Tag Archives: Workshop

Magnum Photography – Financing Personal Projects – Nicola Shipley

Nicola Shipley Director, GRAIN Projects, Curator

Nicola Shipley works as a Producer, Curator, Project Manager, Mentor and Consultant, specialising in photography. She is Director of GRAIN Projects, based in Birmingham UK, delivering a range of projects, commissions and exhibitions in collaboration with photographers. She trained as an art historian, has an MA in History of Art, and a background in the visual arts, including in commissioning, exhibitions, collections, public art, artists education and professional development.

Nicola works with organisations looking to apply for funding from organisations such as the arts council. Her talk was aimed to provide the group with guidance on sources of funding plus advise on the funding process itself.

Nicola initially walked through the different sources of funding that include Arts Council, Trusts, Companies and other bodies. She explained that certain types of funding are not open to individuals yet if you establish a relationship with an organisation, they can apply on your behalf.

Many grants stipulate or expect a level of matched funding that can be as low as 10% of the funding requested. Though the matched funding does not need to be money and in kind support. Big corporations are setting up funding schemes as part of their corporate social responsibility agenda.

Alongside the Arts Council there is Heritage Lottery funding that is less difficult to secure than Arts Council funding. When applying they are looking for information on the audience for the work and how you intend to engage with that audience. There are grants available for developing your practice if you can justify why certain skills need to be acquired as part of your project.

Only 10% of grant applications are successful. Project applications are more successful if they do not last longer than 12 months and the project can not start prior to the grant being awarded. Though some level of research is likely to be required to document the project and its objectives.

Applications for the Arts Council and a number of other funding applications take place on Grantium. Registration on the system can take up to 3 weeks therefore it is important to allow sufficient time for that step of the process. Once you have established a track record you are more likely to be successful with subsequent applications. To apply as a collective you need to have a written governing document and a bank account.

Nicola suggested that the Arts Council funding template is a good starting point for any application as most funding bodies will be looking for similar information. Given the importance of audiences in arts outcomes Nicola suggested that it is important to look at research into audience development that in many cases can be found on the funding organisations website.

Evaluation of funding applications are a mix of quantitive and qualitative assessments. Many applications fail because things like budgets do not balance or sections of the application have not been completed. Budgets are expected to include payment for the artist. The budget should include estimates for time provided by consultants/experts even if their time is provided in kind rather than expensed. Funding applications should not include capital items as the benefit should relate to the specific project. For UK applications it takes about 6 weeks to get a response to your application within a funding round. Applications can be resubmitted but should be adjusted before being resubmitted. Some funding sources have a limit on the number of time that you can submit a specific funding application.

Nicola suggested partnering with someone who has experience of successfully securing funding to avoid making simple errors that can cause an application to get rejected plus it helps establish credibility. Other tips include making sure you do not start the project before funding is awarded and structuring the project into phases if it is going to last longer than 12 months. It is also advisable to request smaller levels of funding until your track record is established.

Magnum Photography – Financing Personal Projects – Fiona Rogers

Fiona Rogers Global Director Business Development, Magnum Photos, Founder, Firecracker

Fiona Rogers has worked at Magnum Photos since 2005 and is currently the Global Business Development Manager. Her responsibilities include Magnum’s strategic partnerships, brand exposure and new revenue streams. Prior to this she was the Cultural & Education Manager, founding Magnum’s educational department in 2007. She established Firecraker in 2011, a platform to support women in photography through online features, events and grants. Prior to Magnum, Fiona was employed at a popular London gallery and studied BA Arts Media at the University for the Creative Arts in Surrey. She holds a postgraduate certificate from the London College of Communication in Creative Enterprise Management.

The traditional economic model of photography has changed with the reduction in commissions paid for documentary photography which as core the Magnum’s financial model. This has required Magnum to shift its economic model with the introduction of a new platform. Magnum publish different stories and at the end of the story provide links to purchase items related to the story. The strategy relies on a content first strategy and then a conversion process that generates revenue based on the story. Magnum have a strong social media following and use that amplify the awareness of stories via their social media channels.

