Debris from the past by Amy-Leigh Bird

About the work:

I studied Painting & Printmaking at The Glasgow School of Art and recently graduated from my MA in Creative Entrepreneurship from UEA. Since moving to London I have been making work which explores the ideas of time and place. Walking along the Thames I have been collecting objects and finding ways to use them in my work. From the debris of the past I have been particularly drawn to the many old bones that are found along the foreshore, and I have been finding ways to incorporate them into my practice. I have also been seeking ways of making new work under lockdown by repurposing and up-cycling old work and using the resources I have to hand. Coming from a working-class background has meant that the work I create has usually come from using the scarce resources and material available to me. I have experimented a lot with natural materials in my work, recently creating a sculpture of found bones, Thames clay and scraps of old wood found on my street. Earlier on in my practice I made a curiosity cabinet of found items from the river Kelvin in Glasgow which was later used as my degree show piece. I have always been attracted to the unwanted, discarded material that I find around me, finding ways to repurpose it and bring it a new life.

A little bit about the author:

Amy-Leigh Bird graduated from the Painting & Printmaking BA Hons at The Glasgow School of Art in 2017 and in 2019 graduated from her MA in Creative Entrepreneurship at The University of East Anglia.  Whilst studying Amy-Leigh lived and studied in Jerusalem, Israel at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and has taken part in several group and solo exhibitions including her first solo show at The Anise Gallery, Shad Thames, The Other Art Fair and at The West End Centre. After her graduation she was selected for Aon’s ‘Community Artist Award 2017’ and awarded the ‘Artist in Italy Residency 2018’ where she spent ten luxurious days walking about the Tuscan landscape collecting inspirational material. Since graduating the award-winning artist has exhibited alongside Christian Boltanski at the Apple and the Lust Gallery in Edinburgh, at The Edinburgh Art Fair and at An Lanntair in Stornoway after taking part in a two-week sailing residency with Sail Britain. This year she will be exhibiting at the prestigious and highly regarded No20 Arts gallery in Highbury and Islington and developing her research on the bones found on the Thames foreshore. She is currently living and working in London, developing her research on the psychology of collecting and the emotional significance of objects and place.

Find more from Amy-Leigh Bird:

https://mybestzine.bigcartel.com/

Happy New Year!

2020 was certainly not the best year so far, however, we are all done with it now! Even though nobody suspected it might take such an awful turn and the whole world will be hiding away from the pandemic if we think about it it might have not been as bad as it seems. Sit down, take a moment and think about positive aspects of 2020. Here are some of the positives from us!

  1. Because of lockdown we had more time to develop what was before merely just an idea of MyBest, and it the middle of 2020 we were ready to launch the website and publish the very first issue!
  2. MyBest, became more than we thought it would! We were hoping for MyBest, to be a quarterly online magazine but now we are posting every single week and even though it does get a bit much (keep in mind that at the moment, there is just one person taking care of all of the social media, scheduling, editing and all that jazz!) we hope that MyBest, will keep on going forward and we will be able to grow even more in 2021.
  3. We managed to work on many side projects – working with other artists is a full time job as it leads to many side projects and interesting collaborations. We are incredibly thankful for every single person we got to work with as a result of our work on MyBest,

2020 was a year of stagnation and yet many things have started rolling on quicker than ever. We might’ve not been able to do everything we have planned for 2020 but in the age of the pandemic the year actually had some bright moments. Only think about the amount of free time you could use to just rest, work on your projects, do uni work, watch your favorite movies and TV series. Sometimes it’s not that bad to stop for a second. The past year has definitely taught us to be grateful for everything we have and always strive to better ourselves as people.

We wish you all the best for the year 2021 and we hope that this year will bring nothing but joy to you and people close to you.

MyBest,

Monyca.

Meditations on solitude

About the work:

These works are all meditations on solitude in some way. Solitude has a thousand faces: it can be experienced in all kinds of states and situations. Sometimes solitude is a blessing, because it can allow for artistic self-reflection and self-representation, as my Self-Portrait suggests. But solitude can also comprise of moments where anxieties or fears jump out at us as in Study in Blue.

