The first time I meet Jenny Judova she is hosting a discussion. I had decided to attend a launch event for her kickstarter campaign. She wants to raise £1500 so that her website, Art Map London, can get a bit of a makeover and she decided to ‘kick’ things off with a panel discussion the topic quite aptly being crowd funding.
It’s certainly something that interests me, the continued power of sites like Kickstarter always have the potential to inspire, and when it comes to the arts it seems like a genuinely viable option in terms of raising money to get a project off the ground. Jenny’s panel includes Kickstarter alumni such as Lucy Sparrow, who featured on this very blog only a few months ago as she attempted (successfully) to raise funding for the creation of a corner shop made out of felt and wool. Also in attendance discussing the merits or otherwise was Miriam Elia, author of ‘We Go to the Gallery’ and Irina Turcan, founder of ‘Art I Curate‘.
All had real experience with setting up Kickstarters and top tips included the making of a good video and giving yourself enough time to prepare and manage the process once it becomes live. It was also interesting to learn about the number of people who pledge money but actually don’t want to claim any of the ‘rewards’ to which they would otherwise be entitled. It would seem that a lot of people just want to support, not even seeking credit, just satisfied with the fact that someone somewhere is being creative so why not just help them along?
Art Map London is a one stop shop for art events in the city. Despairing that there didn’t seem to be any one place in which to find out about private views or upcoming shows, Jenny decided to take matters into her own hands and just build the site herself. It’s a sign of it’s continued success that the site needs to be upgraded, it’s proved it’s worth as a key source of information for art lovers in the city and now it’s time to take it to the next stage as it’s just grown and grown.
A couple of days after the talk we arranged to meet close to Brick Lane in the funky little ‘Vintage Bean’ coffee shop, a favourite haunt of mine ever since I tasted the cake. Jenny lights up when she talks about art. An alumni of Glasgow University via Latvia and Czech Republic Art Map started when she arrived in London, recognised that there was so much happening but nowhere specific to find out about all the events.
Initially starting to physically trawl the gallery sites on the internet Jenny would manually take down the listings but that begun to take its toll. “I list everything free of charge, but now I can only work with galleries who send their information to me” she says. There’s a lot of galleries in London and the listings was becoming a full time job in itself.
She believes that art should be as accessible as possible and Art Map London can help to achieve that. She has used this to her advantage with the Kickstarter “as it’s about promoting the London art scene it made sense to ask artists to donate their works to the campaign” she told me. Indeed, a number of the rewards available are works created from London based artists and she has worked with the likes of Cassandra Yap, Lara Thompson, Gary Russell, Benjamin Bridges, Guy Haddon Grant and Adam Slatter to create an exciting suite of rewards. In fact when I start asking about the artists, she breathes a visible sigh of relief “I just love talking about the artists” she says “I could talk about art all day”.
She describes herself as a ‘geek’ when it comes to art explaining that during her university years in Glasgow there was a culture of going to private views in a city renowned for being the home of the Turner Prize and having a vibrant art scene. “You end up getting sucked in” she told me “you don’t need to know someone to take you around as there was always a listings map or a website that had all the private views listed. I just got into the habit of going, on Friday instead of going to the pub I would just go on a gallery run.”
The money raised from her Kickstarter will go to enhancing the functionality of the site, making it easier to list things, create photo diaries from private view events, a directory which includes information about gallery accessibility as well as their location and what they’ve got going on. She also wants to work on the functionality of the site making it a smoother and better browsing experience.
“I don’t remember not having art in my life” says Jenny when I ask about when she first decided that she’d like to spend so much time on her passion. Telling of her early years she explains how first she wanted to become an artist and then a fashion designer and after that a historian. “Then I found out there was something called ‘Art History’ and that just blew my mind” she laughs, her decision to make a career out of art was sealed and the rest as they say, is history and the art scene in London is the richer for it.
Jenny Judova was interviewed on Tuesday 3 June in the Vintage Bean Cafe on Cheshire Street, close to Brick Lane. Art Map London is trying to raised £1500 via Kickstarter, click here to support. For more articles featuring Jenny and her work have a look here and here.