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Starving Artists Society Interview - Lana

We had a chance to interview Lana, the President of the Starving Artists Society here on McMaster's campus. Here's a short introduction to Lana and her art:

Q: How did you get into art?

A: So, I’m actually in Commerce but I’ve been doing art since I was a kid, just taking private lessons. I fell out of it a bit in high school, but got back into it the first two years of uni because I was really stressed (I am not math or commerce driven). When I would get emotional I would draw and paint and it was the greatest thing for me. Eventually one of my friends said “Hey we’re doing an art show you should totally come out”. It was my first real art show and I actually did end up selling my art work. People were coming up and complimenting me and I was like “Whaaat?” The style of my art has changed a lot over the years. Last year it was very emotionally driven, almost therapeutic. In that aspect, selling it would almost be uncomfortable because it’s very raw. But now, I guess it’s more aesthetically driven and more about the practice of art making. The difference between selling for others and creating for yourself is just how much you want to make yourself vulnerable to the viewer.

Q: What is the Starving Artists Society and how did you come up with the idea?

A: The Starving Artists Society is essentially a platform that helps artists, both amateur and professional, buy and sell artwork off campus. We host a lot of events, like coffee houses, art sales, paint nights, and design competititions. It’s basically a hub of artists getting to know each other!

The idea for the club started when I was walking through Student Centre last year during the poster sale. There were so many people buying posts, that I thought to myself - “Why are they selling artwork when there are so many students on campus that could sell their art too?” There is such a market for student-made artwork that we can tap into. Another reason for the club was the fact that there’s a very little artistic community at mac. The studio arts building is at the corner of campus - nobody knows where it is! I want the mainstream to become more artsy.

In terms of the name of the club, I love it because it’s cute, easy to remember, and the acryonym sounds like “Sass”. Some people are put off by it because they think it devalues art or that it's classist, but I don’t see it that way. I think it helps bring focus to the artist lifestyle. Regardless of the fact that we’re in uni and we aren’t literally starving, art is something hard to get big with. A big part of our club is making entrepreneurial opportunities, so I don’t think it’s far off from the big picture!

Q: What do you love about the Starving Artists Society’s community?

A: A lot of our members are in the randomest faculties - eng, nursing, biochemphysics, etc. And eve though they aren’t pursuing art professionally, they’re usually the most passionate and dedicated members that come out to all of our events. I think a part of it is because most people are pressured to go into programs that are more sensible so when they get the opportunity to do something creative they get really excited about it. Membership is low commitment - we make it as easy to possible to join. We do prints for our members, and if you send in a copy of your work we can try selling it for you.

One time, I sold a painting for one of our members and when I came up to him to give him the money, he was like, “Can I tell you something? This is the first time I’ve made money off my art.” He started thanking me, and that’s when I was like “This is why I started this!”

You don’t have to be hustling on the streets to be an “artist”. I feel so bad when people who don’t think their art is amazing don’t consider themselves artists. Don’t be intimidated by the fine arts school. The best part about art is that you can literally pour yourself out on a pageusing a crayola pencil and not worry about it. There’s so much artwork that’s contemporary or abstract and it’s basically just that.

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