Thursday, December 12, 2013

NEWS: Seed.Art.Lab internships (ii)

In this post I am going to introduce you to Sam Zaleski, a 15 year old student at Kelvin Grove Secondary College in Brisbane who I am very pleased to say will be coming to Seed.Art.Lab once a week when she can during her school holidays to participate as an intern. I thought it would be interesting for both Sam and readers to give her the guest blogging role here today as I am rushing about getting various tasks done and its an orientation day for Sam!

So . . . w e l c o m e  S a m !


"I met Sophie earlier this year, at her old house,  in May with my family - my mum and twin brother. 
I instantly found her work interesting and inspiring. I liked the idea of how she used one topic and expanded on it. So in Sophie's case it was the seeds. 

I had shown her my portfolio and flicked through some of her journals, getting a feel of her artistic space. I really enjoyed it and had a great time looking at all her creativity within her studio. As soon as we arrived home, I'd quickly reached for my own art journal and drawn some little creatures that were growing in my head the whole time we spent with Sophie. I was to say at the least, very interested in Sophie's artworks and wished we could meet again. 

Later on I got the news about the internship and happily accepted.  During the period of time between May and December I worked really hard. I met a few people that are with in the borders of the art world and they gave me some tips on how to get my name out there and improve my drawing style and skills over coffee. One of the illustrators I had the pleasure of meeting was Gregory Rogers.

Codochi - made up creature

I worked on my first written and  illustrated book titled 'Amelia Scott and her Dreams' which is basically about a little girls dreams and what she gets up do.The mediums I used were felt tip pens, ink pens and colouring pencils. In her dreams Amelia goes on adventures with impossible creatures, all with the company of her trusty teddy bear. I created the creatures from my imagination and they were heavily influenced by Colin Thompson (a famous illustrator + author), certain ideas in my head and a obsession with weirdness and  scary things. In my book I was determined to make the creatures as unique as possible, which included their names. I came up with names like; Chi, Codochi, Wagari and Drainwrench.

Amelia and The Wagari tribe

I am about to start selling it for the christmas holidays, I got my first customer pre-ordering the book last week. I'm very excited. since then there have been a lot of interest from the pupils at my school and also from the community of my old primary school. During the time I was illustrating, I would be glued to my desk,  if I had to go out, my work would come with me. I was determined to make it excellent and so therefore didn't leave it alone unless I had school or had to eat. I would rush home everyday after school, eager to resume work immediately. For those reasons the book only took me two weeks to finish. I now have a strong passion towards illustrating and aspire to do it as a career.

Amelia flying her airplane with a Codochi

I've been working on my second written and illustrated book for about eight months now. The mediums I'm using are graphitint pencils, watercolour pencils, graphit pencils and rubbers.  It requires way more detail in each illustration and sometimes it can take me hours to perfect each illustration. A lot of the time i'm so eager to draw so i have no breaks. I only have breaks when I physically can not do it anymore because my hand is so numb and I can't feel it. 

But I'm not complaining, i'm loving illustrating this book and already planning my third. My second book is called 'The story of Doris Cummiski'. It was influenced by a conversation I had with my mum in the car. I seem to remember the conversation landing on the unspeakable topic of when my mum turns 80. My brother and I joked that we would dump her in a retirement home. That's all I needed to trigger my brain with an idea. That and extreme boredom. Later that night I had to go to one of my mum's dinner parties and of course I had to bring my Art journal. It just started as a elderly character but then the character clicked with the conversation from earlier and I was away!

Doris Cummiski and her two children

 I've been obsessed with this story for the last few months now. To put it nicely, my second book's original purpose was to wind my mum up (as she is the main character)  but it as it turns out, it has become way more than that. This book is about a 'frail' grandma who has just gotten too annoying for her families own good. So her family drops her in to the closest retirement home. Doris finds herself fed up as soon as she's trapped with in the prune-juice smelling retirement home. She was trapped. In Doris's eyes, this was the worst thing imaginable. She wasn't going to have any of it. She pulls on her night gear and goes on mini adventures to keep herself entertained and renew her freedom. Some of her adventures include meeting the Queen and skiing. 

