Friday, March 23, 2018

Got the GDPR Jitters? 10 things you need to know as an artist / art society / art gallery

The law on data protection says what you should do when you collect, use, store or do anything else with people’s personal data. This law changes on 25 May 2018. Making data protection your business | ICO

The NEW & MANDATORY General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect on 25th May 2018. 

I was not surprised that my inbox yesterday contained an email from the Treasurer of an Art Society about GDPR - which I've provided edited highlights of below
Please forgive me disturbing you, I am the Treasurer of (an art society). We are a small society based in (a county). We are a mixture of Amateur and Professional Artists, and I have been getting the "jitters" regarding GDPR and our mailing list that we use to invite prospective clients to our Annual Exhibition in July.
In my opinion the Treasurer is quite right to be getting "jitters" if they have done nothing yet to make sure they are going to be compliant.  On the other hand, with good organisation, a calm approach and some sensible actions I think it's entirely possible they can be compliant in a pretty short space of time.

The main challenge is in educating people and maintaining that compliance over time - and NOT lapsing back into bad habits.

Frankly the GDPR thing is so enormous, that initial attempts to explain it while well-meaning have tended towards a "one size fits all" approach and forgotten to tailor it more specifically to sole traders as well as very large organisation (and everybody inbetween!)

Fortunately, progress has been made since my last post on this topic Is your art organisation or business ready for GDPR - the replacement of the Data Protection Act? and there's now some much better information and guidance around - including some specifically for the small trader and smaller organisation or charity.

Bottom line - Governments are getting VERY serious about the protection of breaches of regulations that protect people's personal data.
  • mistakes are no longer acceptable
  • unwillingness to change is NOT acceptable
  • regulations make change mandatory
  • financial penalties mean people are paying attention.
Many members of the public are demanding higher standards from organisations – large and small – that collect and use their personal information.

10 things you need to know about GDPR
- as an artist / art society / art gallery

Before you start reading, I want to emphasise that I still haven't got my head around all of the published information on GDPR - by a long way - so any information below is given without any liability to the reader.

You need to do your reading just as much as me!

ONE - just to get your attention....

Breaches of GDPR can lead to FINES of up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 Million (whichever is greater).

Just think - that could be 4% of Facebook Income or 4% of Google Income - or 4% of your turnover - BEFORE expenses!  Which is why they are taking this seriously!

Now I've got your attention I can tell you that the Information Commissioner's Office in the UK have also said
Monetary penalties have been and will continue to be a last resort of our regulatory action – our primary aim is to support businesses to get things right and improve their practices where required.

TWO - this one concentrates the mind wonderfully!

There are just 62 days left until the new Regulation (that means NOT OPTIONAL) becomes operational.

THREE - why this applies to YOU

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to applies to every person and every organisation processing personal data about anybody living in the EU.

That means for those in the art world, it's anybody who collects personal data about other individuals who live and/or work in the EU.

This includes:
  • ALL sole traders (i.e. artists who sell their work to people; art tutors who educate people), 
  • ALL Charities and not-for-profit organisations - such as Art Societies that have marketing email lists and membership lists
  • ALL Art Schools - which maintain personal information on their students
  • ALL Art Galleries - which maintain personal information about buyers and artists
Basically it means ANYBODY who records and processes personal data MUST comply with the regulation.

FOUR - Help is available for sole traders and micro businesses

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Review: The Final of Portrait Artist of the Year 2018

Last night was The Final of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2018 - and this is a review of the programme and the decision.

The Final Portraits painted in 4 hours.
My guess as to who would win proved correct. The question up for discussion - in this post and any comments you might like to add - is whether or not the decision was justified.

What follows is my response to what we saw in the episode - in terms of
  • the painting of Emili Sande, 
  • the three portrait commissions - and finally
  • what happened in terms of the decision-making.
Before the start - the set-ups for
(left to right) Danny Howes, Samira Addo and Hetty Lawlor

The Final Portraits - at the National Portrait Gallery

I think the three finalists were incredibly fortunate in having Emili Sande as their subject. She's got a "good head" and was incredibly still for four hours.

I made notes while watching.
  • they all took photos as reference
  • both Danny and Samira gridded up - the latter for the first time. 
  • Hetty just stuck to her routine of starting with the eyes and getting those right and working out from there, measuring by eye as she went.
  • Danny used a grid because he upped his normal size and used the photo and the grid to get the drawing placed on the canvas - and then painted from life
  • Samira worried about using the grid as it seemed to throw out her timings. She looked quite tense and troubled by time.