Self-portrait
Study in Blue

A little bit about the artist:

Beatriz Santos is a 23-year-old artist based in London. She has a BA English from Clare College Cambridge and a Graduate Diploma in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her practice is mainly two-dimensional and figural. Beatriz’s love of literature leads her to populate her works with characters, metaphors, and delicate visual ironies. Her visual practice is centred on the similarities and the misalignments between narrative, poetry and visual image. She is fascinated by how people use paintings (in galleries, in campaigns, at home, on social media) to tell their own stories. The importance of telling new stories is something her works actively promote, with their enigmatic yet mundane characters. Derived from song lyrics or poetic fragments, they are representations of nobody – but hopefully everyone can use them to question, to reflect or to remember.

Untried realities by Zula

About the work:

Untried Realities is about a personal experience of social separation during Covid-19 in East London. Through self-portraiture, I bear the feelings of solitude, craving for human contact, and need for nature. I live in an urban and concrete part of London, without any outdoor space and I started this series on the day of Boris Johnson’s self-isolation announcement in response to the situation. I use mundane household scenes to create a new “reality,” one which is physically in my flat, but one which hopefully visually transports the viewer into a parallel world. I make use of shadows and light to create humorous moments and temporary escapism from my current situation and to facilitate a sense of detachment.

A little bit about the artist:

Zula Rabikowska is Polish-British photographer based in London. Zula was born in Poland, grew up in the UK and worked in France, China, South Africa, India, Palestine and the Caribbean. Her practice is influenced by her own experience of immigration and in her work she explores the themes of national identity, displacement and belonging. Zula often works with digital and analogue photography, and incorporates archival images and documents to challenge conventional visual story-telling norms. Zula has obtained an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from London College of Communication. Zula also works as a freelance photographer and as a photojournalist for SOPA Images in Hong Kong.

Find more from Zula:

https://mybestzine.bigcartel.com/

Learn from others and celebrate the small things

Before I start this month’s column, I have a confession to make. I haven’t updated my CV as I said I would. The post-it note is still on my wall. Quite a few things have happened since my last column, and the CV didn’t get done.

Firstly, I applied for a compressed working week, one of the options I was deliberating last month. Sadly, I was unsuccessful. I desperately need at least one day to myself to try and progress my creative career and had been led to believe this would be a simple request, alas no. I’d a heads up that I might not be successful, so I felt oddly calm and at peace with the outcome. When a decision is taken out of your hands, there’s little you can do. Becoming angry isn’t going to achieve anything, so while I’m frustrated, I also feel relief. I need to focus on my paid job, because I’m lucky to have one, and now I won’t feel guilty for not trying to do more on the creative side. If I can do bits here and there, great but if I don’t, no one is going to bang on my door. As I keep reminding myself, career change takes time, and sometimes life gets in the way.

Secondly, I found out a colleague in my team has also been running a side hustle throughout the pandemic, building a portfolio as a photographer. I was excited to be able to talk to someone who has the same ambition as me, to do more than work a 9-5 (I wish!) and can relate to the constant push and pull of the job that pays the bills and the creative outlet that is their passion. Changing career is hard and finding people to talk about it isn’t easy. Families may have reservations, friends might be in a completely different place to you, and you don’t necessarily want to tell work colleagues, who although you spend more time with, might let it slip. The last thing you want is questions about your commitment to the job or the assumption you’re looking for a new job.

My colleague Chloe and I had spent more time talking recently, mainly due to the pandemic. (Why does it take a pandemic to talk more?!) As we weren’t in the office, we were more proactive in checking up on each other, but apart from a joint interest in fitness, we didn’t have much in common. A 13-year age different might also play a part. So I was genuinely intrigued by the possibility of having a connection with her over and above work.

It turned out she too had her request for a compressed working week turned down. We commiserated with each other as she’d wanted to spend more time on her photography. Chloe’s done a lot over the last few months; taken courses, steadily built her photography client base and admitted she struggles to juggle both jobs. Her main gripe was finding time to plan content on her socials. At this point, the alarm bells started to ring; I don’t have a content plan.