Be a thought Leader

To stand out in the photographic community it is important to become a thought leader however there are people who do thought leadership badly and other who do it well. Fiona suggested that though Joe McNally portrays himself as a thought leader in reality he editorial work is more about self-publicity. In contrast she suggest Danielle Zalcman and her Women Photography site was a good example of an individual who is promoting women photographers more generally and therefore is acting as a thought leader.

Safety in Numbers

We traditionally view photography as a very solitary activity yet Fiona suggested that by banding together photographers can become stronger and as a result amplify their message. An example of this is the project Postcards from America (2012) where Alec Soth and a number of other photographers brought a camper an a toured America arranging local shows and they funded the project by people purchasing postcards that photographers would send to the individuals funding their project.

 Do something interesting

If you want your personal projects to get noticed then a novel or interesting way of promoting your work can help get your project funded. Fiona gave Naomi Harris’ project EUSA as an example of innovative funding. The project explored America themed placed in Europe and European themed places in the USA. Naomi then dressed up in different outfits to promote her project via a successful kickstarter campaign. Using social media to help promote your campaign can drive a following however people now expect high quality campaigns so it requires a plan with strong execution.

Fiona spent some time to explore some other photographers. The first example was the work of Anastasia Lynd which was an original take on the conflict in Ukraine. Her project was funded by sending a postcard from a person killed in the Ukrainian Conflict to fund her project into the subject. Chris (Magnum Photographer) undertook a project on diversity as it is said that London has representatives of every nationality.

Get a second job

Having a second job can help fund your personal projects as getting funding is not easy to secure. Alice Tomlinson is an example of photographer who works as a wedding photographer which helps fund personal projects.


Collaborate with friends who have other skills such as if you are not a creative writer collaborate with a writer.

Create a call to action share a teaser of your work to get people interested in seeing the show.

Applying to open calls and grants can be a great way to gain visibility especially if the people judging the open call are people you respect.

Fiona recommended Instagram as the best social platform for photographers to share work as there are organisations commissioning work directly from Instagram. Fiona did share a note of caution with Kickstarter as she felt the platform has evolved and people expect to receive a physical product as a result of their funding your project.


Fiona’s key message is

  • Be patient
  • Be dedicated
  • Be committed

Magnum Photography – Financing Personal Projects – Antoine d’Agata

Antoine d’Agata MAGNUM Photographer

Born in Marseille, Antoine d’Agata left France in 1983 and remained overseas for the next ten years. Finding himself in New York in 1990, he pursued an interest in photography by taking courses at the International Center of Photography, where his teachers included Larry Clark and Nan Goldin. For his first books of photographs, De Mala Muerte and Male Noche, d’Agata travelled the world to document characters of the night’s further edges: prostitutes, addicts, war-torn communities and homeless. The books were published in 1998. In 2001, he published Hometown and won the Niépce Prize for young photographers. Compiling intimate and provocative images, the book focused on his travels in France and personal journey. Traveling around the world, documenting his personal experiences and encounters, d’Agata continued to publish regularly: Vortex and Insomnia appeared in 2003, accompanying his exhibition 1001 Nuits, which opened in Paris in September. His latest book, CODEX, Mexico 1986 – 2016 was published in 2017 by Editorial RM.

Antoine d’Agata is a Magnum Photographer who explores the world of drugs, sex, fear and addiction. For many people his work is controversial partly due to the subject matter and the fact many might perceive that he is exploiting vulnerable people on the fringe. Antoine explains it differently that he is photographing people that he has got to know from the world of night and he is opening a door on this world with the agreement of all participants. This is a world where Antoine frees himself from thinking entering a state of flow. In many cases he is no longer the photographer instead asking others to take photographs of himself and the women in his life.

Antoine created a short video of the images which he shows. There is a continuous beat to the music it reminds me of a heart beat that is raised drawing us into the visual experience. Image of sex and drugs are interleaved. Sometimes single images other times there are 60 or 100 images as strips on a page.

Antoine talks about his work in terms of night and day. He has a desire not to contaminate his work with the experience. He immerses himself into the world of night when making work. He describes the creation of books as a way for moving forward. (Reflection: I feel this is a short of unloading of experiences, to free his mind to allow  immerse himself into a new set of experiences where he pushes himself to the boundary and maybe sometimes beyond.)

