not London?
  • the winning piece is called A Complicated Relationship between Heaven and Earth or When We Believe.
  • the £40,000 Prize was won this week by a Chicago based artist and social activist called Theaster Gates....?
Do watch the video, it's a slow start but stick with it.

Artes Mundi 6 Artist Film - Theaster Gates from Artes Mundi on Vimeo.

Here are some facts and some links which tell you about Artes Mundi and this year's shortlist and winner.

Images of Artes Mundi from the Facebook Page
the chap sitting on the podium (top left) is Theaster Gates

Artes Mundi Facts

Whilst there is no single overarching theme, at the heart of Artes Mundi is a desire to present art which directly engages with people's lives and with what it means to be human, exploring social themes from across the globe but which also resonate locally and touch all our lives.
    Theaster Gates' practice includes sculpture, installation, performance and urban interventions that aim to bridge the gap between art and life. He works as an artist, curator, urbanist and facilitator, and his projects attempt to instigate the creation of cultural communities by acting as catalysts for social engagement that leads to political and spatial change.
Works by 10 international artists fill three venues in Cardiff and Penarth in this uneven but fascinating show. It doesn’t get the publicity of the Turner prize, it doesn’t insist on new work, and few of the artists have previously had major UK shows. The Guardian

More information about Theaster Gates

visual artist, social activist, urban planner, musical performer, teacher

Thursday, January 22, 2015

5 tips for artists trying to get a grant

This post is for grant virgins and all those who would like to get better at making grant applications.

A friend asked me to help with a grant application today. She had been made aware of it at very short notice but decided to give it a go. The deadline was 5pm today. As it happened there was far too much to do within the time available. This reminded me of all the very many things you need to do before making a grant application. It struck me that as the deadline passed it might be worth writing down what I know about grant applications.  Plus pass on some links to helpful advice and information online (included after my five tips)

By way of an introduction, I should probably disclose that in my career, for a number of years, I was responsible for assessing many hundreds of grant applications for many £millions of public funding.

I was in fact one of those people that applications have to get past before recommendations are made to the "official body" as to whether a grant application should be granted or not.

This was a long time ago but the basic rules of how to satisfy somebody who hands out public funds never go away.

Much of what I highlight below is targeted at making it to the shortlist.  After all at the end of the day, those who are awarded grants should be those with the best proposals in terms of content. The key is to avoid tripping yourself up and falling over before the final hurdle.

Today, when I was looking at the information provided to applicants for the Visual Arts Grant the first thing I did was look for the answers to the first three tips below.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My book - what happened next

My book published at the beginning of this month. Below I highlight what has happened since publication and the many different countries where you can now find it!

Drawing Sketching 365 Tips and Techniques
My book - with 365 tips and techniques for drawing and sketching
with three different spines, titles and covers for the three different editions of my book
(top) UK (middle) USA (bottom) English edition for Asia
It's still the same book inside the covers!

So what's happened since publication?

