99FM – Your Inspiration Station

How Artists Grow Through Exposure

It’s important to build your profile as an artist, but often this is not a focus for artists. “There are lots of aspects to establishing yourself as an artist, and we don’t get trained in these areas. Knowing how to publicise yourself is a very specific skill. Either you have to get a specialist in that area or you have to learn the skills yourself. It’s something I’ve struggled with, without having a background in it, but selling yourself is a very big part of making it in the art world. There are a lot of fantastic artists out there that just don’t make it because they don’t get profiled.” This according to Shan Wood the resident artist at the National Art Gallery of Namibia. Shan is an Australian citizen, in Namibia for one month on a drawing residency.

Residencies are described as the commonly travelled routes for artists to build a successful artistic career. It entails travelling to a foreign country to immerse yourself in creativity and artistic practice found in that country. Shan explains, “Residencies are always high profile and great to have on your CV. As well as getting qualifications in fine arts you also need to do residencies to raise your profile as an artist.”

93bba1f4-fa6f-4812-82f6-ee04bdcc8a4899FM’s MYD Art caught up with Shan, to talk about why it is important as an artist to put yourself out there.

99FM’s MYD Art asked:

How did you end up in Namibia?

“I wanted to do another residency somewhere in the world, I’d already done one is Scotland and I looked for places that I always wanted to go to and Namibia was a country I had always wanted to go to. I keyed in ‘Residencies Namibia’ online and I found that the National Art Gallery of Namibia had put up a request for a drawing residency. I filled in the application and luckily I was selected.”

What does doing this residency mean for you as an artist?

“It’s a really significant thing for an artist because that’s how you develop your practice, you learn more and you raise your profile as an artist. I was a late bloomer that graduated in 2012 as an artist, before that I was a teacher. So I would see myself as a developing artist. To have a residency, you go and you are immersed in another place. I learn from the works that are here at the National Art Gallery. I talk to the curators. I have met so many Namibian artists who come in. I get to see what’s on show here in terms of current art practice. So that helps me reflect on my own work. I’ve been somewhat of an exhibit in the National Art Gallery, because people can come in and watch me work, which puts a lot of pressure on you but I have also found that to be wonderful, to talk to people and get their feedback. It’s a really rewarding and honouring thing to do.”

Would you say you have grown as an artist doing this residency?

“Yes. It’s been a whirlwind, I’ve learnt about myself as an artist. It’s been great to be here, and I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a bit and see the desert; to feel the heat and what it is like to trudge through the desert. That is all part of the experience to build yourself as an artist. I’ll take what I’ve learnt here and go back to Australia to work on an exhibition there.”


For more information on what art residencies are about, click here