Black Hole Studio, county Roscommon, Ireland

Black Hole Studio enables the production and promotion of high quality artwork in a variety of disciplines and media. Black Hole Studio encourages the growth of the artistic community in the area through peer learning, opportunities for inter-disciplinary engagement and sharing of knowledge and info while connecting with artists both nationally and internationally. Black Hole Studio wishes to stimulate interest in the arts for the local community and nurture this curiosity through seminars, workshops, tutorials, and exhibition programmes at the studio.

Who are you, where are you located and where do you work from (office, home)?

Black Hole Studio was set up in 2009 as an artist studio space. We work in a variety of disciplines including photography, video, animation, design, sculpture, print & drawing. We are based in Frenchpark, county Roscommon in the west of Ireland, however, we currently work from home. We are David Pierce & Mary Duignan, co-partners and have invested our own time and money to keep Black Hole Studio running, put on exhibitions for national and international artists (at no cost to these artists) as well as promoting and marketing the studio, building its resources and equipment, and developing its presence on the internet.

Do you have employees? If so, how many work in your business?

‘Mind Bomb’

We don’t have any employees but continue to work with other groups & organisations and hire staff when required e.g. for a photo / video shoot.

What is unique about what you do?

We have gained a lot of experience by working with a variety of groups and people in various settings. Because of this we are able to adapt, re-model and change while retaining focus on high quality outcomes for the group, person(s) or project. We have built a network of friends, associates and other artists that we work with. We are flexible and see each project as something new and different and while we may rely on our learned skills it is important that all outcomes are unique to each project.
Although we work in multi-media, our speciality is Fine Art photography. We both studied photography at the beginning of our careers. As it changed from analogue to digital, it was from there that everything else followed.

Is your location important to your creativity?

Before setting up in county Roscommon we both lived in cities (Dublin and Berlin). The buzz of the city and all it can offer culturally is sometimes missed but luckily Ireland is small making its bigger towns and cities accessible…all of which offer opportunities for up-skilling, networking and seeing new work. Also we’re close to Knock’s Ireland West Airport, which has an ever growing number of routes to Europe, so, in a way we have the best of both worlds.

Berlin collection – ‘My apartment’

As digital media has progressed it has made it possible to work anywhere as long as you have the equipment and broadband. We believe because we live in Roscommon we have greater access to supports available from Roscommon County Council, Leitrim County Council, Roscommon Enterprise Board and Roscommon Leader. We have found them to be enthusiastic supporters of all things creative especially if you can show some initiative and produce professional outcomes. The landscape, pace of life and quietness away from the metropolis allows more time to focus on one’s own work.

What inspires you / do you have creative role models?

What inspires us is the narrative! Not necessarily in chronological order, but fragments of an idea put together where the viewer can make up their own mind about what is going on. We believe allowing the viewer to pick up on nuances within a narrative drives it more than explaining it in very direct terms, while also leaving it open to various interpretations. However, sometimes it is important or even required to tell a story in a simple manner especially for business orientated work!
Our work is influenced by various role models, but we tend not to get too bogged down in that as these can change and alter as time passes.

Submission to FabAllThings -’Bullseye’ wall clock

We both acquired our creative skills through college. Mary studied Design in Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT), as well as Fine Art (sculpture) in the National College of Art and Design (NACD). David travelled  to Berlin to study photography. We continue to learn new disciplines such as video, animation & digital media. The skills of running a business were garnered over a number of years working free-lance and working in other businesses. The business side is something which is in need of development and skills such as marketing, social media & training are regularly up-dated. We also keep abreast of the ever-changing landscape of digital media using the media itself, especially know-how videos, and we continue to improve these abilities whenever feasible.

What is your biggest business challenge?

Finding work that pays! Although this sounds a little clichéd it is the main problem for us. We have often been asked to help out here and there on projects with people not expecting to pay a decent wage for the time, effort, skills and cost to us. To be able to continue producing high-quality work it is imperative to upgrade all equipment regularly, learn ever evolving software, keep up-to-date with new privacy and copyright laws, pay for marketing and spend a huge amount of time promoting the business. As a lot of our paid work comes via submissions we spend a lot of our time writing proposals which more often than not are rejected. However, we do love it when a plan comes together, but it would be great to be offered payment rather than having to seek it out!

What are your plans for the future?

We plan to seek out more opportunities, to develop and learn creatively, while mastering and honing our skills. We are always aiming for higher standards and learning from our few (we hope) mistakes and wish to build on newly learned skills and develop our web presence.

If you had to do it over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?

We believe we should have focused more on developing the Black Hole Studio at an earlier stage, spending more time on it rather than pursuing some paid work. Having said that, we have slowly learned what’s important and we’re glad of the successes to date, especially recently as the marketing & promotion seems to be paying off. We have no regrets – but given the chance to do it again with what we know now, we’d have done some things quite differently.

Check out Black Hole Studio’s profile on MyCreativeEdge here

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