Eye Suriyanon

Thai-born, Glasgow-based artist and sound designer.

Conjuring future voices for sentient mechnical beings based on Buddhist Philosophy, Spectre and the in-between through Moving Image, Machine Learning & Spatial Audio.


Developing & Sustaining Practice

Back in the Summer of 2022, I attended Sophie Lucas’s ‘How to Promote Your Work and Fund Your Work as an Artist’, a short course aimed at art practitioners seeking exactly what is said in the course title. It focuses on how to create opportunities outside of the traditional art world and how to secure opportunities.

Sophie Lucas is the Fair Director at The Other Art Fair, an international fair for emerging artists presented by Saatchi Art. Lucas leads the Brooklyn, Chicago, and Toronto editions.

Over the past seven years, Sophie has been instrumental in developing the international editions of The Other Art Fair in Australia and the US. In 2018, Lucas successfully launched the Chicago edition at Mana Contemporary, Pilsen, and re-positioned the Brooklyn fair to present as a key satellite fair during Frieze NY week.

The course runs as a two-hour long session, once a week for four weeks. These sessions approached practice with a business and administrative perspective rather than a creative one. A position which has been lacking in arts education, as if the desire to be monetarily successful in order to support your practice without having to beg, borrow or steal is an impossible pipedream.

During these sessions, it became prevalent how many roles an artist has to fulfil and upkeep to sustain and build their career. Apart from developing and making new bodies of work, administrative tasks like sourcing opportunities, applying for funding, and documenting work has to be done. There’s the added challenge of promoting and marketing your work in a way that is authentic yet drives engagement. You end up becoming your own studio manager, sales, marketing and production team.  

These aspects of studio management, sales and marketing were condensed down and delivered. In this post, I will be breaking down and covering course content from the course from the perspective of a recent graduate transitioning to an emerging/early-career artist using my experience as an example as well as sharing resources that have been fundamental for me in establishing studio management skills.

            A quick starter checklist/ overview of the page contain:- 

  • Five-Year Road Map
  • Join a union - for opportunities and insurance purposes
  • Inventory List of Your Work
  • Artist Statement & Biography
  • CV
  • Portfolio
  • Invoice
  • Certificate of Authenticity
  • Know your monthly budget to help with the cash flow forecast

This list does not have an order to it, it’s a list to help you get started, some of these documents may not get a lot of use at the beginning but it’s always good to know what it looks like and the purpose of it.

I hope this has been helpful to you and wish you all the best on your journey. For more insight please keep scrolling ︎︎︎

Quick Link to resources: 

1. The Beginning - Goal Setting 

How to set measurable goals, build a road map for career trajectory, where to find funding and explore the Art Market landscape beyond the traditional gallery and art fair setting.

Primer Scotland - a PDF guide aimed at Visual Arts Graduates created by Artquest, in partnership with Creative Scotland and The Glasgow School of Art. This guide contains an easy-to-understand bullet-point list of everything you’ll need to consider when establishing yourself as an artist.

This can seem daunting and overwhelming to set yourself up. By creating a road map of where you’d like to be in your career within the next five years, then work backwards breaking those stages down into annual milestones or goals that you’d like to achieve then nine, six and three months. These goals don't have to be 100% set in stone nor do you have to stick to them completely - as unexpected life events can happen.

Here are some milestones suggestions to help you get started:
  • Secure funding/grants/bursaries
  • Creating a new piece/ work on special projects/collaborations
  • Exhibiting work - solo/group/online
  • Press - featured in a publication/ make a zine/ contributing writing/ artist talk
  • Build presence online -  make a website/ set up newsletter/social media posts
  • Part take in residencies
  • Awards/Commissions
  • Relocating

Once these main goals are written out, you can use SMART to break those points down further into small steps.

Specific - what is it, why are you doing it, where will it take place, who will it involve, how will it help

Measure - how can you measure or keep track of your progress

Achievable - what actions will you need to take to achieve this goal

Realistic & Relevant - will this goal benefit me and will it help me achieve my overall milestone

Time-based - how long will you be doing this found and how much time can you spend on this

Examples of the goals using SMART :

2020/21 - Get a studio  OR  ︎︎︎

S - Getting a studio will allow me to have a designated space to concentrate on production and meet other artists in Glasgow. By expanding my space and network I will be able to integrate into the current scene.

M - Attend studio viewings where possible

A - Use Creative Scotland, Instagram and word of mouth to find vacant studios.

R - This is relevant as having a designated space will force me into a routine and make my action more accountable as it will feel like going into the office to work.

