Hello Chelsea! Thank you for contributing to People Who Make Places.
How do you describe what you do when someone in your family asks?
I am a designer and maker, specialising in creating set builds, installation art, scenic art, sculpture and costume. I work mostly in paint, fabrics and scrap materials that I source from Scrapstores around the country. Throughout my freelance career, I have actively sought out opportunities for creative events ranging from public events and festivals, and evolving my experience and passion as a workshop facilitator and maker for children’s theatre and community projects. I always find this a tough one, especially trying to describe what I do in one sentence because I do lots of different projects all the time.
What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
There are many exciting projects I have worked on that I have loved equally, but the one that probably stands out is a self-funded and crowd-funded project called Son Caméléon. This was the first multi-disciplinary project produced by the art collective I run, Tangleface Arts, also being the project that brought us together as a collective which is why it is special to me. It was created in 2014 and has since toured music and arts festivals and events around the UK for three years running. Son Caméléon is an art installation that comes to life when in use – it is ultimately a pedalling stage that looks like a chameleon. The build itself ignites a childish sense of awe; a giant Mumma Caméléon emitting music, pedalling through the landscape accompanied by her chameleon offspring (these are performers dressed up in chameleon costumes that we made). Once Mumma Caméléon finds a suitable feeding ground, she parks up and welcomes you into her world of delights, fending off the enemy with her colourful displays of both live acoustic music and DJ sets. Son Caméléon comes with promenade-style performance, interactive games, handmade goods and prizes, as well as bookable art workshops bespoke to each event.
What aspect of your work gives you the best feeling?
Being hands on and making! I also massively enjoy facilitating workshops as this gives me great joy and pleasure passing on my love and skills set for art onto others, and I really enjoy working with other people – most of my work consists with collaborating.
What keeps you awake at night?
Being a freelancer means that my work brain is always switched on, so I guess if I am kept awake at night it is always because I am either thinking of my tasks for the next day, worrying if I have enough time to get everything done or the opposite of that and worrying when my next job will come in. It is definitely no 9-5 and can be extremely stressful but I wouldn’t want it any other way as it gives me a huge amount of freedom too!
What does your work now have to do with what you studied, if at all?
I studied Fine Art at university so my studies have definitely fed into what I am doing now. If I never went to the university I studied at (The Arts University Bournemouth), then I would never have met the people who I now run Tangleface Arts with and actually most of the people I collaborate now with on commissions. Fine Art was hugely conceptual, which I think has broaden my imagination and ideas, allowing me to not only be a maker but be a designer also, and it has given me skills amongst many different art mediums, which I definitely apply to my work now.
What advice would you give to a young person interested in a career like yours?
I would advise them to gain as much experience as possible and get involved with as much work as they can even whilst studying. Going to university was great and is where I met most of my colleagues now and I had the most incredible time, but gaining experiences is just as important – a client has never asked me what degree I did and what grade I got, they are most interested in the experience I have gained. I would also say to not be shy and instead chat to as many people as possible and be passionate about what you do – again the majority of my jobs have been from word of mouth and people I have met along the way, either on previous jobs or through friends and colleagues passing on my information. Never underestimate your talent and worth! And keep chasing your passion, don’t give up!