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    Category Archives: Interviews with Creative Women

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    Interview with creative women: Renae Handy, Wallflower Floral Design

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    by Kate Shannon

    Based in the seaside suburb of Sandgate in north Brisbane, Wallflower Floral Design is the brainchild of Renae Handy, florist and all-round creative lady. Wallflower has had a steady rise since it started in 2015, and Renae and her four staff are kept on their toes arranging and delivering flower orders, creating floral bouquets and installations for weddings, and being part of events and photo shoots.

    How did you come to being a florist?

    My parents own a wholesale nursery and I grew up surrounded by plants. My first job was putting things in pots when I was six years old, working in the nursery. So it’s in my blood, the horticultural thing.

    It all really started when I did the flowers for a friend’s wedding. I cut a whole lot of sunflowers from my dad’s neighbour’s farm and just arranged them. People loved it and I really liked doing it. So I started doing flowers for friends’ weddings for free and for fun… using Woolworths flowers!

    Then I thought, maybe I could make this into a business. I registered the name and created an Instagram page. I did a cert II and cert III at a flower school after I opened the business. I didn’t write a business plan; I’ve just been following the tumbleweed!

    I was that person who was always chopping and changing jobs. I went to see a career counsellor and said, “Look, I don’t know what to do with my life. I want to start a café, be a real estate agent, or be a florist.”

    And she said, “If you want to start a café, you need money and a business degree. You’re too nice to be a real estate agent; that whole industry will destroy you. And florists, they don’t make money so don’t be a florist.”

    For so many years I tried many different things, which has meant that this business has a really solid grounding.

    What does a typical day look like for you?

    I go to the market on Mondays and Thursdays and pick up whatever we need for our week’s orders and for the shop. On market days, I get up at four am—so if someone wants to be a florist and she’s not a morning person, it’s not the job for her!Bunch colourful

    While I’m at the market, I’m thinking on my feet, making decisions about what is going to work. If I’m buying for a wedding, I try to imagine the bride, which colours she looks good in, and what her vision is. When I’m buying for the shop, I have to think about what’s going to look good, what’s going to sell, and what’s going to last.

    If you don’t make quick decisions, the florist behind you will probably snatch up the flowers. It’s a bit of a scramble in the mornings! It can be stressful, but also fun.

    At around seven am., I bring back the boxes of flowers. Then the girls and I spend time preparing them. We use tools to take the foliage off the stems, then cut the stems and put them in water. That takes a long time. We do a lot of work to ensure the flowers last as long as possible. We then do all the orders, talk to customers, and make up arrangements. We get a lot of walk-in enquiries. I also do bride consultations, so I’ll talk with brides and do up quotes. We often get stylists and photographers coming in, too.

    Then we might do some deliveries and close up around four or five pm. It’s a pretty busy day.

    Describe your floral philosophy. What does a Wallflower arrangement look like?

    Our arrangements are whimsical, textural, eclectic, and natural. We pride ourselves on not being predictable.

    Traditionally, florists are trained to have a hero flower, like a big rose or lily, then a complementary flower, a filler flower, and some greenery. That’s the basic recipe; florists have used it for so long, over and over again. I think that’s one reason I was so passionate about starting this shop—because of that recipe and tradition. Flowers are so beautiful, but because they were being presented in such a bland structure, people lost appreciation for their natural beauty. I’m passionate about showcasing flowers in their natural form.

    Arbour

    What are the challenges of being a creative and an owner of a small business?

    Some people think being a florist is a fairytale job, which sometimes it is because we do get to play with flowers. But sometimes it can be high pressure; it’s stressful to come up with something creative when you don’t have enough time.

    Renae and flowers.cropIt’s hard to be a creative and a businessperson at the same time. I’m split down the middle. There’s the voice saying, “You’ve got to protect your brand. You’ve got to make money.” But then there’s the other side saying, “Stick to your true self, do what you love.” As an artist, you’re emotionally attached, and you take time to make something beautiful, but as a businessperson, time is money… It’s such a battle.

