What started off as part-time work through university has lead to Helen managing the print room at the Biz Dojo, which specialises in high-end, colour-calibrated fine art and photographic printing.
“Knowing the reality that very few people make enough money off their art to do it full-time, printing seemed like a very natural and complementary path to go down. I’ve learnt so many skills in my role as print room manager that feed back into my photography career, it’s been invaluable.
“I’m also an artist, working with old-school medium format film to create photographic works that sit within the contrast of performance and photography, the live and the representational.”
The experience of “just doing” has seen Helen develop many skills throughout her study and time at work, from learning about printing and colour management through printing her own art work, to going out and organising her own exhibition shows. While she says she made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, she has learnt so much that has continued to evolve her abilities.
Organisation, good time management, and solid communication ability were three of the most important things that helped Helen make it through her tertiary study, especially while having a part-time job. Technically, she uses her knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite and pre-print preparation and colour management, but most of her time is spent emailing, connecting with people, and completing administrative tasks.
“It seems to be the case for both my printing job and my art career – making work takes a back seat to running a business.
“I love interacting with other artists on a daily basis and helping them realise their creative ideas while producing great quality work. I enjoy making my own artwork and realising that other people like what I do. Similarly, I get satisfaction from helping other artists do the same.”
While Helen would love to be a full-time photographer, she understands the reality of being an emerging artist: another job is often required to pay the rent. Although for her, it was extremely important to not just have any form of employment but one that fulfils and inspires her enough so that she wants to rush home on the weekends and keep making work.
“The ability to self-motivate is a must, as is having the confidence in yourself to keep going. I would also encourage students to intern and get as much work experience as they can whilst they’re studying (and receiving Study Link) before they graduate and start looking for a job.
“Being around other creative people is great for a sense of community and support that you otherwise lose when you leave university. Be passionate about what you do – every aspect of it.”