*This article was originally published in our Annual 2023 print magazine*
Your Pals is a Brisbane based art collective, co-founded by QUT students, Izzy Heaton and Sam Hope. Keep reading for our exclusive interview with both artists, and to find out how you can get involved!
Ciaran: Can you tell us both a little about what you studied and what your time was like at uni (you can be honest if it wasn’t all pretty!)
Izzy: I studied a Bachelor of Fine Art (Visual Art) full time for three years. The content of the degree was awesome, definitely challenging, but it increased my knowledge of an arts practice in many ways. Full time is pretty full on, in retrospect I wish I had more patience and did less subjects. But I try not to regret the abundance of anxiety I’ve given myself.
Sam: I started my Bachelor of Art at JCU in Cairns, but not far into the degree, they cut the arts programme! It was devastating, they kept trying to push me to do business?! So, I headed down here to Brissy, and studied at QUT to get the arts degree I wanted so badly. I got my credit points up and then I graduated (whilst still having to undertake some totally unrelated subjects enforced by JCU)!
C: Do you think artists/creatives should go to uni? Why/why not?
S: I think it definitely benefited me and pushed my arts practice. It also allowed me to meet like-minded people and make connections in the arts. For instance, if I hadn’t of gone to uni, I would never have met Izzy, and Your Pals wouldn’t even exist… and that is one scary thought.
I: It ultimately depends on the type of person you are, and how comfortable you are as a creative practitioner. Personally, it helped me articulate about my practice, and realise many concepts behind it. Also, it’s how I met many amazing people (like the wonderful Sam) that led me to many of the things I’m doing today. However, it is a lot of money and time, and I’m very privileged to be able to do it. I wouldn’t say it’s necessary, but it’s definitely helped me.
C: Sam, what’s it like out there in the real world? Is it different to what you expected?
S: It’s been a lot to navigate. No longer having the art studios at uni has provided some challenges when creating work, living in an apartment only gives you so much room to create! Also, getting a puppy has also been interesting. Although, when I finished my degree, I had a lot more time to dedicate to the art collective and to actually create work, that wasn’t just for an assessment.
C: What have you been getting up to since graduating?
S: I only had about six months off in the real world before coming back to QUT to start my Masters of secondary teaching! But during my time off, and while trying to juggle uni again, I’ve been putting everything I have into our art collective Your Pals! Planning exhibitions, doing markets, rallying sponsors and creating art. My latest project, Conversations with Friends, is a documentary-interview style photography series in which I have interviewed my dear friends to see how we are all feeling being in our 20s. It’s been a very vulnerable, honest, and comforting project; I found that we are all a lot more similar than we think. This made me feel a lot better about how I’ve been feeling. I’m so excited to show it at our exhibition in November, and as a bonus I’ve also made a book all about the project, which will be on sale on the night.
C: Izzy, what’s it like to be on the precipice of graduating?
I: It’s simultaneously exciting and horrifying. I’m keen to get out in the world and chose my own projects and have more spare time. But I will also miss the stability of uni, and the thought that I might drift away from many friends I’ve made here saddens me. And having feedback on my artworks is so helpful, I’ll definitely miss the critiques.
C: Do you think your life/work/art will change once you graduate? What are your plans?
I: I’ll definitely have more spare time. I hope I’ll have more creative energy to paint works for the joy of painting, rather than to fill out my portfolio. However, I worry I may get less conceptually driven, because writing so many assignments on my practice forced me to constantly refine my concepts. I fear without that I may grow stagnant.
My plan is to continuing work on Your Pals; we will be creating another zine early next year, and of course our many exhibitions. I am really aiming to grow even more in that space. I also want to continue my own practice and paint, and I have a band I’m starting with a few mates I met at uni, so that should be fun. Ultimately, I plan to be an artist, and live the creative life I dreamed of when I was a kid.
C: What advice do you have for fellow students who aspire to pursue a career in art, especially those just starting their journey?
S: I definitely recommend trying as many different mediums and materials, so that you can find your own stride. I really experimented the most during my Cert III at TAFE and then pushed my ideas further in my Bachelor at QUT. It was at QUT, and in the time afterward, that I really discovered how I want to express what I want to say and utilise my skills and passions. My main piece of advice would be to get amongst it, submit to zines, submit to Glass, join clubs like Post Datum, and apply to be a part of group exhibitions!
I: Don’t doubt yourself. You’re your own worst critic. Just create. Create in such ridiculous volume, let yourself make the works you dream about and don’t worry about what other people might think. I believe in you. The world always needs more art. But also in a more practical sense, take on as many projects as you can. Volunteer for things. Join clubs. That’s how you meet likeminded people and find new ideas.
C: Are there any upcoming exhibitions, projects, or collaborations that our readers should be on the lookout for? Any hints or teasers you can share with us?
S & I: Our 2023 Your Pals Exhibition is upon us! November 25th at Ventspace (South Brisbane), starting 6pm – tickets are available online now at our website.
The exhibition features brand new work from both of us, Izzy and Sam! We are also stoked to announce that Your Pals has grown and the show will be featuring works from our new pals Arion, Ruby, Eve, Cait and Gretel.
We will also be doing our second edition zine early next year, so keep those eyes peeled for submission openings! We accept not only artists, but any creatives who can exist in a zine format. We’re always happy to have a chat about this kind of stuff and want you to think of us as your pals!
We will always be putting on shows, doing markets, and engaging in the art world as much as possible. Follow us on Instagram at @your._.pals to keep updated on our journey.