Friday, 30 March 2012

Working as a Freelance Artist (Printmaker) - Ann Bridges

Ann Bridges graduated from Glyndwr in 1999 with a First Class Honours. She is a member of the Royal Cambrian Academy, and has developed her own style of stencil based mono-print. She mainly produces, original artwork to sell on, but some of her work has been used in editorial work etc. After college, Ann felt it important to keep putting her work in exhibitions, as a way of building her C.V. This makes a lot of sense to me, even though I won't be working as a freelance artist, I will be working as a illustrator, so this is the same as getting your work known to publishers, and/or agencies. This is an important factor to take into account after leaving college, as it is your way of making contacts and getting work in.

Ann had to get into something straight away, so she saw an advert in Artist Newsletter for an opportunity to work as a artist-in-residence at Chester Zoo. She quickly set up a website, and balanced her Chester Zoo work with freelance work.

Ann still gets involved in educational work, in particular, short projects in schools and educational centres. This is something that I would really like to think about doing in the future, as it would be great to work with schools to create a piece of work, as I believe that working with children is a very rewarding experience. Ann has also worked on several pieces of collaborative work with fellow ex-student Helen Bate, which were a series of picture books designed for adults with dementia, you can visit the website here.

Since 1999, Ann has been keeping a visual diary for writing and drawing. She doesn't draw everyday, but may spend more time drawing on certain days. She is now on her 33rd sketchbook! Her reasoning for using sketchbooks so passionately is that sketchbooks document all your work done over a certain period of time. Sketchbooks are the point of reference. Personally, I never realised the importance of keeping a sketchbook until I started at art college. In A-Level, I always used to hate presenting work in a sketchbook, and had to pull pages out to put them in a display book. Now, it's the other way around. I do admit, I still need to push my sketchbook work, but I am starting to see the importance of sketching every idea down, no matter how simple or silly the idea is.

Ann loves discovering new things when something goes wrong. She's always experimenting to try to achieve new techniques. Her favourite thing out of all of her work is when she discovers something new about the piece, and "when an idea takes you on a journey." She is part of the open studios network, Helfa Gelf. She describes this as a inexpensive way of getting your work seen. At the last Helfa Gelf, Ann sold just under £5,000 worth of work.

When pricing work for a gallery, be aware that the gallery will take anywhere from 30% upwards of selling price. The average is 40-45%. Ann had already started exhibiting work, so that helped her gain some knowledge about pricing her work, but the advice she gave us was:

  • Start noticing what other people are doing
  • It's still difficult to get it right
  • A lot depends on the context the work is being shown

She evaluates her work all along the process. Ann never gets to the end stage and thinks that she hates it, it's usually in the beginning she feels like this. If you don't have the facilities available to you, then you need to make your style not so dependent on this equipment (you need to limit yourself), for example, Ann couldn't afford a press and had no where to put one, so she developed a way of working where she didn't need a press. You also have to adapt your way of work depending on the time scale. This is something that I need to consider, as I am working partly digitally, I need to keep in mind size constraints for scanning work in, and printing it off.

Her number one piece of advice for anyone before you go freelance would be, you need to have experience behind you before you start.

Overall, this session was quite useful. It was interesting to get a different view point with a different type of media, and from more of an artist's view point. As for advice, it wasn't the best session, but that could just be because I don't want to work in print, so didn't really relate to her advice.

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