Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Misty Mountain of Employment...



So….I have been very quiet on my blog for a couple of weeks. There are two reasons for that. The first is that I was up in Northland for New Zealand Book Month. Did you know there was one? Well sort of…it’s been moved until next year because of the Rugby World Cup (I don’t know why!!!!) but at the time I was initially invited it was all go for October.
I visited 4 school over 3 days, teaching writing workshops to years 4-8 and then ran two weekend workshops  for adults in children’s’ book illustration and junior fiction novel writing. We all had a great time and hopefully all participants learned something new or were inspired some way to, as Nike says, ‘Just do it’. Because that’s what it’s all about in the end. No amount of plotting, planning, or strategising will make a difference to a bit of work getting out there and becoming a reality; to be enjoyed by its intended audience. You just have to work hard and finish the thing!

Which leads me to the other reason I have been a non-blogger this past week. In my last post I said I was lucky and I loved my new job in the film industry. I have been very quiet about which film but if you haven’t already guessed, it’s THE film. The one that’s been hitting the news, and because I held a placard and marched down the streets of Wellington with my co-workers, you may as well know I’m a costume illustrator on The Hobbit with the production company 3foot7. I am not to be confused with a costume designer- I don’t make the decisions on who wears what and what it’s made out of- I just help the team visualise their concepts on paper. Its great- I get to draw with real pencils everyday, and photoshop stuff. I work with amazingly talented people all bringing Peter Jackson’s vision to life and we are all looking forward to seeing the final cut and celebrating in the streets of Wellington when the last digital effect is put into place, some huge creature made by Weta Workshop is hoisted onto the Embassy roof and we all watch movies 1 and 2 and follow Bilbo Baggins into Mirkwood and beyond, proud of what we can do here in this country of ours.

Well, we hope.

I’m not a political blogger and have no intention of getting in to the heated discussions about unions, multi-national big boys, leanings to the left or to the right and who is responsible for swinging dollar and possible tourist industry collapse. There are plenty to follow if you want to read them.
All I know is, I love drawing and creating stuff. I’ve always done it and hope I always will. It is what I trained for at tertiary level and have spent the last 30 years as a freelancer doing. (My last effort will be a nice centrepiece for my recycled casket- made from egg cartons possibly and my daughter has been instructed to let loose on it with a paintbrush). The film industry is one area that employs enormous talent in copious quantities when a project of this magnitude comes into town. And as I marched with it last Wednesday, I wondered what we all will do if it comes to an end. After all, there are only so many supermarkets who will employ highly trained artists as shelf stackers isn’t there?
Kia kaha

Monday, October 04, 2010

Lucky Lucky Me…


'A Great Hand' Velvet by Fifi

September and the very start of October have been pretty amazing I have to say…

Today I won a prize…yes another one (I hear you say). In the Get Set Create event at Te Papa.  More about that later….

It’s easy for a blog to become a brag; a nauseating list of fabulous things that have been achieved and pretty soon people turn off, just a quickly as they do from extended whinges about how life is or isn’t. You can use a blog as an online diary or as a marketing tool. Either can be helpful or destructive depending on who reads your postings. I have a few followers and my blog gets visited a by around a hundred people a day.  Many of those people are stumbling upon my site because for instance, I have posted a picture about a mermaid and they are looking for sirens. They might stop awhile, read, and move on. Or equally flick onto the next image found on google. This post is for the people who read what I have to write.

So I’ll tell you a story… it is about fame, fortune and serendipity and how it has come to play in my life recently.

So…I’m 50. Apparently you should never tell people your age. What bollocks. I'm proud to be 50 and still alive and kicking given my mispent youth and later inhalation of too many dangerous chemicals through my pursuit of art (read Costumes and Chemisty for a wake up call!)

But on my birthday I wondered what I had worked my arse off all these years for.  I gather that’s quite a common thought, and yes, I thought it. For the past year, all my endeavours had come to nothing. Yes really, nothing. I’d put into my communities without expectation of reward, I’d created artworks of magnificence, I’d been a good and loyal freelancer to my clients (I think). So why was I so broke, so underemployed and why were all the opportunities going to everyone else? To be honest I was finding it hard to drag myself out of bed in the mornings, to sit in my studio creating more projects that might fly high one day when the wind was right. I was fed up and said so. On facebook.

One person who listened was another artist who has great insights and honesty in her posts. To her, I stopped doing the marketing and self promotion. To her I was brutally honest about how I was about my world- the one that seemed to be laughing in my face. This by the way is the experience of pretty much everyone at some stage- feeling forsaken.  It takes different forms and occurs at different times in your life, so I am aware it is a frame of mind. But for me at that time it felt like all my worlds had shut me out.

So, my facebook friend said if it would help she would send me a Good Luck coin from a Buddhist Temple she’d been to in Taipei. It is a place people go to pray or give thanks for abundance. She thought I didn’t need it and didn’t hold much with icons, but if I thought it would make a difference she was happy to post it from far away. I said yes because I had truly tried everything else and nothing was working. When you haven’t bought new clothes for a year, restrict yourself to one take out coffee a week, cancel the papers and the electricity bill is looking like an insurmountable hurdle, you know you are feeling the pinch. See, if this blog was purely about marketing, I’d never have said that…

So she sent it, and the day after it was posted I got my job interview. And then I got the job, illustrating for the film industry. And I adore it. Then I won at WOW and have had great coverage in the media. Now it looks like the Chinese rights to my last novel may have been sold (is my publisher saying shut up Fi!?). Today I took part in the challenge at Te Papa I mentioned up front, pitted against two former Supreme Award Winners, a kind of Masterchef meet Project Runway in a 1 hour stage challenge…and I won.  I got a goody bag of all kinds of marvellous things including generous voucher to Hippotamus, the fine dining restaurant at The Museum Hotel.

So, did the coin make the difference? Probably not. I had someone pushing me forward for the job, the WOW creation was made in June, my novel was published last year and today I was in good company and I had a great model. So what was it? It really comes down to this: people who believe in you, allow you to believe in yourself. No matter who you are. Sometimes you just need to re-open the portal, and if a talisman does the job, then thats all fine by me. And I give thanks, every day.

Talking of believing in people, there are some stunning young writers in the Fabostory project. Check out Andy Xie’s entry this week. Boy, we’ve got some tough competition ahead of us… better keep rubbing that lucky coin!