Sunday, October 31, 2010

working weekend

I spend all weekend working in the studio as preschool will be closed Monday and Tuesday.

Friday, October 29, 2010

upcoming exhibition

The other day I got the invitation cards and posters for my upcoming exhibition (the opening will be on the 13th of November) at Mimer's Konsthall. I haven't exhibited in such a big space since 2007; so it will be fun!

Unfortunately I discovered a mistake on the invitation card I designed; it says the opening will be on the 13th of October ... Update: I've fixed it with some correction fluid!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

the backside

Today I cut a simple quick shape out of the back of an old paper. Then I turned the paper. What I saw made me smile.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Beyond Words [Bortom Orden]

Yesterday we arranged the second seminar (at Skövde Konsthall) within the Art Project Beyond Words - Bortom Orden - about the concept of quality within Fine Art. Very interesting discussions - and differing views. I've been responsible for coordinating the seminars and tonight we will be at Länsmuseet Halmstad. In November we will arrange 2 more seminars (Stockholm and Göteborg) - if you are interested in participating! See more details here on how to participate (in Swedish only).

... I'm a bit tired now as it was a long day yesterday - I might get back to you later with some thoughts (mine and others) about quality ...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Art as Business Interview: Niklas Holm

Niklas Holm: Daisy, 180 x 155 cm

How would you describe your art?

I employ a battery of painterly marks, graphic signs and symbols, my paintings explore the profusion of our visual and material culture. In my recent work the mood is ambiguous - recollections of flowers, hearts and cartoon characters might imply a sweet, almost cloying world yet a dark brooding palette, combined washes and veils of paint, evoke dissolution and decay. The paintings seem to suggest the seductions, contradictions and disappointment of contemporary life and culture.
Niklas Holm: No more, 180 x 210 cm
Do you make a living out of your art and related practices – or do you combine it with another job?

Art provides the lion part of my living. Besides being an active artist, I teach and consult in art.

How long have you been working professionally as an artist? 

I have been working full time as an artist for about four years. Before that, studies at art-schools for aprox eight years.

Have you had a big break? If not; any turning point?

Maybe not a big break, small breaks all the time. Signing with my gallerist Natalia Goldin, exhibited at Basel art fair, got a major art collector in USA, collaborations with Ralph Lauren etc..

What is your primary client base?

My primary client bases are art galleries, collectors and commissions.

Niklas Holm: EndIsTheBeginningIsTheEnd, 155 x 180 cm
Describe your work environment. Do you work alone or with others? In a studio or at home? Does this arrangement work for you, and if not, what would your ideal work environment look like?

I have moved my studio to my living room. Me and my man didn’t really use it and it was big and bright so I made it into my studio. It works perfectly! I can work whenever.

I prefer to do studio work alone, I need to access a certain mental space and focus. That’s easier in solitude.

I do have collaborations outside the studio, for example with a colleague of mine, Susann Brännström We put together exhibitions and proposals for future shows.
Niklas Holm: Black hole sun, 195 x 180 cm
Do you have a typical workday? How much time do you spend creating and how much on business related activities?

I try to batch activities together when working outside the studio. If I teach in the afternoon, I’ll do office work in the morning. I like having uninterrupted sessions in the studio and not have to step into and out of different mental worlds in one day.

Which marketing strategies have/have not been successful in advancing your career? Or maybe we should call it strategies to become more visible/noticed?

The most important tool has been exhibitions! That’s where I publish the results of my visual research. An active website has been equally important. It’s a great tool to reach a global audience. My gallerist, Natalia Goldin, has played a crucial role in promoting me and establish credibility towards clients.

Another vital strategy is establishing a network of people. Their know-how from various areas are extremely useful and help solve problems synergistically.
Niklas Holm: Black, 155 x 180 cm
Can you share any tips on business organization or financial planning that have worked well for you?

Work hard, prepare to finance your art and additionally educate yourself, create a trustworthy network.

Do you have any advice on how to rebound emotionally from rejection or difficult client situations?

I have learnt to distance myself from decision that I can not control. Competition is very hard, and decision regarding funds etc is not always based on quality of work. Not seldom is politics and personal taste components of those decisions. I try hard to not let that affect my work.

