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Industry insights: Anais Lellouche, curatorial director

By Annette Wagner

As I continue my Industry Insight quest to explore, discuss and spotlight the many diverse creative industries women are leading and making their mark in, I wanted to feature a career that has been on the my list of ‘what I want to be when I grow up’ for a long, long time: a curator.

Before speaking with Anais Lellouche, curatorial director at Anna Schwartz Gallery, I knew there was much more to being a curator than what Charlotte on Sex in the City alluded to.

Read on to share her insightful feedback on how Anais become a curator, what the role actually involves and five tips for how an artist finds gallery representation.

What lead you to become a curator?

I was very fortunate to have had a passion for art from a very young age and I started gaining experience in the field at the age of 16 years. I knew I would work in the arts but was not exactly certain in what capacity, whether as an artist, gallerist, in a museum, or auction house. So I tried them all! This is how I found my way; I kept moving ahead with experiences in the field until it felt right.

In a contemporary art environment, a curator is a person who selects and often interprets works of art. In addition to selecting works, the curator is often responsible for many other aspects, and it is by nature a multi-tasking role. What does your role as a curator at Anna Schwartz Gallery involve? 

Anna Schwartz Gallery is a very special place, which has been the home for leading contemporary art in Australia for over 30 years. My role is to support artists in the presentation of their works, whether at the gallery, in museums or with other projects and commissions. The best part of my role is working closely with artists and external parties and to develop opportunities for them to create and exhibit their work. I am fortunate to work closely with the founder, Anna Schwartz, and to draw from her relentless enthusiasm and experience supporting artists to achieve their visions, with no compromise.

You recently collaborated with Chiharu Shiota, for her inaugural exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery and Public Art Commission of the Melbourne Festival. How did this collaboration come about, what was your role and do you have any recommendations for managing a creative collaborative process?

Jonathan Holloway, the Artistic Director of the Festival had been interested in Chiharu Shiota’s work for many years and since the gallery represents her, it was a natural collaboration. The articulation of gallery space and public space offered the possibility for the artist to showcase different parts of her practice and thereby reach a wide audience. Shiota’s projects were a real collaborative effort from the early stages, working with engineers to ensure that the 7 metre tall mobile home the artist wanted to create was achievable, all the way through to the students and volunteers who worked with the artist to create the installations.

My recommendation for managing a collaborative process applies to any other profession: trust your instincts, pay attention to detail and approach this role, not as a job, but as if it were your very own project.

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Pictured, curatorial director, Anais Lellouche and artist, Chiharu Shiota. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery. Photo by Zan Wimberley.

Temporary exhibitions increase in cultural importance, just as the traditional role of galleries and museums with well known and established collections follow the call for ever changing exhibitions as well. What are the challenges of curatorial strategies when planning future exhibition programs?

Galleries support artists in the long term and our exhibition programs are more consistent as a reflection of this commitment. That being said, I am also animated by developing new relationships and dialogues for the artists we represent alongside other leading international artists; to exhibit artists for the first time in Australia and to support and expand the local cultural scene.

Can you provide 5 tips for how an artist finds gallery representation?

1. My first tip would be to develop a unique voice. To gain experiences in different cultural contexts, through travelling, but also through research, stepping beyond the local field of expertise and interest, to nurture an original approach.

2. Another tip would be to socialise and develop a networks of peers; to show your work; to discuss ideas, and to share a cultural life together.

3. Don’t be too eager to be represented by a gallery, it is preferable to be ready and to align the right match; this often takes time.

4. Believe in yourself wholeheartedly; because if you don’t, no one will.

5. And lastly, be resilient, and never, ever let go.

Annette Wagner is a designer, marketer, creative consultant, artist and writer. She is also on the board of the Creative Women’s Circle. Obsessively passionate about the arts and the creative process, she is determined to not talk art-speak and instead focus on supporting and sharing concepts and insights most creative types crave to know.

Branding basics: Rebrand your brand

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By Mirella Marie

Rebranding is changing the image of a business. It focuses on how the business is perceived and how it has developed beyond its original goals and values. Some businesses will rebrand in their early lifecycle once they’ve discovered who they are, what they’re doing and where they’re going, while others will rebrand after having grown (or outgrown) their existing brand.

Your goal when rebranding should be to build upon your existing brand in order to maintain its audience, awareness, recognition and loyalty. If you steer your brand in a completely different direction, you may need to build it up again from scratch.

Reasons to rebrand

  • A change in the type of products or services that would attract new customers (or disengage current ones). For example: you changed your product from chemicals in plastic packaging to plant based ingredients in biodegradable packaging.
  • Changes to business ownership or structure. For example: hiring staff, bringing on a new management team, sole trader registering as a company.
  • Leading the business into a new area. For example: expanding into international markets or other industries.
  • Negative publicity. For example: a social media campaign, ad campaign, or brand spokesperson that offended the public; your audience discovering your products and services are not sourced, produced or advertised ethically.
  • Staying relevant. For example: incorporating a responsive online store and a complementary app so your customers can place orders straight from their phone.
  • Changes in customer needs. For example: offering more eco-friendly and sustainable products and services to a growing socially aware audience.