Whilst I came away from our call relieved to be able to talk to someone I know about my career change, and excited to have something new in common, I started to feel jealous and frustrated. When I saw Chloe’s content marketing plan in action on her daily Instagram feed, I began to panic. Why don’t I do this? Why haven’t I created content and posted more things on my feed @r_a_word? It appeared she was achieving more than me, and I’d done nothing of significance. Rather than applaud and support my fellow sister, I focused inwardly on the lack of effort I had made.  I mulled these feelings over for about a week, flipping between being supportive of her work then wondering how I was going to find the time to pull together a content marketing plan let alone decide what content to push out that was of interest.  Digital content marketing is vital to be able to build awareness and interest in a business, but I struggle to think about what to share. Photography is a reasonably clear-cut profession; mine is a little more varied. I develop website copy (check out Helena Carrizosa’s creative coaching website if you’re stuck in a creative rut), write features and take part in flash fiction challenges, most recently for The Story Seed. I still haven’t figured out what my niche is, which is probably stopping me from promoting my work in the right way in the first place – that and not being 100% proficient on Instagram probably.

I forced myself to step back, gain some perspective and get a grip. Why was I fixating on a ‘content plan’? I know I have achieved things, and as luck would have it, there on my wall for precisely this moment was a message to remind me of my progress. Last month I’d added a post-it note to my pinboard with the headline; ‘Achievements’ and a small list of what I had achieved since June. I can measure my progress by putting pen to paper and laptop, doing what I am good at, writing. Not via an Instagram story or quiz.

I had and continue to write. I actively learn, whether by talking to other writers, listening to talks or doing courses. I put myself out there on The Dots in May and stuck my hand up to offer my services without really knowing what I was doing. I’ve emailed people and started to build relationships that I hope will bring in more work. I speak to other writers, recently with the previous sub-editor for the Monocle who turned out to be the husband of a colleague! And I write this column for you. I’m not paid for my writing currently, but I am writing and receiving positive feedback, and that’s a start, something to be proud of, especially with a full-time job.

But if I’m not actively promoting my work, I’ve no hope of being seen. I recognise I can and should do more, though I don’t want to push stuff out for the sake of it. Perhaps that is why I struggle to update LinkedIn or my CV; it’s not the right channel for me anymore. Until I build an online portfolio, my Instagram feed needs to be my writing CV; so long as it’s authentic to who I am. And this is where I think imposter syndrome and the very British way of behaving is hindering me.  How many of you promote yourselves, perhaps act more American, or dare I say it, more male? I think it’s difficult for us to toss aside the humble attitude and share our expertise in a way that doesn’t sound arrogant. It’s a delicate balance, and I think Chloe has the answer. She has a ‘client review’ section on Instagram, where her clients share their feedback. It’s not Chloe boasting. So I will do the same. Ages ago, I asked clients for testimonials, and I have a bank of them ready to share. Yes admittedly it still feels a bit ‘look at me!’ but I need to share my talent if I am going to try and claw back a day to myself in the new year, be ready to accept work, and get paid for it. It’s promotion time folks!

And as I finish this column, an email from the brilliant copywriter, Kate Toon, has just popped up offering entry to her digital marketing coaching community. Serendipitous, I think!

By the way, if you’re looking for a photographer to capture a special occasion, wedding or family event, then do check out my colleague @chloecaldwellphotography. She also does some good quizzes 😊  

We have big, beautiful brains. We invent things that fly. Fly. We write. We paint. We create.

I would like to start with the actual definition of art: art /ɑːt/ noun 1.the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

I personally believe that being an artist is much simpler, but requires honesty and focus and a way to express toughts and emotions. I believe that art is a reflection of feelings and emotion. If the artist is happy and excited, he will create something colourful and full of life, but if the artist is sad and lonely, the colours will be darker. I can compare this statement with a walk at an exhibition/museum and those extended minutes that we spend looking at THAT painting because THAT artist is communicating with us and he is sharing his story through his art. However, if we pay close attention to the piece of art, we can always harmonise with the emotions that is expressing.

As we all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder as Margaret Wolfe Hungerford said, I have confidence that art can be found in anything that involves creativity such as writing a book, making a movie, painting, drawing, making music and many others. Everyone has different views for art, but the most important thing is the product or the end piece. I love to watch art. I love to write anything that is on my mind. I love to read books that other people created. I love to go to museums and exhibitions to explore famous or not so famous artists. I love to paint and relax my mind at the end of a rough day. What do you love to do?

