Developing a unique (and marketable) style of art with Veronica Wong

D Emptyspace Gallery by Veronica Wong

Veronica Wong is a Texas-based artist who’s unique, award winning painting style is striking to the eye.

This week we caught up with her to get to know her story. She shares some valuable tips on how to market your art, staying financially viable when everything isn’t going to plan, and be prolific on social media.

What led you to decide to be an artist? How did your passion develop over time

Being an artist was never something I wanted to do when I was young. I loved to dance and being a ballerina was my dream.

I became interested in art when I was in high school, but after my very first assignment, the teacher suggested I switch to sewing! I was really disappointed… but it never stopped me from loving art.

In my spare time, I would go to museums for hours and hours — just immersing myself in the joy of art. I also dived deep into the world of theatre and expressed my creativity by making props and costumes by hand.

When I got married and had childrenI put my artistic self to one side and focused on my family. But once my son left for college, like many mothers, I wondered what I would do with my life.

I happily stumbled back into art. Starting with abstraction and then developing into other styles, I’ve been exploring my artistic style ever since. As you can see from my galleries in D Emptyspace, my art varies from one form to another. As I began to learn and grow, I developed my own unique style.

Singapore the Garden City by Veronica Wong

You create a lot of ocean-themed artworks. What’s the inspiration behind that?

I lived in Queensland, Australia for 5 years, surrounded by the ocean and the wonders of the great barrier reef. I was fascinated by the intricacies of corals and marine life. There is so much hidden beauty under the ocean with a multitude of shapes, colors, dots, and lines all moving in complex but fascinating rhythms.

Do you have a creative space or a studio? What gets you in the right space to start working on your art?

The sunlight beaming into my studio is something that helps me want to paint. Natural light is very important for me as an artist as it reveals vibrant and natural hues I try to capture in my work. I turned a room in my house into a full-time studio because it has such wonderful natural light throughout the day.

To create, I need silence with absolutely no disturbances. No phone ringing, no people talking or walking around. Just me and my painting. That’s really important to me and it’s a struggle to get.

I really love discovering other methods of art and continue to learn and grow. My favorite style is to combine different techniques and mediums. I love using a mixture of acrylic painting, dot art (pointillism) and repeated lines (or zentangle) to create unique structures.

D Emptyspace Gallery by Veronica Wong

How did you start to sell your work? Talk us through that experience and journey? What’s it been like?

I started off selling my art in marketplaces. I choose to do markets because I like the interactions I have with people. I love talking about my inspirations and the techniques I used, especially if I use an unusual medium, like eggshells or shoe polish.

It has not been as rewarding as I hoped financially or in exposure, but it’s been a great learning experience nevertheless.

In order to carry on doing what I like best (painting), I’ve diversified into functional art that has a stronger audience at markets. I have started to make lots of trays, ring dishes, cheeseboards, tea boxes, and even tables. These became my best sellers and helped me cover expenses like exhibition fees, curators’ fees, and competition fees.

D Emptyspace Gallery by Veronica Wong

You’re so busy setting up exhibitions! Can you tell us about some of your most memorable exhibitions (good or bad!)?

We all have to start somewhere, and I started off at some real bad exhibition spaces. They combined art with pancakes, booze, and chocolates — you can imagine the kind of atmosphere that created.

I quickly realized people who come to that kind of exhibition were not the type of customers I wanted.

My best exhibitions are those organized by art centers and galleries. These are experienced venues who have a large clientele of serious art collectors and designers who are out there searching for professional art pieces.

What thought process do you go through when deciding which artwork to put where?

I go to reputable websites like PublicArtist.org, Zapp(R)Management, CaFE Management, Juried exhibition by galleries to submit my art. I also look out for online magazines or galleries like Camelback Gallery and Lightspace & Time, createmagazine.com to submit my art for a feature or competition. That’s how I built my resume and reputation as an artist. It is also a good way to gain exposure with the numerous galleries out there.

Has technology influenced the way you create and share art? In what ways?

