the line for The Drawing Room, curated by Audrey Kawasaki.

Or maybe I should more kindly title it,

"Sydney Emerging Art Scene VS Everywhere Else"

Dear Sydney,

In case you don't know, (which you probably don't because you are rather self focused), I am young emerging illustrator, who has been exploring the fabulous artist/creative scene and world for the past few years.

I must admit, for the first year or so, I stayed in my little shell and mainly explored all the artistic offerings online. I lived on websites like DeviantART and myspace, and interacted through commenting, forums and emailings.

I was just blown away by the talent out there in the online world. Both discovered and undiscovered in the "real world". Audrey Kawasaki was already killing it in this particular "scene" (By that I mean emerging contemporary I guess as opposed to snobbish gallery type stuff), but that is not to say what she was doing wasn't fricken amazing and just as valuable as the things on display in the AGNSW. But then there were 'undiscovered' talents like Caitlin Shearer who was just so screamingly popular online, yet most "gallery" types and probably you too Sydney, wouldn't have even heard of her (yet you are her home town!).

I was unbelievably inspired by these artist and others, more than I ever would have been at school or art college. These kinds of artist didn't even get a look in at school. If you didn't sell your work in ridiculously expensive galleries, or do things "extreme" like put yourself through plastic surgery to look like other famous artists or paintings (Orlan), you weren't considered art worth studying.

I remember the day I showed my art teacher DeviantART, what a laugh that was.

During these past few years since I have been DeviantARTing, blogging, myspacing and online networking, I have received such amazing feedback and opportunities. What I found interesting, was I was getting more feedback from the Melbourne kids than anyone from Sydney. Well, other states from Australia too, but pretty much nothing from Sydney. I 'found' and came into contact with artists such as Bec Winnel, Kelly Smith and Catherine Campbell, all were pretty much undiscovered, but starting to kick their way into this online world with their amazing talent. I own work from all of these ladies, another reason why this whole online thing is so great.

But yes Sydney, you still hadn't really done anything to show your support as far as I could see. Next, gallery 696 from Melbourne was keen to have my work in some of their group shows, and so I did that, and every single time I entered something my work sold. It was just so easy. And I felt so nurtured and cared for. Like people wanted to go to the shows and support the new talent. People actually gave a F*** about supporting their friends and peers.

Since, sadly, I haven't visited Melbourne yet (bring on OCTOBER!) I made a little promise to myself last year to get more involved in the real world art scene here in Sydney. Sure, I have been to the big galleries, but I hadn't really explored what else is on offer for us emerging ones.

I found a few group shows that were keen to have me, so I went for it and put my work in, but gosh, didn't matter how good the work is in the show was, it needed people in order for it to be appreciated, let alone sold. No one in Sydney gives a shit about these kinds of shows that are for new emerging artists. So no one goes. While every little bit of exposure helps, it does get a bit disheartening when the only people who are looking at your work are your family, who can get front row seats of your work at home anyway.

So this year, Sydney, I said that I would try. And make that effort and go to these shows and support these artist, and go out of my comfort zone. Sure, I don't live close to all the action, and it costs me about $20 in tolls just to arrive in the city, and that doesn't even involve parking and petrol!, but I said I would still make the effort.

What I discovered, through my own observations, and from chatting to others, is that you are just too scared Sydney to take that risk. You don't have the ability to decide you like something for yourself. If someone hasn't already blogged about it, or had photos of the event in MX, or posted all over Facebook, you are just not into it. I mean heaven forbid if you take a risk and it turns out shit and you waste your precious time.

But what makes it worse is when you do finally decide to make an effort with something, (eg. Curvy) you have to make sure you make everyone else there feels unworthy. Because you are just the coolest kid around with your fashion and the way you walk and laugh and who you are friends with. And that is the way you would like it to stay.

And then you look at the fantastic artists like Caitlin, Bec, Kelly and Catherine who I mentioned before, who owe their success to not you, but the the love and support they get from the internet and everyone else all over the world.

So Sydney, you probably couldn't even give two shits about my ramblings. And hell, who am I to comment, because I am 'Sydney' too. I live here. I eat here. And I am probably just as bad as everyone else. I haven't even been to Melbourne, so I probably don't even have the right to comment.

It is just sad when you do "make the effort", and you realise that you get more support online from other states than you do your home town.

Get off your buts and start doing something for us kids. Hey, you might even find you enjoy yourself for a change?


The Cynical Sydney Artist.

Disclaimer; And for those Sydney readers that are wonderfully supportive and loving and kind to me, you know who you are, and I thank you forever with all my heart. And I know you agree with me. So please don't take offense to this.

