Tag Archives: Creative careers

Abstract Elements: The Exhibition Opening Event  

9 May

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth.

Najma Hush Abstract Elements Exhibition Opening Evening

Spot the Freudian slip…

Today, we would like to do something, a little bit different. By ‘we’, I mean me – Najma Hush, one woman, who is going it alone, like so many other creative people, determined to make that critical transformation from an emerging artist, to an established artist.  Usually writing about my projects upon this blog in third person –  PhotoGiraffe – bragging about how wonderful the exhibition openings have been.  Although, they have been rather fabulous, upon reflection, I now feel that there are certain drawbacks when not openly addressing certain faults with such ‘experiments’, when perhaps if disclosed openly, it could help many other emerging artists who might be scratching there heads, wondering how to make themselves stand out from all the other wee-little chicks in this birds nest, all screaming for attention to get that juicy worm, dangling from the mouth of the giant (i.e. established galleries).  But how much honesty can I display here at the detriment of my own reputation and personal liability?  The only way to find out is by reading on and I’m kind of curious myself, as to what this write up will be like…

  The more mistakes you make, the more you learn, the more you progress.

Abstract Elements is a collection of five photographic images, currently exhibiting at The Warehouse Cafe (Please see previous post for details).  With its  exhibition opening held last Monday (5th May’14), I hosted my very own launch event inviting Poets and Musicians to platform their own skills and celebrate my latest exhibition at the Warehouse Cafe.   An award winning restaurant, located in the Friends of the Earth building (Birmingham, Digbeth), The Warehouse Cafe are a non-profit, community interest company and provide local artists, a space to exhibit.  They were interested in exhibiting a selection which would compliment their ‘Green’ ethos.  This is how we reached the mutual decision to exhibit Abstract Elements due to its connection with natureHowever, due to the small number of works and their size, this collection was not big enough to fill their walls, which is why a last minute decision was made to exhibit, Some Kind of Blue too.

Poet Performer Carys Matic Performing at the exhibition opening

Poet Performer Carys Matic Performing at the exhibition opening

Without any disillusionment about motivation, the main reasons for inviting poets and performers has always been to collaborate for cross-promotional purposes.  As a creative writer my main circle of associates have mainly been other poets.   As an emerging artist, I have little contact with buyers and in all honesty as someone who is quite new to this business, I don’t really know who they are.   As a poet I like poetry performances and this is how I generally spend my spare time.  Inviting poets to these events to perform, gives me a little more to talk about on online social platforms, other than just saying, ‘Hello world, I have an exhibition and this is the concepts behind this collection’.  The performers benefit from this collaboration, due to the platform I provide for them to showcase their talents as well as all the promotional write ups I usually do on this blog and the pictures I post on my facebook page which promote their skills by positively  reviewing their input.  Futhermore, because of their involvement, they help me spread the word about the exhibition opening events.  Sounds like a good idea in theory and here is how it is works in practice.

 Advantages:

1. It contributes to a more lively atmosphere for the exhibition opening events and adds a varying dynamic to the overall occasion.

2. It gives the (emerging artist) an opportunity to practice standing in front of an (otherwise larger) audience to host and talk to about their work publicly. 

 

Disadvantage:

1. The majority of people who will come to your exhibition opening will be the people performing who will be more keen to perform than view or provide feedback on the images you’ve displayed.

2. Your exhibition opening might be at risk of becoming more about performing art rather than the exhibited  fine art.

 

There are no failures only unexpected outcomes.

Seems like a fairly balanced assessment of advantages and disadvantage, however, the latter is what became most prominent the morning after the night before.  Post-exhibition opening, when reviewing the responses from almost all parties involved, I noticed that the main feedback I was  getting that the event that I had organised was a poetry performance event.  Other than reading performance reviews  from peoples ‘ facebook status updates’ I noticed, there was little commentary about the exhibiting images.  Furthermore, there seemed to be little mention of the fact that there was any art work displayed at all, which they the performers had initially been invited to come and respond to.  Although most performing artists (bar two), did perform along the theme of the ‘natural elements’ to tie in with the collection of the photographs, this fact became even more protruding when I noticed that even The Warehouse Cafe had posted a thank you note on their fan page to all those who came to their ‘first ever open mic night’.  (Lucky for me, I have a great sense of humor.)

 

Exhibition Opening Night of Najma Hush's  Abstract Elements:  A photography exhibition.

Exhibition Opening Night of Najma Hush’s Abstract Elements: A photography exhibition.

 Conclusion

What I have learnt from my experiences and reconfirmed in recent articles I have read about exhibiting in cafe’s and  restaurants, that they are ‘ not looking at this as an opportunity to make a commission on sales and increase their revenue – consequently, they aren’t going to have much motivation to actively promote or sell the work  (http://www.reddotblog.com/wordpress/index.php/showing-your-art-in-cafes-restaurants-banks-and-other-venues/) and as this article points out  that more than often the artist using these venues just become a commodity promoting their venue.

