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What I Learnt From My Mentor

 

The last photo we took together in NYC before I returned home.

 

I didn't go to art school and undertake the traditional process of "becoming an artist". Instead, I was mentored by ex-boyfriend, best friend and fine artist, Faust. If you don't know his work you should definitely check him out, and click through to here if you'd like to see his work. As some of you would know, I was apart of a podcast with Kat from Art & Cocktails, where I discussed my journey into art. I told her how my life was complete chaos before I found art and how being mentored gave me a new found respect and passion for the direction my life was going in.

 

If you didn't listen to the podcast, here's some back story:

After I moved back to Brisbane from Sydney, I found out that I had PTSD and Depression which left me feeling lost, confused and hopeless about the direction that my life was taking. After a few months settling back in, I was lucky enough to have met Faust and be immersed in his wild life in New York City for a year and a half. He taught me so many great things that I don't believe I would have learnt from tertiary education.

 

A collaboration that I did with Faust in 2017.

 

I was asked by some people who follow me online what I learnt from my mentor. I felt as though it would be beneficial to share some of the things that I found had the greatest impact and helped me reach my fullest potential as an artist and business woman. It was hard to break it down because not only was Faust my boyfriend but he was also my greatest inspiration. He encouraged me not only to exhibit, do commissions and sell my works but also push my artist boundaries.

If you are looking for a mentorship to help grow your business or artistic abilities, I highly recommend seeking one out. Since mine was by pure luck and love I can't give much guidance on how to go about attaining one, hopefully you can find one that fits and suits you well. Be open to what avenues your life can go down and never say no to an opportunity that may develop into a mentorship.

 

As a young woman (and adult), it is always important to have your finances in order. You don't want to rely on anyone to help you out if you get stuck with bills. It's also necessity to own the responsibility as "banker" when you become an artist.

Before being mentored, I wasn't someone to save money or have an appreciation for a dollar. This attitude towards money wasn't brought on because everything was given to me on a silver platter, but more so due to the fact, I had never done something that was my own and received money in exchange for it.

When I started accepting paid commissions and set up my online store my attitude towards finances completely changed. I had to think of a dollar amount that equated to the effort I put into making art and more than usual, I was negotiating the value of my work. Although at the beginning, this was a bit of a burden, it has started to get more effortless for me. Being aware of my artwork's worth and the amount of energy that goes into a piece has made the conversation of commission and price have a natural flow with clients.

I think back to the amount of times I had undersold myself and I take that as a serious point for reflection. I knew I was being undercut and I cared so little about the work I was creating and that was reflected upon the finished piece.

 

I feel as though this one is something that should come naturally to most artists and business people alike but often goes unspoken about. Reviewing contracts and artwork are two completely different things and it's hard to distinguish what "red flags" to look out for when you first start creating for small and large companies.

When you receive your first contract it is so exciting that you probably just want to sign it straight away, but beware... you can get yourself into a real predicament if you don't review and send back changes. For instance, some clauses in contracts discuss the ownership rights and you definitely want to keep those. It is completely normal to send back changes of contracts, that's why there are people there to help support you to work on them! If you don't have someone to overlook contracts for you and you're unsure if you're getting the best hand dealt to you (so to speak) I suggest hiring an artist or entertainment lawyer to look over it for you. They have an abundance of valuable information you can use in the future. Of course, it goes without saying that you should always get a second opinion if the contract you are about to sign looks like hieroglyphics.   

 

It's so easy to get caught up in the moment of what's hot in the media and what's being liked and shared. I've found that (and this no criticism to the artists who do), it feels a little empty when you see the same things over and over again. Carbon copying someone else's work when it has no relevance to your style or common references is easily definable. 

Take a moment to reflect upon yourself what you find to be important and what you love, hate or wish you could change about the world or your community. For me, I was so passionate about FGM (female genital mutilation) and I decided to go with that for an exhibition I was apart of in Sydney. It wasn't glossy and it wasn't all smiles. It showed what mattered to me and how I wanted to educate people about an issue that affects millions of women a year.

Only do things that matter to you, it's fun and easy to ride a trend but ultimately you aren't discussing things further or pushing yourself to become a more liberated and unique artist.

 

This was a big hurdle for me to get over, I used to hate feedback. I loved to dish it but I would always take it to heart whenever Faust gave me feedback on concepts or works. It got so bad that I used to rip up what I was making and have a full blown tantrum like a two year old. He could see that I was frustrated and explained that it was something he had to go through in art school... they would have sessions to critique everyones work and that it was something I had to get used to if I wanted to grow.

Over the years I have gotten better at receiving feedback, I've learnt that it is coming from a good place (most times). The person giving it only wants you to grow artistically and push you further than you previously thought was possible. Developing on ideas is a great way to help them bloom into something spectacular.  


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