top of page

 

"Artists at Work" was our intensive, experimental programme for artists that focussed on artist practice development. Drawing inspiration from the world of start-up incubators and accelerators, we offered one-to-one sessions and group discussions with industry professionals, plus workshops and collaboration opportunities with working professionals from the tech and programming sectors, over a 4-week intensive period.

Our location was a central London art gallery where the artists were also able to create new work for an exhibition at the end of the process.

* This project took place under the name of 'IMA Projects' at The Muse Gallery in Aug 2018.


Artist At Work
Artist development programme and exhibition, 2018

The Muse_Artists at Work_TASC.jpeg

 

FROM THE GROUND UP

TASC exists, in many ways, as our commitment to overcome issues that are endemic within the arts in the most innovative and progressive ways possible. We know first hand that there needs to be an unbiased voice in the arts: one that places an emphasis on knowledge sharing and gives the artist an understanding of what working in the art world looks like today.

There is a large gap between graduating artists and practicing professional artists. Not all graduates are equipped with a practical knowledge or understanding of the art world and how it operates. Arts education falls criminally short of preparing artists for how they might be able to have a viable career as an artist. But even beyond education, we soon realised the issues not only applied to recent graduates but practicing artists and creative freelancers as well.

We started our thinking with a series of question; If artists were able to design their own arts education, what would they want to learn? If institutes came without prestige, where would be the best places to learn art? What are working artists' ongoing difficulties, and how can we tackle these in ways that haven't been done before?

These questions formed the foundation of what became 'Artist At Work'. When we looked around at the wider world we saw a huge shift towards programmes that were created for 'incubating' and 'accelerating' start-ups. We began to think of the artist as a start-up; an individual with a product (their art), who needed to find a way to manufacture, market, and sell their product to their target audience, all whilst giving consideration to ongoing costs - overheads and material costs.

What if we could create an accelerator-type programme for the artist? A programme that took a group of artists and over an intensive period helped them develop their practice with respect to the wider world they are entering. A programme that looked at the journey ahead for the artist and helped them plot out concrete goals and objectives for their practice?

Artist at work 03.jpg

 

CAREER DEVELOPMENTS IN THE CREATIVE ARTS

Career development / progression in creative arts isn’t as straightforward as the corporate world. There isn’t a career ladder for individuals who work as artists, musicians, photographers, etc. Their progression is linked to opportunity and chance. The likelihood of a ‘next job’ increases with more networking, and though whilst it may be more about ‘who you know’ rather than ‘what you know’, it is not a guarantee.

Imagine, for a moment, that artists were able to understand their practice as a business. That they understood the costs associated with their practice, they knew how to best market their work in order to attract buyers and sell their work, and they knew at what points they would require funding in order to support their practice and, importantly, they didn’t feel daunted by the process.

A series of stopgaps do exist in the form of advice and consultancy / workshops. These tend to focus on helping artists get better at selling themselves. However even in the USA, with vocal discussion, there is still very little research surrounding this issue.

Why and how can we as TASC create a suitable career development for artists?

Artist at work 04.jpg

INDIVIDUAL ART PRACTICE

The UK is a hub of creativity with innovative resources and numerous talents. It is the richness of art and culture in London, nurtured by many top art institutes, that has created internationally known artists. It is the reason that many international students flock to the UK to study art, however TASC has seen that beyond this prestige, there is little else to support the large output of talent coming out of the UK.

In comparison to almost any other pathway, the arts suffers from the lack of a tangible career ladder. This is especially true in the fine arts. The previous models of patrons and apprenticeships do not exist in the way they used to, yet there has been no change in how artists are prepared for the world they enter. Artists have to make it on their own, and they often have to make decisions that affect the balance between progressing their career and having a source of income.

Depending on their practice, a studio space is often a weighty consideration. Are they selling enough work or earning enough to be able to justify the cost of renting a studio space? Some artists use their own living space as their studio, and then storage can become an issue. Yet, cramming their work into their living space can have detrimental affects on their practice if it leads to a reduction in the size of their ideas.

Hence in this programme, we provided an opportunity for artists to use a gallery space as a studio space onsite, allowing them the opportunity to focus on all aspects of their artist practice development. Artists on the programme are encouraged to use the exhibition space to explore how their work changes and responds to the environment and they can see how it immediately sits within the context of an art gallery.

Each artist receives a dedicated area where they can explore their work in situ, and are encouraged to explore different aspects of curation by showcasing different pieces of work during the run of the event. They are free to make as much new work as they like, or bring existing work at any stage into the space. 

The programme culminated in an open public exhibition so all work had the potential to be sold and the artists were able to get immediate public feedback.

Artist at work 01.jpg

PEER SUPPORT & INDUSTRY MENTORSHIP

Many professionals and graduates in the creative arts have raised issue with the lack of artistic career development and employment opportunities. There are countless people who have had to give up their creativity despite incredible promise and talent, and those we have spoken to mention the lack of available support and guidance. when it comes to developing their career.

This four-week programme was an intensive professional development programme for artists. As part of the programme, we invited industry professionals to the space as mentors for group discussions and one-to-one sessions with the individual artists. Together, they were able explore the issues and ideas around their practice. They were able to ask questions directly to the experts and get in-depth help and analysis for their practice. The ideas generated from these sessions were then developed further with TASC support as well input from their peers on the programme.

The participating artists attended one-to-one sessions with the mentors to help with their particular needs as well as joined group sessions to share and feedback each other's learnings.

