As a relative newcomer to ‘Real Life’, I’ve spent almost a year now, pondering the common Work-Life-Art theory. Someone once said ‘You either work all the time to afford to make art but have no time to make anything, or never work and so have all of he time but no money to make work’… or words to that effect. After recently starting to work full-time, I have to disagree; I have spent mornings and evenings, frantically drilling, sawing, painting and baking things for the next piece for the next show.
Our shared studio is barren again. Most others are working, sleeping, playing. Some tut and shake their heads, “sell-outs” they may say, a justifiable reason to steal your custard creams and mugs.
Some people are ‘artists’; they dress like ‘artists’, talk like ‘artists’, carry around books that ‘artists’ read. Some people are artists. Sometimes I dress up as a grizzly bear, it doesn’t mean I am a grizzly bear. I struggle with time, I struggle with money, I struggle with my work, with the fruition, with the construction, but most importantly, I’m making something. I’m not always in my studio, but when I can be, I am; it’s my little piece of paradise.
Someone once said to always do something which scares you.
I'm scared of many things. Balled up bits of paper, slugs, frogs, exams, sun-dried tomatoes for example. Organising an event for me; is beyond fear... it's the very probably possibility of publicly falling on your ass and the self-doubt which follows the humiliation. I've just last week hosted a public event in the name of art. It scared the be-jesus out of me, and it still does, but isn't it funny what one will do for what they love?
I blindly found myself acting as a secretary for a volunteering sector in the Ouseburn valley a few months ago. Thats a small area in Newcastle, with a very concentrated community of artists and creative people. Its beautiful and has so much to boast; and yet, its quite insular. In some sort of moment of sheer madness, I volunteered myself to run a networking event for all of the like-minded people. And heres the recipe for what (thank the Lord) turned into a very successful night.
1. NEVER refer to a networking event as a networking event. Its an instant way to put people off. Networking conjures up images of men in suits, shaking hands and talking in mono-tones voices about stats and printer inks. Think of a FUN and FRESH name. I went with SCHMOOZE. Say it. Go on. Its just nice to say.
2. People stick in their groups. Its not often someone comes along who will approach a stranger and start having a chat. And lets me fair, if they did, we would probably dismiss them as odd. This is why networking is probably doomed to fail, without some organisation and a good concept. Enter brainwave number two. The SPEED-SCHMOOZE. Speed-dating meets networking. Genius.
3. Find a venue. Design a poster. Publicise. *It might be handy to have some computer skills at this point. I don't recommend making the poster by hand and spelling the title wrong, twice. TWICE.
4. Plan in advance and stick to it. This is much better than realising late the night before that your plan is ultimately floored as traditional speed-dating only means half of the people actually meet, i.e. the men and the women. This may result in detailed floor plans, colour and number assignment and a small panic attack.
5. Find a buddy. Someone who makes you calm and is good at brewing tea. A collaborative arty partner is fabulous for this. This tip is especially helpful if you have organisation-phobia like myself.
6. Revel in your success when people turn up and you realise that there was some sense in your original plan. Thank everyone profusely, especially the people who you near-drove insane. Collapse.
Sundays are the days for reflection, tea, and a little more reflection...
Being AA2A rep made it really easy for me to meet lots of lovely shiny happy people. You can never have enough shiny happy people in your life. Let alone the talented arty kind; having these relationships is really valuable for networking and learning from, but most of all, they’re more often than not up for a pint…
It was nice to have something else to work on during final year art-school-hell. The .biz site provided many hours of procrastination on the run up to dissertation hand in… its research!
Having a blog really helped my professional practice module; having an on-line presence in the art world is great, plus the use of the site is FREE to reps, FREE!
The tasks Georgia and Wendy send are really simple, it’s no chore getting people motivated about the scheme because most of your fellow students will have already met the lovely shiny happy people (see reason to be thankful 1) and would love to help out.
Being able to say you’re a rep on your CV shows a wealth of transferable skills; communication, motivation, creativity and leadership. That’s got to be better than nothing...
