what do you do? part II

ages ago, the couple of you that read this drivel regularly (why you bother, i have no idea..ha!) will remember that i was a bit frustrated with the whole relationship between praxis and employment and i put up a bit of a poll to see how some of us deal with our finances.

well, the poll has closed and i’ve finally got around to posting about it.

poll results

cafe/bar/hospitality 8% (3 votes)
arts worker/admin/gallery assistant 17% (6)
graphic design/freelance 8% (3)
i make enough from my art to live comfortably 8% (3)
centrelink 11% (4)
teaching 20% (7)
other 34% (12)

now see that ‘other’ figure? high, isn’t it? seems i forgot to include retail and/or a link to the post in which to do describe what that other might be, so i’m guessing that quite a large proportion of that is working retail. if you voted and clicked other, feel free to let me know here.

and apart from that, it seems that teaching art is the other main way to earn a living. and i have to say that i’m jealous of those 3 people who make enough from their art to live comfortably. do you all live in australia?

oh, and obviously the research isn’t exhaustive, or in depth (blogger’s polls aren’t exactly scientific).

The Shiroi Koibito Production Line

interestingly, i had a conversation about art funding with my studio mate the other day and we both discovered how fascinated we are with how art practice is funded. i’m always interested in how an artist is financially able to make the works they do – have they received arts funding? are they just independently wealthy and can afford it without too much hard work? do their parents help? are they represented by a gallery? etc, etc, etc.

it also seems that it’s a bit of a taboo to talk about where the money comes from, in such lean times. on one hand i can understand it – no one likes to expose themselves to others, in terms of what their ‘worth’ is – it puts us in a vulnerable position. and yet, sometimes i wonder if that taboo was chipped away, and we freely exchanged financial (as well as inspirational) insights, then the art world might just be a little more about ideas again, and a little less about marketing and manipulation. then again, some things never change i guess.

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what do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?

i’ve had an amazing couple of years. artistically, it’s zooming (more on that later), being back in melbourne is ace, last year’s sabbatical in UK/EU was phenomenal, i love love love my friends and only whinge about being single sometimes (ahem).

but there’s one area of my life which, over the last 2 years, has been like something out of a bad midday tv soap opera. yes kids, my work life.

i’m on the hunt for work again at the moment (great timing and all that) and as well as the super-tedious bouts of crippling self-doubt, i mostly have a sense that it will click into place soon, but i’m having to do some figuring out first. which i’m clearly not very good at – preferring to bang my head against the proverbial brick wall, it seems.

but what this period of jobsearching/soul-searching has done has made me incredibly curious about how artists earn their money. up until recently, i used to manage full-time arts admin work and then squeeze art in around the side. now i’m trying to squeeze a job in around the side (which i wrongly assumed would be easier), which is a little, well, interesting. and unfortunately, as much of a coffee fascist as i am. i don’t know how to make a cup to save my financial arse. so it has been back to the centrelink merry-go-round for a bit.

funnily enough, i read the “arts minister” peter garrett’s interview in art world the other day, dredging up the old art start thing again (pigs, flying i. that’s when). which kind of reminded me to post something about this issue. again.

so boys and girls, what do you do to earn your crust in order to make art, while you’re hatching plans for world domination?
teaching? cafe/bar work? admin? do you earn enough from your art practice? design work? the dole?

actually, now would be a good time for one of those silly polls:

[it’s over in the side bar there –>. for those who are reading this through their RSS reader – you’ll have to click through, sorry.]

poll is open until mid-feb, so go on, fill it in. i’d be interested to see how australian artists get by. and you can click more than one (which i’m sure loads of you will).

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having the courage of your conviction.

Donkey Kong

2008 has been a doozy of a year. i thought last year was crazy, but that was all fun and games and meeting people and seeing art, really.

this year has been a year in which i’ve had to learn some really hard lessons about following dreams.

in fact, following on from the last post about gaming, i feel like 2008 has been about clocking level after level of donkey kong. those barrels have just kept coming, but releasing the big guy from the cage has become more important and more important.

a couple of times i swore i was just going to roll over and be a lawyer or investment banker. well, then the financial vortex happened and i realised that maybe being an artist on the other side of the world might just be the coolest thing to do ever! ha!

