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Let’s Talk about BUSINESS: Breanne Trammell

MONEY/TIME/VALUE/BUSINESS. BUSINESSLADYTIME(TM)INC.
An ongoing series of interviews and discussions about art and business. How do they balance out? How do we make this stuff real?

Breanne Trammell

Breanne’s interview was a casual porch-interview, over some quality glasses of water. We talked about her growing Nail School project, which is leading towards her Nails Across America tour next summer in a canned-ham trailer re-purposed as a nail salon. She’ll be trading manicures for stories, art, things and stuff; meeting people and making the world happy through fancy nails. Breanne is currently lecturing in art + design at SUNY Purchase, as well as an Adjunct Professor in Graphic Design at Ramapo College in New Jersey, in addition to attending Nail School four nights a week. She holds an MFA from RISD and a BFA from the University of Texas, Arlington.

Breanne talked about how it’s a strange line between her art, business as art, and art as business. She’d love to be able to sustain herself in the future by doing nails. However that would require her clients to pay traditional fees, and she’s more interested in using barter systems to engage with people in the salon. Can the piece be an interactive profitable business AND art piece simultaneously?

Breanne is currently writing and sending out grant applications to fund purchasing the trailer, the tour itself, and other related supplies and design work for the project. She also currently needs four new tires on her car, which she drives approximately 500 miles per week to travel to Nail School and to her Professor positions. She recently purchased a portable nail salon table.

I’m left with questions of balance: How do we as artists negotiate the pressing, daily requirement to spend money on boring living expenses while simultaneously concocting huge artistic visions requiring other potential money? How do we balance time spent making money to make art with time spent making art?

Follow up notes:

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WHATSZ UP.

HEY DUDESZ.

what are you doing upstate at wasszzieacyockk?? what is an art residency anyway? you’re a doctor? you’re a student? you’re not a student but you’re in school, right? where do you live now?

one of my projects is to write up a brochure called, “So, your friend/family member/lover wants to go to an artist residency?” or “Artist Residencies for not-dummies” or “Artist Residencies, a Guide”. But I might not get to that so here’s my best explanation so far: Artist residencies create an environment, a support, a community that wants you (the artist-in-residence) to “win” at being an artist. maybe that means supporting you financially. maybe that means supporting you with a line of cheerleaders. maybe that means supporting you with cheesecake. maybe that means supporting you with friends. maybe that means supporting you with free time. whatever. they want you to win, succeed, triumph, get lots of trophies, and do that from doing your work, your best work, critically examined, challenged, pushed. The artists in residence are treated like people who have something to say and contribute, not like someone who should/is/has to struggle to make rent or buy groceries or figure out what to do day to day or go to a job or whatever.

from what I’ve seen it doesn’t seem to be a long term solution in most cases but it’s like a huddle maybe. that’s what an artist residency is, that’s what i’m doing.

Here’s some of what that means for me:

1. being taken aback by the beauty and poetry of day-old st. patrick’s day supermarket baked goods compositions.

2. having my art displayed at Sit & Wonder cafe in Prospect Heights!!!

better / more pictures soon, but for now just a taste above. it is so exciting seeing my work set in a real public place, on-goingly! I get to see it every time I get a delicious coffee! and I’ve sold 3 pieces already! to some amazing people I love. so I don’t even have to worry where the work is going — I get to visit it again. Many pieces are still available — let me know if you’d like to purchase any of them or let’s set up a time to take a tour together.  !

3. being a metro-north commuter. I’ve been going back to NYC every weekend to log some hours at my current job, have NYC meetings, check in on my awesome quilts, get a jolt of citttyyy. I’ve been blow away by the generosity of so many lovely friends who have hosted me, hosted my stuff, bought me food, assisted in errands before my show, etc etc etc. An extra special shout out to mermaid joe for providing dried papaya, hair-cutting buzzers, airmattresses & patches of floor, bike lights, & solid friendship.

4. making 1-word flags every day. these are creation flags. creating the day from nothing without context or history, just deciding what word I’m inventing as the theme of the day. not reflective. i have enough reflective crap. I almost finished this project at the end of march, but then I decided I’ll continue for at least April if not longer. When you’re making flags, you need A LOT of flags. imagine a ROOM CEILING BARN! full of flags! FULL OF FLAGS!!!!!! yes. that is what we are talking about people.

also stickers. I made little 1inch x 1 inch stickers of these flags. but they’re not big enough. I will be venturing into 4 in x 4 in flag stickers… but I need buyers to commit to specific flags/stickers first. so claim yours now — let me know which one you want. maybe they should be limited edition. like only 5 of each word. hmmm…. screenprinting??? either way, start claiming words people.

5. drinking a lot of water:

hydration is key. marketing and slogans is becoming something very interesting to me. corporations. conversations in the world. repeated and declared messages in the world. mass producing. stickers.

slogan i thought of today: “EVERYTHING MATTERS.” not yet clear what visual form it takes.

6. doing 8-hour in-studio performances:

I got a really wonderful response to this piece via the MAIL, which is EVEN BETTER THAN THE INTERNET (I said it! ha! take that! doesn’t mean I won’t LOVE you to digitally comment all over this blog. all over my face. wherever.).

Greg, my #1 gold-star-A+friend and fan reflected on my piece some really important thoughts: “you are chewing gum wearing headphones, totally unprofessional!!” OH MAN, GREG YOU GOT ME. geeze what was I thinking? way too (business) casual. sorry y’all. but, on the bright side, Greg said he loved my bad singing. so phew.

7. wearing lipstick every day for a week.

an experiment in being a BusinessLady. and getting lipstick on every cup I drink from. annoying! but classy.