It is all about the environment around us before we start creating. I have a small ritual before I start to write and I would invite any writer to try my easy steps for relaxation and creativity . Firstly, I like to take a cold shower, so I can refresh myself. Secondly, I will choose some cozy clothes to feel more comfortable. Thirdly, I will light up one of my favourite candles, respectively I will take a glass of fresh water and place it next to me, just in case I will be thirsty and I will not need to leave my place of writing and forget my ideas. The final step is to play meditation music and let my imagination flow.

As a new writer, my most challenging time is starting out, but when my imagination starts flowing, I can sit on my chair for hours and write until my ideas are consumed. I used to write short fictional stories and I never sent them out to be published. In the present, I am writing my own book related to my experience as a flight attendant and the adventures I have faced during my years of working as one. I would like to share them with my readers and especially with people who are interested in the aviation field.

As one of my favourite writers, Nicola Yoon said in her book “ We have big, beautiful brains. We invent things that fly. Fly. We write poetry. Thou art more lovely and more temperate’ in terms of sheer beauty. We are capable of big lives. A big history. Why settle? Why choose the practical thing, the mundane thing? We are born to dream and make the things we dream about.” I do believe every single word from this quote and I hope you do too, reader.

We don’t earn aloe vera

In this post I’d like to share with you my experience and things I’ve learnt (and constantly keep learning) as an art student/freelancer. I think it might be helpful to those of you who are just starting in the business but I would also really appreciate some feedback from more experienced artists. I’d really like to open a discussion here because even if “freelancing” starts with “free” there are some rules and guidelines which we should keep in mind.

My freelancing patch is very broad. From selling paintings, creating works made especially for an order, caricatural/comic-like portraits to murals and videos. Am I proud of all the works I’ve done? Hell no. But some of them were pretty great. So let’s talk art freelancing:

1. You’ve got to be flexible. Do you think that the greatest of all – Diego Velázquez – felt the great urge to create so many portraits of Philip IV of Spain? Nope. I don’t think so. Our clients pay and have certain demands so we’ve got to be smart enough to do what they want but in a way that also doesn’t make us cry while working. My hack to do that: negotiating and not procrastinating. Putting off the work that you don’t really enjoy might make you fall into a huge rabbit hole. Remember, you should always do your work up to standards but if you don’t enjoy working on a said project – rip off that band-aid as soon as you can, simply – just get it done.

2. That brings us to the big green subject of money. Discussing payment usually sucks. On one hand if you’re a student some of the clients might not treat you seriously. On the other hand – maybe you don’t treat yourself seriously enough to ask for money? Remember, always before you start working or buying materials ask about the budget. It’s not being greedy it’s called having respect for what you do. What to do if you’re not sure how much is your job worth? I usually start with the subject of materials, sometimes it might get quite expensive. I also try to count hours I will spend on creating. And then, a thing that’s essential and I recommend to you all: discussing the pay with art professors, other artists. Just to make sure that everything is reasonable and beneficial for both sides.

3. Recognize the differences. In your creative job there are going to be situations in which you will have to decide if a project is worth investing your time if it’s not a paid gig. Some projects are definitely worth it! If they are connected with the art world, bring you contacts, marketing opportunities and additionally you can place them in your portfolio it’s definitely worth it! Maybe you and your friends are a group of people who just want to do something great (just like us, My Best team). Try it and I promise you won’t regret it. Sometimes it’s about what you love doing and about exploring opportunities as a creative group. And who knows, maybe someday it will be your golden ticket to doing the job you love.

4. But be careful with people who will try to give you unfavourable *trashy* propositions. Last week I got a call from a woman who claimed to be interested in buying my painting, telling me that she can give me a creative job. She invited me to a meeting at her private house with a group of women where we would talk about our professions and do home spa. The whole thing seemed stinky from the very beginning. I decided not to go and confronted her through the phone. It turned out that she wanted me to sell “natural” cosmetics and that she would give me aloe vera in as a payment for the painting. Guys, don’t get trapped like this. Art job is like any other. We don’t earn aloe vera.

5. There are going to be great people on your path and I can’t stress it enough that it’s crucial to keep in touch with them after your engagement is over. Keep inviting them for your vernissages, exhibitions, art events. If they enjoyed working with you the first time it’s very possible they will want to try that again or they will tell their friends about you. That’s how you build a network and in the mysterious environment of art- it’s a crucial element.

