Professional Artist Interview: Vivienne Hollis

Hi there! First question: how did you end up becoming a professional visual artist? Was it always your dream?

I think the writing (or should I say drawing) was on the wall (bed) when I was 4 years old and woke up one morning just itching to draw. I found a fluorescent green felt tip pen but couldn’t find any paper. So, I drew the most humongous spider with hundreds of legs all over the white bedsheets and  pillows – and it carried on down the sides of the bed. It satisfied my urge! 28 years on, and that itch to create is still there, I don’t expect it will go away now, nor would I want it to.  I refrain from drawing on bed sheets these days though, and instead maintain a healthy supply of paper!

How do you make it work? (Where do you sell your work primarily?)

I sell through exhibitions. Online platforms are something I am going to explore in 2014.

What are your favourite social media sites that you use and how often do you use them?

I find that Pinterest and Twitter are gateways to discovering other artists, who you can then learn more about through Facebook. Being a bit of an opportunist, I have a list of artists that I have discovered through social media, that at some point I would like to meet in person and potentially work with – should the timing, mutual desire to work together, and the mix of personalities be a good fit. I use both platforms daily, sometimes just to observe, rather than write.

You are part of a collective. How did it come about?

In May 2012 I set up ‘London Artists Who Want to Exhibit’. Our platform is on Facebook. There are many talented artists out there and I wanted to create a free social platform for those people so they have the chance to meet in person, and potentially exhibit together. It’s all about possibilities. From this large group, I met nine other artists that I personally wanted to work with. I contacted them all and invited them round for dinner, of which, six turned up and ‘Artists Who…’ was born.  Initially we were just planning for one show, but then it escalated into two shows, both of which we are preparing for. Now, we have plans to do a rolling tour of exhibitions across the capital and beyond.

What are the benefits of being in a collective?

Utilising different skill sets that everyone has can result in a potentially more successful exhibition. For example, some people are great at designing posters and invitations, others are better at sourcing relevant information, and some people enjoy making time for the promoting of a show. Having someone that is a whizz on the computer is a great help too. Different people pay attention to different details, so nothing gets missed. Exhibiting can be expensive if you’re going solo and don’t have gallery representation. Budget wise, more can be done in a collective. We have placed an advert in a well known art magazine to promote our forthcoming show, and between 7 of us this is far more affordable than paying for advertising on your own, as is hiring out a good gallery space and hiring a good curator. On a personal level, it’s been great to make some fantastic new friends. I’ve learnt far more whilst being in a collective for 11 months, than I ever did in years!

What tips can you give other artists who want to start working at it full time?

It depends on where you already are in your career, and your personality type. I threw myself in at the deep end and impulsively quit a full time job. Now, I am back working part time in the mornings, and this currently works well for me; I don’t have to worry about paying my bills, and I have time to be a full time artist, albeit with a bit of compromising as there are only 24 hours in the day! I don’t think I would advise anyone that wasn’t already making a good living out of their work to completely quit their day job straight away. Instead, build up your career incrementally.

What’s coming up for you before the end of 2013?

An exciting two months!  At ‘Artists Who…’ we have our forthcoming debut show at Vibe Gallery in Bermondsey. The P.V is on 29.11.13 6 pm till 11 pm, and the show runs from 28.11.13 – 03.12.13 and it’s open daily from 12 pm till 6 pm. Also performing on the opening night are ‘Cosmo House’, a brilliant blues duo.  From mid December the collective will be starting preparations for our second show, and for me that also includes creating a whole new body of work. The itch is back!

Where can we find out more about you and your collective?

www.cargocollective.com/viviennehollis

Facebook: www.facebook.com/artistswho

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ArtistsWho

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