A lot! I really very much appreciate:
It is packed choc a bloc with so much information, from how to draw to what to use, how to sharpen a pencil even, and drawings on every page. A feast of sketches you wish you'd done yourself, and not all by Katherine but loads of guest artists, different styles, different materials. I wish I'd had this book at the start of my arty journey. It would have saved a lot of time. Mary Kemp - Why I Love "Sketching 365" by Katherine Tyrrell
This is a specialised and practical anthology of drawing methods and techniques. Focusing on media of all kinds, from pen to pastel, and carbon to crayon, the possibilities are both lavish and simple, splendid and modest, and accompanied by carefully organised tips and guidelines that flow through the pages like a rainbow of ideas yet to be discovered. Coral Guest A New Book by Katherine Tyrrell
It’s a book about drawing, all sorts of drawing, and it will be helpful to anyone who draws, for whatever reason, or anyone who would like to. Organized into 365 points or tips, the book is both encyclopedic and accessible. Tyrrell’s writing style is clear and calm. The lucidity of her text is matched by the excellent design of the book’s interior, which is clean, crisp, and visually balanced. Laura Murphy (on Amazon)
  • Reviews on have all been five stars which is AMAZING!  Only four so far but hopefully more to come as these do make a big difference - as you can see below. On Drawing 365 is currently
    • #2 in the Hot New Releases list of books about Drawing
    • #28 in the Hot New Releases list of books about Art & Photography!!!
    Drawing 365 is #2 in the top new releases in books about drawing on
    • For those living in the rest of the world - Sketching 365 is now also being listed on Amazon (as an English Language book) 
I never thought I'd see my drawing on the book cover in Japan
(I think they probably ought to be listing the "English for Asia" edition!)
  • Many thanks to those who have shared photos of the book in bookshops. I get a really big thrill about these - it's like sending your children out into the world and being surprised where they get to. That's very 'cheesy' I know but I'm not going to lie that's really what it feels like! I absolutely loved it when I got the very first one (in New York - below) from Bernadette Madden. I'm also posting these to Facebook - and now the bookshops are joining in as well! 
    I cannot tell you how weird it feels to know that MY BOOK is in
    Barnes and Noble bookshop at 54th and 3rd in New York City!!!
    Very many thanks to Bernadette Madden for the photo
  • plus, of course, the bookshops have been listing it. All those in the UK will know that getting listed by a chain like WH Smith is a very big deal!  I've even discovered online book sites in Canada, DenmarkEstonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, India, USA and New Zealand which are listing it (even if it is not yet available to order at the latter - presumably they're waiting for stock)!
  • and finally Drawing 365 has been listed on Goodreads
  • The article about my Book on Artists Network
    Drawing Basics: Learn 10 New Habits
    By: Cherie Haas, Online Editor | January 13, 2015
    In terms of Editorial: Last week, my new book - and the headlines of my first 10 tips - were highlightedin an article called Drawing Basics: Learn 10 New Habits by Cherie Haas on the Artists Network. "Drawing Basics" is the title of the first major chapter in my Book - and "Learn Ten New Habits" is the very first section in that chapter.  I decided to start the book by focusing on drawing in terms of behaviour rather than skills - because I really believe it's the habit of drawing and the habits you can develop associated with drawing which really help improve confidence and drawing ability.  However a few other tips can also help too... ;) PLUS There's an interview with me about My Favourite Things in the February edition of "Artists and Illustrators".
Note: My book is one book inside - but it has three different titles, covers and publishers. These are:
  • "Drawing 365" - published on the 1st January in the USA  by North Light Books
  • "Sketching 365" - published on the 8 January in the UK by Apple Press - this blog post provides the list of artists included in the book
  • 365 Hints & Tips for Drawing & Sketching is the English Language version in Asia published by Page One Publishing.

My biggest thank you....

.... has to go to the artists who contributed images to the book

I've started sharing information about who these artists are - and their images - on the book's Facebook page and will be continuing to do for some time to come! Sharing images has been considerably helped by the latest "3 drawings a day for five days" challenge currently viral on Facebook. 

 What I'm very struck by is how different everybody's drawings are. That's very much what the book is about - helping people gain confidence and realise their potential to be their own inner artist - with their own very unique style!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fix mobile usability issues found on.....

Getting an email from Google Webmaster Tools is not something I look forward to.

One that tells me to do something - such as "Fix mobile usability issues found on....." on my portfolio website makes me apprehensive.

So naturally I write a blog post - because a problem shared is a problem halved right?

Plus, it turns out I won't be alone in getting this email.

A couple of blog posts by major search engine commenters indicate Google is initiating a major drive on mobile usability and a lot of people are getting these emails.  See
What we have here is Google reminding these webmasters their sites are not mobile-friendly and issuing a warning that the pages won’t rank well in mobile search.
I'm guessing this is because search queries are now tipping over in favour of ones from mobile devices (ie 50+) so they want everyone up to speed with websites and blogs with fully responsive templates. (I explain these below)

Tackling Mobile Usability

This long blog post looks at:
  • what's happening right now re mobile usability - and why
  • what you might find in your inbox or on your dashboard
  • the advice provided by the Google Webmaster Tools Help Page and other guideline documents online
  • what you now need to do
I recommend you go and get a hot drink - there's lots of things you might want to take a look at if you are concerned with keeping your website and blog accessible by people using mobile devices.

