“Even When You Get Rejected”

At what point can an artist claim they’re a professional artist?

Victoria McDermott and Rebecca Gavigan fine artists

Hello, Creatives!  That tricky, pretty much subjective & unanswered question is one we posed on our sister radio show ArtyParti.

Rebecca Gavigan & Victoria McDermott, two BA Fine Art graduates from Northumbria University, UK, both have studio space with GSN (Graduate Studio Northumbria), and both collaborate on site-specific art exhibitions, dovetailing performance and audience interaction.

“We found that our works were similar; why not work on art pieces together as one?  A lot of our work is about experimental work, performance…  It’s quite risky, but our work is about challenging ourselves.” – Rebecca Gavigan, fine artist

Rebecca Gavigan and Victoria McDermott, fine artists

“I think working site-specifically makes you really excited about each piece you’re going to make, because different sites bring different opportunities.  We get excited when we see a different space, and we think about how our artistic practice will fit into that.” – Rebecca Gavigan, fine artist

Art by Rebecca Gavigan

art by Rebecca Gavigan

Emerging artist Emma Millen, a regular presenter on ArtyParti, has recently reignited her passion for painting.

“Even though I do this show, and I talk to artists every week – I just think “how do I do it?”  I don’t see me as a professional, I’m just starting off, but I’ll get there.” – Emma Millen, artist

Is that line of “professional” selling work?  Successful funding applications?  Until you become well-known?  Have pieces in galleries?

“I love art & I do it as a hobby,” says emerging artist Emma Millen, “I make art anyway, whether I get money out of it or not.”

Tribal Horse - art by Emma Millen

Tribal Horse – art by Emma Millen

We moved on to discuss challenges that artists face – finding time to focus on work, balancing art and creative work around your other commitments, finding motivation and resources, and pushing through barriers and bouts of low self-confidence.

“Being recent arts graduates ourselves, we’re still in that zone of “what do you do?  Who do you turn to?  What do you apply for?”  It’s really important to start applying for things early – do your research, find out where these arts applications are.  Pursue pursue pursue, persist.” –Rebecca Gavigan, fine artist

Rebecca Gavigan and Victoria McDermott, fine artists

“Even if you get rejected.  We spent a long time applying for different things, just to get to know how to [write arts applications].  That takes practice, and it’s important to not just expect to get given arts funding, it’s often a long process.” – Victoria McDermott, fine artist

To hear the full ArtyParti discussion about arts, arts funding, that fine line between calling yourself a professional artist, and advice for emerging artists, click below…


As ever, I’m keen to hear your thoughts.  Leave a comment, send ArtyParti or 99% Perspiration a tweet, or join the 99% Podcast networking group on Facebook & share your views with our network of artists and creatives of all pursuits.

Anyf-gold-award-jay-sykes-circle-crop1nd, as always,
Stay productive, stay awesome!

Jay Sykes
Executive Producer, 99% Perspiration


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