Technology has been a great help to me as I have no prior art education. I am a self-taught artist and technology has helped me learn several techniques. I have also learned a lot by watching other artists paint online.

It is through technology with social media that I was invited by newyorkart.com to participate in their group exhibition of their opening of their new gallery at Franklin Place New York.

D Emptyspace Gallery by Veronica Wong

What advice would you give an aspiring artist who’s just getting started?

It is not easy to get your art out there — there are so many great artists in the world.

Let your art be unique, let it be your unique style so that it defines you. Don’t get discouraged, keep on painting, keep on learning, keep on growing and keep on dreaming.

Diversify so that you can keep painting.

Find a good art mentor who will sharpen your skills and be honest with you. Talk to other artists, build your resume, get yourself in as many social media platforms as you can.

Dream, and dream big.

Follow Veronica on Social Media

Instagram | Facebook | New York Art | Laguna Art | And multiple other platforms via the @artbeatbyveronica

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Android version coming soon!

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F.

Finding Freedom in Paint With Ricky Joyce

Finding Freedom in Paint With Ricky Joyce

The White Snake and His Golden Apple by Ricky Joyce

This week we chat with self-made artist Ricky Joyce who’s been hard at work adding his paint strokes to the local Leicester art scene in the UK. His abundant love for freedom and streamlined system for creating and marketing his art has enabled him to “beat the 9–5” and make a living doing what he loves.

Ricky Joyce is a multimedia abstract expressionist painter. Using music and his personal experience as inspirational tools, he creates bold and expressive paintings that communicate raw emotions through color, texture, and fragments of song lyrics. Find him on D Emptyspace by searching for @rickyjoyceart.

Joyce’s acrylic paintings on canvas are an experimental expression of freedom and blur the line between abstraction and reality.

Secret Love Collection by Ricky Joyce in D Emptyspace

When did you first realize you had a creative streak?

When I was in school, I would just draw on desks (like most naughty teenage boys!) and consider my creations to be meaningless scribbles. Then Mr. Cox, my art teacher, recognized my creativity and directed me away from desks and towards paper, pastels, canvas, and paint. He really showed me what’s possible and inspired me every step of the way. I still use some of the more interesting techniques he taught me to this day.

But back then, I didn’t realize there was potential to be a professional artist… so when I left school I went in the standard 9–5 job environment. I worked in offices and customer service roles for a long time whilst always feeling unfulfilled by any job I undertook. I kept changing direction, looking for something to make me satisfied, and I had more jobs than I care to remember.

When did you decide painting was something you wanted to dedicate your life to?

I guess you could say that becoming an artist was a gradual thing. Eventually decided to leave the humdrum of office jobs behind and do something creative so I started my own creative design business. But even this creative outlet couldn’t keep me away from painting.

Design was all about grids and organized layouts — painting was free from all of that. I could create anything in paint with no rules.

“That’s when it hit me, painting is freedom.”

It was exciting, passionate and scary all at the same time. And so I decided to dedicate my life to my new found freedom. Since then, I haven’t found anything that even comes close in giving me the same satisfaction.

I get to paint my emotions, thoughts, and ideas with no rules, it’s my purest form of expression.

Preach to Me by Ricky Royce

What’s the artistic community like in Leicester? Do you feel supported as a creative?

Leicester is all about collaboration. There are so many events and workshops for artists to sink their teeth in to around the city. At every function, you really feel supported and encouraged by other artists.

Each local artist in Leicester has a unique style, so we do our own thing, and come together at shows and gatherings. We all want to see something different, it’s inspiring to see what others are creating.

“There’s a real sense of belonging here, and I am humbled to be a part of it all.”

Being supported by local creatives is a fantastic way to grow… but it’s not without hard work. You need to put in studio time, be involved in events and keep pushing boundaries to gain traction.

Hearts and Minds by Ricky Joyce

You create some fascinating textures with acrylic, what’s your process?

