April 10, 2018 at 6:02 pm
I feel bound to respond to the ‘grumble’ in the latest newsletter regarding lack of news from members.
I have a number of grumbles of my own regarding communications with the Society. I volunteered my services/participation for the Manchester Workshop twice, once at the AGM immediately preceding and in a separate e-mail. The next I hear is a report on the Workshop having taken place. I have twice asked for details about the SAA which was heavily trailed by the Society. Again no response. I have sent details of my self-designed/illustrated project for the Colwyn Victoria Pier. I understand this might have been shown at the last AGM but have no confirmation of this and certainly there’s been no report to the wider membership in News or Newsletter.
Out here in the sticks we do have news and interests and gallery presences but my recent experience has inhibited to say the least any participation/ contact. Yes the society has every right to consider my efforts unworthy of inclusion in its august chronicles but please don’t complain about lack of interest. This is not the reason for the seeming closed circle of ‘usual suspects’ present on the SAI site.April 11, 2018 at 7:03 am
Good to hear from you, Nigel, and thanks for creating this thread. Perhaps it also says something, though I’m not sure what, that this is the first time to see a newsletter heading here on the forum. It’s surely long overdue. Here’s a reply I had just sent to the SAI on this topic of the newsletter. Maybe others can throw in their pennies or pounds worth too. I have heard that Don is going to cover all this at the AGM.
Thank you, Heather, Richard, Don and all those who helped put this newsletter together. It is always well received here. There is nothing quite like a professionally produced color publication — discounting color illustrations!
Special congratulations to Pete Jarvis for his successful book publication. May it sell well!
I seldom use Facebook so, personally, I favor the newsletter approach rather than dumping it and just relying on Facebook. Perhaps ironically, a lot of people are now dumping Facebook due to its recently revealed privacy protection problems and unreliability. Those Facebook-leaver members would be out of the loop if we go just to Facebook.
We also have a forum with almost zero activity, yet I think it important to keep these portals open as long as we can afford them. A reference library may be very sporadically used too, but it is important it is there for those who may wish to use it, albeit on very rare occasions; and it is an important repository of history. A newsletter is vastly different from a reference library, of course, but the newsletter does essentially catalogue our history and development, and even if for that reason alone I think it should remain.
Maybe we should offer a small payment for those who contribute with either work, writing or organization. A magazine for which I used to photograph covers did that. The payments were very modest, but it kept interest alive and material flowing in — not all of which was used for a variety of reasons.
If next to no one continues contributing, perhaps at those times it could just be reduced in size, which I think happens anyway.
I agree with Don about the non-charitable status if we are not contributing to any charity.
Anyway, just my thoughts on matters arising in the newsletter, which is a good source of feedback for those like myself who cannot make it to the AGMs.
Warm regards to all,April 11, 2018 at 4:42 pm
Thank you Chris for your measured response to these issues.
Notwithstanding what I said in my very personal ‘grumbles’ regarding member interest, it is certainly true that this forum and its topics are moribund if not actually dead! Many worthwhile topics have had no responses for several (many) years. The timings shown on the various threads makes it difficult to attribute the fall-off in interest to the financial crash and a consequent decline in workload which would be an obvious and understandable and continuing cause for this. So what are we to make of it? Are we all solitary souls reluctant t0 communicate, to reveal ourselves? Content just to have an online presence on the SAI website which gathers in the work?
Reverting again to the personal (and not generally valid?) I am based in North Wales which is effectively now a ‘Third World’ country. I receive no commissions whatsover from Welsh sources. What does come my way is via longstanding clients from ‘over the border’. I cannot remember the last time I had a referral through the SAI site.
Don’t shout- I’m not insensible to ‘ unkind’ reasons for this situation and in my semi-retired state perhaps I’m not so exercised as I should be about chasing and networking, and opening new contacts .
Individual artistic vision and the ability to visualise should be a priceless asset in today’s generic world. So what are other members views and experiences in the time of Facebook and Twitter.
Take over from this old man please!April 16, 2018 at 4:34 pm
so 2 days and whole weekend later (or 4 days and 23 hours)
held to account, indignation, speculation ,confession and finally not even ‘am -dram’ histrionics pulled a response- another SAI thread going nowhereApril 17, 2018 at 1:57 pm
It does look a bit like a ghost town here, doesn’t it, Nigel. I’m so busy at unis that I seldom get time to do other things I should or must do, let alone come and talk or discuss things here, although there are times when I’d like to, if only I had time.