I've grown quite attached to this project and have been regularly updating my facebook with what's been going on in my life art wise. For this reason, my name is gradually getting out in the world, my artwork is getting a lot of attention and lots of artists are contacting me. I have a mentor - like artist / graphic designer who is really helping me out. She's based in New York and is telling other artists about me in America.

Just a few weeks ago my art teacher's daughter said she absolutely loved my first book 'Amelia Scott and her Dreams'. She also said that she wanted me to do this job for her as a professional illustrator but she had to run it past all her bosses. The job was in America, so I would've had to work from home. Unfortunately I missed out on the job, I was really close to getting it. If it was an Australian- based job, I would have gotten it immediately. I'm just glad I was even considered and now if they ever need me in the future, they know where I am. In the mean time I've been focusing on Doris Cumminski. I have more time now because the school year is officially over. I'm getting my second book prepared now for the exhibition i'm participating in with a couple of other girls. I will be showcasing my port folio, individual A3 drawings and illustrated books.....some of my work will be for sale. Doris will hopefully be a finished book by then, if not I will display her as a work in progress. For now though I am working as an intern with Sophie. Very exciting stuff!

So a run down of this year for me, art wise;

-  Started having extra art classes outside of school. The lessons range from 2-4 hrs, depending on what sessions I want to go to.
-  Met Sophie
-  Shared my work with various artists and authors
-  First written + illustrated book and finished it
-  Realised I wanted to be an illustrator so i have been working hard towards that
-  applied for loads of illustrating success
-  attempted to get in to an art school (Queensland Academy of Creative Industries), again no success
-  started working on my second written + illustrated book
-  Updated portfolio with loads of drawings (that makes over 80 now)
-  Got considered for the illustrating job in philadelphia, USA
-  Got in touch with Joh Moller, (a australian graphic designer that works in New York City.)
-  selling my art work and getting lots of interest (more people know who I am know and i'm building
   myself a reputation for my art)
-  Internship with Sophie

Kirby- She has been sold a few times for $25

-  getting ready for the exhibition at the start of 2014.
-  working on 'The story of Doris Cummiski'
-  Internship with Sophie
- starting to set up my very own studio
- getting my portfolio polished up and ready. (I'm going to be trying out for the year 11 art excellence
   program in the middle of 2014 at my school)
- fixing up 'Amelia Scott and her Dreams'
- Selling my artwork via facebook (for example, my A3 drawings can go up to $25.)"

See Sam's illustrations at her tumblr site here!

And a big thank you to guest blogger/intern Sam!

I've just returned late tonight to read this post that Sam busily typed away on in my studio this afternoon. Today I had a long to-to list, emails to respond to and things to organise that meant I really did hand over to Sam to write this blog post and organise some promo things. She went on later to create a tumblr site to load up her illustrations and all in all we had an excellent day at Seed.Art.Lab.

I've only just caught up here now with what she wrote and its fascinating how much I'm reminded of the 15 year old me ... all the enthusiasm I had in that era for creating... always with a sense that so much could happen if I only worked really hard and kept thinking about what I would like to try for.

Did you find yourself thinking about this?

Writing to artists in New York wasn't something any of my peers and I talked about in my sleepy country town school years. Perhaps others did those kinds of things... but the biggest thing I remember anyone ever aiming for was to win a Rotary Exchange Trip to go and live overseas for a year and attend school in another country.

So in part I was totally with the adventure Sam was sharing here ... yet in another way I found myself thinking.... maybe "a little of what she's having" could be a good thing! Optimism, imagining anything is possible, stretching oneself, aiming high. Unselfconscious pleasure in working and being paid for one's creations.

I remember that pure energy of doing little projects to produce things that I could take delight in selling. It was a really fine balance of activities. An age old relationship between making and selling in order to keep making and living. It does have a lot of integrity as a lifestyle.

