Inspiration Friday: How to build your creative confidence


An inspiring and thought provoking talk from David Kelly on how to build your creative confidence. Enjoy and happy Friday!


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Commission launches strategy to boost growth and jobs in cultural and creative sectors


I just came across this press release from the EU Commission this afternoon. Interesting statistics on the culture and creative industries in Europe. Creative industries account for up to 4.5% of GDP and up to 8.5 million jobs in the European Union.

This new strategy aims to

The Commission’s new strategy aims to increase the competitiveness and export potential of these sectors, as well as to maximise their spill-over benefits for other areas such as innovation, ICT and urban regeneration. The Commission is calling for a range of actions to promote the right conditions for the cultural and creative sectors to flourish. They focus on skills development, access to finance, promotion of new business models, audience development, access to international markets and improved links to other sectors.

Their research shows that companies investing “twice the average amount of creative inputs” develop more product innovations. And despite the tough recession across Europe, the creative industries have shown resilience compared to other sectors. Artists adaptable and resilient; yes we know that to be true!

Have a read here for further information. Anything that helps this sector grow and become more sustainable is a very good thing.

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Games Business Conference Aalborg


Next week I’m going North again, this time to Aalborg for the Games Business Conference. I’ll be speaking about games development using lean startup principles and conducting a workshop with four games companies. I have learned a lot about games in Sweden, Norway and Finland this year and now it’s Denmark’s turn. I’m very much looking forward to listening to Nicholas Lovell from Gamesbrief and meeting all the other speakers and participants.

I’m keeping an eye out for inventive game creators, producers and programmers for a new business development programme I’m working on with some brilliant investors, mentors and games gurus. So make sure to say hello if you are interested in taking part.

This is what I’m up to:

October 2nd 2012

04.30 pm: Panel: Building great businesses in games
A Panel of Nicholas Lovell (GamesBrief), Jan Neiiendam (Computerspilzonen), Mary Carty (Spoiltchild), Thomas Nielsen (Progressive Media) and James Gilmour ( discuss where the opportunities lie today. How do you generate value? And how do you monetize that value?

October 3rd 2012

Business Development for established companies with Mary Carty (Spoiltchild): Game Developers are invited to participate in 1:1 business development sessions of 1/2 hour duration where Mary Carty will look at how lean startup can be applied to games and business development.

Thanks to Mette for the invitation to present.

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Arts entrepreneurship takeaways


Earlier this week I taught my Arts Entrepreneurship course using Lean Startup principles. To learn more about the participants who signed up, I asked a few questions:

1. Do you have, or are you exploring, new business models/products for your practice?

2. Who is your target market for this idea/business practice/product?

3. Have you tested out your market for your new idea?

4. Do you have an online presence – Facebook, Twitter, Website, Blog, Twitter?

5. Do you use email marketing/email newsletters?

Here’s what I found out.

71% of the participants are exploring new business ideas for their practice.
57% have tested their idea.
35% have a website and Facebook account.
12% have a Facebook business page and
6% have a Twitter and Google+ account.

What does these statistics tell us about artists and creatives today?

Firstly, it tells me that creatives are eager to work on the business side of their practice. Learn more about building community and connecting online and offline networks. They want to build new communities around them and they really want to learn about sustainable business models.

Creative practitioners are moving online but they don’t know how to harness the power of these new networks. There is still some lingering doubt about the importance of social platforms like Twitter, especially on the grounds of trust and professionalism.

Sharing socially among family and friends on Facebook is not seen as threatening but moving out from these more personal networks is challenging.

Finally, many creatives have not thought about the ongoing communication after selling to their customer and lack the skills to continue the conversation. Which is a strange phenomenon as creatives are the world’s storytellers and have a massive desire for their work to be seen.

This point comes back again to trust and not feeling confident about sharing their opinions and their work outside traditional methods; exhibitions, invites, talks etc.

During the course of the day we discussed these opposing ideas, the opportunity of opening up your practice beyond the gallery and your studio to online.

Creating crowd sourced and funded projects like Granny’s dancing on the table.

Saving your craft or art form from extinction like DodoCase

and RTE Doc On One.

By the end of the day, we had come up with ideas for just about every practice in the room and ways to make it happen. Crucially, we looked at each creative’s core practice, their core business, what piece might be the most profitable and a minimum viable product to test the idea before lots of time, money, sweat and tears are spent.

So yes. Lean startup works for the arts, for crafts, for creatives, for photographers and for transmedia as much as for technology and games folks. And teaching this course validated all this writing, talking and discussing for me too!

So here are the top four takeaways from the day:

– Be the benefactor of your own creativity
– Be the agent of your own success story
– Why let some middleman/gatekeeper decide the value of what you do
– Why leave your success to someone else

The thing is, when we are eager to do things ourselves we harness our own power and get things done. We just have to take the first step. Thanks to everyone who came along on the day. It was game changing!

If you are interested in exploring your creative business idea for your arts practice then sign up here.

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Developing creative entrepreneurship


For the past few months I’ve been working on developing a creative entrepreneurship course using lean startup principles. Artists and creatives, like many other industries around the globe, are finding times tough. The landscape of arts funding has changed significantly and the age of grants, scholarships and annual funding is becoming a distant memory.

Many creatives are looking at new ways to develop and sustain their practice; to build community and to find new markets. Arts like startups in other words.