Based on your experience, what suggestions or lessons learned would you give to someone starting out as an artist?

If you have determined that you want to become an artist, and no other option is acceptable, then go for it! Many talented will try, but few have the necessary drive. Too many educated artist quit after a few years in practice. It’s really sad!

I would definitely advice to study art abroad. The art-world is small and limited in Sweden. A tight space makes multiple movements and artists impossible to coexist. In such an environment, trend and provincialism may prove to be successful in the short term. Trend and provincialism has never mixed well with art.
Niklas Holm: Down, 144 x 144 cm

What would you like to accomplish in 2011?

I would love to exhibit in Berlin, New York and Tokyo!

What are your long-term career goals as an artist?

My long term goal is to get more time to develop and show my art. To develop the opportunity to interact with interesting partners. To find alternative sites for work, USA for example!

Finally:  Can you share something inspiring?

I think it is necessary to look at art! All art is interesting and may propel your own understanding of art. I learn through observation and analysis of the work of others. Even art of poor quality has values that can be useful! It’s important to remain mentally fluent, keep observing and don’t discriminate art that you may subjectively find bad!

Niklas Holm: Outside, 180 x 210 cm

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday kaos

this is what's so great with having a studio; you can just leave everything in the middle of a process ... and go home.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I've decided to use form cut aluminium (5 mm) as material and really work in a cut-out style. I've made several figures, put some scotch on the backside and now I'm trying different compositions and ideas. (yes, I think Snow White and the superheroes are here to stay)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

dejeuner sur l'herbe

staying true to myself; sketching for my commission

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

testing different ideas

I've taken a decision when it comes to my sketch for the public commission  - and reserved this week for working it through. But I tested other more or less serious ways of thinking before that...

first I painted the part of the school-building where my art piece is to be -  in scale 1:10 and in the right NCS-colours
Maybe the way to go was to use the disturbing elements (orange doors and windows) as essential parts of the idea?
or maybe happy healthy schoolchildren would be appealing? (all art is propaganda!)
or maybe I should think negative space and create trees out of the green colour - and add Snow White not to totally loose myself?
as I felt the windows were totally fucking up my canvas the solution could be to think in the opposite way; and make more windows - fake ones were figures could be seen?

Monday, October 18, 2010

you know you've been away from the studio for 2 weeks when ...

... on returning you discover new life growing in the sink.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

very much autumn

This morning it was minus 5 degrees Celsius when I left home to go and teach my weekend workshop (screen printing) at KKV. Going home the sun was about to set and the warm light created strong shadows.

They wrote about my exhibition in Dalarna's Tidningar.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

loose end - and new project

Loose end: today I checked on the murals I made with the schoolchildren under Creative School in spring - and finally delivered the little name signs that are to give the murals that extra professional touch.

New project: that school has gotten some more money and wants me to continue working the same way with a new group of kids in spring. This is what I love with this school; they contact me well ahead of time, they don't try to bargain on my fee and I get to suggest a time schedule that would work for me. As it is now I don't really need the money, but I think it is a good project for the kids.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

and the commission?

Ah... I've not made much progress there. The tricky thing here is the limitations:
- the wall can only carry 10kg/m2
- it should take wind, water, sun, time  - and hits (vandalism) and preferably graffiti
- be movable (no painting direct on the wall)
- the cost is set (no more, no less)
- work for kids age 6-11 and preferably their teachers
- It should in some way be connected to the art piece my colleague is making for the stairs.
- the windows are taking up some wall space and "disturbing" my canvas
- the doors will be orange!

So I have a vague idea (not this photo!) and I am now in the process of checking what it could cost with materials, lifts, deliveries, montage etc. I'm kind of working backwards - from possible materials to possible ideas. My major problem is that my own art is not intended for children and it is based on a more intimate meeting than the one you have outdoors. I absolutely don't want to make something that is far from myself this time - and then getting more commissions based on that.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Art as Business Interview: Vanna Bowles

Vanna Bowles: Cultivation

How would you describe your art?