He reflects that photography helps define your position in life. Photography is exciting due to the development of new techniques yet it is dangerous  because of the ways it is used. The night world is free of controls while the day is more frightening because of the way images are being controlled similar to the way people have been controlled by religion or politics or economy.

He recognises that he has become associated with blurred images as result of the techniques and strategies used to capture the images. Now he is looking to transform his image making to react again those old strategies, developing new strategies that allow him to capture the intensity of the dark side of the world.

He views his work is a challenge to society and the overall system:

  • Girls are speaking about their life of sex, drugs, violence, self harm.
  • The work has helped some of the girls to step out of the night world
  • He has published 45 books yet each book has been published with different publishers.
  • He exhibits concern that others in the industry, publishers, agents, editors are exploiting photographers.
  • He says that photographers should look to use the system and not get used by the system. Generally he feels we give up too much to get into the system.

Magnum Photography – Financing Personal Projects – Harry Hardie

Lecturer, London College of Communication & University of Westminster, Co-Founder & Director, Herepress

Harry Hardie is a Lecturer in photography at LCC and the University of Westminster. He co-founded and is Director of Here Press – an award-winning book publisher dedicated to exploring new and unconventional forms of documentary photography in book form. Previously Harry was director of HOST Gallery, a London-based photojournalism and documentary photography gallery exhibiting everything from classical black and white reportage to contemporary mixed media. Harry also worked at the Times for a number of years, starting as the assistant to the Director of Photography before becoming Photo Editor for The Times LUXX lifestyle magazine.

Harry provided his perspective on publication of work and started his talk by using a number of quotes to illustrate his point of view.

Robert Capa “If you pictures are not good enough you are not close enough”

Todd “If your pictures are not good enough you are not reading enough”

He felt that what these two quotes are trying to say is that you have not invested enough in your project either emotionally or through research.

Harry proceeded to explain how a quote from Life Magazine was his initial view on the reasons behind Herepress’ mission however more recently he feels that a quote by Nicolas Rothwell better describes what he and his partner are looking to achieve.

He explained in his opinion Photography and Design are bedfellows where bad design can ruin a photographic concept however great design can help support a weaker set of images. Photography is the language while design in the accent used.

There are four pillars to a well executed project:

  • Content
  • Concept
  • Design
  • Dissemination

Harry proceeded to illustrate his point by examining a number of photographers and their projects.

  • Natasha Caruara was the first photographer he discussed looking at a number of different projects. The first was a project related to people selling their wedding dresses on eBay. They had used images from their wedding to illustrate how the dress looked while using different techniques to hide the face of the bride or in many cases the couple. The project asks many questions about how much those people valued their wedding day. Natasha had worked with Harry on a second project where she had dated married men from a website while secretly filming and recording the events that took place on the date. Harry felt their was a common theme running through Natasha’s work that relates to relationships however there is an element of deceit in these two projects. Harry asked Natasha about the sources for her projects. Many of the ideas for her projects come from the short 1in by 1in stories that are published in the Metro and Evening Standard. In fact she has a folder of clipping each of which could be the idea for a project after conducting further research into the subject.
  • Ben Roberts was the second photographer and Harry highlighted Ben’s project based on the Occupy Movement which was a reaction to an article in the Daily Mail that suggested the occupy movement was initiated by middle class people who had pitched the tents yet went home to their suburban beds to sleep at night. Ben got permission to photograph the inside of the tents while asking that the tents were empty when he took the photographs therefore turning the Daily Mail story on its head. The project was published as a magazine to align with the culture of the people who were part of the movement.
  • The next photographer was Edmund Clark (who I have referenced a number of times through my CRJ). Harry talked about the Control Order House project and the creation of the book. He explained that Control Orders were a form of detention with agreed terms that if broken by the person subject to the Control Order would result in them being charged with terrorist activities. Edmund negotiated with the Home Office to spend time working in one of the houses used for Control Orders though after a few days the Home Office informed Clark his stay at the property had been approved in error and he had to leave immediately. When the reviewed the images they realised that none of them was any good to tell the story. Through careful design they managed to combine the images with details of a control order that tells a story of these anonymous places of detention that that could any suburban house.
  • A book by Jason Lazarus was a series of images that tell the story of who introduced you to the band Nivarna. Harry explained how the book was designed to ensure that it would not just be read once and then discarded. Images from different people were allowed to bleed across pages to knitting images together.  The images were numbered and the text was placed at the back of the book similar to the positioning of lyrics in an album. (Reflection: A clever use of design to introduced additional layers of reference to the book.)

