The Art of Searching for Somewhere to Comfortably Stand.
There’s a weird anxious, ‘limbo of anticipation’ feeling having work tied up with a publication for months that is yet to be released. Normally, on an ordinary professional level, there would be a number of productive people in an office that would bounce my emails back and forth to to find out what the status of the publication was… but in the case of Laud… there was never really an office that we all worked from at any one time… and there certainly isn’t a large team of people to bounce emails between. Laud was created BY artists FOR artists on, and around, our dining room tables with Trish having an office on the Central Coast. Trish is the entire ‘office of productive people’ ultimately putting everything together as well as running 2 other businesses and pushing past what she thought she was capable of. When I was living in Sydney I was witness to some incredible feats by Trish who turned disasters into triumphs that from the outside, just looked like ‘business as normal’. Laud isn’t just some beauty magazine… it’s a triumph of the contributors pushing through any former understanding of what a beauty magazine could be and even breaking through personal limits. Laud helped me understand my love for writing and was born in the same era as my first two books… so you could say the emotional connection to the project is more personal than business. Laud was a catalyst for finding my voice outside of any education I was working on.
I have to remind myself of all this when the deep urge to share all the work comes up. That weird anxiety I feel fueled by the ultra fast social media world is real… yet I don’t want to sell out on my respect for Trish and Laud to buy into current social media pressures. (Even when most of my energy of late has gone into my book redesign and I’m gagging to share new work.)
As I have been putting some work together to send out to NYC creatives in a promo email… I revisited my Dystopian Beauty shoot with Alana Tyler Slutsky and Evanie Frausto - two of my favourite NYC creatives. This is a shoot from the upcoming Laud Unleashed and is the one photo myself and Alana chose to share as a teaser when Trish gave the O.K. back in May.
I designed this beauty shoot around a dystopian future in beauty in the Year 2137 . A bitter sweet future, where the universal template of beauty has been dissolved yet we live in an environment where the air is no longer pure enough for naked breathing. Breathing apparatus needs to be worn if you want to avoid the toxic environment and chemical warfare in the air that contains government drugs preventing free thought. Beauty has evolved into daily forms of self expression in resistance to autonomy. The beauty resistance also aids us in disabling facial recognition technology that has become entirely invasive and a weapon for control of the masses.
I wanted to explore a world where women are using cosmetics not only as a form of self expression, but to also protest an enforced society and for self preservation. I liked the idea that humans were able to appropriate cosmetics from a way we use them today, to the use of expressing our opinions and keeping us safe from forced conformity. (of course there are some who already do this… but I was imagining this as a mainstream use). There are six looks in this editorial… all exploring different tastes. There is a protest face, a goth face (above), a hippie, a metal look, a glamour look and a fun pop look. What is missing from this shoot is a mask free, waxy, colour free and expressionless face of someone who never got to wear a mask. I could have added white contacts… OR BETTER… made the eyes bloodshot from the toxic air. I could have made the nostrils and lips a different colour from the air (like what happens when a human breaths in smoke…black residue appears around these areas) and made a political statement by casting a ‘minority’ where the government stopped funding support and masks for them and they had no choice but to breath the air. You know… like so many people living in the world today where their governments have let them down in favour for financial or political gain elsewhere… forcing them into a lifestyle they didn’t wish for themselves.
Maybe this isn’t a Dystopian future but a creative view of the current world? In any case of what I think it could mean… I loved creating this shoot and spent 2 days sewing and gluing masks whilst watching ‘The Golden Girls’. Even then… I realised some things change and some things stay the same. I certainly have enjoyed seeing the change in the worlds tolerance for bullshit and discrimination over the past couple of years and I choose to see a bright future.
Kind of the same attitude I have taken on for my feelings around the current status of Laud Magazine… I have optimism and support for a passion project that I believe in despite the project experiencing some tumbles and setbacks that can’t be magically ‘overcome’ to other peoples schedules. As far as I know… the magazine is on a forced pause so Trish can get on with what she needs to do for her health. Let’s be honest. Apart from an open letter to the community… Trish has distanced herself on purpose to look after her health because for her, there is probably no other way to play it. She is a smart lady and I’m pretty sure this was not a choice. So, some contributors who haven’t seen the memo (thanks to a punishing algorithm) think something is happening to them and I want to hold their hand and tell them it’s not… it’s all over there with Trish. There’s an art to searching for where to comfortably stand in any situation and the only emotion I’m allowing to consistently get my energy (even when the anxiety surfaces again) is compassion.
