Top Tips on Applying to MiAL
We’re starting the build up to our Autumn/Winter Collection (with a particularly exciting panel soon to be announced…) and its your chance to become a MiAL Artist!
However, we understand that it can be daunting (not to mention dull) filling out application forms, writing artist bio’s and trying to accurately measure up those pieces of art and design… So we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to applying to MiAL, from how to fill out the online form, to taking the perfect photograph of your work and writing a snappy Artists Statement. Our Top Tips are suitable for every discipline and can be applied to more than just the MiAL submissions form….
Step 1: The Application Form
Yes, as basic as it seems, the area that you are most likely to trip yourself up on is filling in the simplest part of the form. The trick? Read everything through carefully before you begin… We’ve made the form as simple as we can, but here are a few pointers as to where people tend to get confused.
Step 2: Artist Statement/ Bio
Even the most established artists and designers struggle with this one! Many people find it difficult to take a step back from their own work and summarise it concisely and accurately, so here are a few tips on where to get started:
- Keep it short: Although it may feel like this is your one opportunity to explain how your whole life has been leading up to producing this work, it really isn’t. Think of your work as being a novel, and this is the blurb on the back. It should outline your most important themes, who you are as an artist, what inspires you and where you see yourself going, without giving away the whole story. Use this to reel the reader in. People have very short attention spans, so try to aim for roughly 3 paragraphs of 3-5 sentences each, although this is by no means a rigid formula you shouldn’t need much more than that.
- Keep it simple: Really. As minutely as you may have researched the themes within your practice, there’s no point in writing about all those technical details if nobody can understand what you’re going on about. This is an introduction to your work, so it should be welcoming and accessible and most importantly entice the reader to want to know more… (which there will be plenty of time for later.)
- Consider your audience: It is most likely the person reading your Artist Statement will never have met you or your work before, so you need to express yourself with this in mind. A good trick is to draft up your Artist Statement and send it to a friend who is less familiar with your work to see if they can understand it (this is a great opportunity to have your statement proof read for any little mistakes as well).
Have a look at some of these examples from previously selected MiAL artists to get you going:
“Rowenna Mason is an award winning weaver, creating distinctive hand-woven products for
contemporary interiors. She is currently based at the UK’s leading business incubator for
designer-makers, Cockpit Arts.
Rowenna’s fabrics bring together the best of traditional technique, rural materials,
innovative design and urban inspiration. Each piece incorporates colours, geometric
patterns or structures from London’s dynamic city environment. Her vibrant designs
celebrate the heritage of British weaving through contemporary design. Rowenna takes a
fluid and instinctive approach to weaving, pushing the boundaries of the craft to create
Innovative, authentic, modern
All of Rowenna’s monochrome cushions are handwoven using natural undyed British wool.
The varying tones of yarn accentuate three-dimensional patterns, reflecting urban
Rowenna’s love of unique colour palettes can be seen in her colour cushion collections.
Each cushion is handwoven using bright pure new wool, complex weaving and trimmed
with stylish contrast piping.“
“I graduated from London College of Fashion in 2014 having completed a BA Hons in
Fashion Textiles. I specialised in embroidery which sparked a fire in me to continue this
love after graduating.
Since then I have been building my embroidery and illustration brand issayissay.
Inspired by Hip Hop I hand craft each embroidery piece making each product very special
and totally unique. These can come framed, on a cushion or also on apparel (typically I put
them in frames due to the delicate nature) I also design prints and illustrations which I sell
as prints, on cushions, on t shirts and greeting cards. My work is very playful and is not to
be taken seriously, it is meant to be fun.
I’d love to run my own embroidery and print business or be part of a collective where I can
create hand crafted pieces to sell. I currently work full time at LCF and would love to one
day have my embroidery as my full time job.”
Step 3: The nitty gritty
Now comes the fiddly bit, have your tape measure ready, we’re going to explain to you how to list the specifications of your work and come across as an absolute pro!
* A great tip when you’re sending or uploading images of your work anywhere, save the image as the title of the work, along with your name and the dimensions.
eg. ‘An Artwork by MiAL Artist 30 x 10 x 10 cm
This will make you come across as a super organised professional and whoever receives the image at the other end will be truly thankful.
How to measure your work: A seemingly simple task, that can defeat even the most accomplished tape measure user.