Harry provided a few closing comments on the publication of books:

Hardback books do not mean better books instead you should decide if a hard cover fits in with the concept for the book.

When pitching a book to a publisher there are two sentences that you should have in your head.

  • What is the project about?
  • What do the pictures communicate?

In a pitch you can you use a few pretentious words that will help capture the imagination.

Harry explained that HerePress find projects that are not fully formed interesting because they represent a chance fo the publisher to contribute on the project. HerePress are moving away from pure photobooks towards that have more text. HerePress have a reputation of getting good press coverage for their books yet press coverage in a broadsheet does not necessarily translate into book sales.

Phil Rylance – Magnum Workshop

Phil Rylance Creative Art Director, JWT

Originally from Warrington Lancashire (now Cheshire), Phil Rylance attended Secondary Technical school, a peculiar Northern experiment, then a foundation year at Warrington Art School before moving on to the BA Hons Graphic Design course in Liverpool. He began a successful career in advertising after moving to London and has achieved the highest honours worldwide for his creativity, He has produced many campaigns including the much lauded Creature Comforts commercials and at one point was personally responsible for making Le Coq Sportif the biggest selling poster range at the Athena stores. Ideas are his passion, and most importantly – experience has taught him that idea led content never seems to go out of fashion.

Phil’s talk focused on his part of the creative process and how that relates to the role of the photographer. He started his presentation by describing his views on the creative process. To work in advertising you need to have curiosity and creativity in equal measures which needs to be discovered and developed over time. To understand the subject that is part of the campaign speaking to experts in the field can provide useful insights that can be incorporated into the creative process. Creative will form working groups that create the concepts that will be submitted to the Creative Director for approval.

Phil stated there are three key rules to successfully shooting a campaign.

  • Rule 1: Shoot the layout
  • Rule 2: See Rule 1
  • Rule 3: See Rule 2

If as a photographer you have better ideas than the proposed layout only suggest those ideas once the layout has been successfully shoot as the layout is the proposal that was approved by all parties prior to going on set.

Phil provided the group with a number of stories from his times of going on set. One story was a shoot with Peter Turnley for a Coca Cola campaign where they travelled around Paris looking for people drinking Coca Cola. The Producer travelled with a bag of Dollar Bills to pay each person $100 dollars for the image and to get a model release form signed. During that specific shoot they shoot 82,000 images.

He described a shoot with Land Rover where they took a new model into the studio and then shoot the vehicle from every possible angle to determine the best possible angles for shooting the car on location. Though typically cars look good from the front and rear 3 quarters which is why so many car images are shoot from those positions. Most car images are heavy in terms of compositing to get the car light perfectly.  In car advertising today they is heavy use of CGI however that can still go wrong because cars get light from multiple angles and there is no longer a coherent light source.

The next story was about a Land Rover shoot in Namibia where the images contained a Freelander and a Cheetah the images were created in-camera to as it was the best way to achieve continuity.

When approaching agents recognise agents start of by following them on social media if they have a social media presence as it gives insight into the type of work they are producing. There is a hierarchy of agents who work for different levels of clients.

If you want to pitch work to art buyers and agents build up bodies of work that relate to products where you have an interest.

  • Shoot a series of images for the product (i.e. 3 images)
  • If you have never shoot a car before get a car assistant to help you on a shoot
  • If you have never shoot fashion before then get a stylist to help you

Reflection: The key takeaways from Phil’s talk are the need to shoot what has previously agreed with the creatives and the art buyer even though you might realise on the shoot that a better outcome is possible. Once the layout is in the can then suggest alternative strategies if time permits. The other key message was as a photographer you are there to create better images than the ones that are available from stock agencies.

