What should you be spending more time on?

I’m self-employed, and a full-time clinical based health-care student – and professional poorly person.  So I can’t stop thinking about work. When you’re by yourself, it’s easy to overwork yourself.

I’ve realized recently that my family (my mom & my bro) is full of people who work very hard. They all work extremely hard and they enjoy it. It took years for me to figure out that that’s a trait that was passed onto me.

When I’m working, I’m being functional and useful to someone, but I’m also making money to pay the rent. When I can, I like to work on personal projects because it gives me an avenue for self-expression – and to try and make change. I can put work out on the Internet that people might like and, by extension, hopefully like me. Which is secretly a lot of what I want from my work.

What I’m realizing is that there are other areas of my life that need that same sort of focus and rigor that I give to work & sleep. There are friendships and relationships and things that are every bit as important.

There’s half of me that is very proud of the work that I’ve made and where it has taken me. But there’s another half of me that knows that I live in Leeds/Sheffield/Doncaster and that I’m very privileged to already have a masters,  be studying radiotherapy and making the work I’m making. When I was growing up, my mom worked 2 low-paid jobs – just to make rent. These days, she only works 1 low-paid job to try and make rent. No one ever told me i could or should go to university – because it wasn’t ever a thing, no one does that in my family. I just discovered it some how in the last year and half of school but my mom has always been so supportive of everything I do, she basically told me ‘Don’t just do something to make money, find something you love and find someone who appreciates you for it. And then try and get a job.’ Whilst she was drunk last weekend she told me to, “Try, take risks, fail doing stuff, because it doesn’t matter – this is always your home. You will always have a roof over your head. I just want you to be happy. I don’t care if you fail or get 100% – because you’ll get there — and I’m proud of you anyways.”

I’m always  aware of where I come from.  My friends parents know all about the league tables of the universities they attend, and their parents help them pay the rent.  They come from homes with hot-tubs, and convertible cars.  No one in my family understands the value of higher education. But it doesn’t mean they don’t support me – even if they think what I do (my art-freelancing stuff) “isn’t a real job” lol.    But I’m also aware of where I am now and how I can help more people get to where I am. Maybe a little thing that I do can make a difference, even if it’s just very slight.

That’s probably a bit naive, but these are big things that sometimes need to be reduced so we can start to deal with them. A tweet, blogpost, whatever, isn’t going to solve the problems we have with inequality and privilege, but it might help us slowly move incrementally to something better than what we currently have.

Empathy is first an act of imagination. I know how difficult it is to get from one side to the other. But if we spent more time teaching, sharing, learning, listening — I think we could make something better.

 

 

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Trying To Be Mensch…

I probably should be watching the SuperBowl right now. But tonight, I’m tackling something different, something which seems necessary. Although you know me, I do love a bit of Beyonce!

In my new(ish) quest to try and live life, and live it with purpose with the weight of time baring judgement on me! I have decide that I need to learn the artform being Mensch. A mensch literally translates into “a person” in Yiddish, but figuratively it means something much deeper. A mensch is a person with whom you would be happy to befriend and associate with, because you feel genuine in a mensch’s presence, according to Wikipedia.

It has nothing to do with looks, with wealth, with success or with intellect (which is a relief for me really),  a Mensch is someone who simply makes others feel good when they are around them. I have quite a few friends that achieve this effortlessly, but not all of them would necessarily fall into the ‘Mensch’ category specifically. Not because they’re not good, or saint-like (quite the contrary – if they put up with the Smizz, then they gotta be close to being saints – lets be honest ha!). But more because they’re just socially fluet and happy people.

In theory, we are all decent people. Or that’s how we all start off at least. I’m thinking about “If I live, who do I intend to be?” and this is what I’ve come up with.

For most of my “making a living”, I listen to others. I listen to their ideas, problems, stories, and try and communicate that into visual bite-sizes. I listen to every-single-word they say. Now, you probably think in real life- we listen to every single word our friends and family say. We don’t. When I live-draw, I’m super tired and my head feels super clogged up after drawing for 8 hours of people’s talks. It literally is difficult to string a sentence together after 8 hours of scribing. That’s because i’ve listened to everything, and banked every single word, and it’s context. It made me realize that most of us, just listen to probably about 70% of what our closest friends say. And I don’t think that’s enough.