Naturally, nobody does anything for nothing and therefore it is the exhibiting artists responsibility to define their own outcomes from their opening events.  Also as the above referenced article points out, cafe’s and restaurants might have an interesting mailing list to attract people to the opening events, however even if The Warehouse Cafe did have this, they admitted later on that this was not a priority due to their busy schedule.  After all, to reiterate, for most cafes hosting exhibitions by local artists, their business is not art but will always primarily be food and drink with an agenda to gain more clients.

Expectation Versus Outcome

My expectations at this current stage of my career is not to make loads and loads of sales, but rather to gain exposure and a good reputation.  Reverting back to defined outcomes, I do not feel that event was a success because, I did not place enough emphasis upon the work that I had curated and exhibited.  I failed to attract a crowd of art lovers/buyers but instead curated a spectacular arts festival, which was truly magical and amazing and the hospitality shown by the venue was immaculate, however it has made me think more critically about exactly where I am at present, versus where I intend to go.  Nobody can predict or control the behavior and response of those who you collaborate with, after all we are all individuals and we all have our own expected outcomes, but what one can do, is learn from each experience by reflecting objectively and positively in order to progress.  

Najma Hush at the Exhibition opening event of Abstract Elements , courtasey of NuBi magazine who came to review the event.

Najma Hush at the exhibition opening of Abstract Elements , courtasey of NuBi magazine who came to review the nights event. (Photographed by Shahid Chohan)

How might you learn from my mistakes?

When selecting a cafe or restaurant to exhibit in:

* First and foremost, be proactive and go out to all exhibition openings so that you can gain the right contacts with people who really are interested in fine art and whom you can invite to your exhibitions.

* When choosing a restaurant or cafe, ask yourself, do you have similar values?  (i.e do they have a reputation for being a hub for the creative arts? Or will you have to compromise a great deal on what you want exhibited and also question why they are allowing you their space?)

* Ask the venue what kind of mailing list they have and how much will they can contribute to the promotion of your opening event.  If you are a proactive artist and good with social networking media, you might be doing more to promote the venue than your own work and unless you have a large network of buyers/clients this might not bother you, but otherwise I would say, choose a cafe that would promote your exhibition equally. 

 *  Find out from previous artists if they gained much feedback from the venue’s clients and if they made many sales in these spots.  Were their price margins the same as yours?

*  By all means invite performers to platform, but keep the slots short and simple, and make sure that number one: you are selective with quality performers only and number two you make it clear it’s not an open mic night which otherwise implies your events is just a-free-for-all.

*  On your opening event, make sure you rehearse a script of what you might want to say as an opening speech.  Prepare what you will say about yourself and then about the exhibiting works. Practice, practice, practice and then open up a panel discussion for questions and answers – if nobody has any questions – ask for feedback…

*  If you do not get the feedback ask for the feedback.  Don’t be shy, ask the questions. ‘What do you like about this collection?  Is there anything you do you not like about it?  What’s your most favourite and why?  What’s your least and why?’  If you find this intimidating, create anonymous feedback forms for honest criticism and advise.

 

Keep On Moving!

Whoever may be reading this article and no matter what you maybe doing with your life, I believe that if you got this far down reading this article, it’s probably because you are an artist.  Remember, no matter what genre of artist you maybe, if you are being proactive with your skills you are putting yourself out there to be judged.   Your work has to be judged and whether those judgement are a positive or negative reflection of your work, you must learn to accept the opinions of other, but still remain strong in what you believe in and let what you believe in, always be yourself!

 

Please do comment with any useful or contrary thoughts.  I am generally a student in life; I have an open mind and I’m always willing to learn.

After all that's said it was a very night and really well organised...

After all that’s said it was a really great night spent with amazing people and really well organised…

 

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Women in Video Games? Never has there been a fiercer time than now!

16 Dec

Never has there been a fiercer time than now!

Contrary to historical belief, according to a recent article published on icould.com “… latest research suggests that the number of women working in the games industry has increased to 15% worldwide and even higher in some UK studios.”  As an example, they extend to the EA team behind the The Sims 3 game which they claim had more female than male developers, “so the tide is changing and there has never been a better time for women to break into the industry.” Oct, 2011.

Furthermore, as a positive career choice for women, icould.com state that “women who do work in the games industry are often more successful than their male colleagues.”  With figures taken from a recent survey by MCV, icould.com revealed that the average salary for women working in the games industry is “higher than an average male salary working in the same industry.

“I needed the experience to understand the world better. Although I love Poland, I don’t believe that the entire world can exist only in my own country. However, I have come back to Poland because I feel that this is where I belong and this is where I want to develop my career. I also love the way my country is changing and what it has become.” Beata Dudzic on working in Poland.