The Google Webmaster Tools email

So this is what the email looked like

Mobile Usability

Google explained back in 2012 why mobile sites were important in a blog post Mobile-friendly sites turn visitors into customers on their Google Mobile Ads blog.

Their focus is on advertisement conversions - however exactly the same principle applies to the sites of artists trying to promote or sell their art.

Monday, January 19, 2015

RA Summer Exhibition 2015: Call for 12,000 entries

How to enter the world's largest open art exhibition

This post is about the entry process for the world's largest open submission art competition - the 2015 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.
  • for those who have not submitted before - and
  • for those who have just forgotten how and need a reminder!
The exhibition showcases painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film.
In 2013, nearly 70% of the exhibits were by non-Academicians, £70,000 worth of prizes was awarded and over 5,000 works were sold.
If you're keen to enter, you'll be disappointed if you are not one of the first 12,000 entries - because they are only accepting that number for the first round of screening.

So avoid being disappointed, as some artists were last year, and DO NOT LEAVE IT TOO LATE to get a form to submit your work!

My view arriving for the preview of the Summer Exhibition in June 2014
they were setting up for the glitzy preview with the celebrities in the evening!

If you're not sure whether or not you want to submit your work, why not check out my review of the Summer Exhibition 2014 at the Royal Academy of Arts - it contains lots of images of the selected art hung on the walls of this enormous exhibition.


The key documents you MUST read are:
I'll try and make sense of these below.  Here's a brief summary of some tips I highlighted last year

Sunday, January 18, 2015

If you don't want your artwork stolen.....

Artists can learn a lot about how to handle copyright issues from photographers. That's because the frequency of copyright infringements in relation to photography is far higher than it is for artwork

This article If you don’t want your photos stolen don’t post them on the internet was written by a very talented photographer based in New Hampshire called Sarah Ann Loreth. The link for her website is in her name and you can also find her work on Flickr.

Sarah Ann Loreth Facebook Album of "borrowed" photos
She has a Facebook album of My photos "borrowed" (only visible if logged into Facebook). If you ever wonder why photographers make a thing out of copyright, just take a look at this Facebook album for a sample of how many times this professional photographer has had her images "borrowed" and used online without credit and without payment.

Until she spots them and sends an invoice.....

Imagine if this was your artwork!

How to deal with copyright infringement

Her article explains what has happened to her photography and how, over time, she has evolved an approach which works for her over time.
When I come across an image being used without payment or permission, I ask myself these questions:
  • Is the person making money off of your image? Have they slapped it on a t-shirt, book cover, or are selling prints?
  • Are they using your image to promote hate or slander?
  • Are they slandering your business?
  • Do they have a big social media following?
  • Are they using your image to market or promote their business?
  • Could going after this person bring a negative outcome to your livelihood?
  • Is the infringement located in a country with similar copyright laws?
  • Is the monetary value worth the energy of the inevitable battle?

How to prevent copyright infringement (and associated 'battles') 

In terms of her tips I'm going to highlight the basic principles below but you need to read the article to understand the reasons why and how to apply them
  • Learn how to Google Reverse Search your images.  This is a link to my website about How to do a reverse image search which you might well find useful
  • Know your rights
  • Watermark your images - this one includes a cunning tip!)
  • Register your images with the Library of Congress or any similar resource in your country - includes a tip for the most cost effective way of doing this
  • Only upload low resolution images to the internet - something I say to people again and again - and also because it makes your website or blog load faster!
  • Add your copyright information into the metadata of your photos - One point worth mentioning here is that many sites strip out the meta data. So in principle a good idea - but you need to know Flickr is one such site.

Thanks to Alison Staite - a friend and another photographer - for highlighting this article to me.

More Information:

These are links to:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2015 - Deadline for entries extended to 20 January

This post is for ALL watercolour painters - wherever you live - who are interested in submitting their watercolour paintings to the Annual Open Competition of the Royal Watercolour Society.

The deadline for entries for the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition 2015 has been extended to noon on Tuesday - so there's still time to organise an entry!

The details of the Call for Entries are summarised below.

I'm really pleased to see they have stopped doing the crazy delivery and collection dates which must have prevented a lot of entries in the past. Now the initial round of submission and selection of entries is all digital that should make a very big difference to the number of people entering.

