The British Museum’s Missing Exhibit

Here are a couple of photographs of the infamous Tan Hill Inn Mobile Phone Pickle Jar I took a couple of years ago. Folklore has it in the 1990s the landlady became so fed up with the number of her patrons staring silently at texts and emails she introduced a severe but obvious deterrent…shall we say.

Yes I know we all love social media, watching our favourite vloggers, whirring around our device from texts to emails, ridiculous google searches, games with no conclusions, app tapping, etc. People are becoming more aware about how damaging this activity can become, as it moves towards unfettered dopamine release, are inability to concentrate, focus on anything, continually distracted, never fully present, stress, forgetfulness….and….ah I can’t remember….sorry, did I say something?

The exciting chaos of Christmas will soon be upon us, yet a month from today and it will be all over. So I urge anyone who should stumble across this short blog post, to turn their phones off and fully tune in to the present.

Pop into Paperchase, Cards Galore, or Clintons Cards and purchase some beautiful cards or if you have time make some of your own. Put some time a side to consider friends, family, work colleagues, clients, patrons or customers who have supported you in recent months or for many years.

Avoid sending multiple Happy Christmas texts, to people you have never met, worked with or even know. Phone people, take some time to slow down, go down a gear and catch up.

On January 1st 2019 I have a New Years Resolution, though my mobile isn’t quite ready for the pickle jar just yet, but its important to spot addiction and the invisible isolation it brings with it when it comes.

As for the British Museum, you are missing one of Yorkshire’s most remote and hidden treasures from your collection.


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Death of a Mentor

Earlier this year my mentor John Naylor sadly died.

I first met John nearly twenty years ago, though he only started to mentor me in my late thirties. Everyone has a different view of mentors, often they are there to listen…and sometimes there to be listened to. They can be there at the start of your professional, business or creative journey and much appreciated along the way.

John was a very special person. In a chance conversation over a decade ago I mentioned I was writing a book and considering seeking a publisher He immediately offered to take a look at the 30,000 words I had been labouring over at the time. I posted the manuscript to him and a couple of days later he phoned and said how absolutely marvellous everything was, but would I mind…if here and there…he inserted the odd capital letter, comma, made the occasional tiny grammatical tweak. ‘Sure’ I said, already imagining vast quantities of royalties pouring in, the vision was all there, splashing out on a yacht, purchasing a glass fronted luxury apartment, exotic holidays, etc.

A week later, the two inch thick manuscript thudded on to my doormat, accompanied by a seven page letter from John. On the manuscript itself, which was about version 15, over every page, and I mean every page, up the margins, on the headers, footers, sometimes on the backs of pages was John’s distinctive red spidery longhand.

A section of an early 250 page manuscript showing John’s annotations

In his own unique beautiful, warm, sensitive, and graceful manner he had conveyed, without the need for any harsh criticism or even directly having to tell me anything at all that – this was a load of rubbish and I would never get it published.

My experience of the various meetings with John over the years, was an invisible form of not only mentoring but guidance. He would say of writing, ‘Read it, read it out loud, read it again, think about it, rest it, put it in a draw, then revise it, rewrite it, and keep going…’ He possessed the art of getting people to realise something for themselves, and lightly blew them in the right direction. His support over a number of years meant, I was eventually able to write, and went on to secure several commissions from major publishers.

Life can be full of unexpected experiences, some good and others which are frankly awful.  Our lives can change quite suddenly, a mentor can often help you cope with the ups and downs of an enterprise, career or life. One thing John did convey to me, when interacting with everyone, is the importance of thoughtfulness, conveying respect and above all kindness. Without John I would not have learned such valuable lessons.

So John, a fond farewell. I miss you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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How to make a living: Money Matters

If you happen across the forthcoming  Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2018 you may per chance discover my commissioned piece about money matters under Art and Illustration starting on page 484.

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Musing about how on earth I managed to establish myself as an author we have to take a trip back to more than  a decade ago when I started looking for a publisher. Its difficult for non-fiction writers to gain  representation such as a literary agent but 20171210_124603_resizedits not impossible. However, I’m still unrepresented so open to offers!

This valuable guide for authors, wordsmiths, as well as professonal illustrators for 2018 is in its 111th edition. As you can see from my highlighting below on the 100th Anniversary Edition in 2007, I like many artists and writers before me started out on my search.20171210_124813_resized

If you are currently in my shoes, last worn over ten years ago, presently there are many more avenues open to publishing your literary or graphic novels today. Though it’s still tricky to gain the attention of an established publisher.