I love to see textures in a painting. My relationship with my paintings relies heavily on my emotions being on point (particularly with abstract work) so music is my main inspiration and keeps me focused. I often start my day in the studio by pressing play on my rock music and turning it way up loud.

I will usually work on two or three pieces at a time. I grab a large hardware store brush, (bigger the better depending on the canvas size) and start to carve out one or two areas that need color.

I add words with the back of the brush or a sharp pointed object. They’re a mash of my thoughts, words from my notes, or lyrics from the music. Then I use smaller brushes and other mark-making tools like sandpaper or paint scrapers and palette knives to create patterns in or around the painting’s focal point.

“I started adding materials to my work with interesting results.”

After maybe two or three color changes and mark-making layers, I wait for the painting dry while looking at it from different angles, analyzing the areas that balance well or the parts that need to be changed.

Sometimes I leave paintings for days and work a different piece until I feel ready to take on the refinement process. When I’m ready I work continuously until I feel that the painting is complete and well balanced.

Secret Love Collection by Ricky Joyce in D Emptyspace

And what’s the wildest tool or object you’ve ever used to make art?

I will use pretty much anything I can find to make art. Things like sandpaper, bubble wrap, polystyrene or paint scrapers make some of my favorite textures, although I have to say the wildest by a long shot was using my body. I wanted to see what patterns I could make. I won’t divulge which body parts I have used to paint with, that I’ll leave to your imagination!

Do you have any tips and tricks for laying out an exhibition? How do you decide what piece goes where?

I think the main tip would be consistency in style. Hang paintings side by side that have a cohesive look and feel — show off who you are and why you are there.

Someone recently recognized a painting of mine even though I couldn’t be seen from where they were standing. That gave me a real sense of achievement (plus they bought the painting). In terms of technical layout, I usually plan ahead by visiting the space in advance and making a mock-up of the layout so I can create a cohesive theme for the exhibit.

You use music as a major source of inspiration and creativity — can you describe how you paint your emotions on the canvas? Your piece ‘Break All The Rules’ stands out in particular.

When I listen to music I start seeing ‘visions’ of colors and images. That comes through strongly in the paintings I create.

It’s like seeing a puffy, slow-moving cloud in a blue sky. The shape and gradual movement form a picture in your mind and that picture, with all its dominant colors and textures, evokes an emotion or feeling when you visualize it.

Music affects me in a similar way. I see the colors, feel the emotions, and use the energy to start manipulating paint and blending the colors until I find a balance that conveys what’s in my imagination. It’s truly free-flowing.

Break All The Rules by Ricky Joyce

I created ‘Break All The Rules’ in this way, with no balance or composition pre-planned, with every brushstroke flowing in no particular direction. To me, it broke the traditional rules of art. The black gloss paint highlighted that no one spot on the canvas was more important or relevant than the next. It was purely expressive with no rules.

How do you market your art to potential customers? Staying active on social media is something so many artists struggle with.

I attend exhibitions, networking, and social events locally which are often packed with creative businesses and individuals. It’s a good move as they’re already thinking about what they need creatively and may be open to collaborate or have some of my art on their walls.

Then exhibiting your work in person is a quick way to get attention from the general public and lovers of art. But to continuously set up exhibits and show face takes a lot of time and money. It’s important to make sure exhibits are worthwhile for you financially and time-wise. Always make sure they are a good fit for your art practice.

Symbolic Evolution Gallery by Ricky Joyce in D Emptyspace

Having a website and high-quality digital images of your work online is important, but you can take it a step further. Always have a pre-curated selection of your work stored on your smartphone. So when you’re chatting with someone at an event, you have an instant portfolio sitting in your pocket ready to go (and hopefully a card with contact details to back it up). D Emptyspace is particularly useful for this. You can curate your work into a gallery and potential commissioners or buyers can really get a feel for the scale of your art.

Sometimes being active social media is the best option, so I try to use it on a daily basis. Instagram is a great platform though, another great way of meeting and talking to your audience via direct messaging.

Any big plans for the future?