Helping the residents gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Knowing that you’ve made their lives a little easier feels almost exactly like drinking lots of hot chocolate milk and having a hug. Honest, try it!
If you weren’t AA2A rep… what would you be doing right now? Watching Justin Beiber on YouTube? Enough said really…
Greetings log. The weather has taken a turn for the worse again today; the x30 was nearly toppled by gale force winds on my journey to the rural studio. After just having restored communications with my arty partner Lyndsey-dee following the epic snowfall which thwarted our many plans, we can't help but feel that mother nature has it in for us...
News has come of 100% arts and culture cuts in the Newest of Castles since I last wrote. These truly are troubling times, but all the more reason to make the treacherous journey to sprinkle glitter on things and spread art-joy.
With all of these January times to ponder, we have discovered ART-KARMA; give a little, and get something back. After donating a valentines-tea-set-for-two ('Hampering for Love?'), our proposal was kindly accepted for the 5th annual Empty Shop show in Durham which previews tomorrow evening. That's exhibition number four of our ten show target!
The month ahead forecasts a website, proposals galore and FAME (...maybe not the latter)
Will write again, sending love and hot water bottles from the North.
Intrepid artist Charlie Snow.
How time flies! Since my last blog ‘Studioless and Hungry, Will ‘Art’ for Money’, a lot has changed! I think the best way to sum up the last few months would be to list lessons learnt.
Lessons learnt in October, November and December.
1. If you are very very good and very very kind, someone will give you a shiny new studio space. Probably.
2. Glitter is a very easy way to ruin a nice new studio. Also note that ‘glitter-lung’, is a real medical condition and correct PPE must be worn during the application of glitter to avoid Disney-like coughing fits.
3. Three and a half jobs, plus three exhibitions, with three pence, in three months is HARD. IT’S HARD.
4. Most exhibition spaces are EXTREMELY cold. Putting glove warmers in your boots for long stints of invigilation is cost-effective, and soothing.
5. Some exhibition visitors WILL tell you to your face that your work is ‘RUBBISH’ and ‘THEY COULD DO THAT’. The best way to deal with this situation is to make notes, and amuse yourself over their points over 20 pints of beer, with some like-minded artist type people. The worst way to deal with this is to cry in front of said-visitor. You WILL NOT gain sympathy. Or sales.
6. Some people are astronauts, some people are accountants. You are an artist. You’re not saving lives, but hey, neither are a lot of people. Fight your corner, because there are a lot of people out there with a lot of mis-conceptions about how hard/ how valid what you do is. And that’s okay; just don’t let them get you down. (And that’s a serious lesson.)
7. People like cake. If in doubt, give them cake. If they’re in doubt, give them cake. If all else fails, cake is your friend.
Please enjoy the images in my most recent picture album ‘October, November, December’. More to come soon.
Studioless and hungry. Will ‘art’ for money…
Graduation came and reality hit with a bump. After the loss of my beautiful university studio, the temptation to white wall my bedroom and sniff some turps for my studio fix grows every day.
Not having a space to draw and think and sleep (ssh) and grow is a right royal pain. It’s harder to generate ideas in a shared flat, where the thought processes are drowned out by Green Day and the fire alarm bleeping in the distance. Although myself and my collaborative partner did manage to put together an application for lots of free money. The rejection letter came through the door today… I will start a collection.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Although I am still darning my socks and balancing 3 jobs with council tax, I had the (rather simple) epiphany of “Things only happen if you make them!” So, a year from now, I will have been/going to Iceland for a month residency, and I will have a studio and a two-page artist CV!
So a message to newly appointed AA2A residents; Congratulations, and LOVE YOUR STUDIO. It brings light and joy and hope. (Even if it just seems like a white wall or two and some mouldy coffee cups). And LOVE TO BLOG! Its nice to vent and muster, knowing you can recall it a year after and muse on your ponderings…
I’m Charlie by the way… AA2A Student rep of the year 2012 and general loiterer.