Reasons not to rebrand

In most cases, the following challenges may be resolved with the redesign of an existing brand identity and design materials without requiring a complete overhaul of the brand itself:

  • Professional image. Your logo, branding and marketing materials are DIY, but now your business is up against competitors who have quality, strategic brand identities designed by professionals.
  • Lack of consistency. Communication and marketing materials are not consistent in their design and implementation, which can affect brand trust and recognition.
  • Outdated logo. It was designed 10 years ago based on what was trending at the time.

Launching a rebrand

  • Don’t launch your rebrand until your brand identity and design have been updated and implemented across all touch points (where possible). For example, having a new logo on your website and an old logo on your business card will not only make you look unorganised and unprofessional, it will confuse your customers. If your customers are confused, they will turn to your competitors.
  • Launch your rebrand internally first to your employees and educate them on what it means and why it matters. Your employees need to feel excited and emotionally connected to the brand and most importantly, they need to believe in it. If you don’t have employees, ask your friends and family.
  • Gradually lead up to launching your rebrand to your audience in order to build anticipation. Engaging your audience and giving subtle hints that something new is coming will excite them and make them feel involved.

Things to consider

  • Why do you want to rebrand?
  • What do you want to achieve from a rebrand?
  • How are you going to achieve it?
  • Who do you want to target?
  • How will the needs of your new audience meet the needs of your current one?
  • Will your customers still identify with your brand?
  • Have you conducted any research into your competitors, market, audience and industry to determine if a rebrand is the best decision for the direction you want to take your business?

Rebranding needs to be driven by strategy, vision and research. Before you consider rebranding your business ask yourself if you really need to, because if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Mirella Marie is the owner and creative director of Vertigo, a Melbourne based graphic design studio specialising in brand identity and design. She is also a contributor for Women of Graphic Design, a project examining the work of female designers around the world. Join her on Instagram @studiovertigo.

Collaboration 101: Painting

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Making an art piece with another artist is so rewarding, whether it is a small illustration, a series of canvases or a giant mural. Together, you can make things you could never create on your own. You can teach each other new techniques, finish bigger projects and reach new audiences.

For shy people (like myself) it’s also one of the best ways to network both at home and when traveling. You can easily reach out to an artist you admire, and meet up to do something you both love.

A successful collaborative piece achieves a common vision. It uses each artists strengths to create a result that is unique and that they could not have created alone. After painting with someone, you should feel that the piece is a good joint effort that displays both your skills, surprises you in a good way, and that you are both proud of.

When collaborating goes wrong, the final result leaves you feeling that you’ve compromised your art and ended up with a piece that is below your standard, looks disharmonious, or favours the work of only one of you. Here are a few tips that can help you avoid that:

Develop a shared vision

Choose a theme that you are both excited about and that you are both comfortable painting. It can be something broad that you both draw inspiration from, or as specific as a particular type of animal. Take time to discuss ideas and experiences around it.

Agree on a common goal, discussing what effect you’d like your piece to have on people. Maybe you are trying to create something calming, communicate a political message, or just weird everyone out. Whatever it is, it should be clear to both artists before you start.

Share inspiration and ideas visually. If you have particular colours, reference photos or artists that inspire you, show them to each other (apps like Pinterest are a great way to do this).

Plan your process

Think carefully about your colour palette. If you paint with heavy contrasts, and the other artist uses subtler colours, your work might overpower theirs. Discuss how you can adjust your use of colour to complement each other’s work.

Be mindful of each other’s rhythm. One of you  might paint a lot faster than the other. Keep this in mind when setting up your workspace and your timeline so that no one feels rushed or bored. Spend some time getting to know your own rhythm so you can communicate about it.

Delegate sections of the painting to each other, choosing in advance which elements will be painted by who. You should both be happy with what you are painting, and if one of you is uncomfortable about their section, discuss alternatives. Share tasks and sections that you might both consider monotonous or challenging.

Communicate openly

Before, during and after the painting, chat regularly  about your experience and how it’s coming along.

Be honest but constructive with your feedback.  Before criticizing the other, question your reason for doing so: is something compromising the quality of the work, or are you just not liking it because of your personal preferences? If you think you need to speak up, do so in a sensible way.

Give each other advice in a respectful way. One of you might be more experienced or more skilled, but avoid turning the painting into a one-sided coaching session.

Respect each other’s art

Stay flexible and open minded to things not going exactly as you expect. Remember that the result will be something you could not create individually. Respect that your styles might be very different, and try to use those differences to create a dynamic piece. Don’t try to control each other’s creativity.

Don’t make major changes to the piece without consulting each other. If you feel the need to paint over the other’s work, speak to them first.

The more you collaborate, the more you’ll get to know what works for you and what your boundaries are. Why not get started? If there’s an artist you’d love to work with, message them today and invite them to create with you.

