Once we started putting together a mockup of this first issue of Anomaly, very quickly we realised we needed original artwork. Which meant we needed artists to submit their work too. In the initial mockup at the beginning, it became obvious that artwork would actually play a crucial part of the design of the journal- it couldn't rely solely on the literary side of it. No-one wants to sit down and be faced with digital page after digital page of black and white words all bleeding into one another. That and we love art, so shouldn't we include that too?
Until that first mockup in mid July (I know, I'm obsessive- we had almost next to nothing to put into it but I had to see what it might look like even still) I hadn't realised how important art would become for us. Then I realised, though we couldn't pay, it could be a slightly interesting way to show off artwork by artists who were willing to submit and have their work displayed for nothing more than maybe getting some traction and attention.
Of course we'd had no art submissions, so I turned to one of my close friends, Sofia Monika Swatek and begged her to send me some work- anything, no matter how old it was, I couldn't just have black and white print. Sofia, seeing a PR opportunity (as well as helping a friend), immediately sent me some high-res images of a few paintings. I'd never seen them before and because I live in London and not Dublin anymore, I thought it might've been something I'd missed. Until I realised a few weeks later, these were paintings that were just about to be exhibited at her art gallery for her own new show, ORANGES ARE NOT THE ONLY FRUIT.
I've known Sofia for what must be six years now. She started working at an art store the day after I'd started there and we immediately got on like a house on fire, despite the fact her English wasn't amazing at the time. I kind of felt like I'd known her forever. Both of us are terrible at keeping in contact consistently but give us two minutes in a room together after two years (as happened last year) and it's like we'd seen each other every week. In the middle of the recession, at it's height in Ireland, Sofia decided she was going to do what she'd always wanted to do: open an art gallery. I thought she was insane- she had some savings but nothing major. She found a premises, she haggled the price down on condition she would renovate it herself and suddenly she had a space.
Not everyone with a fine art BA can turn something as risky as an art gallery into a fully fledged business in the middle of a seriously dire recession, but there's a lot to be said for some determination and a truckload of people skills. Sofia is warm, bubbly and laughs a lot. Quick-minded and sharp, she has always relied on her radar-like intuition and it is this odd mix of personality traits (as well, I'm sure as her good looks) that creates a kind of gravity around her on opening nights. She once held an exhibition of her own work and the week before, sent a press release out to local and national newspapers which said she was, at the end of the opening night, simply giving away the paintings to the people they matched. They were expensive, people would have paid but as she told me, "I want a fresh start, I'm sick of seeing them. Everything has to go." Artistically, she wanted to move on and this was a sure fire way of clearing out her back catalogue. It went down a storm, people couldn't fit into the gallery.
With the artwork that she gave me, she decided to do something similar and had a lotto where one painting was randomly given away to one ticket holder. I was just sorry I couldn't have been there- but then, in a way, I got three and I get to put them in Anomaly for everyone to see. We very much want to continue doing this, so we need artists just as much as we need writers.
Artwork brings us something extra, something special and provides the reader with a break between reading.
We need artists just as much as we need our writers. Any artists out there, please get submitting. You too are invaluable to us!