In taking this approach new opportunities arise, not least because this change in thinking brings the focus back to the creator – a do-it -yourself mentality, not relying solely on a gatekeeper to advance your career or put a value on what you do.

With this change of focus, coupled with lean startup principles (build, measure, learn) artists can explore new methods of working, test their assumptions and validate their ideas quickly, without costing huge amounts of money and time.

I firmly believe that the next wave of entrepreneurship will emerge from artists and creatives, flexing their creative, innovative muscle bringing with them new products and solutions.

I’m very exited that my first arts entrepreneurship course, hosted by Visual Arts Ireland and The Craft Council of Ireland, is fully booked out.

I’m looking forward to working with all the artists and craft makers on the day, devising new ways of working, validating their market, building community and sustaining their practice. This is going to be a game-changing afternoon. Thanks once again to Monica and Emer for the invitation to present.

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IIA nominations for Spoiltchild


Once again, I’m delighted to announce that Alan, Spoiltchild founder, has been nominated in two categories of the IIA awards for Best Digital Marketing by an Online Trader that makes customers love your brand and most “joyous to look at and splendid to use” Web Design. Please give him a vote for his fantastic work on, and You can vote here!

As always, we are among fantastic designers, developers and marketers and it is great to be nominated alongside so many friends and colleagues. I am really looking forward to the awards night on September 28th in The National Gallery. It will be a fun and exciting evening.

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RTE Radio Best International Broadcaster


This week RTÉ Radio was named the best international broadcaster award for the second year in a row. We are doubly delighted, as both RTÉ wesites, RTÉ Doc on One and RTÉ Drama were designed by the team here in Spoiltchild. It is lovely to see our work highlighted for its accessibility and great design.

So here is what they won. Drum roll please! Documentary on One won 13 awards, Drama on One won three awards; the Curious Ear won two awards and Death of an Empire also claimed a gong. What a fantastic achievement!

Here is what Clare Duignan, Managing Director of RTÉ Radio had to say about the win:

“It’s true to say that, as a people, we have always taken particular delight in recognition from across the waters, be it the Atlantic Ocean or the Irish Sea. And so with this award. To be named Broadcaster of the Year in this awesome international context – among world-renowned peers like the BBC and American Public Media – is important not just for RTÉ, but for Ireland.

“The individual wins, on Radio 1 and lyric, across documentary, drama and music, are to be celebrated in themselves. The overall award points to, in my view, RTÉ Radio’s excellence not simply on FM, but to the strength and accessibility of our online international presence on sites for Documentary on One, Drama on One and, of course, the new RTÉ Radio Player.

“As broadcasters, we’re only as good as our latest programmes, and these latest programmes are now award winners on the international stage. It’s a timely reminder of the value, relevance and quality of programming across RTÉ Radio. My thanks to New York Festivals. And my congratulations to the producers, editors and staff in RTÉ Radio who work with such dedication, and for whom being best in the world is a daily goal.”

Congratulations to everyone in RTÉ Radio we are thrilled and delighted for you all. You couldn’t work with nicer, or more talented people.

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Visual Arts Ireland Get Together


I’m heading back to Limerick tomorrow for Visual Arts Ireland, Get Together 2012. There is a great programme of events planned for the day along with tours of EVA international. I’m giving a workshop on socialising your arts practice, specifically for artists and creatives. It’s going to be a fun session.

For artists, social media offers a fantastic opportunity to build community, to collaborate and to make things happen quickly. It is a great way to share information and research and for future sustainability.

It can be a daunting experience though, opening up a private experience to an unlimited audience. But it is well worth it. New low cost platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram make it easy and most importantly affordable.

The latest buzz in startup circles is arts entrepreneurship and I have to agree; it’s going to be huge. The next wave of creative, innovative, game-changing businesses are coming from arts and culture. Investors are realising that while technology is great, magic happens when world’s collide.

And raising your profile and looking at new possibilities for your creative practice is one way to get there. Business is not a dirty word, just another creative possibility for you to explore. Like Damien Hurst who has mastered the two with aplomb.

Looking forward to the conversation back in my old Alma mater tomorrow.

See you there!


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I’m really looking forward to giving this social media marketing for your business workshop on Social Media Day in the Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre.

This workshop focuses on the business benefits of optimising your online presence by using social media as a promotional tool and as a sales platform for your services. This session will teach you how to build your profile, increase your network reach and promote your business online. Most importantly, it will ask questions like:

Who is your audience?
Who is your customer?
Who is your target market?
What do you want your users to do NEXT, after they connect with you?

By utilising social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn effectively; you can grow your business and position yourself as an expert in your field. This workshop will explain the benefits of owning your own audience and reengaging them at every stage along the customer journey.Case studies will be used throughout to illustrate best practice. Practical walk through’s on the day will help participants get the most from their time online.

Participants will also be provided with access to all the materials, slides, marketing plan and resources after the workshop.

Time: 10:00 AM – 2:30 PM (with a break for lunch)

A full menu will be available from our Cottage Café.

Places are limited, please book early to avoid disappointment.

Looking forward to meeting you on the day.

Thanks to Shane for the invitation to present and for organising the day.

Image thanks to the Seamus Ennis Centre.

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Inspiration Friday – John Cleese on Creativity


One of the most powerful and funny talks on creativity from John Cleese. Take half and hour and a coffee and be inspired. Happy Friday everyone!

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