Image : Union of African States, 2016 (CL-Q)
Soundtrack : My Funny Valentine — Chet Baker

Supporting your artwork is exactly like feeding an addiction, it’s not an exaggeration. At this point my creative work is my habit, everything I’m doing is supporting it, whilst I tolerate everything else.

Not long ago I was invited onto the Blacticulate podcast, after reluctantly discussing my successes, motivations and inspiration behind my work my goals, I knew what was coming…

Blacticulate : How do you make your money?
CL-Q : Freelancing, brand consulting …

Let’s be honest, it’s the one question every creative individual dreads encountering. For the sake of appearances I kept it professional, what I really wanted to say was I am doing anything and everything I possibly can to support my habit and distance myself from the monotonous reality of working Monday to Friday, nine to five. Apologies if you’re offended.

Tell me that doesn’t sound like an addict, but there is a shared mindset or approach to every high. I’ll say it upfront I’m a person of extremes, (probably not the right word to use in this current political climate, let rephrase) I’m a person who lives in binaries. I’m interested or I’m not, I’m working or I’m not. There can’t be any halfway acts when you’re trying to sustain yourself through concepts and not services.

Gone are the days of backers like the Medici family, fuelling the development of artists. So the question the I’ve had to answer is ‘what do I have to offer?’ My initial response was, what software do I know? What’s the heaviest box I could lift?

The way I’ve come to look at it is, what can I do to help someone else realise their goals. Effectively, I’m a dream maker, contractually appointed nevertheless a dream maker. If I spend 80% of my time making someone else’s dreams come true, only 20% of my energy is being used to materialise my own.

I’ve come to realise that there are two ways to approach this:

First time around, I readdressed the reality of a working day. Nine to five is a half day dedicated to being a somebody’s mule. Six to twelve is where my I become a dream maker, this time for myself. I agreed with George Lois In his book, ‘Damn Good Advice (For people with Talent!)(2012)

“If you don’t burn out at the end of each day, you’re a bum.” ― George Lois

Needless to say you will become mentally and physically spent, but by that point have you gained or accomplished your goal? Most of the time the answer is yes. However there is a set back when it’s time to reap you rewards, you’re too tired to savour them. This is my currently reality as I slowly develop towards a second approach.

My career at this point has shifted, the quarter-life crisis is no myth, the typical self evaluative questions arose, ‘What’s the point?’ ‘Can I do this for the rest of my life?’ ‘Is this relevant to anyone besides me?’

Too financially challenged to buy a corvette, I put down a deposit on the artist/designers equivalent, an application to the Royal College of Art.

Smothering yourself with that much debt motivates you. Every move needed to be calculated especially when sitting in the design faculty, I never saw selling my work as an option to recoup.

So how? Engagement.

God Bless Nina Pope (Co-founder of Somewhere) she helped me discover the practice of workshops as a creative outlet. In my case, as far as I could see it was in addition to whatever installation or film I made not an outcome in itself. What I’m saying in a roundabout way is, this is where I found a method to make money through my work.

Not rejecting white cubes (generic description of a gallery) and the audiences who will want to pay to see my work or leave me with a donation, but active insight into how the context of the work came to challenge conceptually, socially and politically giving them an entry point into the narrative suggests exclusive

True, not everyone wants to delve deeper into the work. Some just want to see something attractive and move forward and they are welcome to. Yet, works such as ‘Union of African States’ experimented in engagement on three levels; those who know nothing about African Politics, those who are interested in African politics and curious about how the narrative continues. Lastly, those who are actively involved in African politics and/or development, seeking to see how a non-western influenced african political system may operate.

Thus scenarios such as ‘Undoing Africa’ were formed, introducing an experience they would not come to expect.

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