As a part of Creature Creature, you primarily operate in ‘lowbrow’ street art which is much more inclusive and accessible to the general public. What do you want people to get out of your art?
I wish there was a better term than ‘lowbrow’ since it does sound a bit derogatory, but, similar to street art, this kind of art grew out of subcultures rather than institutions. I think it does reach more people because the general public can look at it and enjoy the aesthetics on face value - you don't need to know anything intellectual behind it. Even though our work does have concepts and meaning behind it, making it decorative and aesthetically pleasing allows us to reach such a large range of people. Especially with public art, you're making something for the community, for everyone to enjoy.
In terms of what I want people to get out of our art…I think just that general sense of calm and harmony. I think when they look at the work and see the flow and the movement, I want them to have an overall kind of euphoric feeling, like everything is in its right place and that it’s all connected. Like when you, Abby, reached out to us after seeing our art in Chinatown - that’s exactly the response we’re striving for. You didn’t know us or our reputation, but the art spoke to you and gave you a good, warm feeling - that’s all we can hope for as artists, and what we strive for.
You and Ambrose operate as an artistic duo. How do you think your diversity in thoughts, background and culture has helped shape Creature Creature?
Working as a duo allows for collaboration. The end result is always a combination of our two minds. It just helps to have another person to bounce thoughts off of each other, and for your own individual thoughts to not be stuck in a vacuum. I also think that's another reason why our work is so accessible and appeals to more people, since there are two people behind it.
In terms of how we work together - we’re quite different so we balance each other well. For example, I'm not a perfectionist at all, whereas Ambrose is. He goes into the details a lot more and makes sure the end product is great, whereas I'm much more slapdash and look into the overall composition. That’s why a lot of people have said that our work is both striking from a distance, but also so intricate up close.
Most artists and creatives work part time jobs to get supplementary income to their creative careers. You and Ambrose did the same, until you quit your hospitality job, and Ambrose did as well in late 2019. How did focusing on your art full time impact the trajectory of Creature Creature? What gave you the motivation to go all in?
Going all in was a huge step for us and is for any creative. This is also something that all creatives talk about all the time - the balance of earning money through creative work and supplementary income - it's such a big discussion. It was definitely a big deal when we decided to do it, but we’ve never looked back and we totally think it was the right decision at the right time.
In terms of why we went all in, we were at a point where we really believed in ourselves and our abilities, and wanted to take the leap - while also being cautious. Working full time on our art truly has made such a huge difference to our work, not only because we could fully focus on it, but also because it gave us a sense of confidence and pride knowing that we were doing this as our job. We’re still continuing to live our dream in a way, because we never thought that we could survive as a full time artist.
What do you think is the most misunderstood thing about the creative industry, from outsiders looking in?
It’s not a glamorous job. Especially with some of the work that we do with public murals - you’re outside, you’re in the elements, it’s long hours, it’s hard on your body.
Another thing that I didn’t know going into it, is that a lot of our time is not necessarily dedicated to making art. There’s a lot of admin and business management like taxes and accounting that goes into building an art practice. Luckily, I feel like we are getting better at that part of the art practice over time. That’s why it helps to have another person, because we kind of do treat it like a small business. You never think about this side when you’re younger and dream about being an artist. I will say, it is a great learning experience - learning more about the business side and marketing. We don't particularly enjoy it but we understand its importance.
Do you see many POC artists in the greater Melbourne art community, as well as in your own line of work in street art?
I think it's definitely getting better, the community is much more diverse than about 10 years ago. There’s more POC artists working in illustration, design and exhibition art etc but you don’t see as many in street art just because it is a very public facing position - when you’re out on the street you have to contend with different issues like thinking about your personal safety. People can be very suspicious of you, but most of the time people are lovely and excited about the street art we put up.
How do you mentally deal with the ups and downs in supply of project work that naturally comes with being in the creative space?
Personally, that’s where it's really good to have Ambrose to lean on. And if you’re a solo artist, leaning on the creative community. Working for yourself and being self-employed is so unstable, work is always up and down. There’s going to be moments when you're crazy busy (and complaining about that), or absolutely quiet, and you’ll be freaking out about not getting work and not knowing where your next paycheck comes from. Ambrose and I are really lucky that we have each other, and friends in the same industry so that we can prop each other up.
Creature Creature’s portfolio, aesthetic and themes are ever evolving. Where do you hope to take the art in the future?
I hope that we can keep experimenting. We never like to do the same thing twice. We always like to push our work as far as we can and try new things. One thing we do want to do is go into more sculptural art if we can. We want to create more immersive experiences, especially since we’ve noticed how art has grown beyond a 2D canvas now and expanded such that people are searching for more of an experience when interacting with art. We're still at the early stages of ideas, but we definitely want to explore that.