I had a look at your CV and you’re doing so many things besides your art practice. You worked as a gallery assistant & curator, as an artwork cataloguer and production director, among others. How do you benefit from these works in regards to your actual work as an artist?
That’s something that is near and dear to my heart, so thank you for asking: I think it’s very important to acknowledge that most artists are doing something else. In order to support the work that you’re doing, you’ll probably have a 9 to 5 or you have a gig or you’re a barista somewhere or you’re serving drinks. You’re doing something that gives you a stable income, so that in the rest of your time you can work on your practice. And that’s not uncommon but I didn’t realize that even until I was done with college.
There were points where I still thought that a successful artist was one who was doing nothing but making work, and that might be my measure of success at some point but it’s not right now. I think there’s so much to learn from having different experiences.
So, yes, my CV has different gigs that I had, different positions that I’ve worked in and each one of those, honestly, I choose pretty selectively. I weigh it, and I ask: what can I learn from this time and this role to benefit my own practice? Because, at the end of the day, that’s what I want to be doing but I can’t solely do that.
So, I’ve done production direction for the last three years on a large projection arts festival, which has taught me what it takes to create something that attracts 50 thousand people, and it shows me the back end of what goes into large events. And now I could probably have a better sense of what goes into large temporary installations at an event like Art Basel Miami, for instance, or you’re set up for something like the Venice Biennale. I’ve worked on a piece that went to Venice, and I saw the planning process behind it. I realized the urgency and the time constraints, and how you had to proliferate, and the importance of hiring other people to get involved, to get the thing done.
I’ve really learned skills from all of my gigs and positions and I’m pretty strategic about it because I want to learn from all of them. I got this grant, which is amazing, and which is going to help me a lot because I can take less gigs now thanks to it and dedicate more time to my practice- but in order to get to that point I’ve had to do gigs and I’ve had to do things to support myself financially. I always choose them to be arts related because that’s where my hear lies.
I think it’s important to continually be learning. If we think we’re set and we’ve learned it all, that’s probably a problem.
Any advice you’d like to share with other artists, especially emerging artists?
I think the tried the true that I have been told and that I will continue to tell folks is to apply to everything and to say yes to everything until you can’t say yes to everything anymore. Because no opportunity is beneath you, everything is totally worth your time. Everyone has a different network, it’s all about saying yes and being relatively easy to work with. What people experience from you is what they’re going to take away and tell other people, so you want to make sure that you’re making a good experience for everyone that you’re working with in order to have other opportunities. And part of that is saying yes, it’s saying: yes, I want to do this thing. And then, probably with that, maybe a therapist for the rejections. (laughs). I mean, I’m so honoured to have the award, I’m so honoured to be being interviewed by you right now, but: do you know how many rejection emails I get? So many! And that’s part of the game, too, it’s just pushing through and being okay with those and recognizing that maybe you’re rejected from that opportunity because it wasn’t a good fit right then, and that’s fine. You exercised the ability to write about your work again, and that can be your take-away.
I think the tried & true that I have been told and that I will continue to tell folks is to apply to everything and to say yes to everything until you can’t say yes to everything anymore. No opportunity is beneath you, everything is totally worth your time.
And my last question for you, Anna: what are your hopes for the future?
Oh, that’s a big one! Well, I hope that this museum show goes the way that I hope it will. My vision for it is that it’s really my ideal installation, that it gets to be the thing that I’ve always hoped to have as an install. That’s my main hope: I want that show to be the dream. Of any show that I’ve had, this is the biggest space, and so I just want to make it the best that it can possibly be and put all my time and energy and effort into it. And I know it’s going to be a lot of work but I’m excited for it. Maybe this will lead to other opportunities, we’ll see where it snowballs….and hopefully it snowballs (laughs).
I’m sure it’ll snowball! And thank you so much for your time to talking to me today.
Get in touch with Anna
All Photographs courtesy of Anna Warfield
Written, interviewed & edited by Nina Seidel
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