Sometimes it seems time is living me, and I am not living it. What with the crazy seasonal change (sunburn last week and snow yesterday in Newcastle) I don’t know if I’m getting younger or older, whether it’s a week past Tuesday or Christmas time. So apologies for a later-than expected blog post, it’s been a frantic mar-pril. And it’s so long, it has SUB-HEADINGS!!
MYSELF AND MATT FOSTER (STUDENT REPS)
But other than confused Mother Nature, everything is fine and dandy (but the daffodils have died) up North. Us (Matt Foster and myself) AA2A reps are running around like manic beavers in prep for our degree show. Matt is distinctly better at me than writing, and so I would advise a swoop over to his own blog (http:/
Much more excitingly than myself or Matt, Northumbria’s AA2A’s this year have been busy busy. So here, I shall try and do them justice and poetically describe their endeavours.
DEBBIE BOWER http:/
Debbie’s .biz page tells of her adventure times to Christiania; a unique self-governed society in Copenhagen. From this journey, a film is soon to be premiered; a collaboration between herself and fellow explorers (See http:/
YVETTE HAWKINS http:/
After visiting ‘Places Our Path’s Might Cross’ and ‘Forty-three Houses and a Ford Escort’ (See http:/
IRIS PRIEST http:/
And last, but most certainly not least, Iris. I’m going to assume Iris refers to a group of octuplets. So here is what they have all been doing. Iris 1 has busied herself with A Newbridge Enquiry. This has involved disco-dancing like a pro, and also writing about it for CANNED, the fantabulous magazine (http:/
PHEW. I’m exhausted from thinking about what everyone is doing. Time for a cat-nap.
Everybody loves an epiphany. And a slice of toast with a cuppa-brew. And crikey-Charlie, I’ve had both this week.
As I sit here, with another pot of the good stuff, looking out wistfully over the sun setting upon the back-streets of Byker, a smile creeps onto my face. I have realised my place this week, why I am here, in this city, and what it is I am doing.
I am doing art. I am living art. Art is living me. And how could anyone in my position possibly frown? I am here, doing what I want to do, meeting many wonderful people along the way. Having fun, working hard, enjoying every minute. And for the moments when it seems hard, exhausting, when I can’t see why, the community of artists here is only ever a preview away; willing, smiling, laughing, discussing, collaborating, realising, justifying.
And so next time someone asks me what I study and “What are you going to do with that?” with a smirk on their face, I shall simply reply,
“I am living. I am an artist, and I can’t wait for Monday. Can you?”
Today the inevitable came; the dreaded presentation. Two actually. I suppose it's like waiting for a bus and then two coming, but not. You never want to be faced with giving a presentation, and then you have to do two.
I'll admit. I thought that out of anyone I know, I'm the least likely to crumble at the expectation of talking to a crowd. Afterall; I moved to Newcastle because my Mam said its the type of place where you can talk to the person next to you in a queue and they'll talk back and not glare at you. Wrong again. Usually, I could talk without the moist palms and tremblings which make your notes impossible to read. The funny thing is; this was a VERY small group of peers, and one tutor. A hundred people or so? No thanks. I began thinking about what has changed? I used to be able to speak without "errrrm" punctuating my sentences and then spurting mindless babbling-rants... I guess as you get more confident in your art, you care more what people are thinking about it. To talk about the very thing you put your heart into, is sort of like taking all of your clothes off in public?
Moral of the story? Be very very nice to all visiting lecturers. Poor souls...
As I sit here, thinking about sewing the holes up in my socks, I consider being poor forever. I wonder if I will make money from being an artist, will I ever be the owner of a Pringle sock? Or am I destined to only wear see-through-use-them-once-before-they-disintegrate-socks, forever? And then I think about the AA2A talk that Northumbria's four resident artists gave this week, and how I hope in a few years I will have achieved half of what any of them have done...
And then I stopped thinking about socks at all, and my mind began to wonder about all of the magical things that they can do this year, if they have already done so much without AA2A... I'm expecting great things, and I'm sure they won't disappoint. So here's to the first chapter in a year long book, lets see where it takes us.