Now that we are well into 2015, I thought I'd ask three creatives - Heleena Arabatzis, Textile Print Artist of Ulterior Motif; Bec Mutch, Coworking space founder of The Cowork Collective; and Ilona Topolcsanyi, Ceramic Artist of Cone 11 - for their ultiamte piece of business advice based on what they experienced and learned in 2014.
Heleena Arabatzis, textile print artist, Ulterior Motif
Upon reflection, 2014 was certainly a lesson-filled year. My top lesson learned was one surrounding ‘working life’. Like most creative’s starting out, the path is pebbled usually in the same pattern: graduate, intern, full time gig, do what you really love on the side, juggle both roles, hope that your talents are taken seriously enough you can ditch the 'PAYG job' and focus on the 'love job' for the rest of your days.
Finding the core thing that I actually wanted to do for the rest of my life, and realising that I wasn’t fit for the ‘common’ path was simultaneously liberating & daunting… as was revealing this to my family, partner & boss.
[I surmised] my career intents are not based on world domination, the masses, the high-rise climb, the trends etc, [and this] manifested an honest search for answers to restore feeling where numbness unwilling resided. After several quiet moments, I effortlessly refined it to three elements: Motherhood, Travel and Creation. The first two are still works in progress but getting back to practising the act & art of creating happened to be a swifter one. I left my textile art-room assistant PAYG job to jet off. As a way of procuring extra savings, I went to market with my Ulterior Motif designs, all made as part my graduation showcase. To my complete amazement, Ulterior Motif products were ver well received by local audiences! It truly is the height of satisfaction interacting with others and just exploring an artistic spin on the world (even if it is just displayed on a cushion). [This experience] has ultimately grounded my feet… for now…
Finally, with a new found view on (working) life, I plan on having the most fruitful creative year in 2015!
Bec Mutch, founder of The Cowork Collective
It’s funny, when you start something new, naivety can be your greatest friend. That boundless positivity it delivers, helping you block out all the naysayers, gloss over the doubts and the voices in your head that whisper of disaster. Without it I’m not sure many of us would launch new projects at all. And so we start, we plan and take steps and commit, and our positivity and naivety feeding us along the way.
At some point though our vision generally gets a battering, and we are faced with a reality that we may not like and a choice to give up or keep going. I distinctly remember sitting alone at 421 Lygon St on a day when I thought we might need to give up the lease and walk away. I was filled with anger and frustration that my grand vision [of a unique coworking space] was imploding. I wondered what I’d do next if it did all fall apart, and knew that nothing had changed. I still wanted to create a space that felt positive, inspiring and supportive that blended together the best elements of working from home, a corporate office and a creative studio.
So I kept going, and my family and friends kept offering their support, and I began meeting amazing people whose ideas and encouragement gave me reasons to believe it might all be worth it. The doors opened on December 1st 2014, six months after the lease was signed and the renovation budget had tripled. Although there were times when the adventure felt like a relentless chore, I still knew I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. Giving myself permission to do something I really wanted to do was one thing. Sticking with it when things got ugly was a revelation. Now I want to shout from the rooftops that it’s so worth it. That even though the roadblocks and challenges along the way may leave you drowning in waves of doubt, if you keep going you’ll end up in a place far better than the one you first imagined.
If you’ve got the dream, you’ve got what it takes to bring it to life. Just keep going…
Ilona Topolcsanyi, Ceramic Artist of Cone 11
For Cone 11 ceramics, 2014 was a year of great beginnings as we developed relationships with some of Australia’s most passionate and renowned chefs. Early in the year we were asked to make an exclusive collection of one-off plates for the Harvest Festival curated by The Gallery of Modern Art, where top chefs including Peter Gilmore, Josh Lopez, James Viles, Dan Hunter and Ryan Squires used our tableware to plate up their amazing creations. From this arose a series of major collaborations that would see us developing tableware for restaurants across Australia. The most significant of these (I’m chuffed to say…) was the making of 250 pieces for the G20 working party dinner at the Gallery Of Modern Art in QLD. Yes - Barack Obama himself has eaten dinner off my plate!
It was an exciting and prosperous year for us and many of these projects are gently flowing on into 2015. With the excitement of these commissions comes a little stress, a lot of hard work, many failures but an even greater number of successes with many valuable lessons learnt along the way. The most important for me were learning about setting some limits, knowing when to say 'no', understanding my boundaries and estimating how much work can realistically be taken on without burning out. Above all I developed a new appreciation for leaving time for a little personal creative play – keeping myself in touch with the love of what I do and the passion that drove me into this creative practice in the first place.
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Andrea McArthur (www.andyjane.com) has a passion for all things visual and works as an Art Director and Designer in Brisbane. Type is her true love and goes weak at the knees over strategic design. You’ll find her sharing on Instagram @andyjanemc.