My key pieces of advice are don’t write the whole manuscript before you start approaching reputable publishers as they may wish only to see some sample chapters, and for you to fill in a rather lengthy document called an ‘Author’s Questionnaire’ often available from the publisher’s website on download. Equally you might need to open to feedback and be willing to adapt your ideas slightly, which can be enormously frustrating.

Its also worth knowing that many publishers desire for at least half the sales to be either in America or overseas…also be prepared to wait, it can be very slow process even getting your proposals looked at. If this isn’t very appealing then there are other options, but be wary about self-publishing deals, always read the terms and conditions very carefully before investing your own money or embarking on a crowdfunding campaign.

More useful blogs and advice can be found via the Writers’ & Artists’  Yearbook website. The Society of Authors is also a very useful organisation to join if you find you have been commissioned to write your first book. If you are an author and struggling to finished a research project or a commissioned manuscript for either financial reasons or ill heath, then if you are currently or become a member you might be able eligible for a grant.

I’ve also been commissioned to write a couple of blogs for the Writers & Artists’ Yearbook website this year, here are the links: Protecting Your Work Online Effective Self-Promotion for Artists & Designers and Making A Living

book student tabsOccasional Newsletterette:

The Essential Guide to Business for Artists & Designers will be translated into Latvian next year in 2018, I’ll post an update and link when I receive some complementary copies. Interestingly the book will be printed in black and white, I should think the front cover will change also.

I very much look forward to seeing it. Equally the first print run of the UK second edition has nearly sold out this year. It’s not too late to purchase a copy for yourself or a friend for Christmas. It may be some time until there is a third edition as this version took eighteen months to write.

Have a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

 


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Reflections on the Future….

About 17 years ago, on the evening of the opening night of the Tate Modern, I was one of the protesters standing outside. For those of you who don’t know there were many artists demonstrating about all sorts of issues, from the the dramatic change in the direction of British Art, the unwelcome influence of Saatchi, the vast expense of the project, to the poverty of many artists living and working in London.

Then one day soon after, I popped in and still found myself in there at 10pm at night, and I witnessed a long queue of visitors, in the beautiful well stocked Tate Modern bookshop, clutching armfuls of books about art.

It was a stand still moment, as I stood there, awestruck in my jumble sale clothes, and worn-out shoes. What an earth was going on? After being used to wondering around the old Charing Cross Road Foyles’ bookshop, with its dormant slient floors devoid of life and dusty chaotic negleted shelves.

As I was passing through London last month I decided to pop in to the Tate Modern bookshop once again, one of many frequent visits over the years, and I discovered a couple of copies of my latest book on the shelf. Again I had one of those moments.

Over recent weeks I’ve spotted art students with copies of my book borrowed from libraries and also received a written note from a student after a recent lecture, letting me know they had ordered the book from Amazon during the break…

So thank you, and hope you both find a bright and fantastic future…

Note from an art studentA recent snap of a copy of my book borrowed from a UCA library

Alison Branagan’s Entrepreneurship for Creatives’ Summer School is running this July, for more info and to book please touch through to Central Saint Martins


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Hello to The New! Out Soon in 2017!

This is to let everyone know the exciting news that the second edition of The Essential Guide to Business for Artists and Designers ISBN 978-1474250559 will be out soon and is available on pre-order. At over 95,000 words this is what the manuscript looked like a couple of months ago…

026This new publication, published by Bloomsbury Academic has been fully revsied, with three additional chapters on websites, blogs and social media, innovation and trends and ideas for growth. With new illustrated mindmaps, resources, exercises, photographs, diagrams, and profiles of artists and designers. As you can see from the beautiful renders by BVN Ceative the book has a new from cover by Tumanyan.

068-stacked-6x9-books-with-back-cover-covervault

 

This publication has started to become core reading on many degree  and post graduatecourses, and this super fan movie was made by Rebecca Skeels who is subject leader for the Postgraduate and  Masters Programmes at UCA Farnham demonstrating how students have made good use of their inhouse copy.

This book is ideal for a wide range of artists, designers, makers, photographers and illustrators. The second edition embraces our new world of globalisation, digitalisation, and connectivity. It has been written to embrace readers from different starting points, whether you have studied at Art College or not, are just thinking about it, have got started or have been going for some time.

Stop Press: Artquest has just published my revised business start-up guide for artists, makers and photographers The 7 Steps to Business Start-up

 


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2066 and all that….