Sam reminds me her desire for success and good sales is not born of wanting simply to become wealthy or famous as much as both might seem pretty appealing at 15 ... but to live a creative life and keep it flowing and buoyant. A good message just at the very moment I'm rethinking the balance between all the parts of my work... research, painting, thinking time to generate ideas, residencies, community and public engagements. 

The use of the internet to connect, research, discover, learn, communicate and share ... is something Iv'e been keen to plug in to over the last 4 or 5 years. I've wanted a studio that could serve in part as a hub, a space for collaboration and engagement with ideas and people... and I've desired a place with room to store things, work on various project at once and withdraw when necessary for solo time.

The new space offers all those things and is nudging me to take a punt on setting things up in a fluid, light and experimental way to see what works and what might come! So far so good. It's becoming the kind of place that new and interesting things feel possible. 

I feel very deeply this era we are entering demands we do more than talk about sustainability and have recycling bins. Actually moving into different ways of being, working and connecting to make more happen that is enriching and beneficial with less seems smart and timely. It's up to each of us to play around with ways of doing that. And talking about dreams with a 15 yr old is not a bad place to start! When reading her list of things she has done this year I noted with interest she included what she had tried to and also what hadn't worked.

And that she made another list titled NOW that suggests she's not put off by what hasn't worked but keen to prepare for the next set of goals and efforts! Bravo Sam!

Something to ponder... how would you define the year that's been and what will be on your list for NOW into 2014 ?

Thats something I'm definitely looking at the moment! Best wishes to all passing by here!


Debbie said...

Sorry didn't have time to read all of this but love what I did read and your illustrations are amazing, I love Sophie's work, lucky you.

Sophie Munns said...

Great to hear from you Debbie!

I keep looking at Sam's drawing with fascination. I kept telling her how fond I was of her Codoshi's so I was amazed to read that she drew them after visiting my studio the first time!

I started off with 2 interns this week. Simple arrangements as they are on holidays and we are working it out as we go along.

Thanks for your kind words,

Sharmon Davidson said...

Sam is an amazing young artist and writer, and she is so lucky to have caring adults to nurture her career. I personally can't wait to read about Mrs, Cumminski!

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Sharmon,
I've added the link to her tumblr site with illustrations which is wonderful.
Somehow I think we might hear more from Mrs Cumminski! Her family has indeed truly nurtured her talent!

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

Wonderful introduction to a young talented artist! It feels as if your meeting one another was in the mystery of 'intended' as you both admire and like each others work! Here is to new adventures (I'm raising my glass) of the artistic kind!!!

Velma Bolyard said...

a storyteller here, and another exciting young artist. sophie, i love what you're doing with these two young women, or rather i love reading about the exchange happening (see my other comment)

Sophie Munns said...

the mystery of 'intended'... love that. Feels curiously like such an important aspect of my work haas come to life.... and yet why am I thinking that as this is a tentative start. And with both girls it feels so meant and so rewarding.
I guess its feeling in my element... working one to one is actually deeply satisfying because it is honest and makes space for a true encounter to lead somewhere not already predestined or . Actually thats where it truly interests me. Much as it can have downsides (for obvious reasons) I do possess the desire to find out how something might be, staying very open to unknowns during that act of discovering ... so then what I am able to find out is actually a new thing. Not a belief I'm stuck on that I then manipulate things to be in agreement with.
When I hear of an academic artist framing their work in foregone conclusions and then carrying out a series of actions to fulfil the expectations, tweaking it to make it sound right etc, I'm not .... impressed shall we say!
Thanks for your warm message Maryanne!

Sophie Munns said...

A story teller yes Velma. Very much. Sam sat at the computer and words flew!

It was a revelation for me to read her words later that night. For endless reasons. And I really felt to write something as well because of what had opened up out of her post.
I didn't want to see her precious enthusiasm misinterpreted or judged when peeps my age found their way to her words. Given my readers are frequently somewhere around 50 or so it was good to recall where I was at that tender age ... how would I have related to being in the space I have now with the person I am now.
Its quite something that both girls have been so excited to come and so keen to work on whatever I present.
It is an open road to who know where then?
ps so appreciate you read this whole series of posts on they Velma and shard your thoughts.