‘Making Art Work’ helps build professional skills

Series of workshops designed to help emerging artists

Hiba Abdallah hosted ‘Talking About Artist Talks’.
Credit: 
Supplied by Union Gallery

Union Gallery is running an ongoing professional development series titled Making Art Work in collaboration with the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and Modern Fuel.

The free workshops facilitated by local artists are designed to help emerging artists refine their business skills. Topics include learning how to manage finances, talking about your artwork with others, and how to prepare a portfolio.

Abby Nowakowski, administrative and communications coordinator at Union Gallery, said becoming a well-rounded artist takes work outside the studio.

“[People] often think, ‘Oh I’m an artist, I don’t need to know how to do that,’ and that’s where a lot of the fear comes from. It [takes] networking and starting conversations. It’s not necessarily business [in the sense of] money-making, but rather the strings that pull it all together,” Nowakowski said in an interview with The Journal.

The courses offered in Making Art Work are for artists looking to take the next step.

Union Gallery hosted “Talking About Artist Talks” on Mar. 15.  Host Hiba Abdallah discussed self-promotion—an essential aspect of getting your art out into the world.

Registration is now open for “Preparing Portfolios,” another workshop in the series set to be hosted by Modern Fuel on Apr. 19 at 6 p.m.

“These are really important things for our career, but aren’t always taught in an academic field,” Nowakowski said.

“In school, [artists] learn a lot of techniques, but not the business side of what it means to be an artist. Through this professional development series, we’re [teaching] things you maybe didn’t learn in art school. It’s a meaningful set of courses geared for real-life artists.”

When asked about the inspiration behind Making Art Work, Nowakowski said Union Gallery and its partners recognized a need in the community. Developing professional skills can make the process of applying to Kingston’s many lucrative grants less daunting.

“There are a lot of opportunities for showcasing your work, but sometimes [they] feel out of reach if you don’t have the skills,” Nowakowski noted.

“Things like documenting your work or putting together a strong portfolio—these are [areas where] we’ve heard artists asking for help. Having those skills will help propel your career as an artist.”

The pandemic has exacerbated the need to refine these skills.

“You definitely need to find ways to pivot during these strange times. Having the skills to be your own boss [has become] so important.”

Nowakowski hopes Queen’s students who tune in to Making Art Work come away from the workshops with the confidence to take a leap.

Interested participants can register online.

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