Jonas Bendiksen – Magnum Talk

Jonas Bendiksen MAGNUM Photographer

Jonas Bendiksen is Norwegian and was born in 1977. He began his career at the age of 19 as an intern at Magnum’s London office, before leaving for Russia to pursue his own work as a photojournalist. Throughout the several years he spent there, Bendiksen photographed stories from the fringes of the former Soviet Union, a project that was published as the book Satellites (2006). In Russia and elsewhere, he often focuses on isolated communities and enclaves. In 2005, with a grant from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, he started working on The Places We Live, a project on the growth of urban slums across the world, which combines still photography, projections, and voice recordings to create three-dimensional installations. Bendiksen has received numerous awards, including the 2003 Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, New York, and second place in the Daily Life Stories for World Press Photo, as well as first prize in the Pictures of the Year International Awards. His editorial clients include National Geographic, Geo, Newsweek, The Independent on Sunday Review, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Telegraph Magazine, and The Rockefeller Foundation.

He was a Magnum Intern which provided him with a small bursary that he used to find help fund a project in Siberia which ended up lasting for 7 years. He pitched the project to magazines. The work was about unofficial satellite states that got created in Siberia following the breakup of the Soviet Union. Each state created its own currency and governments that did not have official recognition.

The next project was called places we live and was a story about urban slums which are the fastest growing habitat occupied by humans. Jonas describes his photography as storytelling and he feels that is grounded in his personal practice and crosses over into his commercial practice.

His most recent project is titled ‘Last Testament’ is a story about 7 men who have legitimate claims to being the new messiah (the second coming) and required him to visit different parts of the world to create the body of work.

Jonas approaches all work in the same way and commercial work informs other work. There are different modus operandi that require the use of different skills and build on each other.

Jonas described a number of his different commercial assignments that play to things that he enjoys in life.

Red Bull commission a lot of outdoor action orientated campaigns. Jonas describe these as tough guy imagery such as the Search and Rescue teams from his native Norway.

The next project was a campaign for Land Rover that was conceived as a photographic road trip that captured the vehicle in situations that play to the features of the vehicle. The campaign involved bringing multiple elements together including video of Jonas. Overall the project is aligned to the brand values of Land Rover.

The final project Jonas discussed was a campaign shoot for HSBC in Shanghai where the imagery would be used in HSBC communication with Chinese clients.

Reflection: Review the above narrative I can see how Jonas  is a good example of a photographer who combines art and commercial practices together where each informs each other. Combing the two would be for me an ideal strategy for my own photographic practice however I want to combine it with a third element which my current career in Financial Services.

Sarah Thomson – Magnum Talk

Sarah Thomson Head of Art Production, One Unilever at Ogilvy

Sarah is Head of Art Production at One Unilever at Ogilvy in London. Prior to this she was Head of Art Production at Fallon and an Art Buyer at DDB London and AMV BBDO. Before working as an Art Buyer, Sarah was Gallery Manager at the Zelda Cheatle Gallery, and worked for Nadav Kander and Photographer’s Agent, Catherine Collins. She has judged numerous Photography and Illustration Awards, and advised, talked and contributed to various books on the subject of advertising, photography and illustration.

I made a series of notes from Sarah’s presentation . which are recorded below:

During the first part of Sarah’s talk she discussed the importance of the photographer having a clear definition of who they are:

  • What genre of photography is your area of focus
  • Can you articulate your personal vision photographically
  • All show your best work
  • Show work that defines you as a photographer
  • Include that show how you work (behind the scenes)
  • Put your main themes at the front
  • Other work can be included as thumbnails at the back

Reflection: Based on my current project I view myself as a visual storyteller who uses the landscape a the backdrop to those stories. Though I have lifestyle and portrait images in my portfolio.

Creating a Portfolio

  • When creating a portfolio only show your best work better to have 20 strong images than 30 images of average quality.
  • Take an iPad to show moving images. In the evolving world of commercial photography it is now important to show a creative capability for moving images.
  • Personal projects can help underpin a commercial practice with many professional photographers combining both

Reflection: My current portfolio does not include moving image clips to show work I have created in video format in the past. i should review some of my video footage and if I conclude the work is strong enough I could create a short show real from that work.

How to get going?

