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    Category Archives: Interviews with Creative Women

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    Australian Women in Art: Lily Mae Martin

    auwomeninart_lilymaemartin

    by Annette Wagner

    If you know me, you know that I’m passionate about art. All kinds of art. I love being floored by work that conveys an emotive response or inspires me to think beyond my world of possibilities.

    Lily Mae Martin’s work does just that. When viewing her incredible, highly technical drawings, I become both lost in the detail and enamoured by their complex totality. For this last “Australian Women in Art” post of 2016, Lily Mae was kind enough to answer a few burning questions, uncovering that, for her, it’s all about drawing, drawing, and drawing.

    What in your personal life influenced you to pursue a creative career?

    A timely question as this has been on my mind of late. I think there were a few things that led me here. I’ve always drawn, always written, always been interested in the dexterous arts. I think drawing outdid the rest because it allows me to be expressive but also hide a lot within it. There are a lot of things I try to work through with my art, and drawing is very safe for me. It keeps the hands and mind busy.

    It’s also very accessible. I’ve been making my way through this world largely on my own since I was just sixteen, so I never had much opportunity in the way of money or support. I work with pen and paper, and although now it’s fancy hot-pressed paper and Micron fine-liner pens, I was also happy with the backs of forms and cheap ballpoint pens.

    Your work is incredibly fine, detailed drawings. How did you arrive at this medium? Have you, or do you, explore other media for your creativity?

    Drawing is (mostly) immediate. I just want to sit down and make work. I have other passions, such as printmaking and oil painting, but these require a lot more build-up and planning and space and time, and I don’t have that space and time. I'll get to those things one day, but for now, drawing is what works for me. I’ve been working for so long creating my style and setting little challenges for myself within this medium. And there is still so much to explore!

    Harkening back to my admiration of printmaking, and especially etching—that’s what I try to replicate within my drawings. Building up shape and tone with tiny little lines is so very captivating for me. Of course, I see this as an ever evolving thing. Once I feel I have mastered drawing and detail, I’ll probably undo it all and get abstract and expressionist. My thinking is, if you know all the rules, you can break them. Being skillful and disciplined has always been very important to me.

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    Seated Nude, by Lily Mae Martin, 2016. Ink on paper, 75 x 105 cm.

    Were you ever discouraged or have you had setbacks that derailed your creative passions? What are five favorite things that keep you focused, optimistic, and motivated?

    Yes, very much so. Five things that keep me focused, in no particular order of preference, are:

    1. I love drawing.
    2. I feel good when I’m drawing.
    3. I want to master drawing.
    4. Drawing makes me happy.
    5. Drawing.

     

    How do you manage your time and creative output with children and all that entails? Do you think having children has contributed to your work?

    Not very well, but I keep trying! I have to prioritise it. If I don’t, I am not a very nice person—and then I start baking too much and it all gets very upsetting! But honestly, I don’t have a social life and I don’t make it out to events much. I just can’t do it all. It took me a few years to accept this, but once I did, I became a much happier and more productive person.

    There is a lot of pressure to do and be everything for everyone, especially as a woman. But stuff that, I say. I love, love, spending time with my kid and my husband, and I love drawing. Beyond that, there isn’t much time for anything or anyone else at the moment. It may change one day, but childhood only happens once for my little one, and I intend on enjoying it and making it as magical as I can. The world can wait.

    Having my child has contributed to my work in that she’s reminded me of the wonder and joy in the world. She stands in my studio and says things like, “Mummy, no one can draw like you,” and it’s the best. She was drawing before she could walk. I wouldn’t wish the art life on her, but I definitely think that the joy and problem-solving that come with creating are powerful things for humans to have in their lives, regardless of whether it becomes a career or hobby.

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    Lily Mae Martin in her studio. Photo by Gene Hammond-Lewis.

    Do you think there is a gender imbalance in Australia’s current contemporary art system? Have you ever felt discriminated against as a female artist? If so, what was the scenario?

    For sure. There’s a gender imbalance across all aspects of life, so of course there is in art as well. I feel it keenly. I think the most obvious thing is that male artists get all the air-time, the wall space, the praise. It just does my head in when men—and women—do not check their unconscious bias. Sometimes I want to jump up and down and yell, “WHERE ARE THE WOMEN? WHAT ABOUT THE WOMEN?”

    Do you feel that Australian female artists have fewer resources and lack crucial financial support to go into making and producing art? 

    Most likely. I mean, my experience is that the few residencies I would have considered won’t allow children to go. The reason generally given is that they want the artist to have alone time to create something. That’s all fine and great if said artist has a wife, or family support. But considering that I am the wife with no family support, it isn’t very helpful.

