I was recently asked to be on a panel alongside other established artists and producers to answer questions in a workshop that supported future artists and producers at the Roundhouse in London… I thought it was worth sharing the answers I gave to their structured questions with the intention of supporting other people interested in this industry… Let me know what you think!
1. How do you lay the groundwork for your artists to go to the next level?
For me the best way is to give away power and empower. Because if you don’t empower other people to have a voice then the sector will never change. For me Graeae does that very well with the disabled and deaf community. If you don’t empower artists and new voices then no emerging artists young or old will come forward.
2. An example of when a producers support has been fundamental to either you or your work. I have a long relationship with Diverse City and they are great to work for. Without them or Graeae I wouldn’t be the artist I am today, without the opportunities and challenges they have both given me. Even when I had a down moment I would be invited to do a workshop by Graeae or Diverse City and it would remind me why I love the arts again.
3. What is your thought process when you’re working with an artist on a current project but also their next steps?
I try to challenge every artist even the experienced ones because yes I am an emerging artist but experienced artists and older people don’t know everything. They are fantastic and I love all the people who I have worked with, okay that’s a lie, but I try to respect them and secretly mentor them.
4. What’s between emerging and established, and do your navigate this?
Occasionally I don’t know if a producer realises how long I’ve been doing this, the knowledge and experience I already have, or if they think I’m brand new to it. That’s what pisses me off about being an emerging artist. Producers don’t seem to think about the past of an emerging artist, or the people you’ve already been affecting with your work. They assume to know where you are on this path. They assume to know you’re at the beginning or midway along the path, when you might already be further along, making a bigger social impact than they expect you to make. It’s like I know how to make a cake, but I’m not sure how to make pancakes. You’re trying to help me make a cake, which is cool I love doing it but I don’t need help with that. The next request you have is pancakes. I am more worried about that, but you’re still trying to help me make a cake. Do you know what I mean?
5. What are the barriers to making work and sustaining a career as an artist?
The barriers I face are usually access to work, people not understanding what a freelancer is, people not understanding how much time I need compared to the time it takes other people to do the same task, working out my morals and how far I’m willing to bend them, and managing my mental health and whether something is too much or not enough. I think the arts sector is very tough to work out, but I often say why not try anyway, and see if I can do it. Getting your first no in any context is both you saying no and something or someone saying no to you, it’s not personal, and no is not never. It’s a no at this time. It’s all about confidence, and as long as you are confident in knowing what works for you then you can do anything you want within reason.