When I’m hurting, I just want to be heard. Listening is an artform we have seemed to have lost. But by listening, a mensch would make you feel worthy and cared for. A mensch would listen to what you need and what you feel. And I want to be that person. I’m not saying I don’t listen to you now. I do. I just want to be a better,  more empathetic, listener. I want to be a more compassionate listener. Because, now, I finally understand the necessity for someone to feel genuinely listened to.

Leo Rosten, the Yiddish maven and author of The Joys of Yiddishdefines mensch this way: *(http://blog.guykawasaki.com/)

Someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.

And these are some of the ways to become Mensch.

  1. Help without the expectation of return.
  2. Help many people.
  3. Do the right thing the right way.
  4. Pay back society.

 

They’re all things we know already. Almost religious, bible-like. I’m not religious. But I’m learning to believe. Believe in things, people, believe in other peoples things. Because, really – That’s all we have.to believe in ourselves and others.

So here I am. I’m like Smizz, here’s an excerise:  it’s the end of your life. What three things do you want people to remember you for?
1.
2.
3.

I’m gonna throw this question out on Twitter too.

This much I do know: (reflection on 2012 & life in general)

Intro:

2012 has been a year of awesomeness but a huge steep learning curve for me. Things started off amazing. I got the SITE Gallery Residency, met some awesome people, and I quit Coca-Cola, I still had my bookstore job and things felt good.

But I started to feel really unusually tired, and worn down. I brushed my shoulders off & blamed the no drinking coke thing, started to drink it again to reverse the supposedly effects, and ignored what my body was trying to tell me: that something wasn’t right. I started getting incredible bone ache around my left side of my body-specifically my shoulder, and drenching night-sweats. I lost over 1.5 stones in weight (that I had somehow put on a few months previously) without even trying! I got nosebleeds regularly for no reason, had an enlarged spleen for a while, lost my appetite, lost my get-up-and-go. I kept up with work, and took any opportunity open to me, but I slowly lost my connection with a whole community of people because I couldn’t make it to their exhibition openings and such – as I felt so poorly/tired. Which sucked more than anything.

Great work:

But I carried on working, regardless. Thanks to the amazing Doc/Fest crew, I got another chance at being their resident artist – and they recommended me to draw a TEDx talk in Sheffield, which got me my new part-part time job in London that I started in November!  Drawing a TEDx talk was a dream come true, and continuing to work with Sheffield Doc/Fest is one of the best-things ever.  My role on the Gravity Lecture series at Sheffield Hallam University has grown substantially. And I feel equal to my colleagues, where my ideas are often pushed forward. Which is insanely awesome. Even gaining some teaching opportunities – which I never thought would happen unless I did a PhD.

The “Unifying diagnose”: 

I went back to America to work for the YMCA for my 3rd year in a row. That place is now like family. It was here where people were pretty concerned about my mystery illness that my UK doctor had said was just “probably a mono-style-virus”. They made me see a specialist in haematology & oncology (despite me not wanting to) who told me that “a unifying diagnosis is a lymphoid malignancy”. Yeah, pretty hardcore stuff.

In denial  I carried on ignoring all these signs. Against doctors orders, I continued to work & do our legendary roadtrip from coast to coast in a month. But things became apparent on my roadtrip, that this was probably no virus. I left it until October to go back to my GP with a cough I still have, Taychicardia, & some lumps and all the above symptoms, and 2 months later I started fainting, and getting blinding white spots in the bottom half of my vision, i flunked my field of vision test at the Opticians when my actual vision is fine, and now my immune system is completely compromised. I’ve picked up pretty much everything that’s going around. The naro-virus, I just have to look at someone with a cold and I find myself full of snot. My tongue also looks like i’m diseased and i’ve had a  numb big toe for about 6 weeks now – which i think is in part due to what i’ve been taking medication wise.  It still hasn’t been disproven that I don’t have cancer. But, at least I’m sort of being treated with something at the moment. I  have Christmas off and go back in January for more tests, treatments & hopefully a clearer view.

