#LOCKDOWNEDITIONS - INTERVIEW WITH DELPHIAN GALLERY'S NICK JS THOMPSON AND BENJAMIN MURPHY
Kim Booker, April 2020
20th April 2020 marks the launch of #LockdownEditions, a new programme of time-limited edition prints for sale through Delphian Gallery, released to support artists financially during the lockdown. Conceived by Nick JS Thompson and Benjamin Murphy in response to the impact of the pandemic on the art world, which has led to shows and art fairs being postponed or cancelled and opportunities for artists to earn income becoming severely limited, #LockdownEditions is non-income generating for the gallery. Sale proceeds go directly to the artists themselves and new prints will be released each week for the duration of the lockdown.
Whilst recognising that galleries are also struggling during these times, Delphian Gallery has been able to take advantage of its nomadic status which means it does not have the fixed costs of permanent gallery space or staff. Being artists themselves, Nick and Benjamin are also particularly attuned to the challenges facing the emerging and early career artists that Delphian Gallery represents. They believe now is the time for galleries to step up, where they are able, to support artists in any way they can.
Kim Booker: The motive for establishing #LockdownEditions was the current pandemic and ensuing lockdown which meant that artists lost a lot of their opportunities to show and sell work. The concept - producing prints for artists at cost so that they keep 90% of the sale price - is a very generous business model. Why was it important to you as a gallery not to make money from the sales of this work?
Delphian Gallery: As artists ourselves we know how hard it can sometimes be to support yourself in general, let alone at a time of global crisis. We decided that now more than ever is the time that the art world needs to pull together and to support each other in whatever ways we can. Whilst we aren’t a huge gallery with an infinite budget, we thought that this was a way in which we could do our bit to share the love.
"We look for artworks that are bold in composition and have a texture to them that will translate well to print"
Flowers by Matt Macken
Image: Delphian Gallery
KB: How did you decide which artists you would like to work with on this project?
DG: We had actually already planned to release some prints this summer, and so we already had the artists in mind. Some of them are artists we have worked with before, but most will be artists whose work we have admired for a while and have been waiting for an opportunity to work with. Once this pandemic started to get serious and we saw what real pressures artists were facing, we decided to forgo our share of the profits so as to try and make these artists’ lives a little bit easier.
KB: What do you look for when selecting an artwork to translate into print? What works well and what works less well?
DG: We look for artworks that are bold in composition and have a texture to them that will translate well to print. Paintings with visible brush strokes or other mark-making work really well for prints, as do bright, graphic pieces. As prints are by their very nature flat with a smooth, uniform surface, these marks elevate them to another level and add an extra layer of texture and interest.
KB: Could you talk a bit about the process - how the artworks are made into prints? Are they limited editions? What paper are they being printed on?
DG: The prints are all the highest-quality Giclée prints on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper, which are being printed and shipped by our friends over at theprintspace. They are all time-limited, so they are each available for 30 days, and however many the artist sells in that time period is how large the edition is. We did this for a few reasons, but it was mainly to avoid limiting the potential earnings of each artist, whilst also releasing an exciting, and exclusive print.
KB: How do you think the current crisis will change the way art galleries operate in the medium to longer term? Do you see any positives coming out of this experience in relation to the art world generally?
DG: It definitely has the potential to force some lasting repercussions, as galleries may close and artists may stop working. It would be a real shame for either of these things to happen, as artists and galleries both need each other to survive. There are a lot of innovative and exciting ways that we are seeing artists adapting to this current crisis, and I think it will result in a lot of interesting work, hopefully galleries find a way to do the same.
Bright Blessed Day, 2020 by B.D. Graft
Image: Delphian Gallery
KB: We have already seen a number of brilliant examples of artists creating new opportunities for themselves, in particular with the Artist Support Pledge established by Matthew Burrows, where artists offer works for sale via social media up to a value of £200 and when they reach £1000 worth of sales they buy an artwork from another artist for £200. In this way, artists are able to support each other and keep paying forward. Do you have any advice for artists who are selling work online, perhaps for the first time? Are there any dos and don’ts?
DG: The Artist Support Pledge is amazing, and it is keeping a lot of artists afloat right now which is essential. Artists selling online in this climate should focus on selling smaller works and print editions. This is for two reasons: firstly; as we descend into a recession many people are going to have less disposable income to buy artworks, and so smaller works with a lower price-point will be more accessible. This also avoids artists having to lower their prices which is not advisable. Secondly; buying artworks after only having seen them online can be a daunting prospect, which is why smaller, more affordable artworks are better for this.
Whilst we are in a quite fortunate position in not having a permanent space, and therefore having very limited overheads, not all galleries are that lucky. A lot of galleries are going to be really feeling the pressure right now, and so we would urge people to also still keep buying from galleries where possible too. If galleries close, the opportunities for artists will become even more difficult to attain. The entire art world needs support right now, and that includes galleries too.
"Artists selling online in this climate should focus on selling smaller works and print editions"
The Ceremony, by Moley Talhaoui
Image: Delphian Gallery
KB: Do you think there will be a place for initiatives like #LockdownEditions and the Artist Support Pledge continuing post COVID19 as a way for artists to earn an income outside of the traditional gallery system?
DG: I think there is always a place for innovation and change, and so it will be interesting to see how these things last post-corona. Artists have been selling their smaller works directly to collectors since at least the dawn of social media, but what is excellent about the pledge is that artists are also supporting each other by buying works too. It’s a really nice initiative, and we hope that artists continue to buy work from their contemporaries long after this nightmare is over.
KB: For people out there who are starting to collect and who are buying online from galleries and artists, do you have any tips on what makes a good collection?
DG: We chatted with collector Oliver Elst the other day and asked him this very same question, his response was “buy with your eyes and not with your ears”, which is a great piece of advice. It means that we should collect what we love and believe in, instead of listening to what other people suggest is worthwhile.
Liberty, by Lucia Ferrari
Image: Delphian Gallery
B.D. Graft (Germany, 1988), is a self-taught artist based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The main themes he explores are the pursuit of happiness, ownership, and the deceptively decorative.
Moley Talhaoui is a Swedish artist and master of iconoclasm. His painterly works playfully explore the dichotomy of beauty and distortion.
Matt Macken gathers inspiration from his personal experiences, photographs, and people that he knows but quite often he will compose images from imagination and memory. He is particularly interested in male figures and exploring sexuality, masculinity and identity.
Lucia Ferrari (1995) is a London-based artist who holds a BFA in Painting from Slade School of Fine Art. Her work has taken a new turn given the current climate of isolation, pushing boundaries, exploring materials; using what is readily available. Lucia is heavily influenced by her Italian heritage and living in Venice. There is both immediacy and indeterminacy in her paintings, which evokes a sense of surreal theatricality which is a driving force in Lucia's compositions. Fra Angelico’s 15th century frescoes at San Marco are a major influence on her work.