    One time I did apply for a grant—and even paid someone to help me put it all together—but the weekend before we were going to submit it, the grant was cut and no longer existed. So, really, are there any resources for anyone?

    Where do you find inspiration? Do you have advice for other creatives on how to be inspired?

    I find inspiration everywhere. I find it on long, long walks, and while traveling, reading, and learning about history and science. I like to watch animals and birds, and the way kids negotiate their conflicts. People-watching at the supermarket or the gym, or on long train rides and in cafes, also inspires me. Looking at art is inspiring, but I tend to draw from other things in life to bring into my work.

    I think to get inspired you need to find the joy, and you need to want to explore and enjoy the process. If you don’t enjoy it, why do it? Fame and glory are the wrong reasons to commit your mind and time to anything.

    Lastly, what is the best advice you have ever been given?

    When I announced that I wouldn’t be drawing again, my grandmother—may she rest in peace—said, “Well, that’s just silly. You have a talent; don’t waste it.”

    She also berated me for getting stuck on what was trendy, and praised my skill, though she noted that some of what I make is “repugnant.” She was a true gem of a woman.

    Lily is represented by Scott Livesey Galleries in Melbourne.

    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.

     

    Tags: artist, drawing, Interview
    Posted by: Julie Mazur Tribe
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Interviews with Creative Women, Regular Columns | Comments Off on Australian Women in Art: Lily Mae Martin
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    Industry insights: Game on

    by Annette Wagner

    PAX Australia is the ultimate celebration of all things gaming, technology, and culture. This premiere video game convention was held over three days at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, closing yesterday. So what has this to do with CWC?

    When I think gaming, I don’t often think of women, but there are increasing numbers of women who work in this industry. According to Giselle Rosman, it’s an industry that is growing quickly as technology continues to change our lives.

    Giselle kick-started her games career in 2007, and has worked tirelessly across many aspects of the gaming industry. She currently runs the Melbourne chapter of the International Game Developers Association and is an advocate for women in gaming.

    How did you end up working in the game industry as a business administrator at Hipster Whale and executive producer of Global Game Jam? 

    I had been working as a games educator from 2007 to 2009, a job I’d heard about from a friend when I was itching to get back to work after having had two wonderful children. It wasn't a great time for the Australian industry, with lots of studio closures and very few graduate opportunities for students. Along with some friends, we rebooted the International Game Developers Association Melbourne Chapter (IGDAM) in November 2009. We still meet monthly and have more than 100 game developers attending each time.

    Through IGDAM I started running the Melbourne Global Game Jam in 2011, and got more involved on a global scale each year in a voluntary capacity. I was asked to join the executive committee and then had a stint on the board before taking on the executive producer contract in 2015.

    I also got to know Matt and Andy of Hipster Whale “before they were famous.” When Crossy Road took off, I offered my business administration skills when they needed them.

    What sort of training did you complete, and what program knowledge did you need, to start working as a business administrator and executive producer?

    My roles in games are a bit “left field,” as is my formal training. I completed an advanced diploma of business administration back in the day, and have fallen into event management roles though my career and hobbies.

    As a business administrator and executive producer, what does your job involve? 

    For Hipster Whale I do general admin tasks, including accounts management, HR, and dealing with office management and email enquiries. I've also been involved in setting up and expediting merchandising plans, and working with film and television studios that are interested in having Crossy Road in their productions. It's been wonderful to see Crossy Road arcade machines pop up all over the world, and to know you had something to do with that.

    Global Game Jam is a people and time-zone management role. The buck stops with me for running a 48-hour game-making “hackathon” in January, which in 2016 was held in 93 countries over more than 630 sites. This involves a lot of project and people management, looking after sponsors, and managing social media and the website (globalgamejam.org), about 40 regional organisers, and more than 600 participants (jammers). We have a very busy Slack at peak times!

    Game designers often create video games as part of a team. They come up with the game’s concepts, characters, setting, story, and game play. Designers must work with artists and programmers to create the scripting language and artistic vision for a game. Do you have any tips for managing the creative collaboration process?

    I am only very peripherally involved in any creative processes with relation to game development, but I do work in a small team at Hipster Whale, and a big team with Global Game Jam, and it always comes down to two things: communication, and respect for your colleagues.

    Do you use any apps or project management and time saving processes to remain agile and manage such a multidisciplinary process?

    I live in Slack and Trello, mostly, with a hefty side-serve of Google Drive. I live by lists!