What it revealed & what I’m learning from it:

This illness, whether as serious as predicted or not so serious, is humbling and extremely revealing – it has forced me to survey my life- perhaps super early than i would have- with an unforgiving eye. There are some shameful, lazy, hurtful, and weak acts in there. Everything I thought was important, suddenly seemed kind of unimportant. Everything I thought was unimportant, became important. I read a book about a guy diagnosed with cancer who said “If I live, who is it that I intend to be?” I read this and found that I too had a lot of growing up to do.

Even now, I was pissed off and taken aback when I went to see my hot GP about 3 weeks ago, about the blinding spots in my vision, who then freaked out  with me for changing my appointment with a specialist because it clashed with a work commission (ironically for the NHS). I said, “But you don’t understand, this is important” (This being Money firstly, and reputation secondly, getting more work thirdly) he said and quite aggressively for a GP, “No, Sarah, I don’t think YOU understand…. You need to put yourself first sometimes.” He was right. I don’t understand. I don’t understand why I’m still not back to normal health, and I still haven’t learnt my lesson that there ARE more IMPORTANT things in life than money, or fitting into what is socially acceptable. Dare I say it, that, you know, MY life/health is important. Reader, YOUR life is especially important.

I didn’t think people even cared about me. Until this year. I’ve witness kindness and amazing generous acts. Even from strangers. A woman who I met in the airport line, scrambled against the line at the end a plane journey to give me her card, told me to keep in touch and offered to do a bone marrow drive in NYC if it turned out I needed one.

But the one thing I am exceptionally grateful and humbled by is my friends. I keep saying it, but this is because i feel like I might have taken them for granted, or not shown them my appreciation until now. Friends are supposed to be there for you in tough times. But these guys are everything and more! They are my mirror back board. I wouldn’t have done ANY health thing if it wasn’t for them telling me to get myself checked out, or the doctor needs to know about this, ect. Even when there are moments of doubt and somewhat fear, they are there.

It made me realize that I need to make more of an effort with keeping in touch or caring about the needs of others. My art or resume won’t keep me warm at night. And if all of that ended, what would I have to show for it?

So here I am, I am trying to make every obstacle an opportunity. Doing something amazing takes so much effort and risk. Trying to fight against the inertia is wicked hard and tiring but it is ultimately the fight that counts. I’m asking myself what is meat and bones important?

I’m still figuring out stuff, but i know i see more beauty now than I ever did, I take care of my body way more now even with limited energy reserves. I try and keep and document my life just incase. It helps me see if this is what I want my life to look like. I know in 2013, I’m going to give back, help others in need. I’m going to work so much harder, I’m going to get up earlier, go to bed earlier, waste less time (harder than it looks!), i’m going to be kinder, I’m going to learn new things, I’m going to try and not let anyone down. i am going to be a better person, a better friend, a better friend to world whilst remembering it is the FIGHT that COUNTS.

 

 

 

 

 

Making the most of my time: The Roadtrip Begins

My friend sent me this awesome quote ina  great email yesterday:

“We shall never have more time.  We have, and have always had, all the time there is.
No object is served in waiting until next week or even until tomorrow.
Keep going..Concentrate on something useful.”   -Arnold Bennett-

As recently, I can’t get out of my head just the potential of the idea that I have less time in this life than what I bargained for. With everyday I feel more tired, or every stabbing pain in my abdomen or everytime I feel the enlarged lymph nodes in my neck & under my arms.  Although I am 100% sure I will be OK, as well, everyone keeps saying i will be OK in the end (including tarot card readers, and dodgy healers), it’s just about the ‘journey’ – or something like that. But I definately want to take quality over quantity. Any day, any time! It’s almost selfish, but I don’t care.