You can review past posts of past exhibitions in the links at the end of this blog post.

The Basics

  • DEADLINE for entry to the Royal Watercolour Society Contemporary Watercolour Exhibition has been extended to 12 noon on Tuesday 20 January 2015.
  • You must be able to access a computer and the RWS website because:
    • ALL entries are digital 
    • Payment  of entry fees is via the website - entry fee per painting is £14 (free to Full-time students at recognised art schools andWatercolour Artist Friends) 
    • payment must be made BEFORE you can upload a digital file for the painting 
  • You can submit up to three paintings 
    • all of these must be available for sale
    • all paintings must be by the entrant
    • Framed paintings must not exceed 100cm x 100cm
  • UPLOAD: Image File: must not exceed 1MB (minimum of 500KB)
  • SELECTION: A list of paintings selected for the exhibition will be published on the RWS website on Friday 30 January
  • DELIVER: Delivery of framed paintings is to Bankside Gallery (next to Tate Modern) on Sunday 1 or Monday 2 March, 11am-5pm.
  • EXHIBITION: at Bankside Gallery Friday 6 – Wednesday 18 March, 11am-6pm 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

It's been a rollercoaster

Life has its ups and downs - with lots of twists and turns - rather like a rollercoaster.

I normally have a short break at the beginning of the New Year. This year it is complicated by the fact that transfer of my resources for artists sites from one host to another now appears to be unravelling in a major way.

I really have no time for websites which say one thing and then do another. Credibility and trust are important attributes when delivering a service.

I'm now looking to move all my content again so I can regain control over it!  Hence short break in posting and possibly more short breaks in the future.

As a result I am now reviewing options for how and where to put my information sites in future and currently exploring SquareSpace - which does its level best to look like "the Apple of website provision".

In the meantime I'm admiring the roller coaster effect of my brand new whacky wavy wooden box for my new set of 60 LIGHTFAST coloured pencils by Talens Rembrandt.  Talens were one of the original two companies who participated in the coloured pencils lightfastness trials run by the ASTM Subcommittee D01.57 on Artist Paints and Related Materials which produced the Lightfastness Standard for Coloured Pencils and which is currently working on one for Pastels.

I've been banging on about lightfastness for years - and I became a member of that Committee a while back.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The cartoons of 'Je Suis Charlie'

We are now seeing the power of the pencil drawing over the gun.  People are fighting back with their pens and pencils.

Yesterday's terrorist atrocity in Paris has led to an outpouring of new cartoons being posted on Twitter - and pencils and pens being held up at demonstrations or surrounded by lights at vigils - all over the world, in many different countries.

These are images from the Je Suis Charlie demonstration in Trafalgar Square last night.
Here are some of the sites where you can see the cartoons which are being drawn for the murdered cartoonists, journalists and policement who were all doing their job in a country which prizes 'free speech' as an essential attribute of its democracy.

Slate is a French site which is collecting and posting cartoons in response to the events of yesterday as they are published - in Charlie Hebdo: les hommages en dessins aux dessinateurs tués

Some of the cartoons drawn after the massacre at and around the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris on 7th January 2015

Yesterday the Washington Post highlighted has the cartoonists' riposte to the atrocity in Paris in #JeSuisCharlie: Cartoonists react to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris this morning. Lots of cartoons which 'hit the spot'.

The Daily Beast focuses on those cartoons in the newspapers which did not make it on to Twitter in World Cartoonists: Je Suis Charlie (Photos).

Vox has highlighted 12 powerful political cartoons responding to the Charlie Hebdo attack

Here are some of the ORIGINAL tweets - with links to the originators

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.Voltaire

Le Figaro is a French daily newspaper founded in 1826.

Here's the original by Lucille Clerc - a French Graphic designer / Illustrator / Printmaker with a studio near me in East London

Satish Acharya is an Editorial cartoonist in Kundapura (in Udupi, India) who normally cartoons about cricket and Indian politics!

David Pope is a political cartoonist at the The Canberra Times in Australia. He comments in a video here
It's absolutely outrageous that cartoonists should be targeted for drawing pictures

Francisco J. Olea is a Chilean illustrator

Jean Jullien is a French graphic designer currently living in London