    Game development can be a highly complex, intensive process lasting two years or more, requiring teams of programmers, artists, project managers, writers, musicians, and many others.  What projects have you worked on and how long have they lasted?

    While I don't directly make games, I was involved in the development of Disney Crossy Road, a process that took twelve months. Given that the original Crossy Road was developed in twelve weeks by three people, it was quite a different process. Working with a publisher like Disney was a great experience, too. The opportunity to visit Pixar when I was in California last March for the Game Developers Conference (GDC) was a special treat.

    We also worked with another studio, 3 Sprockets, and Bandai Namco on the release of Pac-Man 256. The process for the original iOS and Android launch took around six months. It's since been ported to Playstation 4 and XBox One.

    Global Game Jam takes about nine months of preparation. The first five months are relatively low-key, then the next four are a whirlwind of managing and coordinating all of the elements and organisers involved in such a big and regionally diverse event.

    What percentage of the game industry is female? Is this changing? If so, how?

    I did some research about three years ago and found that just over ten percent of the Australian games industry identifies as female. Looking at the number of women studying games, there is certainly potential to improve this ratio. There are a lot of great people looking at how to address this imbalance and creating events and spaces for women and girls to get comfortable with game development. Programs like She Makes Games have the potential to inspire the next generation of women in games.

    Are some games predictable in their representation of women? Is this likely to change with women behind the scenes? 

    In short, yes, the representation of women in games is often lazy and relies on clichés and two-dimensional window dressing, with some notable exceptions. I do believe that by including more women in the creative development process, the representation of women can be improved. If you have more women writers, for example, it means their characters will be developed with a closer personal understanding of the nuances and range of what it means to be a woman or girl.

    Is there a focus on games made especially for women? 

    There are games made with women as their primary target market. The industry is recognising that women make up around fifty percent of the market (which is no great surprise, given that play is not a gendered thing). The other market segment that's often overlooked—despite accounting for a sizeable market segment—is more mature game players. The average age of video game players is 33 years. Not 15. Not 20. The industry is learning this. I think in the future more games will be made to meet the needs of a greater range of market segments, especially women and older game players.

    What are your predictions for the game industry? 

    The games industry is always changing rapidly in terms of processes and tools. Recently, the rise of VR [virtual reality] is notable, and that's not going anywhere any time soon. The use of both VR and more traditional game design techniques in areas like “serious games” will continue to increase. And the integration of game design methodology into non-traditional game spaces, such as advertising and marketing, will also increase.

    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.

    Tags: Gaming industry, Interview
    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Interviews with Creative Women | Comments Off on Industry insights: Game on
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    Podcasts for creatives

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    We love podcasts here at Creative Women's Circle. The combination of narrative storytelling + in-your-ear intimacy + inspiring interviews makes podcasts the perfect medium for busy creative ladies. Stick your earbuds in and get a dose of creative inspiration while you are working, wandering or waiting.

    Here are some of our faves...

    Design Matters

    Running since 2005, Design Matters is (probably) the world's first design podcast. Host Debbie Millman interviews designers, creators and big thinkers from Alain de Botton through to Lisa Congdon.

    Must listen episodes: Amanda Palmer, Oliver Jeffers, and Chip Kidd

    After the Jump

    Hosted by Grace Bonney from design blog behemoth Design*Sponge, Grace and her guests give nitty gritty business advice on branding, the real cost of business and how to make the most of social media. They also dive into the inspirational and emotional side of creativity and business with talks on work/life balance, productivity, finding your voice and living the life you want.

    Must listen episodes: Sex and the City designer Lydia Marks, The Hidden Costs of Independent Design, and 10 Habits of Healthy and Happy Business Owners

    The Jealous Curator's Art for Your Ear

    Behind-the-scenes info and news about talented contemporary artists. Host Danielle says 'You'll hear first-hand from these talented, successful, full-time artists (who also happen to be regular people with hilarious stories) BEFORE they’re in the Art History books.'

    Must listen episodes: Lisa Golightly, Terrence Payne, and Erin M Riley

    The Lively Show

    The Lively show is a weekly podcast designed to uplift, inspire, and add a little extra intention to your everyday. Episodes touch on various aspects of our lives including possessions, personal habits, relationships, and career. Entrepreneurship and online business also appear from time to time.

    Must listen episodes: My Top 10 Lessons From My “Lively Adventure”Fulfilling Your Soul in a different, creative way & Impostor Syndrome with Jasmine Star, and How to take big + small steps towards a zero waste lifestyle with Bea Johnson

    The Moth

    Not about creativity per se, The Moth is a collection of recordings from live storytelling events around the world. It has been around for years and is full of hilarious, poignant and surprising observations.

