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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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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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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Business Start-up for Creatives Online

Ahoy there shipmates! This is my second post, please excuse the formatting, its early days in these uncharted virtual seas of the blogosphere!

So why not launch yourself and set sail with the winds of good fortune in blowing in your sails this month?

If you’ve recently graduated from a visual or applied arts degree, or perhaps you have just started your business as a freelancer, design business or arts practice and feel very confused about what is going on, then this online course will help you formulate a plan, understanding some marketing basics,  networks, business planning, money management, costing and pricing, fund raising, legal matters and tax. A very useful course for anyone based in the UK, EU or elsewhere in the world who seek to trade with or in Europe.

Its very easy to make mistakes in business, and making too many can drain you of time, funds and resources. Often its about spotting problems and putting them right that will aid  your route to success, leading to financial stability or a profitable enterprise.

This course is broadcast live, but its recorded so if you miss a class you can catch up during the week, there will also be time to discuss your plans and extensive handouts are also provided along with these exclusive course extras:

As part of the course students have a free one hour consultation with specialist design accountant Dean Shepherd of Tax By Design and a Business name and  a free UK/EU trade mark search undertaken by city the law firm Silverman Sherliker LLP.

For more information and to enrol please view the new Central Saint Martins website.


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