In terms of who produced the best portrait - in Emili Sande's view it was Hetty.

I liked the portraits produced by both Hetty (best likeness) and Danny - some lovely painting of skin tones, which is clearly something he is very good at.

For me Samira seemed somewhat stressed having changed her normal way of working and while she definitely pulled it back towards the end, for me it wasn't one of her better paintings - although better than the one she produced for the semi-final where it was absolutely impossible to tell who the sitters actually were.

Hetty's drawing (in coloured pencils and acrylic) of Emili Sande

Danny Howes painting of Emili - the largest painting and 'head'

Samira's painting of Emili

The other artists

There were a dozen artists working from a video of Emili Sande in a nearby room - with the winner promised a pass to the next series. To be honest, I wasn't impressed by most of what I saw. It occurred to me that these might be the reserve painters who could fill in at the last minute at a Heat if somebody dropped out or got sick. I could be wrong....

The winner in the sideshow turned out to be a female Army helicopter pilot called Hannah Shergold who produced a large and very colourful painting using palette knives (and has an interesting website! Turns out she is a a fully qualified Lynx helicopter commander who has served all over the world including Canada, Kenya, Germany and Afghanistan.)

The Commissions

I wish they'd given more time to the Commissions. If the decision is supposed to be based on both why not give them equal time?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Video: Fred Cuming RA

I've just spent a blissful 10 minutes watching a video about one Fred Cuming of my favourite artists.

The video is called 'Fred Cuming RA: Portrait of an Artist' and was made in 2015 when he was 85.  It was shot in and around his home and studio between Rye and Hastings in East Sussex.

Screenshot from the video 'Fred Cuming RA: Portrait of an Artist'- on Camber Sands near where he lives
It's one of the more visually and orally articulate videos about an artist's work that I've seen in some time.

Almost poetic.

He's now in his late 80s and has been painting for over 60 years. He paints real landscapes in an abstracted way with superb tonal control and fabulous colour sense.  I love his cloudscapes, seascapes and snowscapes.

See recent works
Fred has devoted his life to expressing the fleeting impressions of his surroundings, often painting the South Coast of England around Hastings and Rye where he lives.

Screenshot from the video 'Fred Cuming RA: Portrait of an Artist' - inside the studio
This is the video. I highly recommend you view the video in HD mode on full screen.

Fred Cuming painting in his studio shed.
He was elected a Royal Academician in 1974 - this is his profile on the RA website

Fred Cuming RA will be exhibiting work with four other artists in 'The Alchemy of Paint' opening at Gallery 8, Duke Street, St James's on 21 May.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Travels of Atlantis Art Materials - on the move again!

The largest art shop in London has moved again! 

I regard Atlantis Art Materials as one of my local art materials shops. It's had lots of locations around the East End of London since I first encountered it just off Devons Road in E3 more years ago than I can accurately remember.

I've bought masses of art materials and supplies "stuff" from Atlantis in my time. They were my supplier of choice for paper, foam core, mat board when I could access them easily by car - because you could buy masses and just load it straight on to the back seat.  Plus I've been known to acquire an awful lots of bits and bobs having to walk past shelves to get to the foam core!  I can visualise all the pastels and pencils racks still because I used to spend so long in front of them....

I was idling trying to work out how many locations it has had since I've known them - and in the end came up with six - but I have only visited four of them.

There again they've only been in the latest one in Hackney since 5th March 2018.

1. Original Location: Devons Road, London E3 (mid/late 1980s?)

I'm sure this is the first place that I first I came across Atlantis Art Materials. I don';t think they'd been going for very long when I first came across them.

It was a typical location for a company looking for a large building and not wanting to pay lots of rent! They inhabited a very modern techie type building next to where the Devons Road DLR Station (opened 1987) is now. This was by far the smallest of the stores. They got a lot bigger when they moved on from here.  I don't think the DLR was open when I first visited it - but I could be wrong.

The original Devons Road location. 
I seem to recall the building they were in looked different so it might have changed or it might just be so many years ago I can't actually remember.

I do remember going there to review watercolour paint after reading Michael Wilcox's book The Wilcox Guide to the Best Watercolor Paints (published 1993) because this was the first time I'd taken a good long hard look at Old Holland Paint - which I never ever saw in any other art suppliers. (Note: this book is now way out of date - but did trigger a bit of a revolution if testing watercolours!)

2. The Huge Warehouse in Brick Lane (Early - Late 90s?)

I can't remember the precise address but it was right opposite the Old Truman Brewery - in an HUGE warehouse with great parking. It was absolutely cavernous and one of the stores I liked the best.