In about 50 years time I’ll be nearly 100, many readers of this blog may be nearing receiving their telegram from the queen by 2086. It’s going to be a long life for most of us and its time to imagine what sort of future you would like for yourself.

In this new post Brexit era…well after 2019 at the earliest, trading conditions for the visual arts and creative industries could be uncertain. Leading up the vote on the 23rd June 2016, many graphic designers and photographers were finding work was drying up. I’ve have news for everyone, the next 24 months may still be tough.

If you are in a down period, get on with that admin, filing, bookkeeping, Tax Return, infographic that CV, telephone that old client and revamp your website. Yes… even have a go with that free LinkedIn Premium trial, see what can come of expanding your professional networks.

Invest money in your business, but do so wisely, avoid unnecessary expense as the next year could be hard for some of us. If you are on a low income check to see if you are eligible for Tax Credits or other support.

Perhaps its time to try a different approach, such as a fresh marketing plan, a new business strategy, or give that thing… ago…(you know that ‘ big thing’ at the bottom of your to do list). Large projects often aren’t economical at the time, but they can raise your profile, attract media attention and more interesting opportunities in the long term.

If you need a bit of help, there are a couple of courses running at Central Saint Martins: Entrepreneurship for Creatives and Business Start-up for Creatives at Granary Square and two online courses Business Start-up for Creatives and Self-Promotion for Creatives

I’m also available for one-to-ones, please email me at alison@alisonbranagan.com

Thanks to Tim Bradford for his illustrations

Have a great rest of the summer and I hope exciting things happen soon…I’ve been working on a huge project for the last 18 months which could revolutionise business start-up education within the visual arts….all will be revealed shortly.


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Central Saint Martins: Routes to Succcess

If you are looking for a way to launch your art, craft practice, or design business than look no further. This summer there are a number of popular business, entrepreneurship and self-promotion Summer School courses which I run at the Central Saint Martins Kings Cross Campus in Granary Square, which are also available online.

Students who have attended these courses in the past have gone on to set up innovative, experimental and commercial companies. Each course has a number of guest speakers, including one of the team from Silverman Sherliker LLP a top London Intellectual Property firm.

To read more about the success of profiled students from all courses I run at Central Saint Martins please visit the blog.

entrepreneur class larger image


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The Art of Marketing on a Budget

This month I gave a workshop for Wandsworth Enterprise Week about marketing on a tight budget.

Wandsworth Enterprise Week Brochure 2016

Little cheeky tweet of #WEW16 brochure

innovation_1

Stand out in a crowd…Have Impact!

Hee hee! My observation is that the art of making the best use of limited resources is to concentrate on the impact of your marketing materials and strategy. Sending a 1000 eNewsletters to businesses you don’t know may work against you and is also illegal. Many start-ups expect instant results, you need to spend more time and effort developing relationships with potential clients and customers. Better to focus on 50 target businesses or individuals with a quality approach than a quick mass spam attack.

Some of my key tips are, develop relationships with other businesses or people in your industry and build your networks. Consider your own sense of presence, stand out and be remembered, be creative in the way you promote yourself. Get the design of your branding and design format right, hire professional photographers, look for discount offers from printers, most have discount offers every month.

The Art of Marketing on a Budget

Understanding how to draft a timeline for a media/marketing campaign is crucial, when to do what. We cover this in my self-promotion courses at Central Saint Martins. Photograph by Toni Marshall

Spend time really developing relationships with businesses or people in your industry. Word-of-mouth recommendation either face-to-face or a friendly shout out on social media is the best type of promotion money can’t buy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also timing, many self-employed artists, designers, photographers or creative businesses often fail to realise how much time you have to allow to implement a media campaign, often even weekly publications need to you approach them 10 weeks in advance. Online portals and bloggers can move and react quickly to approaches, but often publishers with a large numbers of subscribers will time the posting of online content with the in print editions of newspapers, magazines or periodicals.

If you would like to learn more about business start-up, self-promotion and entrepreneurship I run a number of online and college based courses for Central Saint Martins. If you would like to have a one-to-one Skype session please contact me

Summer Schools at Central Saint Martins, Granary Square, London

Business Start-up for Creatives, Self- Promotion for Creatives and Entrepreneurship for Creatives

Live and Online

Business Start-up for Creatives, Self-Promotion for Creatives and Entrepreneurship for Creatives

Thank you to Toni and the Wandsworth Enterprise Team. Photography by Toni Marshall © 2016 Illustrations by Tim Bradford © 2016


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Hey! Don’t Be Grey, Have…Impact!

