Jenny Judova is founder of Art Map London, an art event listings website for the capital that is here to revolutionise the London art scene. What started as a small venture in late 2013 has now been outstripped by demand. Judova decided to launch a Kickstarter to fund a newly developed website. Fully-funded and a staff-pick after only a week on Kickstarter, it’s clear there is a need to make private views and events more accessible. Here, she takes some time to talk to us about Art Map London…
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I am an alumna of Glasgow University, I did both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees there. The undergraduate degree was a joint honours in History of Art and Theology and Religious studies, and the postgraduate degree was a 12 month research into the representation of the Devil in the Queen Mary psalter, an early 14th century English manuscript. So something centuries away from contemporary art, but I think my affection for monsters and imps does shine through.
What is Art Map London?
Art Map London is an art event listings website for London. We list everything from private views to screenings to talks as long as they are open to the general public, and it is events based, so we do not list exhibitions. In other words, if you are searching for art and a free drink, Art Map London will tell you where to find them.
How did you come up with the idea for the project?
It was Glasgow inspired. Glasgow has a very strong private view culture, if you are studying art (especially if you are at GSA) you go to art openings. Third year private views just became my monthly routine and when I moved to London I spent weeks trying to find a private view listing website, or zine, or blog or whatever, but there was nothing. There are loads of maps that would show the locations of galleries and there are tons of generic exhibition listing websites. So after a month of not going to art events, I realised that if I want to keep my habits I have to create a listing website – and I did.
Currently, you’re looking to expand the website with a photo diary and a gallery directory. What is your long-term vision for the site?
I do see Art Map becoming the one-stop shop for all art events in London, and all gallery information. The long term vision is to use Art Map to demystify galleries and private views – to empower people who ‘don’t know anything about art’ to go to galleries and to be confident to look at art, judge it, and collect it.
What makes the London art scene stand out from other cities?
Diversity. Glasgow is new and experimental; New York is trendy and cool and polished, Paris is old fashioned and institutional, London is diverse. In London, you can find anything from the outrageously experimental exhibitions to the stick up your arse polite ones. You have galleries and curators who are all about research, and those who are all about slamming art on the wall and making money. In London, you can find something for any taste and any pocket.
Do you think there are any misconceptions about the accessibility of private views and gallery openings?
Yes, and that is one of the reasons why I started Art Map – to fight against those ridiculous assumptions and to empower people to judge art, because even if you do not have an arts degree, you are still entitled to have an opinion on whether you like the art work or you don’t. There are a number of ridiculous misconceptions, the two most widespread are: that you have to be invited or on ‘the guest list’ to come to a private view, which is rarely the case. And the second is that you will be questioned about art – which never happens, if anything a private view is the place where art is used as a conversation starter rather than the subject.
You’ve teamed up with several artists to provide art rewards to your backers, can you tell us more about how you came to work with them and how you settled on the theme of ‘monster’?
From the start I wanted to work with artists, Art Map is about exploring the London art scene, especially the emerging art scene. So it made perfect sense to approach artists to have their work as awards rather than generic merchandise with the Art Map logo. I never really picked a theme for the Kickstarter I just wanted to work with artists whose art I admired, and whose work I would want to collect. That is actually how I met Cassandra Yap – I bought one of her prints. I came across Benjamin Bridges and Guy Haddon Grant when procrastinating online. Ben introduced me to Lara Thomson, and I fell in love with her monsters. I met Garry Russell in a bizarre way – a friend bumped into him in Selfridges – and the rest is history, and Adam Slatter was introduced to me by Garry.
I was very fortunate that all the artists agreed to take part in my campaign and gave me their existing works. Everyone apart from Lara, she created the Monster Private View print for the Kickstarter campaign. The Monster Private View is a detailed study of characters you meet at art events, and I like to think that the little guy with the map is me. The print is available for 50, and a limited number of prints will be available for only 25 via the Kickstarter. I believe that a collection speaks a lot about the collector, so in the case of the Kickstarter; the theme monster was not chosen I just happen to like monsters.
Why did you choose to use crowd funding for this project?
Art Map is for everyone, not just for specialist public, and it made sense to crowd fund the project to check if the public actually wanted and needed it. Out of all the confounding platforms, I chose Kickstarter because I am most familiar with it – I’ve used it for a few years now.
What place do you think crowd funding has in the art world?
Unfortunately very little.
I find it a bit tragic that Kickstarter actually started out with an ambition to help artists and culture projects, but now it is best known for tech projects. Tech and digital campaigns are also more successful in gaining funding than art projects. Usually because they are better at researching how to create a successful campaign, and they are better at promoting it. One of the things that the panel discussion ‘Art projects on Kickstarter’, which I held, brought to light is that promotion is often key to success and should become a full time job if you want to get the funds. And now speaking from experience, I can confirm that it is true. The hardest work begins the second you launch your Kickstarter – I spent the last week chained to the computer and that is why Art Map is 92% funded in a week!
Art Map London Kickstarter Video
What advice would you give to young creatives and artists who are thinking of organising a crowd funding campaign?
Research. Research the platform, talk to people who went through it, do not jump into it, leave at least a month for preparation. I’ve seen great projects fail just because their founders did not bother to spend time on preparation and research and expected the Kickstarter community to throw money at them. And I’ve seen the most idiotic ideas funded because their project leaders were smart with awards and pledges, took full advantage of the video, and were good at promoting the campaign.
Crowdfunding is great, but it is definitely not a lazy man’s/woman’s alternative to government funding.
Art Map London is live on Kickstarter until 3 July. Having reached its funding goal, the project will continue to collect funds until its closing date. See how the campaign is doing here. Learn more about the artists involved in the special exhibition catalogue below:
Read more about the artists whose work is featured in the Art Map London Kickstarter campaign.
Photos courtesy of Jenny Judova. Q&A by Madeleine Schmoll.
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