I am working on a massive body of work and will unveil some of the works in progress soon. I want to become prolific by creating a minimum of 100 paintings all with the same signature style. I feel like my signature style is only just emerging in full. It’s been evident in small parts of older paintings for some time, and now I’m developing it even further.

So for now, my focus is on a consistent body of work that builds into a strong solo exhibition I can take to art fairs and beyond

Its time to up my game, put in the hours, and pour all my passion into art. My ultimate ambition is to have a solo exhibition in New York — a place I have always wanted to visit — but for now, the UK is my playground.

Artist Ricky Joyce pictured in his studio in Leicester

Find Joyce’s work at the Leicester Riverside Festival and art shop ‘We Are’. He is an active member of WebinArt in Leicester, a professional development program run by Creative Leicestershire.

For any New York gallery owners or art dealers, here are links to a few of Ricky’s galleries. If you like his work and want to bring it to New York, get in touch.

E.

Exploring Timelessness With Painter Freya Purdue

Exploring Timelessness With Painter Freya Purdue

Artist Freya Purdue next to her work “When there is no more”

This week, we catch up with the award winning Freya Purdue, a UK-based oil painter whose work draws from a wide range of sources — from the most obvious classical themes in painting to the subtlety of philosophical and mystical thought.

“From childhood I knew I was going to be an artist,” but it wasn’t until she was 26 that she enrolled in Saint Martin’s School of Art (now Foyles). She then earned an MA at Chelsea School of Art, and was awarded the Cardiff Junior Fellowship in Painting.

“It was the tail end of an era in art schools where students received grants for travel, living, and materials. Anyone who managed to get a place was able to go and focus wholly on study and painting”

Khipu by Freya Purdue

Her other grants and awards include the Digswell Arts Fellowship and the Boise and Villers David Travelling Scholarships.

Freya was fortunate to study under some of England’s artistic luminaries, including Gary Wragg, Jennifer Durrant, Albert Herbert, Henry Munday, John Hoyland, Patrick Caulfield, Albert Irvine and John Stessica in her undergraduate years and Ian Stevenson, Roger Ackling, Victor Willing, Paula Rego, and Patrick Heron during her Master’s Degree.

“This is how my story began and I have always felt grateful for those early formative years which were both a great life experience and a period of development, learning and experience in painting which enabled me to develop my own language and approach.”

Our interview with Freya Purdue picks up after those halcyon years and focuses on her career as an artist. And it’s a career that has been unquestionably successful. Along with countless solo exhibitions, she has exhibited with Gimple Fils Gallery London, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, Vimonisha Gallery, Madras, L.T.G. New Delhi, Galeria Stara Bwa, Lublin, and Christie’s, London.

Turning Point by Freya Purdue

Life as a fine artist (or any type of creative for that matter) isn’t often classified as ‘easy’… What’s the journey been like — have there been any memorable highs and lows?

Following my MA at Chelsea, I won the junior fellowship at Cardiff School of Art for a year which was a very rewarding experience. This was followed by a good range of excellent exhibitions, opportunities, and awards over the next few years.

Of course, there were difficulties along the way — mainly to do with earning money for studio and supplies as well as making a living and living life. Lecturing at Chelsea and Hertfordshire University whilst enjoyable but was both demanding and time consuming. I think this combination of difficulties is familiar to many artists.

Promoting artwork was very difficult and expensive before electronic media and it was difficult to exhibit work… due in part to this and in part to a lack of opportunities.

Gallery in D Emptyspace by Freya Purdue

Things are so different today. It’s so easy to publish work online and instantly communicate with people.

It is easy to get more information about galleries and all kinds of exhibition spaces — everything has speeded up including the procurement of material and for me, it makes more time for painting.

You form such vivid details and wonderfully complex juxtaposing shapes. Do you have a general process you follow? How long does it take for you to complete a work?

I have no set formula, I would have to say there is a range of processes I use to start making a new painting after having established the main idea for the work.

Taijasa by Freya Purdue

I work in response to the nature of the idea.