This forum has never been very active. It seems UK artists/illustrators aren’t into this kind of media. I think the JARA forum, in Japan, is somewhat busier. That may be because they have more members and perform more activities, like exhibitions that people want to keep up with and participate in, and the forum is the means to do that and keep in touch with the other exhibitors.
As we know, forums are for talking and discussing these days since the advent of the various social networks and media. There seems, for example, to be more SAI pictorial activity on FB where conversation is minimal. Maybe British artists just aren’t interested in talking much and would rather just share pics; and social networks give them more eyeballs and regular viewing, so greater exposure. I’m not faulting posting pics only and predominantly on FB, of course. It’s just the multi-media world we live in these days.
I found it difficult to talk or write about my artwork myself decades ago when I was drawing and painting. I think most artists think their work should do the talking rather than their mouth — or a keyboard.April 20, 2018 at 1:08 pm
Another measured and thoughtful post from you Chris.
There is a degree of overlap between your speculation on the causes of the silence in the society and mine. Maybe we’ve both been barking up the wrong trees but whatever the cause I think it’s deeply sad and unhealthy for the Society.
Unhealthy for two reasons: first potential clients and prospective members see on the website how little is going on and the lapses in the Forum threads. Surely this must take its toll on commission referall numbers and member applicants. Second: the same members’ banners go on greeting us when the website is accessed , the opening grouping being the only ones I suspect anyone ever looks at given even a ‘very interested’ attention span. Some members work seems overly represented in this banner sequence and others get no coverage at all. Let’s have some vibrant new images from say, Bruce Paget, Gerard Whyman, Jonathan Bassindale, Arthur Manton Lowe, Jonathan Leavens- just a few that sprang out from a quick trawl of members work. I’m sure there are others.April 21, 2018 at 6:15 pm
This SAI forum and network, like everything in the universe, are evolving on. It looks like FB is becoming the communication medium of choice probably due to its broader exposure to the general public. This forum may become a forum just for members to privately commune and share. I do not know that people or businesses looking for an illustrator would enter the forum here much. That is not necessary for their purposes. They would probably also assume it is more for member’s communications and contact them from the main pages, and details. Why hunt through a forum when all you need is in the far easier to access main pages?
Perhaps FB is killing this forum for anything other than inter-member communications. Myself, I would rather post here than on FB.April 24, 2018 at 5:03 pm
Well there’s you, Chris, and there’s me- communicating ‘inter-member’. Despite the spaces we leave no-one else has joined this thread.
I still think that developers, builders and entrepreneurs will be pretty savvy about vetting the bodies where they source their collaborators and consultants. My point here is about setting up and sustaining ‘visitor’ confidence: the public face of the SAI site needs more news (forum activity I agree is less likely to be accessed by non-members) and it needs more vibrant and varied images, all up front on its homepage.April 25, 2018 at 3:44 am
On the Homepage: I see that the latest entries there are tweets from Twiter. I’ve never been interested in going to Twiter. The name puts me off. Isn’t it for twits? Pass.April 25, 2018 at 1:05 pm
Apologies both, as the moderator for the forum I have been absent recently.
As I’ve not had a join request for about 6 months I’d rather let it drift and the last time I looked there was nothing new. I used to spend a few minutes everyday looking at it but after about 3 months of total inactivity I cut this down figuring that even 1 minute x 364 days (I had Christmas day off!) was 6 hours a year which could be better spent elsewhere.
The decline of the forum is due to a number of reasons; they are generally disappearing – the Association of Illustrators got rid of theirs about 4 years ago, the RICS and RIBA did likewise shortly after and moved over to LinkedIn. LinkedIn itself is in decline and a lot of people moved over to Facebook. The SAI does have a Facebook presence but only about 20% of the membership are in the group and more like 5-10% contribute. Facebook itself seems to have been superseded by Twitter (a bit) but most art/photography based users are now on Instagram. I find it hard to keep up!April 25, 2018 at 2:12 pm
Maybe I should create an Instagram account if an account is what they want; but, correct me if I am wrong, you cannot talk about pictures there. So what’s the point, other than the contemporary instant eye candy gratification? I will probably wait and see what comes along to take its place…or the iteration that follows its replacement.
As you say, Tim, it is hopeless trying to keep up with these sites unless one is really into them and has the time, and patience to surf among them. By the time you have got the hang of one — and one is barely sufficient because most are so minimal — it is out of date.
It makes me wonder whether we are witnessing the demise of meaningful communications online. In which case, a forum like this should be of inestimable value.