  • Stay passionate about your work
  • Keep you website up to date
  • When you take a assignment consider the commercial benefits beyond that specific assignment. If it will complement your portfolio and allow you to take on bigger jobs it might make sense to accept the assignment at a lower rate than your normal rate.
  • Ensure you are comfortable you can deliver on the day for any commercial assignments

Stay Visible

  • Pitch work
  • Use social media: Blog, Tweet (link and reference members of your team)
  • Use creative networks
  • Enter competitions

Reflection: I am actively posting images on social media and I am entering competitions on a regular basis so I certainly ticking a number of boxes within this space. What I need to consider is more networking activities and working on building a team for commercial work though this is probably something which needs to take a back seat until after the MA.

Get Noticed

  • Remain focused on your work and don’t get sidetracked


  • Contact people via email initially, Use LinkedIn
  • Email to arrange a meeting
  • Research sources: AoP, Campaign, FileFx
  • Search advertising credits to find names of Art Buyer, Art Producers, Integrated Producers (today the role of identify photographers for a campaign is done by a number of different roles.)
  • Take cards when meeting art directors as they provide a visual memory to your work.
  • Consider using MOO custom cards that allow you to put multiple images on business cards
  • Create an on-line version for those who want a digital version
  • Once you have a contact create a newsletter to keep contacts up to date on your work

Reflection : I have business cards and when I introduced myself to Simon Roberts and Edmund Clark i handed them samples of my work to create a visual connection.


  • For some people having an Agent to represent you can reduce the time spent on developing and following up on leads
  • Use an Agent to secure introductions and expand your contacts list
  • Even having an agent on your side it is important to stay in contact with them and ensure they are continuing to work for you
  • At the start of the engagement agree the commission percentage for securing commissions
  • Provide them with up to date work to make their task of securing work easier
  • Make older work visible as this could also be a source of commissions

Reflection: Based on m y strategy of operating a commercial practice alongside my current employment engaging an agent might be a useful strategy to allow me to focus on the creation of work rather than following up on leads.


  • Build a production team so that when you undertake bigger commercial projects you have a team you can call upon to ensure you are able to deliver the required project

Working to a creative brief

  • Show layouts so that creative understand how you will interpret the brief
  • Take responsibility for the brief
  • Read all the details of the brief to ensure you have correctly understood the brief
  • Speak to the creatives who are likely to have spent months working on the brief
  • Learn about the brand and its values to ensure the brief is interpreted correctly and will reduce the risk of going against established brand rules
  • Explain how you plan to shoot the job. This provides to the creatives that you have understood the brief
  • Stay calm and evolve with the brief
  • Stay within the overall budget

How to work with Creatives?

  • Be collaborative after all it’s a team deal
  • Shared responsibility with the creative
  • Contact with the end client is likely to be via the Art Producer

Pre-Production Meeting

  • Check all of the details with in the brief
  • Walk through the different elements with the creatives
  • The PPM is the time to convince the client that you can deliver
  • The pre-production meeting can be viewed as a piece of theatre where everyone has a role to play

On Set

  • Work with the creatives and shoot the layout
  • Keep everyone happy
  • Deliver on the day
  • This is the day that the magic happens
  • Coffee and food help keep everyone happy


  • Agree fees and confirm usage which will influence the fees
  • Some clients will ask for access in perpetuity which in essence like owning the copyright as it limits the future usage of an image
  • Ensure you confirm with the Art Buyer that you can use the images for your own portfolio to allow you to pitch for future work

Don’t Give Up The Day Job – Workshop

“Don’t give up the day job” was an event organised by Redeye for photographers, artists and makers who are looking to balance jobs that help pay the bills alongside their creative practices (Redeye, 2018). I decided to attend this course in Manchester because at least for the foreseeable future my photographic practice will not provide me with sufficient income to focus exclusively on photography. The workshop consisted of a series of talks plus the chance to discuss with others how they balance creative practice with jobs. There was also a chance to hear a visual arts researcher.

Paul from Redeye introduced the event and I had a chance to speak to the different people on the same table as me who were all makers working with different materials, including one who is upcycling washing machines and another who is working with glass.