ARTISTS AT WORK02.jpg

COLLABORATIONS

We believe that it is through collaboration and the sharing of skills and knowledge with both our peers and those in the wider world, within and outside of the arts, that creates the most benefit to the artist. The wider the artists network, the more opportunities are available to them when it comes to work, commissions, funding, or collaborations. But the strength of the network - the type of relationships built are what provides stability to that network. TASC has observed that when relationships within networks are mutually beneficial, the strength of that connection is deepened and becomes more reliable.

In this programme, we wanted to seek out mutually beneficial ways with which artists could interact with neighbouring industries. The need for a creative perspective is always sought out, especially in industries that do not consider themselves inherently creative. Artists can bring a great deal of value to neighbouring industries and a stronger connection between two sectors can be established, then the potential opens up for artists to have another avenue of work.

CREATIVITY EXERCISE - GAME JAM

Midway through the programme we created a 'Game Jam' opportunity, in which a game designer was located in the gallery space to work with artists directly. The independent games industry is a fast-growing industry filled with people exploring programming and coding with interactive outputs. TASC wanted to see how these worlds would collide - who would inspire who and what outcomes could be achieved through the bringing together of these two worlds.

Responding directly to Mark Tamer's ongoing pursuit of destroying all images, Mark worked with game designer Elijah Cauley who wrote a programme in python that would take the pixel information of any image and then re-order the information in ascending or descending values.

(see image below).

 

This type of cross-industry collaboration provided an opportunity for artists to exercise how they communicated their art practice with other professionals. It also gave them a chance to learn about how their art practice might be applied in another new medium.

Artists respond to their own stimuli all the time. They are inspired by the work they do and the work around them. By placing them in an environment where they get to interact with industries they usually wouldn't have access to led to highly exciting outcomes. The artists were reinvigorated by their practice. They were evolving new ideas and exploring them instantaneously.

And for the game designers, they too walked away with new inspiration and new ideas. They made connections with artists who they could reach out to when they needed assets or artwork for other projects.

TASC Game Jam.png

PROGRAMME TIMETABLE EXAMPLE

The intention was to devise an intensive programme of professional development for artists over the course of four-weeks.

Each week had a focused theme on a particular aspect of an artist practice. The themes were; defining your artist voice, understand your current challenge, how to build an online presence on social media, and learning how to cultivate professional working relationships with collectors.

In order to meet our goals, each week had each days of scheduled workshops and sessions with the TASC team and with the industry mentors.

 

The following is an example of one of the days on the programme. 

Discussion Theme: Challenges as an Artist 

 

Session 1 - Introduction, 10:00am - 12:30pm 

- About TASC

- About [Artists at Work]

- Artists introduction 

- Discussion and goal-mapping 

 

Session 2 - Tea with Collector, 1:30pm - 3:30pm 

- Interview 1:30 - 2:30

- Group Discussion 2:30 - 3:00

- Q & A 3:00 - 3:30pm

 

 Wrap up, 3:30pm - 4:00pm

- Review of the Day

- Feedback & Experience sharing from the Artists

- Brief for next session

Artist at work doc.png

 

ARTIST EXPERIENCE EXTRACT

The following is an extract from a feedback form from an artist about their experience.

"In our first group discussion, we looked into the challenges as an artists which led us to take on a task of creating a roadmap as a practicing artist. In the second group discussion day, we started with a group TASC critic through which we explored how audiences experience our work, and this was followed with a branding and marketing focused discussion. 

 

After those two intensive days of group discussions, TASC sat down with us to help us design our own bespoke roadmap. It was to reassess, re-question, and rethink about our practice and to ask ourselves 'now what?' .

 

It was all about examining the day-to-day practice, and how far our general habits could takes us down the road of our desired roadmap."

Artist at work_TASC.png

 

WHY TASC DO THINGS THE WAY WE DO

Our aim is to create the real-life learning experiences for the artist. In this Artist At Work programme, an incubator style programme, the artists are learning via engaging with the professionals who are involved in the arts or in neighbouring and relevant industries.

 

Within the programme the artists are able to pause and indulge in self-reflective assessments of where their practice is. This process is necessary for any artist thinking about art as their career as artists often move from opportunity to opportunity without taking the time to reflect on how much has changed for them. This programme allowed them the chance to assess their practice in a safe and productive environment.

 

In order to build the right type of learning environment, TASC understood that the programme needed to be developed in collaboration with established artists, art advisors, collectors, galleries, and curators, all to ensure that the artist gains knowledge that brings benefit to them, helps them develop the sustainability of their practice, and gives them a better understanding of the challenges and the opportunities available to them.

Read the feedback from one of the participating artists'.

"TASC are essential for any artist looking to take the next step on their career path. I thought their approach was a great mix of the informal and the thoroughly professional. In the workshops we were made to feel relaxed whilst being challenged to move our practice forward. Each session was original and well thought-out and concluded with practical steps to take.

 

Throughout the entire process I was felt supported - I knew that TASC there for me at anytime, that I existed beyond the timeframe of our meetings. I would definitely recommended TASC to anyone who takes their practice seriously and wants to move forward." - Mark Tamer, photography, London.

See more programme archive images below.

Artists at work05.jpg
Artist at work 07.jpg
TASC_Artist at work Gosia.jpg
TASC _ ARTIST AT WORK01.jpg
Artist At Work_team_TASC.jpg
Artist at work 06.jpg
Artists At Work 08.jpg
Artist at work 09_edited.jpg
Artist at work 10.jpg
2018-08-08 19.49_edited.jpg
Artist at work 08.jpg
bottom of page