And that’s why it was imperative for me to do the roadtrip instead of going home a few weeks earlier like recommended.

The plan, for now: I have some time, and if I use it well, it will be more than enough. I want to do everything this trip, that I’ve used excuses for normally – like money, fear, failure, time, ect.  I’m going to immerse myself in the Pacific Ocean – which I haven’t done in over 2 years. I’m going to watch the sunrise and sunset in many different time-zones on different types of rocks and landscapes, I’m gonna make hobo-dinners (sANDY iSLANd thing), try food I normally wouldn’t, and write, draw and take photos along the way.

I want to gamble in Vegas, roll around in some beach sand, feel the infinite power of the universe from the skys up above in the desert lands of the south west. I want to eat some proper shrimp from New Orleans, even though I hate seafood, and dance on the streets.

As my friend Alex said the other day, I’m going to tick things off my bucket-list I didn’t even know were on my bucket-list.Image

So the ROADTRIP – — – IT STARTS NOW!

FIRST UP —- PHILLY & DC – DAY 1. Friday. Get this bitches.

Time is Uncertain, yo.

Time is uncertain. I’ve always known this. I have so many other blog posts dedicated to my mind-boogle with time. Time is a personal construct: an ever shifting, ever evolving phenomena. Where in some parts of the world it’s linear and in others it’s more circular and whole (which it should be viewed as).

We should never live by the clock, or feel forced to do something, or indeed put something off because of the amount of time limited.

Most people don’t know this. But 4 weeks ago I was told by a Haematologist Oncologist at Boston Medical Center to go back home to the UK for a Bone Marrow Biopsy to see if I a type of Lymphoma or not (as my USA Medical Insurance policy doesn’t cover to have it done here).  I ignored this advise ( not without cause: mostly because I have already had a pretty decent work up including CT Scans earlier in the UK – which were clear – and what’s a few more weeks?). I will of course, in 3 weeks time be coming home – earlier than planned – to indeed get the test.  But in the limbo between my in denial of ‘my doctor in the UK said it was just a virus’ and ‘what if I really do have cancer?’ I’m left re-evaluting things.

I’m using this time to really use it as an excuse to do everything I want to do. No other excuses, like money, time, fear, failure, ect. And when I find out that I don’t have any serious potentially impending doom senario  (here’s to hoping, yo!) – I will learn from this moment and never again (or try to, anyways) waste my time. Because, I do waste a lot of my time.

I’ve been working with a lot of female mothering artists, who work full time and still manage to bang out loads of works of art. So I should learn from this.  There’s so much I want to do, so watch this space here.

Here’s to a more together, focused, fun, better, kinder Smizz.

Things to look out for that I’m organizing or taking part in:

– I just done some drawings for a workshop at MADE Festival, very exciting.

Sponsored Bike ride in November from The Donx to Sheffield for Lymphoma & Leukaemia Research Charity – Please sponsor us! 

Bloc Projects – Assembly 13, Sheffield.

Researching into Co-working & art —> Something like Jelly.

– CAKE Salon

CAKE RE-LAUNCH – First with newsletters.

SLAM-JAM (realistically probably in Feb 2013)

– Finishing my L3 BTEC in Science

– Continue, developing Re-Advertise with Abi Goodman

But more on all of this soon. Realistically, in October when I’m back in the UK. Being drilled into.

 

Instructions for Life by The Dalai Lama

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three R’s:
    –  Respect for self,
    –  Respect for others and
    –  Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and
    think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  19. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
  20. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