So that means either drawing directly on the canvas with a brush, or wash on a colour. Sometimes I make a little drawing on paper (but I don’t make sketches) to work out the structure or format, or make monoprints to look at possible colour combinations.

I look for the atmosphere or spirit of the idea as the core of the work begins to form. I often start working on the painting first and then explore the possibilities by doing some visual or cultural research to support the expansion of the visual aspects of painting.

Sometimes an idea can lead to a clear method of making and the painting reaches conclusion relatively fast (2 or 3 weeks, which is fast for me).

As for the time it takes to complete a work, this varies immensely.

Some work is clear from the beginning and it can just be the time it takes to make it.

Some visual decisions can take a long time to percolate before the next stage of development is decided, so the time it takes me to finish a work ranges from a week or two or sometimes up to a year or two.

Do you prefer to work in series rather than on stand-alone pieces? How many artworks do you have in progress at any given time?

I don’t prefer to work in series. I do work on a range of paintings at the same time, but they are not always a series. Most of my work is on standalone pieces with an occasional series when a specific idea needs more than one work to fulfill its potential.

I can have up 20 paintings on the go at any one time, all in different stages of development and this is mainly due to my research process and sometimes and slow visual decision making. I take time to discover the right visual aspects or components.

My artistic decision, coupled with the practicalities and the time consuming aspects of the oil painting process mean my work can take a long time to complete.

The Edge by Freya Purdue

You’ve said that when painting you’re “absorbed in the discovery of an energized sense of connection and consciousness”. Has the ever-growing prominence of technology threatened or enhanced that connection?

I think the developments of technology have in many ways speeded up the painting process — it’s so much easier to research visual ideas, to order materials and to promote the work online. These are all big positives!

Painting takes a new place in relation to technology.

In many ways, painting is an old art form that is much challenged in this current digital climate, but there’s still a lot of people making paintings — why is that?

Painting remains still! And it promotes quietness, reflection, and even meditation. It takes the consciousness into a different space. It retains its mystery and although the image of the painting can be communicated online it is always a surprise to see them in the flesh. There’s almost always so much more to the work than the digital image. The true power can only be experienced when standing directly in front of the work in real life.

Gallery in D Emptyspace by Freya Purdue

Usually, I pick a work and ask artists to give me a breakdown behind what they were thinking… but every single one of your artworks is so evocative that I just can’t choose! Is there a trick to building in such a deep sense of fascination in the viewer’s mind?

Each of my works is about attaining clarity in relation to a source idea. As I see it real ideas are living energy and can be translated infinitely.

Ideas are timeless and have been explored by human beings since the very beginning of time, from the very first known human marks right up to today’s creators.

Of course, no one has a prerogative over these ideas so people working in all the arts and sciences are using them everywhere.

This is where each person must find their own identity and creative voice, their own special vision, their unique magic that can be shared with others who may have affinities with the spirit of their work. Every moment is a mystery and is different from the last, so why not take advantage of it and create something new!

For me then, each painting is the expansion of my own voice that builds a connection with who I am and with my fellow human beings, past and present.

Nemet by Freya Purdue

Creating magnificent artworks is only one piece of being a successful artist. How have you navigated the more commercial side of the art world? And in particular, do you do any sort of online marketing of your work?

‘The art world’ — whatever that might mean — is an anathema to me and I have never really entered it. The commercial side of things is another world and not one I wish to spend my precious time thinking about.

I like working towards putting on solo exhibitions because it’s a chance to really take in what I have been exploring in one go. It’s also an opportunity to let others catch a glimpse of my vision. Selling work is fine, but it’s not my focus.

I am always keeping my eyes open for venues to show work, but exhibitions take a lot of energy so I don’t want to do too many. I have one at the The Yellow Edge Gallery in Gosport in October and two coming up; one at the Quay Arts near where I live on the Isle of Wight and one at the New Cut in Halesworth. That’s quite enough, I need my quiet time in the studio most of all.

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