Leanne Bray from Australia: "With a passion for visual arts, for over 30 years I have worked full time as an arts professional. Using my original strengths as a Graphic Designer and illustrator."
Great that you like to help us and artists all over the world by sharing your experience and advise!
Can you live from your art? Do you consider yourself already a professional artist?
With a passion for visual arts, for over 30 years I have worked full time as an arts professional. Using my original strengths as a Graphic Designer and illustrator, I have drawn on the combination of strong technical background and sound conceptual development and combined it with the management skills that I have been developing over the last fifteen years. This has given me the flexibility and professionalism that lends itself to a wide range of artistic tasks and projects. Through grief, birth, motherhood and defining moments, I have continued to explore and test new grounds with a combination of artist roles. I have designed, illustrated, lectured at tertiary level, worked with textiles, exhibited both in Australia and Africa, run my own gallery space (here and in Zimbabwe) and developed and run design based, creative businesses.
By what are you (your art) inspired?
Informed by the idea of the feminine as the very beginning, my artistic endeavours are based around the metaphorical concept of birth. Birth as a symbol of divine procreation: the sacred. My own dire experience with the birthing of my two children has indelibly scared and brought about the need to explore the fragility and vulnerability of even the most gutsy of women - as they participate in this most ancient and formidable process.
What steps did you take to generate income with your art? And what was the most important one, your breakthrough?
Passion, determination and persistence have always been part of my artistic endeavours…. starting with a commercial approach to my work (as a graphic designer) was the most enabling beginning.
What are the biggest dangers/threats/challenges on the way to become a professional artist? What can others learn from your experience?
Some folk are not prepared to do the hard yards. It is not always lucky breaks! Persistence and door knocking is vital.
Where/How should artists start when they aim to become professionals and build their career What are/were your first steps?
Join the local arts bodies and find out from them about whats on offer in the local art world. Grants, residencies, art jobs etc. This day and age - you are never far from a reliable source of information. Use it! You have to try everything - every step... whats avoidable for one person - may be brilliant and opportunistic for another. Everyone has to make their own discoveries.
Your opinion is that online/social-media, e-commerce etc. is „Important“. Is there more you can tell us and other artists about that?
The market place has changed and the importance of having a social media presence has become pretty vital. Ironically - it is mainly between other artists that the bulk of the socialising/sharing takes place. Like minded people with similar interests - but as yet - it has never brought me any source of income. Lots of 'look what I have done' and 'aren't I clever!’
What is your view on today’s art-world and/or art-market? What would you like to see different? Do you think it’s more easy for artists nowadays?
Anyone can call themselves an artist - a lot of people do - but genuine talent is rare and the people that create it are often under the radar... Because real art, good art - is made by people who 'just have to produce' - they have to work, have to create - or something dies inside. Being an artist is a compulsion - it shouldn't matter what people think of the work they create or if they can make money from it - they just have to create... but everyone needs to eat - so we all choose something alongside that will provide a living. I choose to do public art and the income affords me the studio time to be creative. I sometime get furious at how much time and gallery space is handed over to the squeaky wheels with the most meaningless sales pitch.
Anything else you would like to say to our community of artists and art-lovers worldwide, any final advice?
Best advice I ever got was about being honest to ones work. Be honest, be true to your talent and celebrate the possession that you have been bestowed.