They were here for ages and I made lots of early purchases here.

Many is the time I've climbed that little flight of stairs
and entered the cathedral of art materials

a very small entrance
- which led to an enormous space behind

3. Whitechapel - early 2000s - 2009

7-9 Plumber's Row London E1 1EQ (just behind the Mosque on Whitechapel Road - as was)

This was one of the best locations and was also very accessible whether visiting using public transport or by car. I could normally guarantee I could park the car either in their car park or on the street - which meant I could take my time and spend lots of money I hadn't planned to.

Plus I really liked the layout and the paper desk - which was away from everything else.

I have some very pleasant memories of having a wind down from work wander around on Saturday afternoons.

They had to move on when plans for the area were developed and the site is now home to student accommodation.

4. Hanbury Street - August 2009- 2015

Disabled unfriendly entrance
- especially when carrying stuff!
Britannia House, 68-80 Hanbury Street, London E1 5JL

This was a large bright space once you got inside and lots of space to display the products well. However the access was a total nightmare (particularly for those with mobility challenges) in terms of both stairs at the entrance, the store on the second floor and a lift that took forever - plus never enough parking spaces outside - plus controlled parking zone. Luckily I could park locally being a resident of Tower Hamlets - however I still had to time visits for when it was more likely there would be spaces!

My shopping at Atlantis dropped off after they moved here - largely because of the accessibility reasons. It more or less became an emergency visits only - and I took to ordering online for larger stock supplies.

I'm guessing this is what finally stimulated the eternal "mail order" firm into finally getting its act together and generating an internet ordering service

The building is now a  refurbished very modern and"funky" apartment block.

5. Old Street 2015 - 25 February 2018

Basement, 16-28 Tabernacle Street, EC2A 4DD

The 2015 Invite to New Premises
I've never visited this venue as I'd stopped being a regular customer after the parking problems associated with Hanbury Street. It never struck me as being particularly easy to visit - being in the middle of a gigantic one way system.

NEW / Current Location - Hackney E8 - from 5th March 2018

Unit 1/Unit 7 Bayford Street Industrial Centre, London E8 3SE

This is their announcement.  They've got two units in a business centre - Unit 1 for main art supplies and Unit 7 just for paper.
  • The plus points: 
    • London Fields overground is within 200m
    • It's near the main bus routes via Mare Street
    • will be great for Hackney based artists
  • The negatives: 
    • double yellow lines everywhere - if you're not a Hackney resident don't even think about taking a car! 
    • no information on the website about parking - it's as if nobody ever has to move large or heavy items!
    • Atlantis have left Tower Hamlets - it's not local any more!

They're not a very internet savvy firm however you can follow them on:

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Rejection from the RA Summer Exhibition

This week lots of people got their notification about their entry to this year's Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition.

More than 95+% of them will have got a rejection email/letter.

You are in very good company if one of those was you.

Just to give you some perspective if you were rejected, this painting by Peter Brown NEAC ROI PS BSA was also rejected....
"Dear Peter Brown, Thank you for submitting your artwork: NED READING ON THE STUDIO FLOOR. The Members of the Summer Exhibition Committee...regret that they will not be able to include your artwork..."

Ned lying on the Studio Floor
Peter Brown
There have been HOWLS of disbelief on Facebook at this decision - 72 shares (and mine was one such) - and and very many comments - which I have idly wondered about analysing!

Last year I wrote a post called Does the RA Summer Exhibition still have the WOW factor?

#7 of the 10 reasons I gave for why the Summer Exhibition had lost its "WOW" was
7. too few good figurative paintings - by which I mean of the relatively realistic variety. There were any number of the more fantasy oriented or "I can't draw" variety. I see a lot more paintings I like better on a regular basis in the open exhibitions and art competitions exhibiting at the Mall Galleries.
I'm pleased to say that those of you who would like to see it in person will be able to do so at the Annual Exhibition of the New English Art Club which will be at the Mall Galleries between 15 Jun 2018 to 23 Jun 2018

It's worth remembering that NEAC was originally set up by those who were disgruntled by the decisions of those running the RA!
Historically, the New English was founded by a group of artists dissatisfied with the entrenched attitudes of the Royal Academy. They mounted their first show in 1886 including paintings by Clausen, Sickert and Stanhope Forbes. The club increasingly attracted younger artists, bringing with them the influence of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Many diverse styles of art have developed since its founding, adding richness and variety.

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Previous reviews of the Summer Exhibition