    Another challenge is to ensure my staff are happy. I want to encourage them personally and to help them find their place in Wallflowe. If my staff isn’t happy, nothing works.

    In my family, my dad’s the businessman and my mum’s the creative. My dad is my business mentor. Every Thursday, we have a family dinner and I talk to him about my business challenges. He gives me great advice.

    What does the future hold for you and Wallflower?

    It’s important to keep learning, so I’ve got my eye on some courses I’d like to do to challenge myself.

    For Wallflower, I’d like to increase the scale of the work we do, and do more installations, events, and weddings. More connections and collaborations. I want us to stretch ourselves and what we can do. It’s an exciting time.

    Renae’s floral creations can be viewed on the Wallflower Floral Design websiteFacebook page, and on Instagram (@wallflower.floral.design).

    Kate Shannon is a freelance writer based in Brisbane after many years living in Darwin. She spends a lot of her time in the garden with her two little girls, and loves writing and learning about creative people, flowers, and plants.    

    Photos by Renae Handy (top, middle) and Kate Shannon (bottom).

    Tags: brisbane, business, Creative, florist, Interview, small business
    Posted by: Julie Mazur Tribe
    Categories: Interviews with Creative Women, Regional | Comments Off on Interview with creative women: Renae Handy, Wallflower Floral Design
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    Creative women at work: Maryanne Moodie, fibre artist

    Creative women at work Maryanne Moodie, fibre artist

    by Julie Mazur Tribe

    Maryanne Moodie is an Australian fibre artist, teacher, and business owner who splits her time between her home in Brunswick, Victoria, and her studio in Brooklyn, New York. Known for using unexpected colours in vintage-inspired woven pieces, she has re-energised weaving with her innovative designs and passion for the craft. Maryanne teaches workshops locally and around the world, runs a thriving Etsy shop, and has been featured on everything from The Design Files and Design*Sponge to New York Magazine. Her book, On the Loom, was published late last year by Thames and Hudson. I caught up with Maryanne to chat about weaving, community-building, and the surprising perks of not having a plan.

    Photo by Maryanne Hackwith

    Can you tell us about your background and how you fell in love with weaving?

    I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Even during high school I used to make toffees and sell them during recess. I spent most of my time being an art teacher, but I also had a business on the side, sourcing and selling vintage fashion.

    I got pregnant, and during my maternity leave, as I was cleaning out the art storeroom with another teacher, we found this old loom. I took it home and loved it immediately. I’d tried other crafts before—macramé, ceramics, jewellery making—but nothing fit until I started weaving.

    I had a little social media following from my vintage company and put up a photo of my first piece. Everyone went bananas! People started asking, ‘Can I buy that?’ ‘Can you make me something?’ It was my husband who said I shouldn’t sell anything for a year. I was still learning, and wanted to be proud of what I sold. So I waited.

    Photo by MM Studio

    Photo by MM Studio

    When did you turn weaving into a business, and what did that evolution look like?

    During that first year, I kept sharing my weaves on social media but didn’t sell anything. I gave all of my pieces away. I would ask my friends, ‘Can I make something for your shop?’ And they would say yes and hang them. Lucy from the Design Files walked into a florist where I had one hanging and asked if she could feature me on the blog. I didn’t even have anything for sale yet. I actually asked her, ‘If I’m going to sell one of those, how much should it be?’

    By the time I was ready to sell, I had a huge market of people wanting to buy my stuff. Soon, people wanted to learn how to weave. That was when Megan Morton from the School found me. She taught me how to do this elegant way of teaching, turning a class into a beautiful treat: have a glass of champagne, be fulfilled, chat with someone. She made me love teaching again.