I make drawings and sculptures. I work with the grey tone, the black and white, the drawn or the photographed, and I try to push the boundaries for these expressions through sculpture and installation. An example is my drawings with relief where part of the motive ”grows” out of the picture surface and becomes 3dimensional. The relief is made by a sort of paper clay which when dry gets a surface very similar to that of the paper and easily melt into it. Therefore it gives the impression of an illusion.
Vanna Bowles: Falling
I’m inspired by surrealism and everyday absurdities, and aim to make images on the border between the ordinary and the improbable. My world of imagery depicts mainly people in different contexts, together or alone, often with a connection to nature. They can be out in nature, in a park, or a garden, they can also have nature within; like a tree growing out of a head or a waterfall in a chest. Vegetation and nature is used as a metaphor for what we can not control, like feelings and unwanted thoughts.
 Vanna Bowles: Origins wall installation
My starting point is private photos I find or buy and I base my drawings on them, then rework them further in photoshop – or keep them the way they are.

I’m interested in how we present ourselves to each other, what we think we show and what is hidden. When I look for material I often search for facial expressions, gestures and situations where I experience some form of tension or conflict behind the immediate impression. Then I have a good starting point for an interesting image.
Vanna Bowles: In the Hands of a Boy

Do you make a living out of your art and related practices – or do you combine it with another job?

I have more or less supported myself as an artist the last 5-6 years, but in periods I have doubted it being possible. I take one year at a time, and looking more than a year into the future I seldom know if I have an economy to trust. You have to learn not to worry too much about money. It should be mentioned that I have a job on the side, but the reason is mostly because it is fun and because I’m addicted to training. I work as a fitness instructor a couple of nights/week, and it is a fine contrast to the studio work, which is lonely and doesn’t involve much motion.

How long have you been working professionally as an artist?

Since I graduated from Kunstakademiet i Oslo (The National Academy Of Fine Arts Oslo) 2004

Have you had a big break? If not; any turning point?

It depends on how you look at it; it’s a relative question. I have had the experience that Now it is happening, this is the moment I have waited for a couple of times. But then the feeling passes and you wait for the next breakthrough. There are always new levels to reach and new heights to aspire for.
Vanna Bowles: Stretching the mind

What is your primary client base?

I show and sell my art in galleries, public Art Galleries, museums and such

Describe your work environment. Do you work alone or with others? In a studio or at home? Does this arrangement work for you, and if not, what would your ideal work environment look like?

I have my own studio in a former classroom in an old school building. The whole building is full of different kind of artists. I’m alone in my studio and can work undisturbed, but I like that people around me are doing the same. This creates a certain feeling of fellowship that I like.
Vanna Bowle's studio
Do you have a typical workday? How much time do you spend creating and how much on business related activities?

My workdays are different in different periods, but I like it best when I’m in the 9-5 routine. Routines create security and peace, which makes it easier for me to create. I’m not good under time pressure, but instead at my best when I know I have a good time span ahead of me reserved for work, and that the days will look the same. I try to take care of email correspondence, phone calls, buying materials etc in the mornings so I can concentrate on my artistic work in the afternoons.

Which marketing strategies have/have not been successful in advancing your career? Or maybe we should call it strategies to become more visible/noticed?

In order to be visible it is important to have a website. I have gotten a lot of good things coming my way thanks to mine. I have also the habit to send information about my work on a regular basis to people/institutions that are important to me, or where I would like to exhibit. This normally doesn’t give results immediately, but if you are persistent you might get a positive answer now and then.

Can you share any tips on business organization or financial planning that have worked well for you?

Kind of. I have learned by experience to become better and better in organising my art practice. My experience is that it is very important to make things clear and not be vague when it comes to contacts with clients, galleries, institutions and similar. Make sure to get as much information as possible before you accept a job/commission or an exhibition. Dare to make demands and be proud of your work. And make sure to be paid for what you do. Galleries often charge 50% of sales and for those money you should get something in return.

Do you have any advice on how to rebound emotionally from rejection or difficult client situations?

I’m myself very bad at handling rejection and still haven’t got a strategy on how to handle it. But this said; time and experience has helped. You kind of get used to it. And when you have gotten some confirmation, you will get better at taking rejections. I don’t think it is just bad though, to be rejected – you get to be tested in your faith in your own work. So you have to learn not to take it personally. Being rejected, getting a No, often depends on other factors than that your art wasn’t good enough.
Vanna Bowles: Attached to Nature
Based on your experience, what suggestions or lessons learned would you give to someone starting out as an artist?

