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RMIT Creator - The Beacon
Mentors Interview

How should students in the creative industries prepare for their careers? What is the actual work of an artist? Can artists thrive their skills and professionals in other fields? RMIT Creator program is launched in a period of uncertainty just after the pandemic to foster connections between RMIT students, alumni and the creative sector, and to provide a glimpse of light for creative talent to see a way forward.

The project consists of three parts. Part 1 GET SET, GO highlights keynote sharings given by professional creative experts and cross-sector creative pioneers. Part 2, THE BEACON, pairs up RMIT alumni from the creative industry with current students to offer a 30-min advisory conversation. Part 3, FIND AN RMIT CREATOR, is a database of RMIT alumni in the creative sector, to enhance RMIT's professional community and encourage partnerships and collaboration opportunities.

THE BEACON - Mentors Interview

1. Please briefly describe your current work, and your creative career journey.
2. What difficulties did you encounter when you went from being a student to an art/creative practitioner? How did you solve them?
3. What advice would you give to current students who wish to enter the creative industry?

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Eiina Simbolon

1.

My studio practice explores trauma caused by socio-political and cultural conflict particularly in depicting the disconcerting situation of the minority through the use of sculptural objects, installation, photographic images, video, performance, and drawing. I work with everyday materials such as used furniture, clothing, and also the inclusion of industrial and organic materials in my sculpture and installation. I transform those materials into a metaphorical vessel that brings the past into presence, pain, loss, injustice, oppression or violence. 

I was born in Bandung, Indonesia, to an Indonesian indigenous (Batak)-Chinese family. I knew that I loved art from a very young age. My older sister used to entertain me with her self-made puppet shows and comics. I admired her drawings and started to draw like her.  Unfortunately, art was a subject that wasn’t part of the academic school curriculum. 

 I moved to Melbourne in 2004 due to my husband job’s relocation. I have a business/finance background; however, my creative interest played a significant role in choosing what I want to be, I want to be an artist. Until I met my mother in law who is an artist encouraging me to paint, I managed to sell some of my paintings which gave me some confidence to enrol into the Diploma of visual art at Chisholm Institute in 2007 and graduate in 2010. I then continued my study and completed a Bachelor of Fine Art from Monash University in 2016, followed by a Master of Fine Art from RMIT University in 2019.

2.

When I was a student, I always pay attention to the importance of positive and genuine encouragement by professional teaching staff, the experts in the art field. It developed my practice into different levels from time to time. Once I completed my study, the game changed. I had to rely on myself. In order to keep me motivated, I developed a habit of setting up a daily schedule for my studio practice such as reading and doing research on the subject that I am working on before I start working in the studio, gallery visits, meeting other artists, etc. And also being around the other creative practitioners will keep me motivated. 

3.

Dream big, work harder, focus on what is important in your life. If it is your art then be a fully committed art practitioner, use every opportunity that comes along the way to learn new things, keep experimenting as it will enrich your studio practice. “Fail” isn’t a word in the art dictionary. Everything is possible with art. Have other sources of established income that will support your studio practice. Don’t compare your artwork with others, be original. 

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Kawita Vatanajyankur

1.

Vatanajyankur’s practice examines the slippage between the human manual labor and the machines. In her performative work, she transforms herself into hybrid machine and organism, like a cyborg, and puts her body into arduous positions with repetitive actions. Her work signifies the exploitations, oppression, physical endurance and violence within the hidden background of the modern labor in the world of fast consumption. In her works, she usually becomes a site of tension for the struggle of human existence against becoming a simple cog within a machine. Her performative oscillation of human and machine is suggestive of the possibilities of the human evolution and transformation. 

2.

I believe it is about developing the artistic practice that raises contemporary and futuristic questions beyond the definitions of things. Seeking for new questions requires me to connect and collaborate with people from other fields such as economists, scientists, farmers, activists, and IT developers. By continuing these loops of enhancing your practice, it usually takes you to newer places that seeks further questions and solutions. 

3.

Art is more powerful when it is outside of the art world. Finding connections between your practice and other fields and research are extremely important. 

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Nabilah Nordin

1. 

I have been working as a sculptor for the past seven years. My art practice is centered around sculptural processes and materiality. My studio process draws on 'domestic' activities such as cooking, DIY construction, or interior decoration, to conjure absurd monuments and amorphous environments.

I did an undergraduate in Fine Art at RMIT and the Master of Contemporary Art course at VCA. I had many great supervisors at art school who supported me through my artistic/ personal life. When I left art school, I spent some time in Singapore where I met special friends/mentors who guided me through the art world and offered opportunities to exhibit. I am always grateful to these people who helped me see the potential of what being an artist can be and feel a sense of connection to both Australia and Singapore.

2.

I did not know how I could survive as an artist. I had to make some sacrifices, work other jobs so I could continue to experiment without barriers.

3.

The combination of not knowing and wanting to know is important. Being an artist is about protecting what you care about and constantly resisting what others expect from you. It's great to not make sense. Art, like life, is always impractical.

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Orlando Mee

1. 

I'm a multimedia artist based on Narungga land in regional South Australia. I make video and projection art, VR experiences, interactive art games and mixed media visual art.

I originally studied Advertising and Graphic Design in Adelaide, receiving my Advanced Diploma in 2012. I worked as a freelancer for some time, but ultimately found graphic design creatively unfulfilling. 

When I moved to Melbourne in 2017, I decided to enter RMIT's Master of Animation, Games and Interactivity. I took a path of study geared towards the arts, rather than the animation or games industries, and graduated in 2019.

