The credit crunch brought this world crashing down. There was no longer an appetite for contemporary art among this broader demographic as they saw their disposable income threatened. Some artists saw this as an exciting opportunity to take their practice off in new directions.
Using the mindset developed as contemporary artists, they forged parallel approaches to their creative endeavours. As we deal with the ongoing effects of coronavirus, with teaching and curating opportunities (how many artists supplement their income) increasingly thin on the ground, these pioneering artists offer ever more valuable insights into how to make a creative living.
A request for help from collectors who had previously bought my work led me to a happy parallel career as an art advisor, and my contemporaries below have used the open and critical thinking that is essential to any successful contemporary art career and developed projects that engage both their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.
Sarah Baker is a contemporary artist whose work explores desire and fantasy through the creation of various fictional characters. The work considers the mystique of luxury products and how their branding and subsequent value is created through the highly fictive practices of advertising and marketing. Her artwork appears as magazine spreads, performance, sculpture and video.
Sarah Baker Perfumes is an extension of Baker’s artistic practice, where the scents themselves emerge as glamorous inanimate characters in lavish settings. Though born from fantasy and capable of transporting you to an extravagant world, each perfume is a tangible statement designed for everyday use.
Baker began developing her perfume line with the Institute for Art and Olfaction in 2013. By 2016, she debuted her first two fragrances at the Hammer Museum: Leopard and Greek Keys, made by perfumer Ashley Eden Kessler.
Later that year, Baker added two new scents to her collection, Lace and Tartan, made by perfumer Sarah McCartney. All four scents were featured at an immersive installation at Luton’s Storefront Gallery in Baker’s exhibition titled Sixth Floor.
The SARAH BAKER Collection offers eight unique perfumes in a sculptural 50ml bottle designed by Sarah Baker. Its joyful logo and signature cap, referencing the colour of the Golden Gate Bridge, are both inspired by San Francisco. But each fragrance has a singular character of its own, whether inspired by the glamour of Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, the seminal work of French surrealist filmmaker Germaine Dulac, or the mysterious Scottish Highlands.
The fragrance brand, has since taken on a life of its own, undoubtedly works of art that simultaneously stand their own ground in the grand traditions of the best perfumery.
After finishing her masters at the Royal Academy of Art in London, Aishleen Lester was represented by the very well respected Riflemaker Gallery in London. Lester had a series of shows of her large sculptural work in London and New York, where she collaborated with choreographers to make interactive stage sets, including a commission by Selfridges department store to make a large installation for their Wonder Windows.
At the same time Lester began to feel that she would like to make work on a different scale. This resulted in her enrolment on a soldering course, and the eventual creation of the award winning Le Ster jewellery.
'The crossover between art and jewellery seemed like a natural progression. It meant that I could use the creative skills I had learnt as a practising artist to create objects that could be worn and become part of someone’s every day. I love the fact that you design a piece of jewellery with a particular story in mind but then it gets worn and the person forms their own connections with a piece – the process feels very much alive.'
Elegant, contemporary fine jewellery set with coloured gemstones and diamonds, Le Ster is identified by the industry as the brand to watch, winning the highly competitive The Jewellery Cut Live Bursary in February 2020. Aishleen’s luxurious motifs and energising use of colour have already caught the attention of jewellery insiders. She was named Designer to Watch at the jewellery trade show IJL in 2018, shortlisted for Benchpeg’s Innovation in Jewellery Award and went on to win a place in 2019 on the respected and competitive business incubator Setting Out at The Goldsmiths Centre.
The Jewellery Cut co-founder Rachael Taylor describes Le Ster as 'perfectly embodying the current zeitgeist in contemporary jewellery. I’ve admired Aishleen Lester’s jewellery since she launched her brand in 2017. I love the firework motif she uses in her debut collection, Light the Grey. Somehow she’s managed to make it feel soft and quiet, yet energising. Her use of colour, and precious jewels make it fantastically wearable, scaled up or down. It’s the perfect fit for The Jewellery Cut Live, and I can’t wait to see what Le Ster does next.'