Readers, I would love to hear your opinions on this. What do you think of the Sydney art scene? Are you more inclined to just stay and home and view your art there? Is Melbourne better?



  1. Kylie Richardson said...
    Very well written. And so truthfully honest. I am actually a Perth girl, currently residing in Auckland (of all places!), and have been to both Sydney and Melbourne. I completely agree with you that there is no way near enough support in Sydney for budding artists. I myself do not draw or paint, but I have a very strong love for all things art and craft, and experiment with various other types of craft. When I visited Sydney in 2007, I felt it very corporate and uninspiring and trying to locate good places to view the Sydney arts was difficult. Whereas Melbourne on the other hand was full of life and had so much art and culture around, it was easy to be surrounded by it daily. Once I have had enough of Auckland and what it has to offer, I am moving back to Australia and setting up residence in Melbourne - the most nurturing city for the creatives!

    Perhaps all the undiscovered artists of Sydney need to band together and form their own gallery and host their own shows, which cater specifically for the unknown. Make a statement! You are all so amazingly talented :)
    Rebecca said...
    So true! I see some folks in Sydney making an effort to do something about our shoddy art scene - places like the wall, vibewire, oh really, etc - but it's like the art scene is learning to walk, where in melbourne it's already running around getting in to all the good stuff. I guess most people drift to melbourne rather than fight it out in sydney.
    Leeloo said...
    Warning - this comment contains generalisations about Sydney vs Melbourne. If they don't apply to you, then good for you. :-)

    Well you know I agree with you....! Online seems to be the only place Sydney-siders are willing to go otherwise it needs a stamp of approval by an online source or hip magazine. Even then due to the dreadful traffic and poor public transport infrastructure, dragging people out during the (so-called) cold is difficult (even though it's even more cold in Melbourne they still venture outdoors willingly). We can't just hop on a tram, have a few drinks, then hop on a tram home. It's driving, parking, tolls, traffic or expensive cabs or a train then bus then another bus.

    Melbourne dwellers are apparently also more willing to take risks in all areas of the arts. The fact that they have a thriving comedy, art, performing arts, dance, design and fashion scene is testament to that.

    We'll do what we can sweetie.....!

    "Never doubt that a small group of throughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
    Margaret Mead

    Keep up the good fight. If you want free artist advertising in Sydney contact WATCH THIS SPACE on

    shows, new works, whatever orright?
    meetmeatmikes said...
    Wow. That's really interesting. I don't know the Sydney scene AT ALL, but what I would say is this:

    Passionate people need to go out on a limb and take the initiative to make these sorts of 'emerging artist' shows a success.

    They need to be people who are motivated by love not money. And they need to be people who genuinely want to promote the work of unknown artists. They need to be fearless - and community minded. And they need the support of the new arts community and those around them.

    It's a group effort - and would involve a bit of rallying. But I reckon it can be done. Someone just needs to focus and make things happen. Risky, perhaps - but infinitely rewarding as well.

    I would gladly help promote a series of shows like this! Where would they be held?!
    Nicole said...
    I agree! I'm originally from Sydney and moved to Melbourne, believing everything I heard about it having a bigger, better arts and creative scene.

    This means the problem with Sydney could also partially be because of people like me that just bail on Sydney for the greener creative pastures of Melbourne.

    But sadly it is true.. in Melbourne there is just no end to the number of shows, opening, markets, forums, talks, screenings, installations. Not to mention the wonderful State of Design festival.

    I think Leeloo is right, geography and transport does have a lot to do with it as well.

    So I am a huge advocate for making the move. Leave Sydney to its trendy, expensive, vacuous ways.

    (end rant)
    renee anne said...
    Thank you everyone for your comments. Fascinating thoughts, and I think it only confirms exactly what I have been thinking and feeling lately.

    Kylie; I love Auckland! Thanks for sharing your perspective, considering you have vast experience to draw from. I guess these opportunities are trying to be made available for artists, but I just don't know if it is the organisers, the people, the audience, the vibe, that is making them flop.

    But like what Leeloo has said, there are just too many excuses. It is just so easy for people to list all those issues regarding going out and people just accept it. And the ones that do just cluster together and don't really welcome any newcomers.

    Rebecca; You are right about those places, but it is these places that I am having these issues with. I had a show at the Wall last night (post to come later), and well, basically that confirmed my thoughts. The idea was there. The artists were keen. We thought we promoted our guts out. But something just didn't work.