A lot of people don’t realise that it was mainly Trish putting each issue together for all 10 issues. She did so from Issue one without even knowing much about InDesign yet at ‘matrix download’ speed she taught herself what she needed to know and Laud is what it is today thanks to her fast absorbing brain and high levels of patience and vision (sprinkled with the lack of fear of fucking up as she knows it’s all part of learning something new). The Laud delay is just collateral damage to a bigger life issue for one woman. There were many times when, as an ‘editor’ I was speaking with anxious and angry contributors about their work not being released yet… not all of these conversations were all that nice to be honest. I experienced this strange feeling of being overwhelmed from understanding both sides and also not knowing how much I could share or even what to do. I’m sure other editors were feeling this too as we navigated through confusion and concern when the momentum of the magazine halted without warning. There was (and is) a feeling of love and worry for Trish and her health… as well as the personal understanding of frustrated creatives who just want to release the work they have created for both Issue #11 and Laud Unleashed. After a few more questions have popped up in my world again… I suppose this post is in reaction to that and hopefully a conversation that helps unpack some of the confusion and questions. A silver lining is I can sense the sadness from people who fell in love with Laud.
It’s like Laud became our lover and it ghosted us.
Where does the line between personal and professional lie? How can we find the most comfortable place to stand once we have taken everything into account?
So many creatives are in this business not for the money… but for the love of what we create. Editorial work isn’t something you do to earn money (ha ha ha)… it’s what we do to explore our art practice. Artists will go to all lengths to create what’s in our imagination otherwise we feel like we might go crazy from bottling this creative energy up. It’s like an itch deep in our belly that can only be scratched via creating… So when a magazine experiences a pause because the one person who was brave enough to start it in the first place needs time out to put their energy into battling a health war… OF COURSE the contributing creatives go crazy because they want to show off what they poured part of themselves into and all of a sudden the channel they made content for is AWOL - But we need to be aware that on the other side of this is a fellow creative doing what she needs to do and that’s hard, I suppose, to swallow when it impacts the ones creating the content. The ‘not knowing the full story’ is the hard part and the silence is deafening and triggers anxiety in me for me for sure. “But will the magazine come out? “- I have zero answers and 100% anticipation it will. “Did I think we would get to mid may 2019 and not see the 2 issues we wrapped for deadline in late 2018? “- never in a million years. “What can we do about it? “- All I know to do is to put that energy into creating new work and leaving my work dedicated for Laud with Laud until there’s word. That’s how I can stand and show my support. And it’s hard! The voice of reason from so many creatives here makes so much sense if we were talking about a normal magazine. But Laud isn’t a normal magazine and the fact that there isn’t a team separate to Trish to keep the magazine moving forward isn’t an error… i’s just bad timing that Laud hadn’t got to that point before Trish’s personal life was rocked.
I can’t give anyone answers as I don’t have any… and possibly Trish doesn’t either… I certainly can’t speak for her but I can speculate. All I can do is give you my point of view. MY point of view. It may not even be the actual truth… but it’s what I know right now to be true. In the 9-5 world… Trish would have been on sick leave and someone would have been hired in her place to keep the project moving forward. But this isn’t a corporate project. It’s the strange, ever changing, wobbly and brilliant world of freelance and artistry… not a perfect ‘one size fits all’ world.
I understand both sides of the story and it took me a moment after I realised what was going on… but I’ve found a place to stand in this party that may not be comfortable or popular… but feels right to me. EVEN when it kills me that I have written my favourite article EVER with Alok Menon and it’s tied up with Laud Unleashed ( About the use of cosmetics for gender non-conformists and how the makeup world can be inclusive and have an understanding that the real world isn’t just man/woman full stop.) As I look at my cover of ‘Makeup Artist Bootcamp’ here on my desk, It’s a timely reminder of how long it took Trish to individually sew those flowers on my faux Nuns habit with my direction for the sake of a shoot (it took hours by the way)… and a reminder how hard she worked when we were shooting ‘We the Painted’ even when she didn’t feel so great. And how hard she has worked in everything she has involved herself with for as long as I’ve known her. She believed in my project so I choose to believe in her and hers. Even in the confusion and limbo.
It’s not a comfortable party, this Laud party that the contributors and editors are at… but life happens and I can only see to choose compassionate patience.