Recently I went to a Dodge the Shredder workshop run by Emilia Telese for a-n.co.uk. I can say without a shadow of a doubt this is the best and most effective professional development training I have ever received. At the moment applying for funding is what I need to improve on and get on with doing to keep my practice moving. I need to understand how what I write is read and how to communicate all aspects of my project to different audiences. Looking at a diagram designed to show artists professional pathways reinforced what I know so far from experience. It gave me a set of reference points for making career choices. I have been wanting exaclty this type of structure for a while. The diagram was created by Morris, Hargreaves and Mc Intyre for ACE Tastebuds report, 2004.
The reality of moving my practice on has to contend with the ongoing transition that feels so unprofessional and clunky; from mother to artist, back and forth, often several times a day or worse night! Trying to remain professional and have a clear idea of direction and purpose whilst having my self belief constantly eroded by endless interruption, having to make decisions and juggle priorities, un-equal opportunity to have or develop a career from family and fatigue all of which result in a fuzzy head. A fuzzy head does not write clear and purposeful proposals. Emilia showed me a way of being more purposeful and gave me the tools to achieve it. This is going to make a huge difference to me in the way I think about my work, the way I think about where my practice is heading and just day to day the way I think about planning and working in the here and now. Yay.. this is exciting!
The morning provided good concrete and constructive feedback for my current draft application to the Arts Council helping me to think what to keep, throw out or change and actually has made me review how I write in general.
We then moved onto talking about budgets, this is a big deal for me because I am not comfortable or confident with numbers and it showed me how budgeting fits into the whole philosophy of my practice. I find it very dificult to value myself, my time and work in a monetary way. (which also links into the disturbance I mentioned regarding fuzzy head syndrome and its very real effects on my career) Now I am moving towards making temporary art works and installations it is even more crucial – I think this was key for me as it highlighted the cognitive shift I need to make from viewing funding proposals as opportunities for income in isolation or a one off way; to viewing them as overall projects built on the foundations of an ongoing art practice. Emilia highlighted that it’s preferable to be running with three projects at any one time in order to make a living; easy to say…. but as a general rule of thumb and a work ethic it makes so much sense – this model reinforces for me an ongoing and serious commitment to my professional journey a state of mind even, which is kind of what curators need to see when they are researching new artists. I have to say I thought I knew this already but I feel like the penny had dropped a lot further into the slot.
In order to know what I should be earning and charging all year round I used the a-n.co.uk online artists toolkit where you can work out what your daily rate should be. https://www.a-n.co.uk/resource/the-artists-fees-toolkit It is recognised by industry and it’s important for me to use as a thorough and legitimate apprasial of my costs. I found it quite shocking to do the first time.
One thing that is going to practically help me ‘de fuzz’ my head is the atomic system, https://www.a-n.co.uk/resource/signpost-2. It was developed by Emilia to provide a consistent frame work for planning and writing proposals both for making work in her practice and for funding. It has 8 elements that are connected to your central idea, these elements contain everything that should be considered and this helped me to see how to group together and identify any aspects of the project without doubling up and getting confused. If I can be clear at this stage it is really going to help when I am writing the project up as a proposal.
Understanding this and seeing that I can then apply systematically to several funders made a real difference to me as it takes the pressure off me and the project stands alone alongside or within my practice. Strong, attractive, clear, purposeful and fundable. No fuzz.
Emilia is very good at explaining difficult and confusing subjects clearly and with humour – definitely go to her workshops if they come to a venue near you!
Thank you a-n and thank you Emilia.
….now to apply what I have learned to my rotation installation proposal called ‘revolution and resonance’ and my whole life!