Sunday, 16 March 2014

Introducing Bridgeman Studio. (Fear not Facebook Fans!)

by Poppy Field I

In my last blog, I announced the forthcoming launch of Bridgeman Studio's online platform with the promise to divulge more about it in this week's post. What I hadn't expected was gaining further incentive to share this with you.

For, although not unreasonable, something totally unpredicted happened. 

The link to my last blog about sculptor Brian Booth Craig was removed by Facebook. But, only on The Florence Academy of Art’s  profile… not digiQualia’s, not the Lyme Academy’s, not Brian’s and not mine.

Of course, I understand that nudity can be offensive to some. And I wouldn't dream of questioning Facebook’s community standards.

However, I can only assume that someone reported the link on the FAA's page as inappropriate, and that is something I want to explore. Why did this happen? Grayson Perry has suggested that art has lost the power to shock, so do we have double standards for art viewed online and that seen in the flesh? It is common to visit a Musuem or Gallery, often accompanied by a child, and be confronted by vulgarity. In fact, it is frequently intended in the work of celebrated artists such as Sarah Lucas, Tracy Emin and the Chapman Brothers.

Or, could the phenomenon of cyberbullying be a threat to artists? On the page for an academy that champions figurative art why was only this post targeted?

But, before I get carried away speculating the intent of the complainant, I would like to apologise to the Florence Academy of Art (FAA). Their page was blocked for three days.

If this happens again, the FAA risk having their page deleted permanently. And that would mean so much more than their 9,799 fans losing touch with the work of students and alumni.

Mark Twain advised “Write what you know,” and so I will use my own experiences to illustrate the calamity the removal of the FAA's Facebook page could cause.

This blog, my aspiration to understand what motivates patronage, my need to gain Gallery experience and the topics I focus on at the Courtauld are the direct result of my time spent studying sculpture at the FAA. And why is this relevant you groan? Because of Facebook. It was on my News Feed that I first learnt about the FAA through the drawings of my good friend Ione Hunter Gordon:


When I saw the quality of Ione's work, I simply had to pack up, move to Italy and seek out the training she had. 

If figurative artists can no longer post images of their work on Facebook, how will they promote themselves and gain a fan base?

How will their work encourage so many others aspiring artists to take a leap of faith?

Would artists' courses still be in demand?

But most crucially – how would this impact on their commissions and sales? This is where Bridgeman Studio comes in. Though, heed my warning: this is not an alternative for Facebook and nor is it intended to be.

Rather, Bridgeman Studio is an online platform for contemporary artists, photographers, illustrators and graphic artists. It is the newest addition to Bridgeman Art Library’s extensive portfolio of brands. These include Bridgeman Education, Bridgeman Print on Demand and Bridgeman Footage. 

Established by Harriet Bridgeman C.B.E in 1972, the Bridgeman Art Library is the world’s leading rights-managed specialist in reproducing and licensing art, photography and footage.

Over the past 40 years Bridgeman has built up a global client base with offices in London, New York, Paris and Berlin, representing some of the world’s most prestigious museums and artists for copyright. I was lucky enough to chat to one such artist, Simon Fletcher, earlier this year. If you didn't catch the ensuing blog post just click here!

Represented artists are marketed to this existing international clientèle base of over 30,000. Artists will be invited to create exclusive images for creative commissions. To generate further income Studio Artists will also be eligible for Print on Demand. But, not to worry, the studio team will manage the copyright clearance and reproduction on every licence!

Fear not Facebook fans, accepted artists will also be provided with their own personal, customisable page on the Studio website. Here, they can write a biography, upload images and link to their website and social media channels.

To apply to be a Studio Artist follow this link. You will be asked to upload a selection of low-res images. These, and your online presence, will be reviewed by the Bridgeman Studio team to evaluate your work from a commercial licensing perspective.

If accepted, your images will appear in the Bridgeman Images archives. This is considered to be the leading rights-managed resource for images and footage.

Clients can find artists' images in a variety of ways. My personal favourite is by searching a keyword. Think of these as hashtags on Instagram or twitter. #watermark: all uploaded images will be watermarked with the Bridgeman logo. Only when a client licenses an image will they have access to the un-watermarked version. And artists always retain the copyright.

Of course, such an enterprise can only exist on an annual subscription basis. The cost for an artist to join is GBP £100 (ex. VAT) / €125 (ex. VAT) / US$150. For countries outside the Eurozone or the United States of America artists will be billed in GBP.

If you have read this far then you certainly deserve to know about the Bridgeman Studio Award 2014 Competition!

In partnership with Creative Review, this offers one winner £500, Bridgeman Studio Award 2014 Certificate/Award and 1 year free subscription to the Bridgeman Studio portal. Five runners up will each be given 1 year free subscription to Bridgeman Studio or £100.

Entry is free. Just submit up to five images of original artwork on the theme JOY. The winning piece will be judged on its commercial ability to be licensed on a book cover, as CD / Album Artwork and as a standalone piece of art.

You have until Tuesday 20th May to apply. Good luck!

So, whilst I may not have solved the mystery of Facebook's decision to remove the FAA's link to my last blog, I am delighted that artists will now have an additional platform from which to promote their work. 

As for me, I am heading off to Florence next week to interview Robert Bodem, Maureen Hyde, Jennifer Keltos, Nelson White, Benjamin Arnold, Jamie Coreth and hopefully Ben Fenkse for digiQualia! More about this next time... 

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