Hello everyone…I just thought I would tell you what I’ve learned from teaching my Business, Entrepreneurship and Self-Promotion Courses over this summer at Central Saint Martins in London. The theme of presentation, packaging and impact reoccurred in several ways, as mentioned in talks by speakers such as Alex Brownless from Arts Thread‘don’t be grey’ he said, in the creative industries you have to stand out and have impact. Alana Pryce Tojcic, arts marketing specialist from The October Gallery, Matt Dowling founder of The Freelancer Club and Kathleen Hills, a leading ceramic and lighting designer, talked about the importance of stunning photographs, and the different types of images you need to commission to gain paid work or attract attention in the media. Interior designer Audrey Whelan showed how to communicate design ideas to clients remotely. Billy Jenks, a talented IP solicitor from Silverman Sherliker, who also sponsor the course, showed screen shots of trademarked colours and most of the students instantly knew which brands they represented.

My well thumbed copy of Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell

During the summer I was also coincidently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink where he discusses several related stories about packaging and impact, he discusses for instance the Christian Brothers and E & J bandy story. Christian Brothers found they were losing sales to E & J and couldn’t work out why, as all their research demonstrated in taste tests that brandy drinkers prefered their beverage over E & J, yet Christian Brothers were losing market share fast. It transpired that, even when the Christian Brothers put their own brandy into E & J bottles, people still said they preferred E & J. It turned out that customers actually just liked the look of the E & J bottle more than the Christian Brothers one. Solution, new bottle design, C B regain their market share.

He also outlined the fascinating research by the highly respected psychologist Sheena Iynger, Google her ‘Jam Study’ to find out more. But in short, in a jam selling experiment, when she displayed 24 different jams, of which 3% of passersby purchased jam,  but when she displayed a selection of only six jams 30% of passersby bought jam.

This year I also had a rebrand by my designer Alana Biviano of BVN Creative, cards printed my Meltoma Designs on 600 gsm card. Some snaps below shows a comparison between the old and new cards. The new design has a more limited, though richly coloured palette, with integrated contact and social media icon design. I believe this new design with a slightly revised logo has a more memorable contemporary look and feel.

business card photo 600 gsm    business card photo

If you are looking for a live and online Business Start-up Course, (starts this month at Central Saint Martins) then please enrol on Business Start-up for Creatives. If you think you need to learn more about self-promotion or wish to revamp your current marketing strategy then there is another specialist online course running this term, Self-Promotion for Creatives (also starts this month). Equally I am available for one-to-one advice sessions in person or via Skype. You are most welcome to email me at alison@alisonbranagan.com if you wish to book a session.


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#Negotiation Once Learned is A Skill That Will Last Forever

Ever thought about learning about how to negotiate? If you are a self-employed creative you may be getting a bit hacked off with feeling you are not getting paid enough or lack resources.  If you have time, the art of negotiation is explored during the next Entrepreneurship for Creatives  course which runs as a Summer School at the Central Saint Martins Granary Square Campus or available as a live online course starting this month.

Negotiation is an intellectual skill which combines understanding a number of different subjects such as copyright, contract law, and licensing combined with creative thinking and presentation skills. Unless these subjects are understood its not possible to gain a fair rate or make more from an opportunity than is on offer.

Many people make the mistake of purely concentrating on the fee rather than thinking of a number of other longer term benefits or making money in other ways from the commissioning  or sales process.

Negotiation is most effective in real time conversations, face to face if possible, avoid negotiating by email. There are several reasons why, one being  interaction being impersonal and out of sync, loss of other crucial elements such as atmosphere, facial expressions and tone of voice. Email also is such a cold form of communication, whereas in business you need to build a lively warm rapport with clients  and exude confidence if you wish to gain a good deal.

The Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is currently travelling the world meeting with people of influence face-to-face. Yanis is an expert in game theory, he has a plan combining ‘logic and ideology’. Experts in negotiation like him know you have to physically meet people to achieve your objectives even if it is way, way, way…out of your comfort zone.

In these difficult times we need to think creatively about how to make something worth our while, sometimes valuable resources or a really good client endorsement can be worth more in real terms then the original fee or price charged.

If you can’t afford a course take a look at one or two of my books which cover these subjects, The Essential Guide to Business for Artists & Designers, Revised and Updated and Making Sense of Business.


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