    Must listen episodes: The Lollipop BoyHitchhiking, Mosh Pit, and Iggy Pop, and To Bid or Not to Bid

    Conversations

    Incredible conversations with Australia's best interviewer Richard Fidler, these podcasts cover everything from history to science, celebrities to ordinary people. Conversations is released four days a week and features people from all walks of life.

    Must listen episodes: Jon Ronson: public shaming in the digital ageJames Earl Jones beat a childhood stutter to build a career on his voice, and Helen Razer champions rational thinking

    The New Normal

    Okay, so obviously we are biased as The New Normal is hosted by myself and CWC President Tess McCabe, but we chat to many excellent mothers about all things creativity, business and parenting. There's something there for both parent and non-parents alike!

    Must listen episodes: CWC members Martina Gemmola, Annette Wagner and Julia May


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Finding Balance, Interviews with Creative Women | Comments Off on Podcasts for creatives
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    Industry insights: Anais Lellouche, curatorial director

    By Annette Wagner

    As I continue my Industry Insight quest to explore, discuss and spotlight the many diverse creative industries women are leading and making their mark in, I wanted to feature a career that has been on the my list of 'what I want to be when I grow up' for a long, long time: a curator.

    Before speaking with Anais Lellouche, curatorial director at Anna Schwartz Gallery, I knew there was much more to being a curator than what Charlotte on Sex in the City alluded to.

    Read on to share her insightful feedback on how Anais become a curator, what the role actually involves and five tips for how an artist finds gallery representation.

    What lead you to become a curator?

    I was very fortunate to have had a passion for art from a very young age and I started gaining experience in the field at the age of 16 years. I knew I would work in the arts but was not exactly certain in what capacity, whether as an artist, gallerist, in a museum, or auction house. So I tried them all! This is how I found my way; I kept moving ahead with experiences in the field until it felt right.

    In a contemporary art environment, a curator is a person who selects and often interprets works of art. In addition to selecting works, the curator is often responsible for many other aspects, and it is by nature a multi-tasking role. What does your role as a curator at Anna Schwartz Gallery involve? 

    Anna Schwartz Gallery is a very special place, which has been the home for leading contemporary art in Australia for over 30 years. My role is to support artists in the presentation of their works, whether at the gallery, in museums or with other projects and commissions. The best part of my role is working closely with artists and external parties and to develop opportunities for them to create and exhibit their work. I am fortunate to work closely with the founder, Anna Schwartz, and to draw from her relentless enthusiasm and experience supporting artists to achieve their visions, with no compromise.

    You recently collaborated with Chiharu Shiota, for her inaugural exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery and Public Art Commission of the Melbourne Festival. How did this collaboration come about, what was your role and do you have any recommendations for managing a creative collaborative process?

    Jonathan Holloway, the Artistic Director of the Festival had been interested in Chiharu Shiota’s work for many years and since the gallery represents her, it was a natural collaboration. The articulation of gallery space and public space offered the possibility for the artist to showcase different parts of her practice and thereby reach a wide audience. Shiota’s projects were a real collaborative effort from the early stages, working with engineers to ensure that the 7 metre tall mobile home the artist wanted to create was achievable, all the way through to the students and volunteers who worked with the artist to create the installations.

    My recommendation for managing a collaborative process applies to any other profession: trust your instincts, pay attention to detail and approach this role, not as a job, but as if it were your very own project.

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    Pictured, curatorial director, Anais Lellouche and artist, Chiharu Shiota. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery. Photo by Zan Wimberley.

    Temporary exhibitions increase in cultural importance, just as the traditional role of galleries and museums with well known and established collections follow the call for ever changing exhibitions as well. What are the challenges of curatorial strategies when planning future exhibition programs?

    Galleries support artists in the long term and our exhibition programs are more consistent as a reflection of this commitment. That being said, I am also animated by developing new relationships and dialogues for the artists we represent alongside other leading international artists; to exhibit artists for the first time in Australia and to support and expand the local cultural scene.

    Can you provide 5 tips for how an artist finds gallery representation?

    1. My first tip would be to develop a unique voice. To gain experiences in different cultural contexts, through travelling, but also through research, stepping beyond the local field of expertise and interest, to nurture an original approach.

    2. Another tip would be to socialise and develop a networks of peers; to show your work; to discuss ideas, and to share a cultural life together.

    3. Don’t be too eager to be represented by a gallery, it is preferable to be ready and to align the right match; this often takes time.

    4. Believe in yourself wholeheartedly; because if you don’t, no one will.

    5. And lastly, be resilient, and never, ever let go.

    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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