How to get your SIAT project into an art gallery

How to get your SIAT project into an art gallery

By: Allison Koberstein
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Have you ever dreamed of having your artwork on display in an art gallery? When I decided that this was something I wanted to accomplish a few months ago, I had no idea how soon it would become a reality. My comic project FLOCK will be part of the Cirrus gallery show which opens on August 1, 2012 at the Cultch!

While I am currently on an awesome Co-op workterm at Kibooco Interactive, this opportunity came about from my own explorations outside of the SFU environment. A few months ago I joined Cloudscape, a Vancouver comics society, in order to meet other local creators. I thought that there would be something to gain from just being around other people who were into making comics, so I didn't have any specific goal in mind.

A few weeks in, I heard from a member that they were accepting submissions for the Cirrus gallery show set to feature comic artwork, so I submitted FLOCK.  To be honest, I had my doubts that it would be accepted due to its unusual format.

Written and illustrated as my final project for IAT313: Narrative in New Media, FLOCK is a multilinear comic meant for reading on the web. It was done in infinite canvas format which means that the panels are laid out in one huge continuous piece rather than separate pages, as is traditionally done with comics.

Just in case you're curious what it's about, FLOCK is the story of four friends on a camping trip, and how friendships are tested when you start to grow up. It's also an exploration of what space can mean in comics. FLOCK follows a branching pattern, where the readable paths are arranged in the actual landscape of the forest. By choosing which characters to follow, you can 'listen in' on characters talking about each other behind their backs when they've split up.

It turned out that the innovative format impressed the curator enough for him to include my work in the show. The next challenge was to figure out a way to display FLOCK, which resulted in the creation of a six foot wide print to hang in the gallery. I'm going to be hanging it today, so wish me luck!

If you want to get your own work out into the world, I have these five tips to offer to you. If you start doing these things, you should be on the right path.Start small

I started by showing FLOCK at school shows like the SIAT Showcase and the SFU Surrey Open House. Not only did that build my confidence and experience with being in events and showing my work, but it lead to my current Co-op position doing illustration and production work at Kibooco. And now that I think about it, I originally heard about Cloudscape from someone who first approached me while showing FLOCK at the Open House. It's definitely worth your time.

Embrace your SIAT-ness (in other words, be different!)

Since we're students, we haven't necessarily had decades to hone our skills, but we can leverage the advantage of being different. In many art forms, interactivity is just beginning to be explored. Because of this, your project can easily stand out from others in a sea of submissions to traditional venues

Join local organisations, go to events, meet people

Even if you feel like you're socially awkward, just go. Eventually faces will become familiar and you'll start to make contacts and learn about opportunities related to what you want to do. Remember to contribute and help out where you can.

Don't undervalue yourself

Just because you're a student, that doesn't mean you should lower your standards for yourself. Approach your school projects as if they were real industry projects (or, if you prefer, real endeavors that exemplify your values and interests as a creative person), and invest the time and effort to make them professional quality as much as you can. Not only will you get awesome grades, but you will actually be able to use your projects to get jobs and show in exhibitions.

Submit even if you don't think you'll succeed

I heard once that all successful writers have a stack of rejection letters. Just start submitting your work to contests, exhibitions or whatever is in alignment with your goals, and once you realize that nothing happens when you don't hear back, you'll get over it and be more open to submitting your projects in the future. You never know when you'll finally be successful.

Posted on August 03, 2012