Júlia Palazzo is a visual artist from Brazil. Since moving to Melbourne in 2013 she has been running a partnership, Mayfield Palace, creating mural art for businesses and organisations all over Australia. She shares her art daily on Instagram: @julia.palazzo

Branding basics: Communicate your brand

Branding basics- communicate your brand

By Mirella Marie

This is Part Two of designer Mirella Marie’s series Branding Basics.

Once you define your brand, you need to communicate it. This is done through a brand identity. An identity supports your brand to convey its values, products and services, and the overall experience you provide your clients and customers. It is one of the most important investments you can make for your business.

What does a brand identity do?

  • Communicates to your audience on your behalf
  • Differentiates your business from competitors
  • Establishes consistency
  • Influences perceptions
  • Attracts the right audience
  • Inspires people to take action

What does it lead to?

  1. Brand trust and loyalty
  2. Increased and improved brand awareness
  3. Stronger credibility
  4. Higher profitability
  5. Motivated employees
  6. Positioning as an industry leader or expert

 

What does it involve?

Effective brand identity is achieved through the consistent use of strong visual elements to create distinction and differentiation. These are the five fundamentals of a brand identity:

Logo 

At the core of every identity is a logo. A logo is used to identify a company, product or service with the use of a graphical mark, symbol or words. It should not literally describe what your business does, but, rather, identify it in a way that’s recognisable and memorable. In order to do this, it must communicate in its simplest form. Ensure that your logo is not complicated or cluttered — it must be legible and readable at 25% of its original size, without loss of detail. Do not include your tagline or any other text in your logo.

Consider the following:

  • What kind of message do you want to convey?
  • Can your logo be simplified even further?
  • Does it differentiate from your competitors?
  • Is it legible and readable?
  • What makes your logo memorable?

Typography

 Typography is the art and arrangement of type that makes written communication readable, legible and aesthetically pleasing. Typography adds tone, subtlety and even context to a message. For example, using a heavy, bold font may be suitable for a builder, but may not be suitable for an architect.

Consider the following:

  • What type of message do you want to express?
  • Which fonts will best achieve this?
  • Are those fonts overused in your industry?
  • Does they suitably portray your business?
  • Are they legible and readable?

Colour

Colour is one of the most important considerations of a brand identity. It conveys messaging and emotion, and has a fundamental impact on readability, legibility, attracting people’s attention and maintaining engagement. The colours in your identity must have a purpose — if you want to use your favourite colour, ask yourself if it is the right one for your brand. For example, bright red may not be suitable for a masseuse. Warm colours (reds, oranges, yellows) evoke different psychological and emotional responses to cool colours (greens, blues).

Consider the following:

  • What kind of message do you want to communicate?
  • Which colour(s) will best achieve this?
  • Are those colours overused in your industry?
  • Are they legible and readable?
  • Are they suitable for your brand?
  • Are they eye-catching?

Tone of voice

A brand’s tone of voice provides an overall narrative for the brand to speak to its audience. It must complement and communicate your brand’s personality. If your voice is direct, your writing, content and engagement should be brief, clear and succinct. If your voice is outgoing, your writing, content and engagement should demonstrate a responsive attitude to your audience. You must use the same voice across all of your brand’s touchpoints to achieve consistency. If you are outgoing on social media but direct on your website, it will cause confusion.

Consider the following:

  • What tone of voice will speak directly to your audience?
  • How will you use it to maintain engagement?
  • Are you speaking in a language they will understand?
  • Are you able to incorporate some of your own personality?
  • How do the tone of voice of your favourite brands resonate with you?

Imagery

Humans are highly visual — we first learned to communicate through pictures before words (hence “a picture is worth a thousand words”). Images such as photos, illustrations, and icons are used to visually describe your brand, products and services to your audience, so it is crucial they are clean, clear and easy to recognise.

Where possible, always hire a professional to create your brand’s imagery and avoid using photos taken on a smartphone.

Consider the following:

  • What do you want to express with your imagery?
  • How will you use it to reach the right audience?
  • Is it memorable?
  • Is it clear?
  • Is it of a high standard?
  • How do you feel when you see other businesses using low quality images for their brand?

These five fundamentals must be consistent across all your brand communications, including your website, social media, print materials, templates, ads, newsletters, apps, etc. It is this consistency that what will help make your brand memorable.

Remember, your audience is overwhelmed with choice. Presenting your brand with a cluttered logo, unsuitable typography, inappropriate colours, conflicting tone of voice, or low quality images may see your audience turning to your competitors.

Your brand identity is the very first thing people see before even engaging with you, therefore you have one chance to make a lasting impression. The way something is presented will define the way people react to it.

 

Mirella Marie is the owner and creative director of Vertigo, a Melbourne based graphic design studio specialising in brand identity and design. She is also a contributor for Women of Graphic Design, a project examining the work of female designers around the world. Join her on Instagram @studiovertigo.