    People saw my photos of teaching and said, ‘I can’t make it to the classes, but could you sell me a kit?’ So I started making kits. And then people were like, ‘What book should I buy? I can’t find a good book.’ So I thought, okay, time to write a book. Then people said they liked the book, but did I have an online course? So we’ve been filming online courses. It’s really been about listening to what my customers want.

    Social media has been a big part of building your brand. Which channel has been the most effective for you?

    Instagram. I love the community-making side of it. I love how if someone writes something, I can look at their feed and message them. If I really liked what someone was doing, I would say, hey, do you want to do a swap? I would take a photo of their work and share it with my community, and they’d do the same. You end up sharing what you love.

    There was a bittersweet moment when I hit about 25,000 followers. I used to reply to every comment, but it got to the point that every time my child looked away, I’d whip out my phone to respond to people. Then he’d turn back and see me. I realised, I need to respond to my child. Now I post only once or twice a day. I read the comments to know what’s going on, but I allow the community in my platform to help each other.

    Maryanne's Brooklyn studio_Photo by MM Studio

    Maryanne's Brooklyn studio. Photo by MM Studio

    How do you gear yourself up to take risks in your business?

    When I think up my own ideas, they’re sometimes right. But when the ideas come from what my customers are asking for—they’re the most successful. It’s about not having a plan and just listening. If I had a plan, I would miss opportunities to the left and right because I’d be so focused on what’s ahead. If you’re open to listening, you’ll always have a market for your product because it’s what people are asking for. It doesn’t feel like a risk.

    You work between Melbourne and New York City. How does that work?

    We moved to the U.S. because [my husband] Aaron got a job with Etsy. At the time, I thought I was taking one for the team, but I got to meet other artists and set up my business. We were there for 3-1/2 years. We decided to move back because we wanted the kids to do their schooling in Australia. So I came back but kept my studio there. My studio manager, Kaelyn, and I Skype every week and I prattle back once a season. I don’t know how long I’ll go on doing it like this, but I’m just going to jam it out and see how it goes.

    How did being Australian affect your time in New York? And how did your time in New York affect you as an Australian?

    Australians are very self-deprecating. We’ve got the whole “tall poppy” syndrome. You never big yourself up, talk about your achievements or how wonderful your work is. I have a little of that, but I’m also able to push forward and take risks and grow unselfconsciously, which is a bit more American. I have a balance of both. I try to push myself forward by pushing other people forward, too. Rather than saying, ‘Look how amazing I am,’ I want to bring people along so we can make weaving amazing together.

    What are you looking forward to doing with your business in 2017?

    I did Vogue Knitting Live in January and there were yarn stores looking at what I do and saying, wow, we want to stock your looms. It’s a new wholesale part of my business where manufacturers can make the looms and send them to shops. For the first time, I won’t have to include my energy in things to push the business forward.

    Any advice for other women running creative businesses?

    Make a community of people interested in what you do—on social media, through a newsletter, however you can talk to people and they can talk to you—and then listen to them. Ask them: what do you think about this? Would you buy this? You might know how to make a product, but unless you ask your customers, you might be making the wrong thing, or doing it the wrong way.

    Maryanne’s Quick Picks:

    Favorite read: Apartamento magazine

    Favorite podcasts: Two Dope Queens, On the Media, Lore

    Favorite Instagram feeds: @popandscott, @jordi_pordi, @tanyaauiniga

    Designers, creatives, or brands: Pop and Scott, Jordana Joan, Tanya Aguiniga, Cindy Zell

    Favorite places to go for inspiration: In New York, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD). In Australia, anywhere near the water.

    Most inspiring friend or family member: My female friends and family. We’re doing everything—running businesses, taking care of our families, taking care of ourselves (when we can)—with grace, tenacity, and grit. Females are my inspiration.

    For more about Maryanne, visit her website and Etsy shop. You can also follow her on Instagram at @maryannemoodie. Her book, On the Loom, is available wherever books are sold.

