“Artists are so bizarre and come from such strange places”: Glenn Ligon interview below

Q&A: Anna Jaxe

As a Brighton-based blogger, criticismism is underpaid when compared to millionaire video blogging neighbours like Zoella or PewDiePie. So I’ve been quite curious about the format, and keen to see if the moving selfie can work for art.

Well, the good news is that it can. As demonstrated ably by Anna Jaxe, whose Creoddity channel on YouTube contains posts with 10,000 or even 20,000 views. Her appreciative audience proves an appetite out there for demystifying the life of an artist, or hers at least.

I spoke with Jaxe via Skype from her London studio as she prepared for two forthcoming art fairs. 

criticismism: You’ve showcased plenty of artists on your channel, do you feel you’ve got enough from it for yourself?

Anna Jaxe: I kind of took a bit of a break from making those videos. I hadn’t realised how much of my life it had taken up. And in that break I’ve started to really focus on my own work. And I think I needed that. But I thought, while I was doing the channel before, that if I was more of a success myself, it would probably mean more for other artists anyway in the future.

c: Do you still enjoy blogging?

AJ: Yeah, really. I’ve just started making videos again but it’s very much a side thing. I want to focus on what I’m actually making so, in a way, to show people what I’m doing. I think, to be honest, if I’d seen that when I was 20 or something it probably would have helped me to navigate around where to start being an artist, do you know what I mean? I think in doing this it might help others.

c: Did you study art?

AJ: Actually I did most of a degree and then I left in my 3rd year. But there was something about art education that I never really got on with, to be honest. I was never really 100 percent in with it. I can’t really put my finger on why.

c: The art school crit format sounds quite brutal…

AJ: That is quite intense, isn’t it. But that’s also the most useful part of it. Because you do get bogged down in your own head. That’s why, making work now, I ask for feedback. It’s too much in a bubble otherwise. But I think it would’ve helped me more to do an internship with an artist or a gallery. If the study was integrated with real life experience it might have helped me more

c: Just how much hard work is vlogging?

AJ: It takes over your life. I would say a couple days a week. You have to get an idea for a video and then prep the video and then make the video and edit it and then upload it and you have to also do comments online and then be really active on social media which takes up a lot of time. It’s really two days out of my week and if I wasn’t practically doing something I was thinking about it

c: Does art need a conversation around it, for example in the blogosphere?

AJ: That’s an interesting question. I think it’s the same in any creative industry, because I mean theatres have the same thing, don’t they? Music even. People write about those. I just think it’s just inspiring to read how other people think, regardless of whether it’s artwork or an album or a stage production.

c: No one ever got too intimidated by a record…

AJ: The whole idea why I’ve wanted to base all my art upon music… It’s because music is there to appeal to the masses, isn’t it? I mean I suppose there are music artists who don’t want to do that. But one song can reach all four corners of the earth and be interpreted in a million different ways. So a musician will build a song to be accessible to lots of different people. Recently people have stopped saying ‘he’ or ‘she’ in mainstream pop music, maybe for that reason, to appeal to more people regardless of sexuality or gender orientation. I think that’s what I like about music.

c: Can art be too accessible?

AJ: I don’t think so. I mean, the opposite, for me, of accessible art is the art that people use to better their status. I don’t think there is much good about that.

c: So why are people drawn to difficult art?

AJ: I think people buy for status. I mean I might be wrong. I’ve never sold a painting for a ridiculous amount of money. Those people are sometimes advised by other people. It’s a wise investment.

c: The art market is one thing, but does it govern the structure of the art world?

AJ: I think I would picture the art world as a hierarchy. But I’m not sure how, if you are on one level, you can change to go on the next level. I wouldn’t say it’s like a ladder; you can start at the bottom and go to the top. You can probably make a living from doing art fairs and stuff like that, but it doesn’t mean you can end up exhibiting at Frieze.

c: Would you rather sell a painting or show a painting?

AJ: Show a painting

c: But you’ve sold recently and met collectors…

AJ: Yeah,that’s really exciting. Generally I’m quite shy. I don’t enjoy meeting lots of new people. But I’ve found that, when I’ve got my art behind me, I really enjoy the process of meeting people. ‘Cos then they are really open and they just want to ask you questions. Most people have some kind of connection with a music instrument, for example. They can look at a trombone and say, ‘My cousin plays the trombone’. So, however loose it is, they have an instant connection with what’s there.

Anna Jaxe, aka Creoditty can be found IRL at two forthcoming fairs: Roy’s People Art Fair at Candid Arts Trust, between 14-17 September 2017; and #TRIBE17, the international fair organised by Chrom-Art at the Bargehouse in the OXO Tower; both events are in London.



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