8. making Headquarters Offices. out of a million USPS boxes.

this is inspired by a photo I saw a million years ago from my high school best friend Tessa, who ordered a million free boxes from the USPS and set up a little fort. ever since I saw that I’ve been wanting so badly to do that too, but had no excuse to um, utilize without a specific purpose (?) so many boxes. BUT ART TO THE RESCUE! art is always a great reason to use resources. the pictures above are a prototype. but I’m excited. even just setting up some of the boxes and starting to build around me was calming on an otherwise freak-out day. building a space, a square space, a businesslady zone. an office headquarters. office desk parts will soon be inserted into the spacial sculpture as well. Maybe these fancy stores will host a performance/workday/businesslady time zone workshop workday….

9. making PowerSuits.

deconstructing thrifted blazers, making patterns, making my own patterns, reconstructing, quilting, collecting, being professional.

10. ordering cups of free yogurt online.

11. cutting my hands in all kinds of vaguely stupid ways. I’m up to 3 wounds. they’re all healing but geeze annoying. refraining from posting pictures of the wounds on the internet = even harder / more annoying.

12. organizing a wassaic community wide open passover seder!!!! got my copy of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Haggadah the other week and I’m so excited and inspired! I’ll be combining it with the Bonar Family Haggadah. so excited. that’s my main focus this week — gonna make this holiday real for all of us people.

I’m imagining coordinated passover-costumes (comfy/pillows/regal/desert sandals); screen printed seder plate imagery that’s also on the place-mats; a huge array of different traditions encompassed in the menu and recipes; people from all faiths at the same table talking about real modern stuff they’re thinking about and dealing with and breaking free from; freedom from that which constrains us. YOU’RE INVITED TOO. Friday April 13. LET ME KNOW IF YOU’D LIKE TO COME & BE A PART OF THIS.

13. generally being incredibly awesome and totally attractive.

PUMPED ABOUT LIFE Y’ALL. LET’S DO THIS THING.

love,

aliya

p.s. i have no idea how i’m using these blog categories. this post really did seem to be all of them so clearly they are bad categories. i am forever trying to figure out how to categorize or organize or plan out or list out my life. better.

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“working”: an 8-hour performance reflections

welcome to today, to the Headquarters, to this blog, to my life, to the future.

Being at the Wassaic Project has had me finally focus on making art, instead of just focusing on freaking out or applying for jobs that never get back to me or grocery shopping whatever else I was doing. It is this lovely little town. with beautiful open open roads to bike on, and a studio with all my art supplies ready and set up for me to work. a breath of fresh air from the city. but a nice contrast that has me appreciate the buzz and go and oomph that being in New York City gives me.

Of course, I’ve also been almost paralyzed by my own anxieties. what should I be doing with my time? is this valuable? is this useful? is this the best use of my time here? my time in general? am I wasting time? am I making money? what is money? why bother? how is this sustainable anyways?

and then this PowerSuit Project really started to take shape. PowerSuits, worn as a daily costume, something you put on to take yourself seriously, to do serious BusinessLady things, to have the world see you as a respectable powerful person, to be an empowered strong woman. What if I set up a work area (set inside a bizarre context?) where people came, put on a suit, and did BusinessLady things? What if I made 1 million PowerSuits for all specific different reasons and purposes and people? What if everything was a serious important business-related interaction?

We had a lovely curator visit on Monday from Anne Huntington, curator at AMH Industries. She was wonderful and really gave me some great feedback on my work – mostly that it is resonating with someone. That it makes sense and seems to be going somewhere. From talking with her, and also inspired by my friend Shannon‘s 8-Hour Performances, I decided that today was going to be an 8-hour performance of me working in my studio. not sending emails or writing up proposals or calling people or getting supplies but making things in a studio. No internet or email or calls — working as if this were my real job for 8 hours.

it was crazy! of course, I woke up late. postponed the start of the performance / went an hour later. once I was in the studio, I couldn’t believe how tempting it was to check email/facebook/etc — wanting some sort of feedback that what I was doing was valid. Finally I just started in on a project – almost didn’t matter which one – just to get moving.

Some thoughts and screenshots of the performance throughout the day (i did record the performance, not sure where/if i should post the 8 hours of footage? thoughts?):

today’s daily flag: WONDERMENT

10:27am: wow this is tempting to text/check email/check social media

10:35am: everything is more clumsy with lipstick on

1:25pm: the post office is closed from 1pm – 2:30pm!?!?! they’re bigger slackers than artists

2:59pm: had the thought, “man, I can’t wait to “get off work” so I can call X/ text Y/relax”

3:30pm: thought, “why does this matter? who cares if I make blazers all day? while wearing lipstick? this is a stupid use of my time. Why did I prioritize this? also none of these garments are turning out anyway

3:39pm : WHO CARES. let’s just have fun with this anyway. make a hood for my Bonfire Bear Blazer

7:16pm: end. Bonfire Blazer is almost finished (needs edited hood, liner, button/closure.

celebrate with Ian (studio mate) with white wine in a red cup. contemplate new jobs and 8-hour day structures.

money. art. value. time. business.

BusinessLadyTime.

i liked this. I think I will do one day like this per week. and also mornings in the studio. to get going instead of getting sucked into the internets….

focus was key.

What did you think? did you drop in on the performance? what was it like for you? please let me know!

more blazers blaizin away… tomorrow.

GOODNIGHT!

aliya

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arriving in the hamlet of wassaic

i love it here!

i’ve finished 2 old quilts, started a new one, started a daily project, went on a lovely country run, eaten home-made pizza from a mobile pizza oven truck.

i love being a “real” artist. ideas swarming and a schedule/actions to match.

come visit! lets make art together.

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