     Julie Mazur Tribe is an editor and book publishing consultant with a lifelong addiction to paper stores. She can be found at BrooklynBookStudio.com or on Instagram at @brooklynbookstudio.

     


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Interviews with Creative Women, Starting a Business | Comments Off on Creative women at work: Maryanne Moodie, fibre artist
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    Making space: Freya Bennett, co-director, Ramona magazine for girls

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    by Jenni Mazaraki


    This interview features our very first CWC Making Spaces podcast - have a listen and let us know what you think!

    Freya Bennett loves the smell of rainforests. So she’s captured the smell in terrariums, which live all around her house.

    It is warm and sunny on the day I visit Freya, the co-director of Ramona magazine, at her new home in Melbourne’s north. As she gives me a tour of the house, her curious cat, Phoenix, follows us from room to room. The space is open, with polished wooden floors and crisp white walls. Freya’s favourite print, of Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting Nighthawks, sits on the floor waiting to be hung when she has a spare moment.

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    Freya’s piano sits in the corner of the room and has been in her family for generations. It is a place where Freya can play music and relax without an end goal. As a musician, Freya has performed locally as well as produced music in collaboration with other artists. In 2013, she released The Marvellous Reject Girl, and the album’s single was played on Triple J Unearthed.

    When Freya speaks, she is calm with a strong sense of self, a role model to women and girls. As a speaker at last year’s Breakthrough conference, she spoke openly about growing up in a culture that commonly objectifies women and girls, and her desire to challenge it.

    Ramona magazine
    Freya runs Ramona from her home. Along with her co-director, Sophie Pellegrini, she has created a platform that celebrates diversity, where girls can see a range of perspectives. Assisting Freya and Sophie is a team of interns, Creative Writing Editor Stephanie Markidis, and Music Editor Rose Sejean. “The magazine is quite girly,” said Freya. “It reflects Sophie and I. You don’t have to not be girly to be super feminist and strong.”

    Ramona is a safe space for girls to challenge what they see, to question and express their inner worlds and dialogues through art and writing. The print and online magazine has a gentle aesthetic but doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, as Freya is keen to bring to light issues that may be considered taboo. More than 500 writers from around the world contribute articles about, among other things, body image, periods, breakups, mental health, self-care, sexual assault, and miscarriage. Ramona encourages girls to develop healthy relationships with themselves, their bodies, and others.

    Ramona eschews sections on beauty and fashion, focusing instead on interviews with inspiring girls and women. Its focus is to create a forum where girls can see lives that are real, relatable, and achievable.

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    Discovering a different perspective
    Freya’s mum sounds like the kind of cool, progressive mum you see in movies. When Freya was young, her mum introduced her to New Moon magazine, opening her eyes to content with an empowering feminist perspective. Freya became aware early of the negative messaging she received because of her gender. “I had boys constantly telling me I couldn’t do things because I was a girl,” she said. New Moon encouraged her by showing her the lives of strong, intelligent girls.

    When Freya was twelve and outgrew New Moon, all she found available to her were mainstream magazines focusing on looks and fashion. She noticed how the lack of diversity in the magazines excluded her and anyone who wasn’t a tall white girl. “I realised that it’s such a broken system,” she said. “It’s teaching us to hate ourselves and hate our bodies.”

    Starting Ramona magazine
    Two and a half years ago, Freya and Sophie started Ramona as an alternative to mainstream media for girls. “I started seeing sexual objectification all over the place,” she said. “And once you start noticing it, it’s just everywhere.”

    Turning her feelings into action was key to Freya’s motivation. She hoped that by expressing her thoughts, she could help others feel less alone. “It came from a place of ‘I need to do something, because otherwise I’m going to feel so stressed and sick and angry,’” she said.

    A space to create a magazine
    Upstairs, the house is filled with light. The study is home to two wooden desks. A large poster of Tara Presnell’s front cover illustration from the latest issue of Ramona hangs in pride of place on the wall. Freya’s paints and brushes are out on her desk with a work in progress waiting to be finished. Hanging above the desk is a painting of a sweet girl, by illustrator Jordyn McGeachin, who contributed work to volume two of the magazine.

