M_Y_O_M_ - 6 Month Review
I’m 6 months in. Half way.
So a lot has happened and I’m half way through. I’m going to try in the briefest of ways to recap my make-shift Ma so far. Looking at some key points for me and the most important things I have learnt so far. At the minute everything is really good but it’s definitely not always been like this and I want to share honestly about the past six months and give myself a real opportunity to reflect.
I officially kicked off in January, and I think from the off I was met with set backs. In the months prior to Christmas 2017 I had be teaching on my ex BA course at Kingston University once a week. I really loved working here and the money was a huge chunk on the bare minimum I figured I needed every week to do this project. This was £250 a week by the way, this meant my £190 per week rent could be paid and Id have a bit of cash for food and travel. My plan was to boost my tutor pay with a bar job over the weekends so I would have 4 days per week to really throw myself at this year.
I was “professionally squatting” at this point in about 3 studios across London, which was already starting to get tiring. Within a week of being back after Christmas 2 of the studios had employed new people and needed my desk back and the University had not timetabled me in for the next term. I obviously understand these things happen and budgets get cut so I hold no grudges here but what it meant was that I had just embarked on this project and made a right fuss about it, and now had zero ways to fund it/ and nowhere to do it. Also I had still not been paid for the previous term because of system issues and I faced the very real problem that rent was not getting paid that month. Luckily we found someone to fill my room and I had to go stay with friends.
So things were tense before I really even started, but I had this naivety that it’s already too late to back out, so I best just get on with it. I had 3 briefer’s at this point, all of which where ridiculous busy and on the first ‘official’ day of my course I had zero briefs. I had no briefs actually for the entire first month. So I just held out, as unnerving as this time was it gave me the chance to build better networks and find jobs and so on.
By the second week in January I’d had 5 job interviews and chose to take up two of the jobs. One of the studios I was squatting at are a part of Makervesity (a co working space for creative start-ups) in the basement of Somerset House. I knew a few of the team there from my previous job and one day they asked me why I was still just turning up. I told them the entire tale of what I was trying to do, and within a few weeks they had offered me there ‘Makers with a Mission Residency’.
This was the first big chunk of great stuff. What this did was give me a hub, a community, facilities and suddenly everything started to feel like it could work. I still had no brief to do but just being in a space like this with your own project was a big step for me and took away a few nerves.
Early February I received my first brief from Thomas Thwaites, and I’m not going to lie it gave me the biggest head ache. At this point I think an element of reality hit that this was a next level learning and I need to step it up a bit.
So much research, too much research. I think being out of uni for a while and in work that I was unsure of just sent me flying into panic mode and I took it upon myself to learn pretty much everything there is to learn about the Gilded age.
Looking back I can already see the faults I made through out this brief but I will go over them further in my Brief 1 report. But in terms of the M_Y_O_M_ there are mistakes or teething issues this brief has taught me.
Firstly my peer meetings. These meetings are really good at making me get everything out of my note book, into some chronological order and force me to consciously present the project so far. For this reason they really do work and I’m so grateful for all those who came along to help me. What I have also realised it that these are not your usual ‘what do you think about this?’ Peer chat but more of a, ‘sit there while I stand up here and throw weeks and weeks of research and you, and then expect you to have taken this all in and give me back ideas and inspiration on what to do next’.
I don’t think these meetings were inspiring for anyone involved and I was asking way too much from everyone. I needed to either plan better and go in with very precise questions and research or find a group of people that are already used to thinking and talking about the issues I have been discussing.
Secondly deadlines, I mean there weren’t any really. I gave myself three months for this brief and in late June just I met Thomas for my final crit at the 5 month in mark. But this project has tested me A LOT. There had been so many times when I really thought I had cracked it only to be given a new perspective from one of my mentors or briefer’s and suddenly see all the holes my ideas had in them.
I think I stripped myself from the fun I could have had as well, as there were many heavy issues involved and I really let them strip out the subjects and themes I find fun and interesting.
I now finally feel a bit more in the swing of things in terms of finally training my brain back into learning/thinking mode and I understand the stages briefs like this must take now. So going forward I will really lay out a better structure and most importantly, loose the fear of ‘this needs to be right’. I have this comfort blanket of a project that I am happy with and I need to trust my judgment on this one and reassure myself for the next.
Over a month ago now Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, the second briefer on my MA, offered me a job working for her twice a week. Money is still tight and I will need a few top up jobs every now and again but the impact this job has had, has been massive.
Firstly, it’s working! The main reason behind M_Y_O_M_ was to create new opportunities for myself and that’s exactly what this has done. Although part time I’m now working in an environment, on projects that I would’ve never imagined I would be even got close too six months ago. Secondly, I’m getting first hand experience on how EVERYTHING in this area of design works. Although Daisy’s work is completely different to any job role I’ve ever known I’m seeing the projects from a completely new spectrum.
Finally, my entire lifestyle has changed. I went from leaving uni and having a semi professional lifestyle back to working bars, pubs and restaurants. Don’t get me wrong they were a real life line for me, but everything suddenly changes, you and you’re work mates are nocturnal you don’t have that much in common and sometimes you feel like you loose sight of where you would like to be. I not only worked ridiculous hours but I lost out on real occasions with family and friends, living week to week on hectic rota’s.
This is just the reality of part time jobs, I know that I’ve done them all, but when I was starting out on this year with absolutely no idea what was happening, trying to study, manage and build my MA full time followed by the night work you’re just a bit all over the place. While I was in it, I was just going along with it but looking at it now, doing about 40hr weeks and still trying to run a normal 9-6 schedule for this Ma would have never worked.
I feel it’s a big factor in what lead this first half of the year to over run so much. Now I have routine and guidance, to pace this half of the year and I have a lot more control.
So along the way there’s been the months that were real slogs but there’s also been good points, getting my new job, getting my residency, becoming a future leader for the science gallery, a few interviews, some public speaking events. My conclusion so far.. It’s not easy but it’s working.