Top 10 Tips for Emerging Artists & Designers from Victoria Browne, KALEID Editions

Central Saint Martins Fountains last night, Designed by Townsend Landscape Architects

Victoria Browne, Founder of KALEID Editions, came to speak to a few of us die-hards who braved the rain and made it to Central Saint Martins last night for a session on funding your artistic practice.

Many thanks to Victoria firstly, and our partners in SEE: Student Enterprise and Employability for helping to organise the talk and for coming and explaining the unique opportunities provided by SEE’s SEED Fund.

We are all apparently obsessed with lists and tips these days. Every now and then at MiAL we like to fall in line so without further ado and in no particular order we thought we should relay the night’s 10 top pieces of wisdom.

Victoria says:

  1. Don’t overspend:
    Keep your overheads as low as possible as this reduces risk and allows you to control your time somewhat. You can do this by being clever about appreciating and exploiting (in a nice way) the resources around you. Keep your rent as low as possible. Particularly in London rent is the killer. Perhaps you need to think a little outside the box on how you get around this one but there are ways and means.
  2. Thank you:
    Always thank your collector(s) for their support in the first instance because they are not buying a work from you solely for their own gratification but also to support you as an emerging artist/ designer. It is not just collectors who are supporting you. Tutors are helping you on a daily basis. People who are in your studio may give you advice and support. Friends and strangers may include you in an exhibition, which requires an enormous amount of energy and resource. Do not take any of this for granted. Everyone, including you, likes to be appreciated and may very well notice if they are not, but definitely will notice if they are!
  1. Don’t be so London-centric:
    There are so many opportunities and exciting exhibitions, residencies and roles for you that may be in a different city or country and they may be easier to get! Get as much diverse experience as possible and learn as much as possible along the way.
  2. There is no magic wand:
    There is no one funding or operational model for an artist/ designer or gallery or collective. There are almost as many models as there are artists and galleries. There is one quite traditional route which is teaching alongside developing and pursuing your creative practice. However, even this model is in flux and there is less security than there has been in the past.
  1. Allow people to access and share your work:
    If you are looking to reach out to a wide audience it is important that your work or the work you champion picks up on universal themes. The public need an avenue through which they can tap into your work. For many this is humour or quirkiness but not by any means exclusively. Allowing your work to be shared is becoming increasingly important. The easier you make it to share your work the more it will be disseminated but it is also important to make it ‘keepable’. For example people are less likely to throw away a book or substantial booklet but are more likely to throw away a press release or invitation.
  2. Accessible price points:
    Allow people to access your work via the price point. This is especially important at the early stage of your career. You cannot expect the prices of an established artist. If all of your work is very expensive you are limiting your market very quickly and perhaps drastically. If you create work and products at different and lower price points you will sell to people who may not otherwise be able to buy. Again Victoria’s specialist interest in artists’ books is directly linked to this way of thinking but books are not the only way. Edition prints, smaller works, posters etc. Use your imagination, think practically, put yourself in a potential customer or collector’s shoes, rather than reaching for the stars desperately and leaving the rest of us behind unable to help you.
  3. Why are you doing what you do?
    Why are you making a book and not a website? Why are you writing a pamphlet and not an app? Who would you like to reach out to and how? Put simply who do you wish your audience to be? Continue to question yourself and your motives and be aware of why it is important to you what you are doing and how it can be important to other people to. This will help you to reach out to other people.
  4. Reach beyond your network:
    Put yourself on a public platform, put yourself on a number of public platforms. There are places that you can showcase your portfolios online, trusted organisations that want to find you and help you be found; open calls for submissions, check out Artquest, register on Axisweb, Showtime for UAL students and graduates…Made in Arts London!
  5. Don’t be afraid to try and fail:
    They say it takes 8 years for a gallery to make a success of itself. What does that even mean? Who defines what a success or failure is. Victoria’s first project spaces saw her use a lot of savings to pay the rent. She did not recoup this but what else did it allow her to achieve and gain; a reputation, invaluable experience, marketing opportunities, new professional networks, collaborations, job offers, the list goes on.
  6. Give people something they don’t expect:
    Everyday we plan our lives, we routine ourselves into functional and dysfunctional comfort zones. The world looks to creatives to interrupt their space and their minds. Allow yourself to truly do this. For Victoria’s first exhibition at KALEID Editions project space she exhibited a large scale paintings by Leigh Clarke exhibited alongside contemporary artists’ books. This was unexpected. It was not something that would shock the pants off anyone but it is an interruption. Embrace your ability to give people something they may never have encountered without you! This is something all of our MiAL artists are very good at, particularly Sarah Fortais, who taking Brecht’s cue, takes nothing of the everyday or mundane for granted:

Lastly, and this one is something that fits into all of the above: GO FOR IT, STOP TALKING AND START DOING!