Nevertheless, PhotoGiarffe Live Arts wanted to find out how the Gaming industry weathers for real women – first hand – who are currently in it, in our present age.  So we sent our New Media correspondence, Najma Hush to speak to the marketing and PR representative, Beata Dudzic from Nintendo, Poland.   After having spent seven years living and studying in the multicultural, cosmopolitan city of London, Beata Dudzic, went back to live in Warsaw, Poland and pursued her presently flourishing career as a women in ‘Video Games’.

Read on to find out more, about exactly what young women should expect from the gaming industry, tips on how to break into a similar career successfully, and possible pitfalls to watch out for along the way.  Also read more to see how much further hot news and inside gossip PhotoGiraffe Live Arts was able to squeeze from the PR and Marketing woman, Beata Dudzic, at Nintendo, Poland.

So Beata, what do you do exactly?

After working in the arts and further studying arts management, I have become the marketing and PR representative in the video games industry. The industry I work for is very identifiable, as I work for Nintendo. Fans of the brand take it very seriously and emotionally. Imagine as if I was working for your favourite band…This means that I am very often dealing with the emotions of young people, whilst at the same time, still trying to balance these sensitive issues with very specific company politics.”

And how do you think you are benefiting others by what you are doing?

Making kids smile, because the whole gaming industry is so young and funky! And, particularly as a woman, I am playing an important part in an industry that is ordinarily a man’s world.  Also Nintendo has not been present in Poland for such a long time until now and I am part of building something new and fun. Of course it makes it easier that the brand is huge and well known.  My favourite part of the job is interacting with the fans. They all know me by my name and thanks to Facebook and Twitter I can be connected to them every day.”

So then when did Nintendo first get to Poland? 

“Nintendo is still not officially present in Poland. I represent their interests through the distributor. Beginning with my employment, Nintendo started investing money in marketing in Poland.”

Watch Beata Dudzic at Polygamia.pl (October, 2010)

Oh, I see!  So why do you think it’s taken Nintendo so long to reach out to that part of Europe?

“It’s hard to say really, but maybe by being very successful in America and Western Europe it was easier not to notice a big growing market like Poland but then again neither has it been needed until now.”


Does your job allow you to travel and work outside of Poland much?
Well yes, there is a fair amount of travel involved.  Nintendo of Europe is based in Frankfurt. Stadlbaue.  My direct employer and the distributor for Nintendo are based in Salzburg, Austria. That’s where I mostly travel to; usually for just a few meetings in a year. Apart from that, Expos in Koln, L.A, or for special conferences on the latest products in Europe; I was sent to Amsterdam last time (for example).”

What are you usually expected to do when you’re off location and on-site abroad?
“Oh you know, the usual; meetings, meetings and meetings…dinners, dinners…and dinners!”

Okay, so you said that the gaming industry is dominated by men, have you ever experienced any positive or negative discrimination because of your gender?

“Both!  It probably depends on the country, but I find it both rewarding and burdensome. As a woman I am constantly put in doubt about my competence and knowledge. At the same time as a woman I can lend myself in for more. But what generally matters at Nintendo is, my personality and communication skills – not my sex.”

But you are a very attractive woman; do you think that this has been to your advantage in becoming the public face of Nintendo Poland?

Well, thank you! Yes, I think it has, but it wasn’t the main advantage I hope.”

What advice would you give young women who want to get a career in the gaming industry?
“Really go for it! Perhaps start with playing some games first because they are really cool, but first you have to discover what is appropriate for you. There are many types of games to choose from, so look for out what is most interesting for you. Target your favourite gaming company, do all your research, share your knowledge and most importantly have passion.”

What’s your favourite Nintendo game?

Super Mario Galaxy II. I haven’t been playing it for a while as I’m
busy playing Zelda Skyward Sword at the moment, which is also amazing!!

What we want to see

Can you tell us any gossip about the next hottest thing coming out from Nintendo?
The new console is coming out in 2012, but this is not really gossip but only
official information as the rest is top secret and you will have to keep glued to our official worldwide Nintendo website for the hottest news.  Sorry!

Never mind, you cant say we didn’t try.  Although she is a tough cookie to crack, PhotoGiraffe Live Art would like to send a big warm thanks to Beata Dudzic for taking the time out to give us this exclusive  interview, as a Women in the Gaming Industry and we would also like to thank Nintendo, Poland  for lending her to us.

And so, if you are stuck on ideas  for Christmas presents, maybe Beata’s suggestions on her favourite games  could help you spread the Christmas cheer.  Check the following  link to the cheapest deal on a Nintendo 3DS that PhotoGiraffe Live Art found online or you could watch the lovely Beata in action at the PR launch of Nintendo 3DS in Poland, depending on how good your Polish is.

For further information about career opportunities for women in the Video Games industry check out:

http://icould.com/article/career-opportunities-for-women-in-the-video-gaming-industry/

https://www.facebook.com/icouldstories

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www.womeningames.com .

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