The second post of the series is up! For this article, we asked the incredibly talented, professional portrait artists Raoof Haghighi, Charlie Schaffer and Amy Judd what advice they would give to emerging artists.
To view our other posts in this series, please visit our main blog post ‘Advice for Emerging Artists‘.
Raoof is a self- taught versatile artist who has participated in over 45 group and 40 solo shows in the United States, France, Iran and the United Kingdom. His artworks have been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery BP Portrait Award 2011, 2015 & 2017, Threadneedle Prize 2012, 2013 & 2014, RBA Royal Society of British artists 2014, 2015 & 2016, Royal Society of Portrait Painters (RP) 2014 – 2015 & 2017. He also won the Sky Art Portrait artist of the year in 2014, and Jackson’s ‘Drawn In’ Competition in 2016. View more of Raoof’s work on his website, Instagram or Facebook.
‘Always follow the things is close to your heart and stay focused. Passion is important but there are other elements that as important as that. Practising and try not to limit yourself. Try everything and experiment with different mediums and style.
And don’t follow the market. You’ll never catch up. Be yourself because that would be your style at the end!’
Schaffer has exhibited widely across the UK and has a very reputable selection of awards under their belt, including The Brian Botting Prize “for an artist aged 30 or under for an outstanding representation of the human figure” and the Pastel Society Unison Young Artist Award. They have also exhibited widely across the UK in prestigious galleries such as the Mall Galleries, Ashurst Gallery and the Royal College of Art. You might recognise their work from their time on the Sky Portrait Artist of the Year, or from their Instagram account.
‘Being an artist isn’t the romantic life that many assume it is. It’s hard. Art is not something with an end goal – it is a constantly developing reflection of life, and therefore a way of life. The most important thing to do is to establish is a good routine, and stick to it. Make sure to work every day, even if it’s just drawing, and even if it doesn’t go well. The more work you do, the less precious you’ll become about your art, and in turn the more willing you’ll become to take risks. It’s when you take those risks that your work progresses.
Go to art galleries as much as possible. Look at, copy, and learn from work that inspires you. Being an artist can be isolated, and you can get trapped in an echo chamber of your own thoughts and your own work. Looking at other art can nudge you in a direction that on your own you may miss. You always learn from looking at others, and what’s more, it’s important to feel connected to something broader that exists outside of yourself.
Get used to failure and don’t take it personally. The best thing I’ve learnt over the last 4 years has been being able to accept rejection. I enter any competition or prize that I think is remotely relevant to my work. I get rejections on a weekly basis, but then every so often I’ll get an acceptance or even a prize. No one notices the failures, and without them, you will never put yourself in the way of opportunities.
If you really want to be an artist then you have to accept from the beginning that your life will not be easy. You’ll spend most of your time alone, and, most likely you won’t earn any money. Art is difficult, and so is the life of an artist, but every so often you’ll experience the fleeting sense that you have breathed life into something, and that makes it all worth it.’
Judd’s work has received international recognition after being featured on the Battersea Affordable Art Fair Spring Campaign. She has also had her paintings exhibited at the Hick’s Gallery, collaborated with the New York edition of Harper’s Bazaar, been commissioned by The Grosvenor House Hotel and been mentioned in Kate Hudson’s top 20 favourite things! To view more of Amy Judd’s work, please read her interview with the Affordable Art Fair.
“My advice is to get seen. No one will see your talent if it’s stuck behind your studio door. Be pro-active and get an online presence, my best exposure has been on social media, through Facebook, Pinterest and bloggers, these have a life of there own and keep going without you having to do a thing. More importantly, get your stuff out there physically by organising your own shows, enter competitions, do open studios… you never know who will come!”