T - This will likely take 3-6 months to find one due to lockdown, being unable to attend in-person viewing and lack of funds

You don’t have to break down every goal into this format. The roadmap and milestones are there as a guide or suggestion that can be completed during the days when you’re not as motivated to make - but still want to feel productive. 

Here’s an example of my road map starting for 2020 - 2025

During this period, my main focus is working towards being able to work as a full-time artist and to be able to financially support myself through my work.

2020/21: Getting Started
  • ︎Get a paid commission (mar 21) 
  • ︎Make a new piece of work (aug 21)
  • ︎Give an artist talk (nov 21)
  • ︎Get a studio (may 21)
  • ︎Finish uni (sep 21)

2021/22: Become a Freelancer
  • ︎Register as Self-Employed for UTR number (jan 22)
  • ︎Quit Hospitality (jan 22)
  • ︎Gain more connections outside of the studio (mar/apr 22)
  • ︎Get my first residency (feb 22)
  • ︎Do something in London (feb 22)
  • ︎Submit a funding application (jan 22)
  • ︎Get funding for R&D (apr 22)

2022/23: Establishing Presence & Developing Artistically
  • ︎Get a paid opportunity (oct 22)
  • ︎Develop artistically by adding context to my work (nov 22)
  • Write better (maybe an essay to accompany the work?)

2023/24: Paid Opportunities
  • Start applying for international residencies
  • Host a workshop
  • Write funding application for production
  • A solo exhibition

2024/25: full-time artist / PhD?
  • Apply for a PhD?
  • Selling my skills, using creative coding & spatial audio skills to generate income

2021/22 - Get my first residency

S - A residency will give me time to focus on production and also present myself more professionally

M - Spend one day a week collating suitable opportunities and one day a week submitting applications

A - Search and apply for residency opportunities on Creative Scotland, Instagram, A-N, axis and organisation newsletters.  Keep track of applications on Notion

R - this opportunity can be added to my cv and count towards continuous practice.

T - 6-9 months, depending on what residencies are available and whether they’re appropriate to apply

Shae Myles at Jiggly n Juice , a collective aims to bridge the transitional gap from being a student to a professional creative. Myles created a live career tracker, based on their first-hand experience of establishing their art career.

2.  Understanding the Art World - Ways of Funding Your Practice

The art world that was presented to me and what I have experienced so far prior to the course would be considered as a ‘traditional’ route, heavily relies on existing art institutions like galleries, public museums, auction houses, biennials and art fairs to commission or represent artists’ work.

Whereas, there are more ways than I imagined. This makes it feel like my aim of being a full-time artist is more attainable. These new avenues include tapping into your local artist-led or grass root organisations, taking part in open studios or art trails, working with art or music festivals, participating in artist-focused fairs, online auction houses (e.g. New Blood Art & AucArt), collaborating with charities (e.g. Art on a postcard & Hospital Room), crowdfunding, getting sponsorships or brand collaboration and finally, using your social media to curate and boost engagement. 

As I’m writing this, I know that due to the medium that I use, some of these avenues may not work for me. If you are also in this position, consider what special skills you have that you could use to host workshops or provide a service for others. For example, my skill and knowledge of Max can assist me with building interactive installations or teach others how to do so.

Lastly, funding, grants and bursaries are counted towards your income when you are registered as self-employed. 

As much as I would love to dedicate myself to my practice, produce and exhibit work. The reality is that I am not in a position of privilege where I can afford to accept unpaid opportunities. After graduating it felt like there was an enormous pressure to keep the same rate of production rolling or increase it. As you were no longer obligated to produce for a grade, therefore you had more time and freedom with your making. And I’m sure there are many others who experienced this as well. 

Here are sites that I use to find paid opportunities:-

  • Subscription website
                ︎︎︎A-N, Axisweb , artenda, artconnect

  • Free website
                ︎︎︎Creative Scotland, Artquest, on the move, TransArtist, Creative Entrepreneurs Club

  • Newsletter
                ︎︎︎Artadmin anchor, e-flux announcement, sign up to your local organisations’ newsletter or organisations that are relevant to your practice

  • Instagram
                ︎︎︎Follow your local art organisations or your favourite ones in locations you’d like to work in for open calls & residencies 

3.  Making it Work - Studio Management & Finance for Creatives

Studio Management is less about what your working space should look like and more about the finer administrative details. These sections include:-  keeping track of inventory, how to create an invoice, what is a certificate of authenticity, how to take high-quality images (Documenting Your Work) and lastly the importance of keeping track of your finances (Finance for Creative).

