An Artist in Brisvegas
Well folks, it happened. I officially became a part of the very small and very new art scene here in Brisbane, Australia.
Let me start off this inaugural blog post by saying that moving across the world and deciding to be a full-time freelance illustrator for the first time ever in your life is a bad idea. I went from living in Seattle, a city with almost too many artists to count, working full-time and sacrificing sleep to make art to having all the time in the world to make art and twiddle my thumbs in a city where the arts take a major back seat to rugby and meat pies with tomato sauce.
When I made the decision to be my own boss and spend my days making art, I never considered the fact that without direction from clients or deadlines, I would have complete and total artistic freedom. To most aspiring artists or creatives, this sounds like a dream, but it straight up sucks. The one thing I failed to realize was that I have never had so much room to create in my entire life. Anytime I've focused on art, it's been in a structured environment. In fact, the majority of my life has been spent in a structured environment, so it's not really a surprise that I had no idea how to structure my time on my own. All of a sudden, my artsy fartsy brain had space to roam free but had absolutely no idea how to wander around without getting lost. I was overwhelmed by what to make next, struggling to find my own style and passion in my art. And of course it didn't help that Brisbane seemed to lack an audience for artists. Back in Seattle, I had only been illustrating for a few months and was already receiving commissions. Here in Australia, I was struggling to even get my name out there let alone bring in new work. That's not to say that Aussies don't love art, but Brisbane is still growing and finds itself in that awkward phase of a rural working town exploding with tourism. The government clearly supports the arts, as is clear from the awesome QAGOMA, but the underground art scene is seriously lacking. That's why I was beyond stoked when I was contacted by Hannah at Reverend's Fine Coffee & Bar in The Valley and asked to put on a joint show with local artist Brittany Blackie as a means to launch the bar as a fine art gallery space in Brisbane.
Let me just say, that the world needs more humans like Hannah, someone who understands that one of the hardest parts about entering the art world is entering the art world. It's hard for new artists to facilitate showcases on their own without spending the big bucks. Which is why Hannah is such a godsend to the Brisbane art scene. She wanted to create a space in her already existent work environment where new and local artists could curate their own gallery exhibitions and sell their work to the public at zero cost in order to get exposure. She even had the brilliant idea to interview each artist and publish a small piece about them so that others could understand what it's like to pursue art as a career. You can read my interview here.
So, on February 24th I had my first experience trying to hang artwork on a brick wall with a purse full of nails and a shitty hammer and on February 25th the exhibition Natural Forms opened its doors at Reverend's Fine Coffee & Bar. I sipped on an incredible espresso martini, tossed back the most delicious $5 cheeseburger & finally got to see my very own work hanging on the walls of a gallery space. It was my official launch into the Brisbane art scene and it felt incredible.
The entire purpose of making art isn't for the praise, but I'd be lying if I said I don't fucking love it when someone says my work is beautiful. As a Scientific Illustrator, my goal is to teach people with my work and inspire them to love the natural world and take action when it comes to issues of conservation. So what would my work be accomplishing if no one really enjoyed it or thought it was beautiful? Seeing the way people responded to my work was exactly the confidence boost I needed. It made me realize that there is an audience for art in this city and people who want to be inspired by the natural world and the art it inspires, I just have to find them.
Natural Forms is no longer up at Reverend's, but I do have another showcase coming up April 1st at The Scratch Bar (an awesome place to drink some local brews while admiring the bar runner I designed for them back in November). Basically, my journey as a new artist here in Brisbane is finally starting to look a little less rough than it started out. I'm on my way as a fair dinkum Brizzie artist!