    Against one wall sits a low bookshelf filled with books, photos, and artwork. Framed typography by Erandhi Mendis rests on the top shelf above a colourful floral box in which Freya keeps her treasured old copies of New Moon.

    Though she mostly works on her own, Freya sometimes has a friend work alongside her, which she finds helps motivate her. At other times, she takes her laptop and works in the local café. Given that her work is largely online, her job is portable.

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    The future of Ramona
    In December 2016, Ramona celebrated its second print edition with an artist market and performances from musicians Charm of Finches, Georgia Fields, and Sandy Hsu.

    Freya is hopeful for the future of the magazine, with plans to branch out into more projects, including mentoring to girls.

    Contributors are encouraged to submit their work, even if they are unsure whether it’s ready for publication. “We love hearing from people and everyone is welcome,” said Freya, “We often work with you, so if you’ve got an article that you’re not sure about, we can help you with it.”

    Freya and Sophie currently invest their own money into the publication, but hope the magazine will grow and earn enough revenue to support itself.

    For Freya, the magazine reminds her that she is brave. “I feel like I’ve got this force of five hundred girls and women behind me,” she said. “It feels really nice.”

    Jenni Mazaraki is an artist, designer, and writer who helps women tell their stories. She is particularly interested in the ways that women make time and space for creativity.

    Photos and podcast audio production by Jenni Mazaraki 

    Tags: Creative, Interview
    Posted by: Julie Mazur Tribe
    Categories: Interviews with Creative Women, Studio Visit | Comments Off on Making space: Freya Bennett, co-director, Ramona magazine for girls
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    Australian Women in Art: Outsider Artist Jasmine Mansbridge

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    by Annette Wagner

    Jasmine Mansbridge is an ongoing contributor and supporter of CWC, and an artist with an upcoming show at Koskela in Sydney this year. In the often intimidating art world, Jasmine would be considered an “outsider artist,” a term used for people who are untrained, without a formal art school education. However, as you’ll read from Jasmine’s contribution below, her training has been gained through mentors and life. And, like many other “outsider artists,” she is generating a swirl of supporters and attention through sheer drive, visibility, and consistent, passionate determination.

    With no formal fine art education, you are very much an “outsider artist,” as the industry likes to say. How has your journey as an artist transpired? Tell us about finding confidence and courage in your style, and why painting has become your passion.

    My overall naivety about the art business reveals itself to me more and more as time goes on. It was around this time last year that I was referred to by a gallery as an outsider artist. This was the first time I became aware of the term. I think if years ago—when I started painting—I had known what I know now about the complexity of the art world, I would have been too overwhelmed to feel I could ever experience success as an artist.

    My desire to be an artist has been built by the practical application of creativity. I became pregnant at age seventeen, and at the time I was living in Katherine in the Northern Territory. There was no internet, no phone, and often no transport. I lived away from my parents while all my friends had typical teenage lifestyles. I was determined to be the best mother I could, so I began painting as a way to channel my frustration and loneliness into something positive. I would be home painting while everyone else I knew was out. My painting sustained me and gave me a way to express myself.

    In those early years, I was encouraged by older, established creative people within the Katherine community. This is one reason I love to share with people, because I am proof that creativity can bring so many good things to one’s life.

    My growth as an artist has been largely organic. I am big on taking opportunities presented to me. I have so much to learn, but I have always figured I will only learn by doing. I think that the hard thing about being on outside, is getting on the inside!

    How did you arrive at your medium? Has painting always been your creative outlet? Expand on finding painting and the specifics of the medium (such as acrylic on board).

    When I first started painting, it was with those tiny tubes of acrylic you could buy from a newsagent, and watercolour paper. I still have some of those early works.