Legal Documents to consider: -

  • Certificate of Authenticity
                A signed document guarantees the authenticity of an artwork. It confirms that the work has been created by the artist associated with it.

  • Invoice
                A time-stamped document that itemises and records a transaction between the artist (seller) and the client (buyer), whether it’s the sale of                   work or service. It ensures that you get paid on time.

  • Insurance
                Something we often miss out on for an artist actively working in a studio and exhibiting publicly. It’s a good idea to have content insurance                   and Public Liability Insurance. In case the content of your work and/or equipment gets damaged or fails, you can ease the cost of                                     replacement.
                Also, if your equipment or work causes injury to the public when delivering a workshop or an exhibition - you are protected. Most unions                       like A-N and SAU (Scottish Artist Union) offer Public Liability Insurance and Content Insurance as part of their membership. Hence, it’s                         beneficial to join a union when you can.

Other Documents:-

  • Inventory
                Your inventory is a catalogue of all your work whether pieces you’re selling or exhibiting. It’s a good idea to have a database of them.

  • Mailing List
                To let your supporters know what you’ve been up to!

4. Finance for Creatives

I have created The Studio Management Template file contains templates of  Inventory, Monthly Budget, Cash Flow Forecast, and Project Budget that are ready to use. You can download it ︎here︎

  • Monthly Budget
                can be used to help figure out how much your personal expenses and studio expenses are on a monthly basis.
                If you have regular work - please adjust the daily rate accordingly.
                This can be used as a guide to how many days you’ll need to work to cover these expenses.

  • Cash Flow Forecast
                is a year-long spreadsheet that can be used to keep track of your monthly income and outgoings.
                This can be used as a guide to prepare for upcoming months.

  • Project Budget
                is a template using Creative Scotland criteria as a guide for planning upcoming projects whether it’s for development or production.

Disclaimer: these templates are guides, please use your own judgement when making financial decisions.

There’s no need to pressure yourself into getting all of these documents sorted before starting your journey. You can get them done, at any point. I tend to do admin work during down time or when I don’t feel like working on the creative aspects of projects. 

5. Documenting Your Work

Use a tripod and natural lighting where possible. Set up the camera perpendicular to the piece and at a distance where the whole piece is in the frame.  Shoot in JPEG high or RAW if possible.

Camera settings: low ISO 100-200, use a wide aperture, low f/stop to keep everything in focus.
Shutter speed: adjust until you’re at the correct exposure level.
White Balance: adjust the colour temperature, if the light is more orange, increase the temperature or add more blue light then vice versa. 

When photographing moving images or screen-based work, remember to adjust the shutter speed to be 1/30 second or slower to avoid squishy lines as most screen-based work is displayed at 24-30FPS.

For audio work: highest quality 48kHz, 24-bit as .wav or .flac

For video work: 24FPS, 16:9 aspect ratio, 1920 x 1080 resolution (full HD), as .MP4 or .AVI

6. Putting Yourself Out There

It’s crucial to have information about yourself and your practice ready to go for when you’re applying for opportunities or to send to the press.

Headshots, studio photos, artwork images, In situ – exhibition images or in homes. They can be use for website, instagram and publication. 

Writing one is tedious and sometimes soul-destroying, use whatever format or writing style that works for you. Avoid jargon and use of International Art English.

A short narrative biography (100-150 words)

(Artist Name) lives and works in (City, State) and was a (Year) recipient of (Grant/Scholarship/Something Important). (Prefered Pronoun) has exhibited in solo exhibitions at (Venue, City, Country) and (Venue, City, Country). His numerous group exhibitions include (“Title”) at (Venue, City, Country) and (“Title”) at (Venue, City, Country). (Last Name) was honoured with the (Title of  Grant/Award) in (Year). Public collections include (Name) and (Name). (Preferred Pronoun) isis currently working on (describe work in a few words) for (“Title”) at (Venue, City, State) in (Year).

CV (online and as PDF)
Chronological list of your artistic achievements with the most recent to the oldest, usually one page long.

Press Cuttings & Mentions
Clear screenshots, publication names, date, volume or issue no. and links where applicable

Portfolio as a PDF
A lot of the time applications will ask for a body of work. I find that having a portfolio saved as a PDF with links to video or sound work made it more efficient for me when submitting examples of my work.
Each work should have a title, year, medium, dimension/duration, and a short 50-words synopsis for context,  image/ link, and names of collaborators or contributors.

Created by Eye Suriyanon, 2023 on Cargo Collective