    Pip; Everything you say is completely relevant, even thought you don't have first hand Sydney experience. Maybe people are purely just chasing money, which is why when these things are launched, they flop, because there is no passion or love. What is weird is that the opportunites are out there, but when people like me try and contact them to get involved, you don't hear back, you get messed around, things are made difficult, and you don't get any respect. It just makes you not want to bother!

    Thank you so much for offering your support! But you have asked the million dollar question. Where?! Pretty much anywhere decent is over priced or unavailable. And places that are available people don't want to go. But I guess I have to not make the excuses and just get onto it! SO shall be in touch!

    Nicole; you have hit the nail on the head. I constantly tell people that I am moving to Melbourne and I have ever even been. Weird. I shouldn't give up on my city. But I think it gave up on me long ago.

    Thank you everyone again for contributing your thoughts!
    rejenerate said...
    I love and adore Sydney (well the inner west anyway!!) and hate to hear her being given a hard time but I do have to admit that she could be doing more for emerging artists.

    Renee, you are an amazing talent. All you can do is be the change you want to see and don't give up!

    Remember that the road to success is a long and slow one, sometimes you feel discouraged but you have to pick yourself up.

    I think Sydney is changing (or maybe I'm an eternal optimist) so hang in there.

    Sydney will never be Melbourne, but then there's already a Melbourne so why would we want another. All the emerging artists need to beat a path to a new and improved Sydney...I've got your back!! xx
    Rebecca said...
    I know exactly what you mean. I've been to well promoted sydney shows that almost no-one came to, and I've been to ones that had good crowds (the fresh meet one, and the one with watch this space just recently). it's why I'm putting together the piggy show (which I'll be back to working on in a day or two, damn flu!). Pips offer to promote sounds great, if you're looking for a partner in crime (organizing, exhibiting, what have you) I'm in :)
    renee anne said...
    Jen; You are just so lovely and sensible. I just go on ranting like an ungrateful little girl don't I! haha

    But you are absolutely right. We should be doing something to make Sydney a nurturing place, but not necessarily make it Melbourne.

    But thank you for your kindness, you are the best!. I guess I am just grumpy and VERY impatient! Haha.

    Bec; Can't wait for more details about the piggy show. And yeah, I know, I am generalising a lot to say that it is all rubbish, because I know there is some good in Sydney out there, somewhere! But ABSOLUTELY have you in for a partner in crime. We will get this thing going, because by the sounds of it, we do have a lot of support :D

    Natalie said...
    I feel a little bit similarly with regard to Brisbane! All I can do is just get out there and try my hardest to involve myself in the networks that we do have, but it's hard because I'm not a terribly social person, loll! I've been lucky to have the support of KILN this year, they've given me the opportunity to be in two group shows! I am still kind of feeling my way around it all, I am probably such a newb :P
    rejenerate said...
    ha ha - don't get me wrong Renee...I looooved seeing you all fired up in this post! I hope it's the start of many passionate rants from you missy! xx
    zoharara said...
    Renee, all I can tell you is that to get anywhere in Sydney you have to have the right connections which mainly means the people who are wrapped up in music and everything that surrounds music. I've been to exhibitions at places like China Heights where they have shown the work of not an emerging illustrator like you, but a musician who happens to do some painting that looks like shit. And you know what? That exhibition was full of people just getting drunk, taking a small peak at the art and then continuing to discuss what gig they were to play next.

    Every exhibition I go to I see the same people, those people who work for a record company, who is in a band, those who book bands to play at venues, girlfriend of said band boys, people who dj on perspective of it all is that it art is just an appendage of music in this city. Even people who can't play their instruments probably score gigs in this city and those same people are the kind of people who get invitations to exhibit their visual art.

    Oh and you know what exhibition I last went to? It was one the other night at Kennard's Storage World where artists filled a 'creative space' (storage space) and you know what the main reason for that was for? It was for the exciting upcoming release of Dappled Cities' new album where each exhibition space had to somewhat represent one track each from the album...once again it was visual art intertwined with music.

    Do you know Greedy Hen? The Sydney artists? They are some of the most sought after local artists..and you know what for? ALBUM covers.