Amy Wilkinson

Amy is a jeweller based in Manchester Craft and Design Centre. She predominately works in silver, drawing shapes and patterns with wire to produce linear, simplified shapes. Amy also works as an armature maker at Mackinnon & Saunders,  making stop-motion animation puppets. She’s worked on puppets for films and TV adverts including The Corpse Bride, Fantastic Mr Fox, and Frankenweenie. (Redeye, 2018)

Amy has established a set routine between time spent at work and time in the shop in the craft centre. She felt there was a benefit to sharing the space with other creatives as it can be lonely being a creative plus it means you share time in the shop allowing the shop to be open for longer.

Commissioned work is harder to judge especially the amount of time required to create the work which can sometimes consume (4 to 6 weeks).

The skills required for her jewellery practice are very similar to the skills required to make armatures and therefore the job and creative practice complement each other in terms of skills development. Amy felt that fact that her job and the craft centre are in the same location was important to her and this has meant that she has stayed with the same employer rather than purse work with other companies that might have been more lucrative.

Overall Amy felt that she had just about got the balance correct. I am in a different position from Amy that my own job is not using the same skills as my photographic practice resulting in a lower level of skills cross pollination between job and practice. Though I do feel it would be beneficial to find other location creatives and look to share a creative space maybe with painters rather than with other photographers.

Andrea Allan

Andrea Allan is an artist and writer based in Newcastle; her practice explores the real and the imaginary and the gap between subject and object in an attempt to better understand the links between our past, present and future. Allan is also the editor of Entitle magazine. (Redeye,2018)

Andrea’s day job is an engineer on projects and she describes herself as very much deadline driven. Her project management role has equipped her with marketing skills. Her day job is very much Monday to Friday and it is not always easy to switch off from the day job to focus on creative work. It requires discipline to fit creative work around a full-time job though working in power stations has provided some interesting photographic opportunities though it was not until Andrea completed the work did she find out that her employer had a budget to fund creative projects. Navigating large companies can make it difficult to discover departments that are responsible for this type of initiative. Having a full-time job makes it difficult to undertake residences and therefore this is something she has not pursed.

Andrea makes limited edition photobooks from her work and then visits the different art fairs around the UK to sell the work usually share a stall with a friend to help reduce the costs.

I can empathise with Andreas position as my job is Monday to Friday and consumes about 2 hours out of each day when travelling time is added on top of the working day. This can make it difficult to have energy in the evening to work on creative projects. Though I use my commute to work as a source of material for my on-going going project commuterlife that is shot in an iPhone. I find it a great way to Instagram messages on a daily basis. I try to use the commute as writing and research time for my projects though given crowding on the trains that is not always possible.

Sam Curtis

Sam Curtis is an artist, educator and curator based in London. With a conceptually driven practice that he makes manifest through various forms such as events, video, performance, text and sculpture, he is interested in art’s social function and it’s accessibility. For over 10 years he has used his day jobs as platforms or starting points from which to develop practice and projects. This has been a useful way to navigate precarity and has become a vehicle for inhabiting the grey areas and permeable boundaries between art and life. Informed by two years working as a fishmonger in Harrods, he now runs the Centre for Innovative and Radical Fishmongery, an organisation that explores how fishmongery intersects with art, individuals and society. (Redeye, 2018)

Sam provided a novel take on how you can use you day job to create your own residency and create new an original work. He described this as creating a clandestine residency where he became an artistic parasite taking from his day job to create new art. While working on the Harrods fish counter her would arrange the fish in artistic formations encouraging visitors to take pictures which they shared on social media and Sam would re-appropriate the images for his own practice.

He started to explore contact prints where he would coat the fish in ink to make prints which has references to Japanese arts forms and woodblock printing techniques such as Mokuhanga (En.wikipedia.org, 2018). This has parallels to my rubbings used of the decking of piers.  http://fineart.photography/work-in-progress-sustainable-prospects/.

I like the idea of creating a residence within my current employment but given the sensitivity around parts of my job a clandestine residency would not be appropriate. However my employer has a large photographic archive so maybe I could explore doing something with those images.

