What made you want to start Praise You?
The idea for Praise You actually started from me just wanting to create a piece of art and bid it off to raise money for The Butterfly Foundation. It's funny because I think back to it and I didn't believe I had what it took to raise the amount of money I wanted to for Butterfly. The idea organically unfolded as I realised I knew a whole bunch of amazing women that might be interested in doing the same thing. I just wanted to raise as much money as possible and have a huge party to celebrate the women I admired and our journey with learning to love our body.
Talk me through what the name Praise You means to you?
When I was trying to think of a name, I wanted something that I could see glowing. I literally envisaged that. When I think of the song by Fat Boy Slim (Praise You), it's such an uplifting and infectious song. When Praise You came mind it fit, it glowed and it made people smile. That was it.
What challenges have you come across in running the show over the past 3 years?
I learn so much every week organising this! The first year was basically just believing I could do it. Making a very good and professional impression on the aMBUSH Gallery.
The second year came a new partnership with Carly which every day is incredibly rewarding on a personal and professional level. Last year was a huge challenge for us time wise, we set ourselves a challenging deadline. We made it work because we believed in it so strongly. It was INTENSE but we just wanted to do it so badly. I learnt so much about myself working with a team and one of the biggest things was taking care of your team, knowing you can't control what happens but you can control how you deal with it and by the end - I knew going forward I wanted to have more fun.
This year, year has come with the idea of letting people down and dropping those high expectations of myself low enough I can breathe haha. Our main goal is to enjoy ourselves, be prepared and ride the waves and for our partner/relation/friendship to grow stronger. We all know at the end of it all everyone is going to have an insane night and celebrate each other, our efforts, and the charity and that's what matters.
Since Praise You started in 2017 we’ve started to see a shift in the conversation with creative women, being more open about their journey and eliminating competition - Have you noticed this yourself and have you ever dealt with competition?
Haha holy shit. Yes. Praise You also came off the end of a I guess you could say toxic creative friendship experience. This experience took me down a dark hole. I questioned and doubted everything about my work and my achievements. It was horrible and took me years to get past. If I experienced that again I wouldn't hesitate to talk to the person and make sure we're both feeling ok.
Praise You isn’t just about raising awareness for eating disorders and celebrating body positivity – it’s also shining the light on female support in the creative community, in saying that, what does inclusivity and its importance mean to you?
Inclusivity has become more and more simple and important to me over the years - where I stand with that now is treating everyone, no matter who they are, what they do or have achieved differently. Making everyone feeling important, heard and included. It's a human need to belong. Never exclude someone.
Where do you see yourself and your art headed in the next few years?
As my mindset improves, my horizons expand. I have no idea where I will go with my work but I'd love to keep working towards creating with brands, musicians and other creatives I align with. And to create work that makes me and the people that see my work go “wow”.
Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way? (Personally or professionally)
I've actually just released myself from the comparison trap. Turns out that's a thing and you are and aren’t in control of it - it depends on where you are in that journey. It seems like it's been a few years that I've been in it but I guess it's been a process of self awareness and forgiveness. It's really hard to see it or out when you're that deep in it.
Do you tend to create from personal experience or from observing the experiences of others?
My work has started to reflect the events and growth I'm experiencing at the time. Like seeing the bigger picture, taking things less seriously and getting stronger as the waves hit harder. I think it's really added a sense of connection for people that experience my work and it serves as a reminder for when I look back too.
Your dream job/project/collaboration – tell us about it? (Have you already worked your dream job?)
I'm lucky enough to have worked on my dream job TWICE! I worked with Samantha Wills twice. I actually grew up making jewellery so this was huge. The last time we worked together I had the opportunity to create a Zodiac series for her final collection before the close of her jewellery business. 13 year old and 26 year old me still pinches myself.
You’ve recently undertaken a rebrand, refocusing yourself and your work on what is most important to you. What have been your biggest learnings from this? I've been working with a business coach this year and it's really helped prompt a mindset shift. Probably the biggest thing is owning my worth in my work and skill and not doubting myself as much. Once I leave those limitations behind I feel like I open a lot more doors for myself and have so much more clarity in my ideas and path.
What the biggest risk you’ve taken to date? What were the pressure points and was it worth it?
Going full-time creative. I had no plan haha! I just wanted to try it out. I lasted a year and a half but decided I didn't want to stress about financial stress and if I really needed and could afford those $4 hot chips (oh, it happened). I wasn't at all looking at it as a failure and learnt so much about what I was capable of. Funnily enough - I actually organised the first Praise You in that time.
As a long time supporter and friend, you are one of the most driven people I’ve had the pleasure to work with - what motivates you?
Oh. I love you (yes Amy is interviewing me guys). Possibilities motivate me. Greatness motivates me. I see these people who are just people doing amazing things and changing the world in so many ways. I see normal people like Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Alison Wonderland, Samantha Wills - to name a very small percentage. I see them dedicate their lives to their craft and they're greatness and I just think. Fuck it. So can I. I’ll just do my best.
How has your work and practice developed over time?
I think my work has developed pretty noticeably - in terms of style going from just pencil to introducing and using a lot of digital. And my practice has actually become more of a spiritual practice. Going with the flow, letting the pieces create themselves.
What or who have been some of your main creative influences?
Oh geez. List is endless in terms of creatives. I think the three that really stand out is Kendrick Lamar, Alison Wonderland and Samantha Wills. I'm really inspired by the way they are constantly up leveling and their own personal journeys which really shows through their work and what they produce. I try set the bench mark that way just wanting to create really honest pieces but also I just want to create really high quality work.
Social media has been on a pretty interesting journey over the past few years - where do you see it now as opposed to two years ago?
When I think back to two years ago, I feel like there wasn't as much sharing and supporting each other and honesty in sharing our journeys. I think in that time everyone's starting to let their guards down, find their own groove, and I think in terms of what we share people are being very vocal about community and supporting each other. There shouldn't be a need to hide or feel like we need to hide things.
Do you think there should be more talk on body image specifically in the creative industry and what do you think is missing when it is in the spotlight?
I think the biggest thing for me is labelling. We see “Real” and “Normal” being focused on, I guess because we are so used to the industry showing “model figures”. I even feel like it pigeon holes my own work as I’ve been said to create “beautiful women” I feel like right now, that limits me and it makes me want to make a considered effort to not just draw what is so saturated as “beautiful”. I remember a few years back, models that were considered “Plus Size” were rallying to drop the term - I think that still needs to be something we work on. A body is a body and is beautiful in whatever way.