    It's not fair for those people who really just want to just produce beautiful art and be recognised for it without having to kiss the asses of every person who are labelled the 'creme de la creme' of the indie scene in this city.
    Jessie said...
    renee i know how you feel and I am from melbourne. i know there are so many things happening here but i have had the same experience as you of getting mucked around alot or not even being considered, mainly because i use my illustrations in my stationery too so it is percieved that i don't take my work seriously which couldn't be further from the truth! anyway, i think what everyone else has said has been right, maybe you just need to make it happen. if you need help i'd love to get involved!
    renee anne said...
    Natalie; Thank you so much for your comment. And thank you for the Brisse perspective. I think I was just like you are few years ago. Very shy and would rarely go to these things, and when I did, I wouldn’t really talk to anyone. Now I can go out to exhibitions and what not and have the confidence to speak to people and express what I feel. I owe that to the internet and the social networking I think.

    rejenerate; Thanks Jen! But I think It was good! Every good debate needs representatives from both sides, I just don’t know what side I am on yet!

    Zoharara; WOW! Thank you so much for your input. What a great perspective. I wasn’t even really aware of all of this, but it makes perfect sense. I mean to a point it is a not a bad thing. I LOVE music, and any collaboration between creative types is always wonderfully rewarding. But if it is at the expense of the artist, then that is not really working. I must say, I haven’t actually heard of Greedy Hen, and I thought I knew a far bit about the young aussie artists. But no, thank you so much for those thoughts. Really got me thinking. We just need to find the balance so that it is not just the bands that are idolised while the artists pick up the empty beer bottles.

    Jessie; oh you are so lovely. Thank you for your comment. That is so weird about the stationery thing . I didn’t realize. It is not fair, but I think it is because people feel they need to put thing into a category, in order to feel comfortable. I mean are we “fine art” “illustrators” “cute crafters”. If we don’t fit, we are often just discarded. Especially what we having been saying about Sydney, so seems to need confirmation and reassurance about something before they like it.

    THANK you everyone for your thoughts, this has been doing amazing things for my brain. We can work together and get something happening. I know we will. So stay tuned. It is going to be good.

    Ali J said...
    Just try coming to Perth.

    I get more support online, then I do in real life. I sell more of my work through gift shops/boutiques then I do galleries. I get snobbed off by most of the galleries because I don't have a name yet or because my work isn't edgy/controversial/sexy/cute enough. I'm always compared to the 'established' illustrator/artists, but never quite live up to their names. If I'm in Melbourne exhibitions - they get the 'top' rankings, if I'm in Sydney exhibitions - the same thing, and even in the Perth exhibitions. I'm always a last minute inclusion to all of the group exhibitions after someone pulls out. Funny thing is I have almost no originals left because I keep selling out, yet I can never seem to find a stable place to actually sell my work.

    I've achieved everything I've done so far simply by being driven and stubborn and not taking no for an answer. I can't get signed to an agency because they think I won't be able to get any clients, yet I keep getting new clients every week to work for.

    I'm not an artist, yet I'm not an illustrator. I don't fit in here in Perth, and don't want to live anywhere else. I can't afford to travel to Melbourne or Los Angeles just to get noticed.

    So.... what now? Well I'll keep on working and just keep pushing my work to new levels. Sure there are the big 'upcoming' talents in Australia - and tons of us that are going to get overlooked. However one day the right person may come across my work and I might even be considered one of those talents.

    I know how you feel, we all started at the same time. Funny to see who has been pushed into 'super stardom' and who has been left behind.
    Alex Louisa said...
    Hey Renee - my turn!!

    Last year was the first year in Brisbane where they ran the "BARI Fest" (Brisbane Artist Run Initiatives Festival). It was put on by a number of artist-run galleries - namely Jugglers Art Space - and they all teamed up, to get noticed, and it completely rocked.

    It's happening again later this year, and is going to be an annual event. I know it's in Brisbane, so it doesn't directly help you out, but if I let you know when the website/press is out about it, maybe you can look over it to see if you could get a similar thing rolling down your way.

    Because, I know how frustrating it is. I've been to a couple of shows here in Bris lately, where most people were there just because they thought it made them trendy, while they all stood with their backs to the artwork. Then of course, if you were actually there to see the artwork, you couldn't get to it! I'm doing my very best not to write a big long rant about that ;)

    But rants do help sometimes!