Stolen from – http://www.brucemaudesign.com/4817/112450/work/incomplete-manifesto-for-growth because its awesome and food for thought as well as an inspiration, check it.
Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
    1. Allow events to change you.
      You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
    2. Forget about good.
      Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
    3. Process is more important than outcome.
      When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
    4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
      Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
    5. Go deep.
      The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.
    6. Capture accidents.
      The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.
    7. Study.
      A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.
    8. Drift.
      Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.
    9. Begin anywhere.
      John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.
    10. Everyone is a leader.
      Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
    11. Harvest ideas.
      Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.
    12. Keep moving.
      The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
    13. Slow down.
      Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
    14. Don’t be cool.
      Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
    15. Ask stupid questions.
      Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.
    16. Collaborate.
      The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.
    17. ____________________.
      Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
    18. Stay up late.
      Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
    19. Work the metaphor.
      Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
    20. Be careful to take risks.
      Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
    21. Repeat yourself.
      If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.
    22. Make your own tools.
      Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
    23. Stand on someone’s shoulders.
      You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
    24. Avoid software.
      The problem with software is that everyone has it.
    25. Don’t clean your desk.
      You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
    26. Don’t enter awards competitions.
      Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
    27. Read only left-hand pages.
      Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”
    28. Make new words.
      Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.
    29. Think with your mind.
      Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.
    30. Organization = Liberty.
      Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’
    31. Don’t borrow money.
      Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
    32. Listen carefully.
      Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
    33. Take field trips.
      The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.
    34. Make mistakes faster.
      This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.
    35. Imitate.
      Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.
    36. Scat.
      When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.
    37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.
    38. Explore the other edge.
      Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.
    39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
      Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.
    40. Avoid fields.
      Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.
    41. Laugh.
      People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.
    42. Remember.
      Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.
    43. Power to the people.
      Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

nearly a year after graduating, reflection: everyday i’m shuffling

Technically speaking i didn’t graduate until November when I officially got my certificate and that. But by transcript and exam board standards and the expiration of my  university log-in username – it has been since June 2010.   It’s nearly been a whole year!

Last night I was online stalking some of my favourite artists/people and seeing what they’re up to when I came across a blog post i wrote for debbie ainscoe’s blog http://downbythewaterfront.typepad.com/ . Debbie’s an amazing person and artist. And on read what I wrote even I was impressed with my 4 years of work at University! Ha! but suddenly i felt panicked at what have I been up to since?!  Have I fell off the bandwagon?

So it’s been nearly a year graduated.  And what have I learnt?

I have learnt that the new government coalition can kiss my ass. IT SUCKS. What little life there is left in the arts is going to become purely problematic and idelogical. Posts in today’s Guardian about cutting arts education shows just at how little knowledge people in politics have about the industry arts generates here in the UK.  the cuts within the arts council were depressing (although could have been worse) and the film council closure was just dreadful (esp after the success of The Kings Speech, which was funded by the film council) The short sighted, short term, planning of this government is killing what little economy and wellbeing our nation has.

Since graduating, I have been officially unemployed 3 times (although admittingly for about 2-3 weeks at a time).  My mom makes me  apply for JSA and I have to at least a part-time job whilst I do my commissions or other freelance gigs. It’s difficult being from a working class family because they don’t understand what freelance is.  All she  sees is me doing what I love. I’m terrible at saving and I think this is why she doesn’t believe I actually get paid to do what I do.

In June 2010 I went  back to America and did a teaching/ artist residency job. It was great but tiring. I had a great time!

Because I love teaching, i always apply myself 110%> I love to re-invent the wheel and to make people feel good about themselves. this is done by self-esteem building. i love encouraging people to believe that they can do something. I guess with my good natured team building skills and good evaluations I won a $3,000 award, which was a bit of a bribe to come back next year (I got half then – i get half if i go back the next year).  At this point i thought, hey maybe i’ll have something good in my life by then.  the coalitions power hadn’t kicked in just yet so it was only natural that i still felt hopeful on where i could go and what i could do!

After the job, i did a residency at Syracuse University in NY State. It’s this amazing program called the Art School in the Art School. It has so much relevance from its placement of being supplementary to the artschool or as part of an antagonistic  debate on the merit of art degree rewarding courses.  The people of Syracuse were very giving and generous with their time. I went away wanting to create a art-school in the art-school journal. Of which I’m about half way through putting it together and getting better and more submissions. More info on this in another post.  You can hear an awful interview with me here: (i need press training clearly) http://www.artschoolsound.org/2010/09/interview-with-sarah-smizz/

 

After the residency I travelled around the West Coast with some friends where i started to really think about LA and it’s myths and social history that’s kind of hyper-real.

