Tuesday 19: Networks, opportunities and presenting yourself as an artist

Today we were fortunate enough to hear from Liverpool-based artist Emily Speed. Emily kindly shared her personal experiences as an artist and how she has sourced opportunities for herself, in particular her accomplishments as an artist-in-residence at venues both in the UK and abroad.

Emily Speed’s advice…

Emily pointed out that how you go about doing things as an artist is important. How do the opportunities you are looking at  relate to your artwork? How opportunities are sourced or the kind of opportunities you wish to pursue will vary according to your needs and desires as an individual.

Think about…

  • What do you want to do?
  • What suits you and your practice?
  • What may push you or challenge you?
  • Are you ready?
  • Do you need/want a break before continuing with your art?

Pick and choose what you do – don’t try to do everything. Things that aren’t paid are sometimes worthwhile, although, if people want to work with you they should support you.

  • What do you want to do?
  • How are you going to get seen?
  • What do you need to make your work better?
  • What kind of artist do you want to be and how are you going to get there?

Look at other artists – find someone you have a real affinity with. Have a good look at their CV and see what shows/residencies etc they have done to get where they are now. Other artists can be a good path to follow.

Proposal writing

  • VERY IMPORTANT – Tailor each proposal to the specific space or city or site that you are interested in. Do not simply send out a ’round robin’, impersonal proposal. Galleries will not be interested.
  • Remember to include an image list with your proposal – a table format with the following headings is best: Thumbnail|Title of Work|Size| Date|Medium


  • Make sure you will have enough money to live off before applying.
  • Whilst on your residency, talk to other artists, get to know the city/place and make new connections – these could lead onto your next collaboration, show, or project.
  • Always ask for the things you need! (If you don’t ask, you don’t get!) Larger institutions or galleries may have a budget for publications etc.

Getting work in the arts

Many jobs in Liverpool are through word-of-mouth. Go to picnics, talks, keep in touch with what is going on in your city – there may be a hidden jobs market you don’t know about. If you are engaged, active and involved, then you will be aware of these opportunities.

Emily found work as a writer through the a-n Artists Talking when she started her blog Getting Paid. Through this work she has made many new connections with other artists, curators and galleries.

Education in Galleries

  • Shadow someone, no right way to learn how to do it.
  • Get a CRB check etc.
  • Quite well paid.
  • If they see you in action they will likely hire you.
  • Get experience first.
  • One-off gallery workshops. Etc.



Below is the MANIFESTO from the workshop Modes of Practice in an Age of Austerity, which Emily co-delivered in 2011:

Manifesto: Modes of Practice

1. Be Active: Support Each-other.
2. Be Active: Be an Activist.
3. Be Active: Be an Artist.
4. Value Yourself, Your Time and Your Skills.
5. Share Your Knowledge and Resources.
6. Focus, Strategise and Plan.
7. Be Critical – Be Fair.
8. Know Your Rights.


Our second guest of the day, Simona Dell-Agli from Artquest, speaks about social networking sites…


  • We provide the advice and practical support artists need, when they need it.
  • We respond to the changing visual arts and wider landscape and working practices.
  • We work with artists practicing for any length of time, and working in any medium
  • We maintain a 2000+ page website of articles, film, audio, listing and care studies.
  • Art Law also available on Artquest –  Archive of arts-related legal articles originally published in Art Monthly magazine.


  • join the conversation
  • share the knowledge/info/wit
  • become part of a network
  • Keep up to date
  • Follow people/organisations you are interested in
  • No hard selling – soft selling only!
  • Tweets at events (12, 680 people reached via 23 twitterers)

How to start?

  • Create your profile – does not have to be your full name
  • Add interesting photo
  • Decide what you are interested in
  • Look for profiles of related organisations
  • Follow them – you can always unfollow later
  • Re-tweet an interesting tweet
  • Write a Tweet using #
  • Write a Tweet using @
  • Reply or comment someone else has tweeted
  • Repeat…
  • Should be tweeting at least once a day – don’t start until you’re ready to use the platform properly.
  • TweetDeck HootSuite – open Twitter using these to make viewing easier.
  • #ArtOpps – type this into search on Twitter and you can see arts-related opportunities


  • Takes retro looking pictures – share them
  • Great platform for sharing on Instagram blog site
  • Public outcry for change of T&C
  • Is it useful for artists? Your opinion?
  • Might be good for photographers
  • Instagram users take around 40million photos per day

Success Stories

  • (Following the London riots of 2011) The fightback has been co-ordinated by the Twitter campaign #riotcleanup, launched by Dan Thompson and Sophie Collard, two strangers who were united by a shared sense of outrage at the scenes of devastation.
  • TweetReach for #artistsworth
  • 100 audience, 25 twitterers
  • 12, 680 people reached via 50 tweets
  • Gideon Mendel – “While photographing the flooding in Nigeria, I was truly surprised to find that the images that I was sending out every day received a huge amount of attention to an international crisis that had been virtually ignored by the global media. Some of them were re-tweeted more that thirty times so reached a massive audience. The Instagram images were then featured in a BBC web presentation.”

The Bad News

People may steal your photos!


  • Line between Private and Professional is blurred
  • Useful to promote shows & events
  • Is a Facebook page professional enough?
  • Widely used and very international…but losing users as well
  • Useful promotion tool for organizations, artists groups
  • Is it on the wane? Worth starting now?
  • Time-consuming
  • Graph Search to be launched, even easier to search your information (privacy?)

If already a professional Facebook user, be sure to keep an eye on your stats. Doing so will help you keep track of who’s looking at your work and may help build future connections.


Be aware that when you upload images of your work onto Facebook, you are automatically giving Facebook the right to use your images in any way they please. Take a look at this article from www.own-it.org for more info.


  • A little late? Innovation a few years ago
  • Projects NOT art?
  • You need a momentum to keep it interesting
  • A-n.co.uk – Artists Talking – providing an audience (Emily Speed’s blog ‘Getting paid’)
  • A blog linked to your website – projects/news/odd bits
  • Might be more useful to provide content to more established blogs
  • Research blogs that might be interested in your art/projects

A good example of an artist blog: Rosalind Davis MA RCA

If you land a blog on a-n Artists Newsletter, you’re guaranteed audience


How to get money – small amounts of money from a lot of people. Rather than large grants from governing boards, etc.


Marc Wilson is a commercial photographer who often uses crowdfunding, predominantly through Twitter. And he always thanks new followers!


  • What is protected by copyright?
  • Who owns it?
  • How long for?
  • How do you register it?
  • Ideas are not protected – it has to be concrete! You have to make it!
  • Terms & Conditions – who reads them?

IMPORTANT – Always read ALL the T&Cs before applying for any residencies, competitions, or any other opportunity. They may not be as worth while as they first appear!



Visit Artquest for advice on how to go about creating your Artist CV.


Watch this useful video for advice on Social Media for Artists.

Artquest also has helpful info on using mailing lists and social networking sites.



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