‘Navigating the Art World: Professional Practice for the Early Career Artist’ -Delphian Gallery 2020

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The summary of this review will probably be “style over substance”. Is this a bad review? Not necessarily or intentionally but unfortunately the result of many social media driven endeavours.

This book, sold and created by Delphian Gallery, is pitched as a guide for artists looking for a foothold in the gallery world, the verbose title clearly describes a map like experience for burgeoning creatives looking for some kind of breakthrough into the world of professional representation and validation that gallery exposure can bring.

Now, as I described in the opening sentence, this is not a negative review but more of an attempt to manage the expectations of those who are looking for that fresh perspective or strategy to reinvigorate their drive and career.

Let’s start with the positives;

The book is well made, there’s obvious attention to detail and quality put into producing the editions and doesn’t suffer from typical low print run issues. The matt black cover with embossed silver foil lettering looks eye catching and luxurious.

Delphian Gallery are substantial contributors to the social media and art world as seen through their instagram content, collaborators and supported creatives, in other words a great resource for discovering new works and conversely, hopefully, their advice.

The content. The information inside the book is relevant, timely and useful. There’s a lot of good practice to be followed on presentation, creation, curation and publication.

Delphian’s investment in finding and supporting new artists, as mentioned above they do actively seek out new talent and work to develop and support those emerging talents which is a positive which should not be taken lightly.

Unfortunately I feel I’m having to lean heavily on the production quality of the book to find positives to promote and that is where I feel that the main issue lies.

Where Delphian lets itself down is in it’s value for money.

The advice and information presented is little more than basic business and networking advice which can be found through multiple platforms and avenues, for free. I understand that not everyone has and education based background or experience in business management but any number of ‘mentors’ or ‘consultants’ will provide very similar advice, normally as a freebie to entice a crowd of potential mentees.

Essentially one could summarise the content in a few short catch lines; ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’ and ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing’ spring to mind. Alongside other common advice of create a cohesive body of work but don’t get stuck in a rut and when you are struggle to find inspiration take a break and work on something else.

Whilst all are valid points the issue I raise is the cost attached to what is essentially a reminder to crack on.

So to revisit my opening statement, ‘style over substance’, if this book had been presented as a 50 page kindle edition for circa £6 I believe it would feel a lot better value for money.

As it is, at £12 plus shipping, I did manage to use a free shipping code, it feels more like the creators had a monetary goal in mind and priced according to hitting that target.

The previously praised product design is essentially there to help justify the cover price and with

essentially 50 pages of content padded out with oversized text, cropped physical size and numerous pages of large print quotations, blank inserts and even 6 pages just for the contents list, all to reach the magic 100 page mark.

Maybe it’s just that my personal expectations weren’t met, I hoped to come away with more specificity perhaps the referenced artist research would be better presented as case studies of the strategies employed by the artists interviewed, instead this is limited to a fraction of the page count.

Perhaps my background in higher education and business management puts me in a different position than the intended audience?

I do however stand by my opinion that for £15 (incl P+P) I feel a little short changed, I would have rather seen much lower page count and production cost, I don’t really need hand packed stickers, to bring the book in under the £10 mark, even £6-£8 for a digital edition, and then spend the left over money with a good friend and a coffee.

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