Last week we had our first installment of Marcel Talks, featuring artist Andy Harper. Harper is based in West Cornwall, England and is a senior lecturer at the MFA Fine Art program at Goldsmiths College in London. If you missed out on Harper’s talk, these were the biggest takeaways for any emerging artist about how to break out from the lone artist mold and connect with the art community at large.
Engaging with people about your work is incredibly useful.
“Despite recent terms being discussed like working collectively, collaboratively, and in social engaged practices, artists sometimes choose to operate in a studio and this puts them in a position where they cannot speak with anyone or engage.” It’s crucial for artists to actively seek out collaboration and get perspective on their work from others, even if it’s a bit daunting.
Stay connected to the people you studied and work with.
“When you talk about professional practice, I think it’s how you utilize the people around you and know that they are your peer group”. Staying connected with people you went to school with, had a show alongside, and of course any professors you studied under are always the people who will be the first to help you. Most connections come out of social engagements and you never know who you’ll meet thanks to someone you collaborated together with, even years ago. Harper really brought home the point that even if you did not attend art school or have a currently rewarding art career, you will always be able to find others like you in your social surroundings. Harper mentioned that he connected with people in some of the most random locations, including while surfing. Whether you have a significant amount of training or not, you’ll always be able to find people in the art world that are willing to help you.
Take criticism, even if it’s hard.
“You must separate the work from yourself in order to hear criticism and see it as being useful.” Harper admitted that even when he was young, if he received harsh criticism, he would take it personally. “You have to have mutual trust and know that they are trying to see you. They could see a problem that might upset you but they want to point it out as it’s something others might see as well.”
Procrastination is okay...to an extent
Harper joked about spending 6 hours for the perfect paint scraper and rearranging his shelves multiple times instead of actually working. He emphasized the importance of knowing that when you need to do something, you just have to “eat the frog,” and do it. Besides all the administrative work, teaching, and organizing, it doesn’t matter if you have a specific regimen but you do, at the end of the day, actually need create something. He also shared that he knows when he’s in the right mood and that he really capitalizes on it hard - and neglects other things to get on those creative moments.
Feel comfortable with what you’re making
“If you are comfortable with what you’re making and you believe in it and you have people on your side, it becomes a generous and great environment to work in. When people finish their MA, they’re trying to think of how to make the best show. It’s really important they have a show that is a springboard for what happens after. If they don’t feel comfortable in making and following what they’ve created, you’re in trouble.” Harper closed the talk by emphasizing the importance of feeling comfortable as an artist to share what you’re doing.
Harper believes that the myth of the lone artist is outdated and in order to really reap the benefits of being an artist, you must share with other artists in order to continue to the next stage. Marcel actively helps you connect with artists and share your works easily, all from within the app. You can watch the full recording of Andy’s talk here. Stay connected to other featured artists and talks when you check out our feed. Learn from other artists, gallerists, and more when you sign up for our Marcel Talks series here.