As this module is actually divided in two parts I think it makes sense to reflect about it in two parts as well.
I think the module Enterprise and Research Methods didn’t start the 4th of February as the handbook says; it actually started the first session of the module HSS8123 when Tom and John asked us what kind of methods we used to use for our practice. When they asked that question in class, I would dare to say that most of us didn’t know what to answer. In my case, I didn’t know what to answer because I never thought about it. I guess it has to do with the fact that I never saw myself as an artist (like John and Tom have always treated us in class) and therefore I never thought of my work methods as an artist either. I still don’t consider myself to be an artist, but since that day I have been more aware of the range of methods I use for my practice and they range of methods that exist and I know I can use them some day.
I guess the method that I have used in many projects throughout my past has been something close to ethnography, the interview and survey. However, I have never considered it as ethnography, although it is a part of it. As a result of this module, I have now a better understanding of what ethnography is and how I can use it. In fact, I am using it for my final project. Furthermore, I consider it a good starting point for a project when you don’t know how to start working on it. Observing people is a very rich source of information where you can extract many good insights from to get started. The exercise we did with John that day opened my eyes to realise how useful this method can be.
Another method that I’ve found it useful was Practice-based Research Methodologies explained by Gabi Arrigoni. Indeed, I have realised that with all the projects I have been doing throughout the year, I put in practice this concept of “thinking through making”, which is what Arrigoni mentioned in class: getting knowledge through ‘action’ (Schön, D. 1983).
From the sessions that belong to the Enterprise part of the module I have learned something that I find very important for my formation but it has always been a missing piece in the previous university education that I have received so far: how to make a living of your work.
Although my conclusion is not very positive but a confirmation of what I already knew (it’s hard to make a living as an artist), I still find very useful what I learned thanks to the speakers we have had the pleasure to listen to.
As I have mentioned before I don’t see myself as an artist exhibiting my work on a gallery, museum, etc. Therefore I don’t think I will ever apply for any calling for artists in museum, institutions etc. (I should never say never though). However, when I say that have found this module useful it is because if I end up again working on the adverting industry again or running my own studio, I will apply the knowledge I’ve got in this module. When I said before that none has taught me how to sell my work, I think it’s the one of the biggest flaws of the university education I have received so far. I have the impression that the university system (at least in my country) just teaches you how to become an artist (the knowledge, the techniques etc.) but no one teaches you how to become a businessperson. Liked or not, that’s part of being an artist, it’s a though one that no ones likes it but it is still part of the job. So I appreciate that in this course we have got the chance to learn that, to see what’s after education from real testimonials. It was hard to listen that it’s difficult to make a living from art, that’s why some artists are also PhD students, like the speaker Tess Denman-Cleaver, but at least we heard the truth, and we all know that sometimes the truth hurts.
As a result of this module, I learned how to apply for funding, at least what things I should consider when I am trying to get a funding. For example: if the project is feasible (perhaps the most important point to highlight in an application), if it’s something that I am capable of doing it, if it is has social impact, think about the aimed audience…
This is probably the highlight of what I learned from the speakers Tess Denman-Cleaver and John O’Shea. Alexia Mellor, on the contrary, made me realised how important is to analyse failures from a constructive way. Because everything is an on-going process, and perhaps a failure that you had in the past could be the starting point of something good coming. I guess I have been always analysing my works, but very briefly, without spending too much time on it. Now I will be aware that I need to analyse my work deeply in order to improve. To finish, I would like to say that Gabi Arrigoni made me realise that they are order places rather organisations or institutions directly related to art (like the Arts Council) where artists could find opportunities such as Welcome Trust and Future Everything.