2D work: For those of you that produce 2 dimensional work (screen prints, canvases, photographs) you’re in luck, you only need to make two measurements! Width x Height are all you need to concentrate on, although if you plan on selling your work framed (which is by no means compulsory with MiAL) you will also have to list the dimensions of the work framed.
3D work: Slightly more fiddly than 2D work, as you have that extra dimension: Depth. The best way to measure up your 3D work is by imagining a glass box around it, which touches the work at its most extreme points; it is at these points that you would measure your work.
Dimensions are typically written as Height x Width x Depth, but you ever feel uncertain you can always write the order your measurements come in before you list them.
eg. h x w x d = 10 x 12 x 14 cm
Pricing your work: This can be an intimidating and interesting exploration of self worth for an artist at any stage in their career. So here are our top tips to make sure you’re not pricing yourself out of the market, while keeping yourself financially afloat!
A general rule is as follows:
(hours + materials) x 1.3 = wholesale price
With this equations you are charging for the number of hours you spent creating the work at your hourly rate, adding this to the cost of the materials used and then adding an extra 30% of this total to cover the extra costs you may incur (packaging, studio rental and overheads etc) This will be your basic rate, and you may need to increase it to be able to accommodate commission taken from a gallery or stockist (on the MiAL submission form we only ask you for your basic rate, but other galleries or stockists may ask you for the price including their commission)
If you’re unhappy with the price you’ve come up with it is worth researching existing artists and designers with similar work to judge what you should be charging (although bear in mind that as an emerging talent, you may not be able to charge prices quite as high as those just yet!)
Make sure you also research the cost of posting your work, try packaging your work up and then weighing it, you will then be able to enter the weight into postal websites to find out the cost of delivery (or you can always venture down to the Post Office to get a quote form them). Most of MiALs customers are based with the UK, but don’t forget to also find out the cost of posting overseas (the rates will vary between Europe and the rest of the world) If you’re work is on a much larger scale, you may find that you will have to research couriers instead.
Edition Size: This indicates how many times you have or plan to repeat creating the piece of work you are submitting. For a painter this will almost certainly be once, making the piece an original, but you may wish to produce a set number of prints of the same painting, which would be limited editions. As a product designer you may be willing to keep reproducing your product infinitely. This is known as an open edition.
ORIGINAL: One of piece of work, never to be repeated
LIMITED EDITION: Only a few of these will be made, and once they’re sold, they’re gone e.g limited edition of 20
OPEN EDITION: You will continue to make the work for as long as it continues to sell.
Photographing Your Work: Finally, the most crucial bit! Including images of the work itself! This is your moment to really shine. After trawling through all that other (vitally important information) you are about to unleash your talents on the MiAL panel!! So here are the most important things to consider when photographing your work:
- Lighting: If there is one thing that can let you down when you’re photographing, its lighting. You can have the perfect composition, the best camera there is, but if you don’t have that magic ingredient of the right light, it’s barely worth it. Make sure that your whites are bright and the rest of your colour’s lie in place accurately alongside them. Watch out for glare or reflections. Most people work in digital these days and touch ups can be made later on, but save yourself a huge amount of time and energy and try and get it as right as you can first time. You don’t need a fancy photography studio either, natural light on a good day can give you the best effects.
- Situation: Having a straight on photograph of your incredible painting is perfect. You need to be showing an accurate representation of it for the MiAL panel to get a good idea of what they’re choosing, but why not include some images of it on the wall? Its always great to show what situation you see your work being featured in, so for paintings that means hanging it somewhere, for jewellery and clothes that means styling it on the body. In particular, if you’re planning on framing a print include an image of it framed. Simple but smart.A picture really does say a thousand words, so let your work speak for itself! You’ll be surprised how much of your personality and professional branding comes through in these kind of shots…
- The Little Details: We’ve been saying it all along… its all in the detail! Include details of your work. These are the little things that count and will build you into a success. You may think there are no details in your work, but that’s simply not true. It may be the signature on your limited edition print, the clasp on your piece of jewellery the texture on your sculpture… Consider the parts of your work that would be lost in a larger image, then zoom in and include those too.
You’re finished!! After all of that, don’t forget to get your submission in by the deadline: midnight Sunday 4th October 2016