Wednesday, 11 November 2009


I don't know why, but I've always found it difficult to say 'I'm an artist' or 'I'm a poet' or 'I'm a writer', though I've been all of these things at some time during the past 20 years (or more). I'm self-conscious and not very confident when it comes to owning up to what I've always truly believed I am, especially when I have so little in the way of material gain to show for it. And its bad not having the courage to say what you truly believe you are because when other people exclaim what they are, your own lack of courage makes you bitter and resentful of those people. When of course you should just be glad that they have the courage of their convictions, just as you yourself should have.

I'm making a concerted effort at the moment in one particular area of my creative life. I've been researching (well trying to, there isn't exactly a glut of information out there) the route to becoming a professional artist. Twenty or so years ago, when I was a student at Birmingham Polytechnic, and earlier still when I was a 6th former, I had a pretty clear cut idea of what becoming professional entailed. Years of disappointment, unhappy accident, personal misjudgement and lack of self-confidence have fogged my old clear thinking. So much so that I'm having to re-learn what I once took for granted.

I'm starting small. With a business card. Whether I'll actually ever get round to using the business card, that's a different matter. But at least it’s a start.

As usual I've probably tried to pack too much into this small representative of my 'business' presence (visual artistic presence that is). Nothing is ever simple for me, and I fall again and again into the same habit - give me 2 alternatives and I'm spoiled for choice. Crippled by it, in fact. My visual artistic practice falls naturally into black and white and colour, so I got it into my head that a business card would have to display both, because stylistically there are few connections between these 2 artistic opposites. At least none that I can see at the moment. To represent both black and white and colour work I decided to use both sides of the card, with image and details on the front and an additional image on the back.

I found out the standard size of a business card by Googling 'business card' AND 'standard size' AND 'UK' - this turned out to be 8.5 x 5.5cm (in either orientation).

I browsed my folder of digital photographs of my artwork and decided to use 'rootfast', a pen and ink drawing I made 4 years ago on canvas, to represent my black and white work and my current 'in progress' mixed media work of an autumn tree to represent colour. In addition to Rootfast I chose 'Knotty' a pen and ink drawing from 2005, as this shrinks down quite nicely to the business card format and would fit on the back of one of my cards.

I opened the images in Photoshop and made sure that each image was CMYK (because I'm going to print the image out), 300dpi (for best print quality) and I saved copies of each image to work on so that I wouldn't accidentally overwrite the originals.

I set up a Photoshop document with lots of 8.5 x 5.5cm white rectangles so that I can play around with design elements, hiding, showing, moving or duplicating them at will. I typed in the very basic of information required for a business card: Name, artist/materials, web address, telephone number, e-mail and some kind of logo/signature. I've used a basic Arial font for the text and Bradley Hand ITC for the signature, I can always change these later if I want to.

I then began playing around with cropping and erasing parts of my images in Photoshop. For the erasing part I used my old Wacom tablet, which I bought about 10 years ago now.

When I got a design that I liked I cropped it (entering the business card dimensions so that the image would be cropped to the right size) and saved each card in a separate file. I then clicked 'step backward' in my multi-card file so that my card still appears in this file too.

I printed my cards off, decided on an image for the reverse and printed this off too, then glued the 2 sides together to make a very rough mock-up. Which is the stage I'm at now.

More chaotic than business like at the moment.

When I was researching artistic business cards on-line last week I found this great article which has helped me a lot -

By the way, the image on my desktop is by an artist who was featured in November's Artists and Illustrators Magazine, her name is Flora McLachlan and her work has a lovely magical quality about it that reminds me of Arthur Rackham.

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