This year isn’t over yet, and there are still a few hurdles to jump: like trying to convince the biggest entity in the universe (not god, but close) that an idea of mine is worthwhile shifting slightly sideways for; and the next round of employment goodness (more on that later); but i did just want to say thank you to a few people who kept yelling from the sidelines (you know who you are)- i think i finally realised what conviction really means.

it’s all about donkey kong and jumping barrells.

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having my cake and eating it too

regular readers will know about my crazy roller-coaster ride with employment in the last 12 months:

• getting a job as a kitchen hand in london after a PSFK conference by just walking in off the street. only to walk out by not turning up one day – stressed out and seriously ill.

rejected from a job in a high-volume copy shop/print room after the third interview, because i wasn’t M—–t material. (ie, I wasn’t from either financial or legal fraternity aristocracy.)

• working over summer at the sydney myer music bowl and getting to see jon bon jovi, cypress hill and kanye west!

• landing a fab job at a craft and design organisation, doing what i love, then having it become something that i didn’t love anymore.

• giving up full-time employment to go back to uni, letting go of a ‘real’ salary in return for some ‘real’ time whilst getting a job in an international aid organisation, within the design and architecture fields.

• and the clincher for ‘oh my god, can my work life get any more operatic?’, i went looking for a bit of contract work, just to get a bit of money happening in between gigs. the lovely ms g at the recruitment agency rang me and told me about this short term thing which was right up my alley: arts, culture, environmental/social issues and advertising (ok, so i’m not quite a cliche, yet). i went along, thinking it would be just a nice place to spend some time, earn some money.

two weeks later, it’s a life-long love affair and we’re vowing to stay in touch. all of them were on my wavelength – we talked structure, the value of creative thinking when developing strategy, the importance of sticking to your principles and the art of staying true to who you are as a person and as a company (made up of people). bliss, i tell you, bliss!

that is the bit about life that i find absolutely amazing and gets me EVERY time – you find it when you’re not looking. in fact, hanging out with the kids at midnightsky* not only restored my faith in the gloriousness of life’s twists and turns, but restored my faith in the power of authenticity, self-belief and well-aimed business strategy. i have also learned a whole lot about value from these guys. namely that i undervalue myself ALL THE TIME! i knew this already, but this time i saw it with fresh eyes and saw, in practice, that when you value yourself highly and know thyself absolutely (both financially and emotionally), it is reciprocated.

i know, this sounds like something Agony Aunt would love, but it has been quite a profound experience and one that i think marks the passing of age, actually. i don’t know if i could have had this kind of experience 5 or 10 years ago (fortunately, or unfortunately).

perhaps this was just a long-winded story filed under ‘to thine own self be true‘.

* actually, for any of you strategy/planning peeps out there, the midnight sky crew are looking for team mates. go and talk to them, they’re amazing.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

You hear what you need to, when you need to.

“The composer Stravinsky had written a new piece with a difficult violin passage,” writes Thomas Powers, quoted in the book Sunbeams. “After it had been in rehearsal for several weeks, the solo violinist came to Stravinsky and said he was sorry, he had tried his best, the passage was too difficult, no violinist could play it. Stravinsky said, ‘I understand that. What I am after is the sound of someone trying to play it.'” Keep this story close to your heart in the coming week, Aquarius. It will give you the proper perspective as you, too, go about the work of doing the best you can at a task that is virtually impossible to perfect.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

bounce factor [part 1]

ok, so turn up your shitty computer speakers, play this track and bounce around the room for a bit.

now you know how I feel today ‘cos I got a j.o.b!

yuh, huh!

And not just any ol’ job (I’ve had one of those for a couple of weeks), but a proper job, that pays proper wages, with an organisation I like and who I know I’ll be able to help do good stuff for as a communications co-ordinator. fucking brilliant.

to all my family, biological and otherwise (you know who you are) who encouraged me, told me to keep going when all I could see was failure and maybe pulled a few strings with a variety of supernatural powers that be, thank you. your support has meant a shitloads.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx