Speaking up: the personal, professional and principles

I’ve been less ranty on here than I used to. I’ve been saving a lot of my diatribes for twitter.
It seems to be the place where i’m getting the bulk of my intellectual discussion lately, although it’s not always ideal. 140ch, even carried over a few tweets can get really confusing when you’re trying to debate someone or actually discuss things. It’s some kind of glitchy forum . However, it’s still the medium of choice for me for some serious brain food.Somehow I came to follow David McQueen. He’s an amazing man – involved in youth education, business mentoring and empowering people to really do what they do and be amazing. From what I can tell from his twitter output, he’s involved in a range of really interesting, worthwhile and actually helpful ventures, mostly talking to people and encrouaging them. And his #SundayReads are always impressive and provocative.

He’s also a tall, black man with 2 daughters, a gorgeous wife he’s been married to for 18 years and incredibly invested in seeing change around education, agency, race and principled people. I know this because, with measure, he didn’t deny his personal effect within his professional adventures.

That’s probably how he ended up in my timeline (I follow some pretty rad people, you know).

For example, he didn’t pretend that it didn’t effect him when Travyon Martin’s killer was acquitted, he didn’t pretend that the media blow-out wasn’t influential during the Woolwich murder of a (white) British soldier and the ensuing EDL can-can, and he posted an opinion which I respected about Mos Def’s intense video undergoing the Guantanamo Bay force-feeding regime (which I personally related to and valued the discussion, having done an artwork about the audio torture on those same detainees).

This was the scope of a professional life of a man living in London, with the connected joy and connected prejudice.

Anyway, about a month ago, David announced that he was going to set up a separate twitter account for his more-personal musings, rantings, humour and introspections. And keep his David McQueen account for professional discussion.

And it’s probably the right decision.

Because his clients don’t necessarily want to acknowledge that issues of race, poverty, education, homophobia, religious extremism, media sluttery (my words, not his) influence the business of running businesses or educating young people.

But I continue to nag on him for it.

Because –  to my mind –  culture and privilege and media and bigotry do effect the world of business owners. I like hearing that a successful, powerful man invested in education, with great results, is affected by these things, but continues to educate children, empower people with businesses and talk to people daily about how to overcome obstacles in achieving what they desire: regardless, because, despite and in spite of.

They’re real things that happen.

And for me, it enacts the business of doing what you need to do in order to contribute to the world, without pretending that you’re not in that world.

So what is the political balance between personal and professional?

I retch at the industrialist idea of a person solely being a unit of labour, a denial of the social or personal effects on their work and vice versa.

I do believe they’re interwoven – with the best and worst aspects of those effects (see under Roman Polanski, Catholic Priests, etc)

I have to acknowledge that I have a privileged position in this.  I was raised by women who kept reminding me that the personal is political. I’m also white, middle-class and really don’t struggle (except financially).

When I go on about something, I’m not expected to be speaking for all of ‘my people’ and if it affects my professional capacity, it’s unlikely I would have wanted to work with those people anyway.

And I’m not married with children, so my opinions about the world don’t effect my husband’s or my children’s lives. I don’t have corporate responsibility or institutional ties.
And even if I did – as an artist, writer and creative business owner, it’s also kind of expected that I might be outspoken.It reminded me about the criticisms of Barack Obama during the Zimmerman acquittal (and other recent changes to American life that were influenced by race). He was criticised for denying his race. For acting as though he was separate from it when calling for calm or whatever. For separating his personal priciples from that of the Head of State. The suggestion was that to deny that the political was also personal, was, to some people, also a crime against other persons.

But is this unfair pressure on someone to be 100% accountable all the time, whilst I am as C-grade as it comes on the same scale? And if so, whose responsibility is it? How do artists marry the similar fine line between professional practice and their capacity to challenge authority.

Does this not just set up a sliding scale (and/or slippery slope) of behaviour in a public life heirarchy – a disconnection between what you do and how you feel?

Or do we just need to accept that this is the nature of contemporary times and multiple egos, where we have the need and skill to distance ourselves from others in a variety of ways and that there’s nothing actually wrong with that.

buying time


hey kids!

it’s that time of the year where we all want to buy art!


and i bet you wanna know where to go to do that right?


OK, well, tomorrow night (thursday), i have some small works in the RMIT new collectables:

RMT new collectables auction
first site gallery
344 swanston st
thursday 10th december, 6:30pm.
with store-room sales on friday 11th.


then on monday, i’ll have some more small works at the seventh gallery fundraiser:

seventh gallery sell-out sale!!!
gertrude st
monday 14th december
$40 gets you a red dot to put on any artwork you like.
first in, best bargains.


and remember last year’s drawing sale on she sees red? well, i’m doing it again this year.


this year i have a range of small, medium and large works – to suit all kinds of tastes and budgets.
plus i’ve got us some good deals on framing – so if you’re into framed works, there’s a choice for that too.

it’ll all be online here on friday (11th), so come back then.

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

if you got the money

i’ve had some interesting discussions lately about worth, value and selling in relation to art. and i haven’t really come to any conclusions, but i thought i’d subject you all to a sketch of some ideas and stuff about it and see what came of it. it’s going to be a bit all over the place, and no clear conclusion. you’ve been warned, so proceed at your own risk.

So, it all started when i woke up one morning last week with a very clear thought in my head: i want to sell the coffin. (the large piece in the abracadaver show). now, i’m OK about promoting my work – it could be better, but it could be much, much worse. but the whole selling of artwork is a whole other mine field that i don’t really know how to traverse. starting with the question of ‘do i even want to traverse it?’.

i still haven’t worked out exactly where i fit in the whole spectrum of touting my work, but i’ve certainly been focusing a little more on it than ever before – so that i can find a niche for me and my way of selling work, or finding the kinds of people who may or may not be into buying it.

and it has also been a good opportunity to keep asking myself how important it is to make money from it – to make sure that the integrity of the work is with the work, and not its price tag or who is/isn’t buying; continuing to clarify the line between artist and agent.

i’ve had quite a few conversations about it of late – trying to get to the bottom of my relationship between art and money, and i’ve come across some important gems of info/insight:

1. Turns out agents are important. whether this is a friend, gallery director, a blog or your mum – having someone detached from the process of the work, to be able to speak about the work as a product of value is a huge help. i guess, given that word-of-mouth and advocates works for all other kinds of selling, little surprise that it applies to art as well.

2. Confidence is key. over the last 2 years, my levels of surety about my work have risen dramatically. don’t get me wrong, i still have a whole lot of doubts about its purpose, quality, relation to the rest of the world, etc; but i seem to have more pride in what i do and definitely a sense of clarity about where i see myself with it and its relationship to other art being made. even taking away the bonus of selling the work, being able to communicate about the work with confidence is catching and those who don’t automatically ‘geddit’ are able to. and maybe this extends to having the work accessible – either conceptually, aesthetically or financially. Nothing loses a deal like undermining yourself.

3. Abaf has some helpful information. How’s about that! I think this is a pretty recent thing, really, and I’m not sure if i’ll be able to use all of it this time around, but it was great to read some useful tips on approaching public collectors, more information about the Australian Cultural Fund and a reminder that selling art isn’t selling out (unless of course you’re selling out).

4. Making art is the easy bit. Finding money from my art is hard work and takes almost more creative thinking from me than my original ideas. I need to be a bit savvy about the kinds of opportunities I follow, the way i present my work, the words I use and the people I target. And, like making artwork, i need to know when to step away.

5. People who know people know people. This sounds ridiculously obvious, but in the research and probing i’ve done over the last couple of weeks, the most ‘success’ i’ve had has been about following the lead of who and what I already know. Those people may not be interested in buying/funding/collecting, but they know people, who know people. And actually talking to people really helps too. Being quite upfront about it – ‘putting it out there’ has been a challenge, but has begun to show some interesting responses.

I’ll wrap all of that up with reminding myself and others that i’m certainly not writing this with any ‘authority’ – but hey, this is a blog, right, so you all know that :D. But i figure that i don’t get to talk about money and art enough – it’s certainly a touchy/taboo subject with many artists, so if any kind of feedback starts to happen here, then, well and good.

UPDATE: Billy Apple broaches this subject perfectly in his exhibition in Rotterdam that i sent NH to. pics here.

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