Alternatively, maybe a blog would be more apropos. These seem on the rise too, and I know of a few that are growing in popularity. The problem there is the need for constant new topics, and it is often too complicated for would-be contributors to enter new threads on the blog. If allowed people do not know how or couldn’t be bothered to go through the ropes, and then we are back to readers, general populace or members just dropping in comments. I seldom see meaningful discussion on even my most viewed blogs. Also, the well-attended Blogs tend to be sensationalist rather than professional. I still see the best discussions on closely monitored forums.April 25, 2018 at 2:41 pm
Very good points Chris, I use Instagram a bit but only because my children are on there and for messing around. It is certainly not a medium that promotes discussion! I do use Facebook albeit reluctantly for another group that I run – only because Twitter, Flicker and a Blog drew almost zero response and people only responded on FB.
That blog took a LOT of time too and it was very hard to get contributions, which is why it died.
Sadly I think you may be right, meaningful online discussion is disappearing in favour of quick gratification, fake news, trolling and other rubbish.April 25, 2018 at 5:23 pm
I was stung into raising this topic by Richard’s remarks in the last newsletter regarding lack of news and interest. Notwithstanding my opening remarks, with Chris and Martin’s latest posts, the thread has come full circle and provided Richard with ‘chapter and verse’ on this issue. Seemingly everyone is ploughing their own furrow in fields provided by other platforms.
So it could still be said that the Forum has its uses.April 25, 2018 at 5:26 pm
My apologies Tim. I have no idea why I typed ‘Martin’ instead of your name in my ‘just now’ postApril 25, 2018 at 6:06 pm
So it could still be said that the Forum has its uses.
I think so, Nigel. How all these digital communication networks evolve, however, remains to be seen. As I mentioned earlier, FB and as Tim pointed out, Instagram, seem more apropos for those who want to show only pictures, and artists have a strong visual preference, often coupled with a dislike or disinterest for words these days.
Twentieth-century artists needed to talk about their work and art, but recently we seem to be going back to a purely visual art experience; let the picture, be it painting, illustration photo, or a combination of these say it all.
Are we expecting too much here? There are exceptions like Picasso who remained a prolific producer throughout his life, but artists in the past left us with extraordinary works produced not on a weekly or even monthly basis. Even the short life of Van Gogh covered eight years, and most of that life was sans communication with the world. Today, we compress their lifetime achievements into a book that we read in a day or two, or a TV or film that we watch in an hour or two. The dearth of examples we see here that Nigel pointed out, and even on FB and Instagram as Tim noted, may also be telling us that our artists and illustrators despite depending on work for their livelihood are not that prolific. Many are probably also, as in the past, depending on other sources of income to provide more or less of their income. I too am a case in point.April 26, 2018 at 5:07 pm
I think I have a different take on this issue of ‘provenance’, words and pictures , Chris.
I’m pasting below part of a blog post I made when I revamped my own website http://www.gilpics.com (which I now use for my own work with a link to the SAI website for commissioned architectural illustrations). I said:
‘And yet artists are not only encouraged but expected to have a ‘statement’. Right now a ‘curator-culture’ of interpreters, agents and commentators, works hand-in-glove with the commercial interests of galleries to drive individual artists to define a ‘Unique Selling Point’ for themselves within the Art Market. This of course equals SUCCESS! MONEY! FAME!
I have sometimes been known to read about artists and the history of art but I never came across anything like: ‘Well, Mijnneer van Rijn- or can I call you Rembrandt? – we’d like you to complete this submission form and tell us what it is that drives you to paint, what your themes are, how your work compares to other similar artists, and where you see the price point in today’s market for all those dark self-portraits you’ve been doing lately?’
How good was Rembrandt’s public profile and how hard did he have to tread water to maintain it? Ridiculous ? This has become a ‘key’ strategy to success because being ‘a whizz on social media’ is tip no.5 in ‘Decoding the Rules of the Art World for Newbies’ on the Artnet News site. And do we know how good a ‘mixer’ Rembrandt was because additional hot advice from Artnet is ‘make sure you’re seen at the right parties’ and ‘drop names early and often’. Good heavens, Mr Van Gogh you’d be dead in the water at gatherings of the great and the good, but then you were, weren’t you Vincent?’
So in this environment, if we’re no good at words we make damn sure our work looks like a lot of other stuff that has already made it. Architectural illustration looks like architectural illustrationMay 10, 2018 at 11:23 amMay 10, 2018 at 3:13 pm
Yep, that’s the thing. There are not many people contorting right now!May 10, 2018 at 11:56 pm
I peeked in too and saw the same vacancy. Maybe I should apply for a job!
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.