    I was encouraged to paint by my in-laws at the time. They run an Aboriginal art gallery in Katherine and began giving me linen off-cuts and basic paint colours. This is where my obsession with quality art materials began, because it makes all the difference to a piece.

    It wasn’t until I started to sell work and buy it myself that I realised how much it all cost. If you know someone who likes to paint, why not buy her some good stuff? It makes such a difference. I have always painted with acrylics because I’ve always worked within the home environment. They dry very quickly and don’t have the smell that oils do. They also work well with my style and allow me a lot of control. I love to paint on linen as it is such a beautiful product, but I also work on board, and on paper for smaller works. In saying that, this year I plan to experiment with oils to see what they do visually to my style.

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    With a growing number of solo exhibitions, a book, public murals, and a pending exhibition at Koskela later this year, how do you divide your time while still being present to your family of five? 

    It is answering this question that led me to write my book, There Is a Paintbrush in My CoffeeIn the book, I talk about all the ways I have learnt to work over the years.

    You have to be very passionate about something to give it the energy that I give my painting and my family. But the nature of painting—the solitude, the contemplative aspect of it—is quite complimentary to the overall busyness of my life. My family brings its own blessings in that they love me and need me whether I do good work or no work. It is a great balance to the ego having children. I am often reminded of the saying, “Before enlightenment, chop firewood and cart water. After enlightenment, chop firewood and cart water.”

    It is school holidays at the moment, so my house is like a bomb site. I have to set very low expectations of what I will get done so I can be happy. I am glad I have the excuse of being a artist so I can ignore the mess and let the kids be “creative.” During school term I use a bit of daycare, do “kid swaps”; I have a couple teenage babysitters, and sometimes I pay my own teenagers as well. It is always a juggle because children’s routines and needs are always changing. Simply put, I am a control freak who has had to learn to let a lot slide. There is a line from the cartoon Madagascar that stays in my head: “Just smile and wave, boys, smile and wave…. often all you can do.”

    This year will see a massive shift with the oldest two (20 and 17) away at university, two in school, and only one (my crazy two-year-old) at home. So I am planning on taking on a bit more this year commitment-wise. Exciting times ahead. My husband has a job that sees him working long hours, especially at this time of year; we are both ambitious in our own way. But me working from home means I am also running the home. It is a challenge, but I have come to accept that it always will be. To be working creatively is a great gift, something I am aware of and grateful for daily.

    My greatest asset, I think, is to be able to mentally “turn on a dime” and paint productively in short spaces of time. If I have an hour I use that hour. You have to develop and nurture that skill. My biggest tip would be to get a space to work where you can leave your work—even if it is just a corner in your bedroom (where I worked for many years), or a drawer in a cupboard. Doing this means you are able to maximise your work time and not waste it setting up or packing up.

    Being creative is such a wonderful way to relax, to order your thoughts, to challenge yourself, and to express yourself. It is a way to add value to your life.

    Your work continues to progress. Who are your influences and inspiration and how important have mentors been to you?

    I was a child who grew up without a television and I spent many hours drawing. My grandmother was an artist and she worked in a studio painting portraits, amongst other things. I was always disappointed at how my pictures looked compared to hers, so early on I tried to find my own way of visually representing things. I remember being awestruck the first time I saw mosaics, and I have been obsessed with pattern and repetitive design for as long as I can remember. These elements have always been present in my work in some way.

    While still in Katherine (which I left when I was twenty-six), I spent time with established Indigenous artists. Their use of pattern, and their patience and devotion to their work, resonated deeply with me. I learnt a lot about the life of an artist, and how important it is that it be tailored around the work. My life is like that. My life and my painting are not separate but the same. I have always felt greatly moved in nature and had a connection to the physical world, and this—as well as storytelling—are all aspects of my work.

