Q. Rachee, you've been the main driving force behind the Melbourne based Sketch City and the inspiration for what we hope will soon be a Sydney based version too. I would love for to be my next in line for interesting or not so interesting. Are you up for it? Which category do you think you fall into interesting or not so interesting? Why?
A. Hopefully I understand this question correctly... if it is referring to myself I say Interesting. I have this motto that "Only boring people get bored" and dammit I am NEVER bored! I take on a lot of different projects and never say no to a challenge and the more challenging the better! I cant help but stick my fingers in just about every pie, being an Events Manager, entrepreneur, artist, graffer, MC, Art Therapist, Disability worker, writer, gypsy traveler, teacher and a girl who never sleeps! There is a lot more than that I wanna do too, cos I don't believe in wasting a minute of your life... to me boring people settle for getting married and watching TV... Blah!
Q. What was it that first inspired you to start Sketch City here in Melbourne?
A. Traveling in Europe in 2006 I came across Sketch City in Manchester UK and was inspired by the atmosphere of the event - a place people could create art together, network, learn and be inspired by each other. Just sitting there at their event scribbling away I met so many people that presented me with so many great opportunities, I knew it was something that Melbourne was in dire need of as an art city. After the Commonwealth Games I felt the street art community we had built here had faded a little and started Sketch City as a way to bring artists back together as a community to create something that would benefit us all.
Q. Most artists struggle to find the time to paint, exhibit and show support for others, you manage to do all that plus put on Sketch City on the first Sunday of every month without fail, what's your secret?
A. probably sleep deprivation... the unfortunate thing about running an event like Sketch City is that, although I am constantly inspired by the artists that come through the space, it seems a lot of my own creative energy and time goes into the organising of the event and it is easy to let my own art fall by the wayside as I struggle to find the time to develop my own art. The first 6 months running the event I didn't even have time to pick up a pen but I am slowly but surely learning how to balance my life to make the time to develop and practice my own art and support the community I am trying to build at the same time... its important for my own well being to make that happen any way I can and if that means giving up things like full-time work and sleep then so be it. Passion is my main drive and its amazing what you can achieve with a lot of it!
Q. It's been running for the good part of this year, in that time I'm sure
you've some stories to tell, any you care to share?
A.We've definitely had our ups and downs in that time and every event has been a lesson and a challenge as we have developed the event from a series of experiments that sometimes work and sometimes don't. I think the Sketch City event that surprised me the most was when we held Stenciling, Graffiti and Circus workshops all in the same venue at the same time, so picture a bunch of hippies walking tight ropes and juggling with a bunch of staunch graffers with some very toxic paint painting around them. Inside the hippie drummers were drumming along to twirling acrobats and outside the graffers were painting along to some hardcore gangster rap and I just thought "geez talk about a clash of personalities, whats gonna go down here?". Well, by the end of it, despite their initial hate for each other, the graffers were all learning tightrope and having the time of their lives and the hippies were happily bouncing around to gangsta rap. It just shows how endless the creative possibilities are with a concept like this!
Q. Did you expect it to become as popular as it has?
A. The manchester event sees upwards of 200 people attend per month and that is a small city with a very small artistic community, so I was quite prepared for it to become massive, with Melbournian's being as supportive of arts as they are. I was well warned by the Sketch City creator Jon on how much this would take off and take over my life but I didn't really understand how big until our first event at St Jeromes where we saw upwards of 250 people attend in a venue that would be lucky to hold 100!
Q. What are some of the huge learning curves you've come across through Sketch City?
A. God there are so many, every single event is a massive learning curve... from someone who did not come from event management I have had to learn how to organise people, artists, promotion, venues, music, equipment, websites, materials, sponsorship and it was all things I learned through a series of mistakes and successes over the last 12 months. It has also been about tweaking the events concepts to fit into Melbourne's art community as compared with Manchesters and it is very different and the only way we have been able to learn is by taking lots of risks and experimenting with a lot of different concepts to see what works best and I cant say things have always gone smoothly. The only way we have gotten through our big mistakes and losses over the last 12 months, and believe me there have been a lot, is by taking everything as a lesson and a challenge rather than a defeat and always thing positively.
Q. What can we expect in the 6 months for this great event?
A. Sketch City is stepping it up in 2009 by joining forces with We Make Stuff Good (www.wemakestuffgood.com) to expand a little more - with different themes for each event and a larger range of materials, artists, workshops and activities, including skate comps, breakdancing demos, 18+ art battle cocktail parties, international artists and speakers and exhibitions. You'll see conglomerates crop up in Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart and Adelaide and well as Marselle France! We will be focusing on taking Sketch City to an international level and giving all our artists involved bigger and better opportunities to network and showcase their skills. The event will be moving to the THIRD Sunday of every month with a Bi-monthly Over 18s event so make sure you get to sketch City cos it just keeps getting better!
Q. Where can people find out more about Sketch City? If any artists want to be involved what's the best way they can approach you?
A. You can find more info at www.sketchcity.com.au, myspace.com/sketchcityburn or at www.wemakestuffgood.com. We will be focusing on creating online galleries to showcase our artists work and encouraging everyone to get involved, whether that be flier design, feature artists, or people who just wanna make stuff! The best way to let us know you want to be involved is to become a myspace friend of shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org... we are always looking for new artists of any medium to become involved so don't be scared to approach us there or at a sketch city... we're very friendly and supportive!
Q. Any sponsors or helpers that have been particularly helpful that deserve a bit of an extra plug?
A.Our favorite sponsors Aeroskills need a massive plug cos they provide us with all the free paint at the event and they are also really cool... we also couldnt have done it without Ezy Signage, my dads business that provides all our signage and paper materials as well as Hemley, Giant, This Is It and of coarse, Arts Victoria who gave us all the funding to keep this thing moving! Big thanks to We Make Stuff Good too, for supporting and inspiring me! Big ups!
Q. Thank you Rachee, hope you've enjoyed this short Q&A?
A. Pleasure, glad to be a part of it xx