2.

In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, my partner and I made the decision to move back to South Australia to be closer to our families. My partner found a job at a regional hospital in Wallaroo, and so we left behind our lives in Melbourne. 

I found myself cut off from my creative community, stuck in a remote area with unreliable internet access, and I really became rather depressed. I was worried that I had lost crucial momentum so soon after graduation, when I should have been establishing a career as an artist.

I tried applying to all sorts of artistic opportunities, such as mentorships, grants and residencies. To be honest, I was mainly pursuing things which I thought would look good on my CV. But although I often received good feedback, I was unsuccessful every single time. 

I now realise that, while this method does work sometimes, it's not the only way, or even the best way, to move forward with your practice. 

What helped me in the end was working on self-directed collaborative projects with other artists. I volunteered my time, approached people, or just randomly stumbled into different groups of creative practitioners, and we initiated projects we could all work on together. 

All of these collaborative projects led directly on to further opportunities in some form. They helped me foster new relationships, rebuild the networks I had lost, and kept me producing new work.

3.

Collaborate! 

Here are just three of the many ways collaboration can benefit your practice:

1) It takes the pressure off of you as an individual practitioner, since you don't have to do all the work by yourself, but it also keeps you accountable to your collaborators, so you keep producing work and achieving short-term goals.

2) It provides the opportunity to develop and share ideas through exposure to other perspectives.

3) It demonstrates your ability to work as part of a team, and also proves that more than one person is invested in your work. This can be useful later, when applying for support to develop your project further.

That's all. Go collaborate!

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Yu Fang Chi

1.

My name is Yu Fang Chi, I was born in Taiwan and moved to Melbourne in 2014. My work involves textile, silversmithing, sculpture, and spacial installation. In my practice, I explore the processes of repetition, weaving and the position of human body.

Through curatorial projects, I aim to make forgotten stories visible and offer alternative narratives for interpreting them. This has led me to initiate projects Including Inner Crease (2015), Tacit Recollection (2017) and Insistent. Gestures. (2019). My installation work has been part of ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2019 and DUE WEST FESTIVAL. I also undertook artist in residencies in Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Taipei.

2.

It is an interesting question… After my MFA degree, I had more than 10 years’ experience working as an art practitioner in Taiwan. I suppose the situation vary a lot in different countries and culture. For me, there were many difficulties at that time, hard to decide which one was the most difficult… for example, how to balance my time and energy between full-time teaching and making art? How to find more opportunities for being a female artist? How to argue for a reasonable artist fee? I tried to solve one question at one time, some of the questions might not be solved, it needs years. So, I learnt to live with these situations and adjusted it little by little. I encountered these problems over and over again, and I tried to change them step by step. 

3.

Everyone has a unique journey, just keep trying, playing, collaborating, adjusting and challenging. 

​1.

I'm an antidisciplinary artist, which could either mean that I am interested in poking at the artificial boundaries of different fields and epistemologies of knowledge, or that I don't have very much discipline. My work centers playfulness as a way to engage with and connect people and communities, create and explore systems and stories, and respond to wicked problems of society such as surveillance capitalism and climate change. I collaboratively make games, theatre, installation art, and other interactive experiences, often with/through my studio PlayReactive, which I founded after three years of studying undergraduate medicine. I'm currently doing an MBA to learn more about business strategy, leadership, and social impact.

​​2.

There is no easily described transition from being a student to being a creative practitioner because they are not discrete steps in a singular, linear journey – they are merely helpful relational labels that you can lean into for your own purposes. I am still, at this moment, a student (with time and opportunity, access to institutional resources and prestige and community, and an unreasonable amount of debt) and simultaneously a creative practitioner developing my artistic practice. I try to leverage the affordances of these roles to tackle challenges such as lack of money or legitimacy, but often not particularly effectively. Trial and error, making do with what I have. My approach has always been: if something doesn't exist but should, create it, without waiting for the perfect conditions or an invitation.

​​3.

Follow your curiosity. Trust and interrogate your instincts. Look outside your perspective. Investigate comfort. Be bold. Form meaningful connections and collectives. Collaborate. Curate culture. Think strategically and equitably. Act justly. Distribute power and resources. Do what you can. Pace yourself. Don't wait for permission or seek validation. Fix things. Practice. Understand tradition. Experiment. Document and share your process and outcomes. Learn some accounting. Be accountable. Listen with humility. Don't listen to my advice.

Shang Lun Lee, Harry

1.

I have been working as a contemporary artist and art instructor in an university for twenty years .I  have created artworks relating to identity, urbanization, tourism, cultural environments, and socio-political issues stemming from changing places and locations .My art practice in the past ten years has engaged with identity and political issues. I always compare my art profession as exploration to discover new territory.  As an art instructor, art education is an awareness of the world that can connect people from different cultural backgrounds. I began studying art in Thailand and continued my art education in the United States. I moved to Melbourne, in 2011.For studying and making art,  I have moved to many places in the world. Therefore, I have learned that art practice is an inter-language that maintains the creativity and culture of humankind.  

2.

Artists, art students and creative practitioners may have a lot of difficulties in common with each other. Most of the difficulties are about how to solve problems in art and creative research projects. Moreover , to make a living as an artist is not easy. However, not only one artist is facing these difficulties. Throughout art and creative history, difficulty is an opportunity. 

3.

Do you want to find something valuable that is missing in your life?  If you do, just press enter.

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Kata Shangkhae