Be inspired. A photographers journey to Award winning status.

Have you ever wondered how Creatives get peer recognition of their work?

I have always drooled over that recognition process, wanting to be the one receiving that shiny plaque or framed 'Well Done' paper.

I also thought that an artist had to be working in their industry for 40 years, with loads of exhibitions and work under their belt, before anyone would even consider looking at them in this capacity.

Well, how wrong was I.

James Clancy a fellow Corkonion shares with us his insight and journey of how he broke into the German Art scene to receive a nominated title from the prestigious Deutscher Photobook Prize. 

Border Country James Clancy

What did you work at in Ireland?
My work in Ireland was pretty mixed and varied. I lived in Cork for the most of 20 years and in that time I worked in marketing, art, film and music.

When did the Creative projects begin?
In the beginning it was a hobby. The first work I was really comfortable exhibiting were four pictures in the Cork Art Trail in 1998. The next projects didn’t happen for another couple of years. There was never a plan. It was just a case of making one's way along and seeing what would emerge. Small steps if you like.

What made ye decide to move to Berlin from Ireland?
A series of unplanned events brought about that decision. When the effects of the recession were clearly being felt on my work in Ireland around 2009, it started becoming obvious a change was coming. Apart from the recession I would say meeting Rita who would become my wife, was the real decider to move to Berlin.

How did you break into the German Art scene?
Before I moved to Germany I had been exhibiting a photo series in Ireland called ‘Border Country'. The feeling I had was that it would make a really good photo book. After researching and drawing up a list of possible publishers in Germany who might suit my style of photography, I travelled to several photo and book festivals and booked meetings with various publishing houses through a series of portfolio reviews.

Eventually, Kehrer Verlag from Heidelberg agreed to publish and release the book in 2011. In 2012 ‘Border Country’ was a nominated title of the prestigious Deutscher Photobook Prize alongside titles from people such as Wolfgang Tillmanns, Werner Herzog and Wim Wenders. The release of the book has not only helped with raising one's profile in Germany but also internationally in places such as Croatia, Hong Kong, Finland, Spain, Italy and France where ‘Border Country’ has also been exhibited.

What advice would you give your 20 YEAR OLD self?
I would say to my twenty year old self:

1. Follow the path that feels right

2. Try if at all possible to avoid the opinions and expectations of others. Those people’s opinions only mirror what is in themselves and sometimes can be quite toxic.

It can be good to listen, but always remember:

3. There is only one you that is unique in this world with your own distinct set of needs. 

What challenges did ye guys face when trying to build a life in Germany?
Building a life was not difficult. In fact it was pretty straightforward and very natural, as I was back and over from Cork for a couple of years and was in an artist residency for a while as well, so Berlin became pretty local to me. It obviously helped with Rita being there. The biggest challenge I would say was fear.

My main fear arose from having spent the greater part of my life in Cork in a familiar comfort zone if you can call it that and then removed oneself from the place, relocating to a different country, with a different language, culture, approaching middle age. Believe me, it has created some doubts from time to time.

Border Country

Fear is one of those things that can never be fully removed from one's life. Over time, I found the best one can hope for is to manage it. How I have managed this and other moments of fear is simply by looking at the situation with as much clarity as I possibly can and ask myself;

  • What is this?
  • What does it feel like?
  • And imagine what is the very worst that can possibly happen by taking that step into the unknown?

By realising what these fears are, and then realising that they do not result in the worst possible scenarios, then it is possible to see that it is very possible to move past it.

Would you recommend going to a bigger city like London or New York with Creative work?

I don’t believe it is necessary to be based in a major city. What a lot of this depends on is the needs and necessities of the creative individual to create the best work possible. Some prefer the quiet, solitary life of the country, others prefer the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a case of balancing out what feels right.

The internet makes it much easier to reach out, to make contact with people for possible future collaborations and market oneself than it was years ago. But no matter where you are based, always be aware of the fact that you are also a business as well and must operate as one.

Infrastructure that operates with a high level of efficiency is very important, to be able to create the best work you can, manufacture to the highest quality and ship promptly with few delays. 

Do you use Social Media to promote your thang?
I post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google plus. It's good to keep informing people about what you do, but I find social media can be a very mixed bag. There is so much choice with the various portals and so much information out there. The impression I get sometimes is that it is so overwhelming with the volume of information, visibility can be quite difficult. You really have to work at it which can quite time consuming. Figure out what network gets the best response and results and leave the rest. They are only a waste of time. 

What is your biggest challenge, Creatively?
The biggest challenge to creativity is acknowledging the simple fact that you are also a business. This means certain creative time has to be sacrificed and the focus must be directed on the administration which includes marketing, promotion, manufacturing, packaging and much more. Dividing time between the two can be quite a juggling act, but over time systems develop and you begin to figure out how to allocate time to these two areas. 

What is the thing you miss about Ireland?
It's amazing how much one can take for granted and only realise it when one is away from it all. Things like the landscape, the people, the language and the humour that comes with it, that sense of community. You don’t get that in a major city. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Hope to be doing what I enjoy doing.

Thanks to Jim for taking the time out of his busy calendar to share this with us. 

I think the best bit of advice, as Jim pointed out, is to remember you are not an Artist but a Business person also. The two have to marry or else you will not survive in this Creative commercial world.

On that note, as I wish to build my email list and I hope you are trying to too, ahem! clearing of throat, with internal voice..'ya gotta ask Tara!' ........

If you enjoy Biscuit Blogs and fancy getting them hand delivered for FREE please send me your email and I will pop you on our ever expanding list of Biscuits! 

I would also like to informally invite you to join our growing community of Creatives over on Facebook - here is the link! Bite The Biscuit - see ya over there with a fab group of supportive and driven Creative Entrepreneurs.