    (And you picked my favourite artworks by Bec and Catherine - how cool are they?!)
    bronwen hyde said...
    i came across this blog from ashlee maegan's and i've found this so interesting to read.

    i'm an emerging fine art photographer living in melbourne and have been impressed by the support and encouragement that i've experienced here as an emerging artist, though it took a while for me to come out of my shell (and still around those i don't know i can be incredibly shy and backward), and initially i got most of my support and encouragement from those i interacted with online, often internationally.

    i'm moving to brisbane in early september and a little disarmed by the comments made above. but the BARI's sound interesting, and i'm seeing the prospect of entering an arts scene i know nothing of and that knows nothing of me, having to build contacts with galleries, models, etc., as a challenge, but a positive experience / trial run for potential travels to the US and UK.

    i think one of the advantages melbourne has is that we've always been seen as the lesser of melbourne vs sydney, so always felt we had to work to compete. and make our own destiny. so maybe now it's time (at least from an artistic perspective) for sydney to realise they actually need to work on this too; that maybe melbourne has outdone them, and they should pull up their proverbials.
    renee anne said...
    Ali J; thank you so much for your helpful and amazing comment. You see. I always thought to my self “gosh! It seems like you have MORE opportunies than me and I am supposed to be in the big city!” You know what I mean. But you make some excellent points that have really helped me with my thinking about all of this. I think as long as we are doing what we love for the right reasons, then we can’t go wrong. I think many of the points discussed are the reasons why many of us have “rebelled” against art school.

    I guess too working in such a subjective area makes things that little bit harder!

    Alex.; WOW Thank you for that great comment. And for letting me know about the Initiative. That is definitely something I would want to be working towards/finding here in Sydney, so I shall get looking, and would love to hear more about it when the info comes available.

    “where most people were there just because they thought it made them trendy, while they all stood with their backs to the artwork. Then of course, if you were actually there to see the artwork, you couldn't get to it!”

    - that is been my experience exactly. Gosh. But then the question is how to we get around that without excluding people too! Haha

    bronwen hyde; fantastic thoughts. Glad you have enjoyed the read, but hope you are not too disheartened! I think Brisbane sounds great and from what I have heard it is “the next big thing” I think with the experience you have gained from Melbourne, you should be able to do well.

    But I love that point you made in the last paragraph. A perfect sum up I think.

    Thank you again to everyone!

    :) x
    n/a said...
    without sounding absolutely weird, do you mind if i use this 'letter' in my business assignment? basically we have to design our own small business, and i have chosen to do an art space for emerging artists in sydney.
    and this just fits in perfectly with the whole theme and need for.
    thankyou very much
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    Anonymous said...
    hi I have been a sydney based artist for the last 10 years and I can't get a break into the gallery scene I have to rent the space myself and organise my own exhibitions as no sydney galleries will take me under there wing theres a lot wrong with the commercial art scene in sydney and the way paintings and artwork are promoted and sold.In the last 3 years I sold 400 paintings that I produced but I couldn't get the kind of money I wanted some I sold very cheaply.It's a tough business and I have had 11 exhibitions in my career so far .In sydney there's no real art scene at emerging level and the real money for the galleries comes from overseas where australian galleries are promoted
    and clients come here to buy paintings and sculptures.My biggest ticket sale was $900 and I find it almost impossible to get into bigger money as people will buy paintings for investments and they want to know who they are buying and that the work is going to increase in value.I have seen some horrible looking paintings sell for big prices and sometimes I think its a big joke the whole art scene but I sell paintings to people for what they can afford sometimes as little as $10 or $15 anyhow I wish you all the best and hope you follow your passion painting for me has always been a very productive endeavour if you want to contact me my email is thanks
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    Anonymous said...
    Don't be so precious for god's sake. You're an artist. Did anyone ever tell you that justbecause you do what you do, in a beautiful way no doubt, that everyone was going to lie down and accept you and support you, no questions asked? Why SHOULD people support you?
    I can't stand when you, impressionable idiots think that that they deserve support, respect, money thrown at them, fame, whatever. You're so darn entitled! what about respecting the fact that you do art because you do art - not because you want money, want fame, want comfort. That's the whole beauty of being an artist, is the act of creation, not how others respond to it or how much cash or admiration they throw at you. In fact, I'm sure you know that the most venerated artists from the past were ridiculed their entire lives and only upon death were people's interests piqued.
    If you want people to be interested in your show - do something interesting. Be engaging. Get your ass away from the computer screen and actively seek out your audience members. Thats what I did and the mix of people to come to my show was brilliant, varied, supportive, wildly different and successful. I have no doubt that Melbourne is brilliant, as is Brizzie, but don't be so naive as to think that just because everything is not falling onto a silver platter for you here, that it will be better elsewhere, lest you turn into a bratty cynical adult-child. Take some responsibility. It takes more than just to create to be a successful working artists in today's climate. Create, promote, sell, create more, meet people, put yourself out there, do free gigs, talk to everyone, get off your high horse, involve everyone.
    Good luck. I sincerely hope you find out that its your attitude, not Sydney, which presents the problem, otherwise you're obviously not from around here, not in your heart.

    Unknown said...
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