Susan Jones 

“Susan Jones is a visual arts researcher with specialist knowledge of artists’ practices and employment. Her PhD at Manchester School of Art aims to identify a new rationale for the interrelationship between artists’ livelihoods and arts policy. She is an artists’ mentor and contributor to artists’ development programmes and conferences. www.padwickjonesarts.co.uk” (Redeye, 2018)

Susan spent time sharing information about her research into artists in the North West whic his based on a sample of artists with 10 to 30 years of experience. She noted that in 2013 the average artist earned £10,000 or the equivalent of 37% of the national average wage. She is exploring the why and the how of practice. Looking at the value assigned to work and if that was fair value in the market. The reality appears to be that artists have little or no money derived from practice when it is assessed in pure economic terms. In fact artists contribution to society has been demoted to pure monetary value and not potential social enricment derived from creative practice.

Politics is driving the structure and support agenda around art and its creation. Advice provided is generic rather than reflecting the needs of individual artists. The initial results from the questionnaires analysed so far suggests that the best work is produced when artists are in a creative space. This space should support the potential for failure. It is important to create an environment which provides a circle of trust where the domestic and creative elements interact.

A creative space is viewed as an environment that supports concerted time and opportunity to create work. The work is given an appropriate level of respect after all artists care about their work. 

To be successful as an artist you need to be known. Typically Non-profit organisations are not looking for unsolicited work. There is a conundrum for artists that you need to be shown before some will want to show your work. Today social media and gallery premieres are important to being know but not all artists are social individuals and this reduces the chances that people will get to know about their work. This results in a situation where the lack of an effective framework wastes creativity.  

Susan referenced The Curve by Nicholas Lovell as a way to navigate a world where people want everything for free and create superfans who will pay for your work. The concept is to use social media to create direct relationships with people who ultimately will become high-spending superfans. (Thecurveonline.com, 2018).

Though Susan’s research sheds light on the reality of being an artist it is through better understanding of our practice the audiences that a successful path can be forged however that takes time an effort that is no longer available for creative endeavours though being a starving artist does not sound appealing either.

Julie McCalden

Julie McCalden is an artist and Paying Artists campaign Project Manager for a-n The Artists Information Company. She will provide a brief introduction to the campaign, its resources and the Exhibition Payment Guide, which recommends four core principles for artists and organisations to follow in their working arrangements around payment and gives a set of suggested payments (ranging from £150 to £6,000) to cover a wide range of exhibition scenarios and guidance for implementation. www.a-n.co.uk  www.PayingArtists.org.uk (Redeye, 2018)

Julie is a strong advocate for valuing visual artists and their contribution to society. She started of by sharing some facts about exhibitions which is something that most artists aspire to doing at some stage in their career. 71% of exhibitions pay no fee to the artist. 59% of artists do not get their expenses paid. The reality is 63% of artists turn down exhibitions because they do not have money to pay for themselves. Proposal is that exhibitions should include an artist fee within the exhibition budget. It is a case of artists starting to ask if an exhibitor will pay a fee. It is important to be informed and be discerning when engaging with galleries who are arranging exhibitions. Where shows are artist led it is more likely that the artist will get paid a fee for exhibiting. Artist network provides resources to support artists getting paid for their work. 

It is difficult for artists to get funded by the Arts Council and in most cases funding is going to established organisations who have received funding in the past. Having a track record helps secure funding so collaborating with a gallery that has got funding in the past might help get a project funded to either create the work or to get it shown. There is some evidence to suggest that collectives are being more successful in getting funding for their projects.

The talk by Julie provided me with information on resource that could help me get funding and understand how I might get paid in the future.


Overall the event achieved what i was hoping in that it has given me a better understanding of how I can operate my practice alongside my job. The key takeaways for me is that I need to continue to invest more time in networking and sharing my work with people. There is an interesting possibility of speaking to my employer about a residency where I use their photographic and film archives to create new work. The challenge will be to find the correct contacts in the organisation to broach the idea.


  • Thecurveonline.com. (2018). The Curve Online – Nicholas Lovell. [online] Available at: http://www.thecurveonline.com/ [Accessed 28 Jan. 2018].
  • Redeye. (2018). Don’t Give Up the Day Job. [online] Available at: https://www.redeye.org.uk/programme/events/dont-give-day-job [Accessed 28 Jan. 2018].
  • En.wikipedia.org. (2018). Woodblock printing in Japan. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woodblock_printing_in_Japan [Accessed 28 Jan. 2018].