    This philosophy has seen me ride the highs and lows of the “career” side of my life well. At the end of the day, I would make work with or without an audience. While commercial success and sales are important because they enable my work—and me—to grow, I often remind myself that to do meaningful, connected work, I have to be meaningful and connected to my work. Otherwise it will become empty, repetitive, and meaningless.

    In the last few years, social media has allowed me to connect with a wider audience and has given me some wonderful friends and mentors. I am grateful for this and I definitely do not feel the isolation I once felt as an artist living in a regional area. There are also more creative people living and working in my local area (Hamilton, Victoria). I think we are in exciting times for regional centres as new hubs for creative growth, perhaps due to cheap living costs and the internet making the world a much smaller place.

    You mentioned M.C Escher; he is certainly an artist who I have long admired. I also love the suburban paintings of Jeffrey Smart, the Australian artist. They say something about the artistic quality of the man-made world. Of artists working presently, I think Ghostpatrol (David Booth) does interesting and clever pieces, as does Miranda Skoczek. I have a friend here in Hamilton, Grotti Lotti, who is making beautiful work as well. I love a lot of art, but it is the paintings I remember that impact me. That is my measure of good work: the images that stay with me long after I have seen them.

    Patti Smith has influenced my thinking a lot in the last few years. Her thoughts on the culture of celebrity have got me thinking about this within the art world, and her simple advice to just “do your best work” resonates with me time and time again.

    You have a big exhibition at Koskela in Sydney later this year. How did you secure your gallery exhibitions? What are your top tips for other artists trying to establish themselves and secure gallery exhibitions? 

    I am really looking forward to showing at Koskela. I remember going to a Rachel Castle workshop there in 2012, thinking how much I would like to exhibit there. Like most things I do, the time between the seed of the idea and it actually happening is usually a long time.

    I don’t have time or resources to pursue a broad range of ideas, so I generally pursue only a couple important ones. I actually flew to Sydney this time last year to meet with the art director and show her some work in the flesh. This was after some time spent sending emails back and forth and developing connections there. Anything worth doing costs something, and finding places to show your work is no different. For a long time now, all the money I make goes back into the work, so I am able to make bigger and better things happen. Then, of course, you have to do the work. Every door opens another, so to speak. I want to keep making the work better to prove myself worthy of the next project, and so on. I say this all the while aware that I am not yet where I would like to be career-wise, and knowing that I have to take my own advice and be patient and consistent.

    My advice to younger creatives is to get out and say “hi” to your heroes. You won't connect with everyone, but you don’t need to. Be yourself, but the best version of it. If you want to work with someone, reach out and tell him or her. The world is so small now; with social media, you can chat to almost anyone.

    My favourite thought of late, which keeps me going when I am clueless, is this: No one has been me before. It’s very simple—scary, almost, but true. No one has been me. I can only make choices about what I want to do. I cannot follow, emulate, or duplicate another person’s career or life. I can’t live off someone else’s advice or example. It is a powerful truth.

    You have only failed when you have quit, so keep working. Creativity is a long game. As I said above, it is inextricably linked with your life. Do your best work and get it out in the world.

    Lastly, how important are your support networks? And what is some of the best advice you received when you were establishing yourself?

    The Creative Women’s Circle came into my life at an important time, when I was feeling like I needed to link into something bigger than myself. Because I live regionally, work from home, and work in my home as a mother, I can feel isolated. Through CWC, I was able to meet people I would not normally meet. Blogging for the CWC helped me clarify my thoughts on many things, and cement my feelings about being a professional creative. I recommend membership to everyone I meet, as it is an invaluable resource and support system.

    To see more of Jasmine’s work, visit her at jasminemansbridge.com. She can also be reached at jasminemansbridge@yahoo.com.au.

    Annette Wagner is a designer, marketer, creative consultant, artist, and writer. She is also on the board of the Creative Women’s Circle. Obsessively passionate about the arts and the creative process, she is determined to not talk art-speak and instead focus on supporting and sharing concepts and insights most creative types crave to know.

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