Be stubborn. Show faith in you work. Don’t try to be someone else, or to do like someone else – just be yourself. Don’t get caught up in trends. Be critical and don’t settle for the very first. Have fun when working and try to look at yourself with some irony. To be an artist is a very self-centred profession and then it is good with a pinch of humour and some self-distance.

What would you like to accomplish in 2011?

I have just started a 10 months residency in a huge farm at the countryside, outside Lillehammer in Norway. There is a lot of space here, many rooms, a lot of nature and loads of time. The last two years I have had very many exhibitions and worked with focus in an efficient way – so to now be out here in the stillness is an amazing feeling. Starting from now I will spend a year working more in an investigating and experimental way, with less focus on results and finished objects. I’m also looking forward to getting the time to read and reflect.

What are your long-term career goals as an artist?

My goal is to continue developing in my work, and to be able to continue to live out of my art. I have mostly been exhibiting in Scandinavia, so a concrete goal for me is to exhibit in other parts of the world.

Finally: Can you share something inspiring? 

Vegard Vinge's and Ida Müller's 24-hour-theatere Vildanden [the wild duck ] is one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen. It is actually closer to art than theatre and is both brutal and beautiful.
Vegard Vinge's and Ida Muller's 24 hour-theatre The Wild Duck

Otherwise I can recommend taking a look at Claude Cahun’s photograpies – timeless, personal and existential. Or watch a film by animator Jan Svankmajer.

When it comes to drawings, I would very much like to recommend a Norwegian artist called Martin Skauen, his images reminds a bit of Hieronymes Borsch’s – in a contemporary packing/version.

Another interesting draughtsman, well worth taking a look at is French Mad Meg.

Vanna Bowles: Behind the Hedge

on hospitality and Falun

a very grey sky
just in time for the opening of my exhibition; sunny weather.
strong sun light; Modhir Ahmed's shadow falling on the gallery wall

The sky was grey when I came to Falun on Wednesday, but just in time for the opening of my little exhibition on Thursday afternoon, the sun came out and changed all the colour's saturation. One and a half a year ago I was invited to exhibit at Galleri Hörnan by Swedish-Iraqi artist Modhir Ahmed who also is the director of The Print Workshop in Falun (Falun Konstgrafiska Verkstad) - Sweden’s oldest and most equipped print workshop. I had never been to Falun before, and had only talked on the phone with my host before arriving. Modhir Ahmed's hospitality was unlimited; he cooked me food and told me fascinating stories about art, Poland and Iraq. I hope to get the chance to repay his hospitality one day.

Falun is listed as a world heritage and there are interesting details everywhere. The Museum is really good as well! This is what I like about exhibiting where you haven't been before; making new friends and seeing new places...
a beautiful drainpipe
a permanent exhibition of dalecarlian horses at Dalarna Museum
Folk Art at the museum

Friday, October 08, 2010

the Opening

I said some not especially well chosen words to open the exhibition. photo: Modhir Ahmed
the enamel series En Vogue - you can see it better here
my CV and exhibition description turned out to be two short stories to read - very suitable as the gallery is at the entrance of the City Library
Sweet Birgitta, at the cultural department of Falun, assisted me in both hanging the exhibition and serving drinks, THANKS!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Exhibition "Images of Hapiness"

Welcome to the Opening of my exhibition "Images of Happiness" (Bilder av Lycka) on Thursday at 17:00 at Galleri Hörnan, Stadsbiblioteket i Falun.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

no networking post

crossing the bridge going to the studio yesterday morning

I've felt like in bubble wrap lately - too much to do and keep in my head in not enough time - I can not breath. I gasp for air. To then - in addition to everything else - give myself the task to write certain posts for my blog isn't very wise.

It will come, I promise. It is important for myself to sort it out, to ponder about networking - but it will have to wait a bit.

Friday, October 01, 2010

bubble wrapped

In a week my separate exhibition in Falun - at Galleri Hörnan - opens. I packed some paintings in the studio today and picked up the rest at my frame maker. They felt a bit heavier than expected; I'll carry 7 framed paintings with glass and 4 rather big enamels with me on the train on Wednesday. That is why I have so long arms...