 

I got back to NYC and I got some Freelance work with Time Warner for some illustrations for a bilingual kids book on cities! couldn’t believe my luck!

Institutions illustrations, by Sarah Smizz

I arrived back home signed on for the 1st time for 2weeks until late October and already had the awesome opportunity lined up to work with the amazing Sheffield Doc/Fest!

Debbie had asked whether the film councils closure had affected the great festival. The over-all answer is no. Because even though the film council was awesome, it rarely funded documentaries.  I believe that documentary film making is like contemporary art in the sense of how it’s made, how it engages with a subject and it’s audience and how there is an urgency its ideas. And obvs its lack of funds during the making of it. There’s an integrity that lies within the documentary film industry that doesn’t really exist in other art/media/film/journalism industry. Perhaps maybe it’s how Doc/Fest is structured and organized but it made me think that  there’s so many more opportunities that documentary film industry can offer, in comparison, and it seems to be one of the more accessible industries – knowledge rather than someone you know. I think this comes from its openness to co-production and collaboration in all forms from social media, games, film to even art.  But more on these thoughts in another post also.

After this amazing commissioned experience. I worked over the christmas period at Waterstones. They never kept me on but offered a job for next xmas. thanks!

So I kicked around enjoying my new found freedom. Planning a trip to NYC I was aware that if i did go in feb. I would be DEAD BROKE. so I went to Barcelona and had some drawings in a bigger show there. Which was a great excuse to go!

I came back looking for more work. signed on the dole for 2 weeks again until my friend got me a job at a candy store. Oh I know I know!   I did some small work for the Open University with the skills and ideas i had learnt from Doc/Fest.

After I finished working at a candy store (of which I quit because i’m sure they’re not legal- they didn’t pay my tax!) when we had to fill out the census, i saw that my mom had put me down still as working at the candy store instead of freelance work (which was more accurate picture of right now). So i made her change it. After all this is how I roll now.

We became super serious at relaunching CAKE (we have a new website address http://www.cakeeveryone.com) and did the first SlamJam in about a year. Unfortunately the disaster happened in Japan so we donated all money that we raised to Japan Red Cross ! something I’m proud of.  As part of an on going discussion #artWORK We have crit-group sessions,  a zine-day coming up, FEAST and an exhibition and event around Temporary Services ARTWORK: Art, economics and labour publication. This is VERY exciting! In addition to this, our new webste launch will have a launch party. so keep your eyes pealed!

 

I’m currently working freelance. I got a website commission for this amazing art conference series. And Doc/Fest invited me to come back to work with them (something I’m super grateful for and I’m gonna super make sure they get every single penny’s worth of their $$$ with me). more posts on this later too

In addition to this, I have some work in a show in Chicago and London coming up. And I’m going back after Doc/Fest to USA to collect the rest of my reward money and have a great summer (hopefully ha).  Afterwards i have 2 small residencies (both at publications – more posts later!?), a bit of work at DUMBO Art Festival in Brooklyn and I hope to visit friends around the USA including the AREA Chicago crew in Chicago and michael corris in dallas!

When I come back home in October i have another amazing opportunity to draw some talks to turn into animations for e-learning materials! And of course, if i want i have my waterstones job back Ha!

There’s some other stuff in here that i’ve forgotten but hey, if i’ve forgotten it it’s not that important ha!  what i need to do when I get back in October is to get a studio space. or travel and find work that way. i can’t tell you from month to month what i’ll be up to. it seems to happen all at once.  some months are super quiet and depressing. others are awesome.  It’s difficult positioning yourself as a graduate artist from Sheffield in a world where there’s hardly any normal jobs going, standards of living are slipping, and arts funding is becoming increasingly more difficult to get. But I have to remember what Michael Corris wrote/said in an article recently:

Artists: do not let your voices be hijacked.

everyday when i feel like i’m letting myself or my mom down, i think of this, or other inspirational advise. and everything is put into perspective. i’m doing pretty good despite the odds and i’m only 22.