Keep creating, stay healthy,

Maria

Without art, some people lose meaning

I’m an artist because I’ve always enjoyed books, movies, and art of all kinds. Some
people in my life would say writing isn’t an art but I don’t agree. I believe anything creative that involves someone creating a product or end piece is an artist whether it be a movie, book, article, painting or music. I write because I think it’s fun to do. Watching movies, playing video games, and reading books always gives me ideas. If I really like something and a book doesn’t include it, I write it into mine. I think writing is a good opportunity to put one’s own thoughts and ideas for others to read.


I started doing art at a young age, I drew silly comics of a superhero and filled tons of notebooks of the adventures. I didn’t do art as much in my beginning years of high school but seeing some of my close friends drawing and animating and doing music I began to try it too. I loved music and still do. I then started to try art classes and drawing and reading some more books.


Being an artist is a way to express oneself through different media. To me it’s writing books and stories about things I enjoy reading myself. I love fantasy video games and movies and books and that’s what I like to write about. Without writing, I feel like I wouldn’t have a good drive to continue being productive.


I’m not a professional writer but I do hope to be someday soon. On a normal day I write for a few hours on my book and my online blog. When I write, the story or topics flow out from me and I usually can write quite a lot in one sitting. I apply to writing jobs every day, to hopefully find somewhere that I can show my art and fulfill one of my dreams.


Writing brings me a lot of motivation. I hope to have a book published, seeing my own writing in a store is one of my biggest dreams. I think being an artist isn’t just about professional work, but more importantly it’s about doing something you love regardless of recognition or the expectation of money in return. Sharing something for the world is one of my favorite things about writing. Hearing feedback from others may be difficult sometimes but I think it always makes for good criticism to improve writing.

I posted a writing online and there were quite a few responses to it. Some of the feedback was negative but regardless, I learned a little more about the writing style I have and my writing flow. Even though it doesn’t feel great to see negative things about my own writing, I used that and tried to improve my writing in the future.


All in all, if you love to write or draw or whatever your art may be, I think it’s always a good idea to try it and share it with the world. Without art, some people lose meaning and need it to inspire them. One of my favorite quotes is “a professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit” by Richard Bach. I believe that quote because I think everyone can be a professional regardless of their age or years of experience. It can take just one writing piece to have someone realize they have talent. Sometimes people are overlooked for lack of experience or their age but I believe some younger people with less experience may have more talent than most others.

We are now on PATREON!

MyBest, is constantly growing and we refuse to stop! Everything started with nothing but an idea to create a platform by creatives for creatives where we would not only showcase the art but also talk about daily life and day to day struggles of artists and creatives alike. Starting off in the art industry can be hard and we wanted to show other people that they’re not alone in this! Everything is a process and becoming a full-time artist can be a struggle sometimes but worry not as climbing up the career ladder is a time-consuming process in every occupation!

The very first issue of MyBest, was released during lockdown and we have been surprised with the amount of people interested in, what we thought of at the time, a project of love and passion. We are grateful for all the engagement and the constantly growing following – it is lovely to see that you want to see more of what MyBest, has to offer!

Together with our resident artists we managed to create not only a magazine but also an online platform where creators can share their thoughts, art, feelings, where we motivate and inspire. I’d like to personally thank our resident artists and resident writers – you are a truly amazing bunch and you inspire me every single day to keep going and keep our magazine growing, growing and growing! The amount of work that has been put in so far in the creation of the magazine is astonishing and I believe we can do so much more!

This month we have launched our very own Patreon Profile where you can access exclusive-MyBest, content! We are incredibly grateful to each and every single one of our readers for the ongoing support and we strive to bring you even more inspiring content each month. As now we grew to be an independent art-magazine we need your help to keep building on what we already have and evolve into even bigger collaborative platform and magazine for creators.

PATREON LINK HERE – https://www.patreon.com/mybestzine

We are also always on the look out for new resident writers and artists – if you want to become a part of what we do message us on Instagram or send an email outlining how you’d like to get involved and what you’ll bring to the magazine.

Thank you for those amazing months, we are exited to see what the future holds for us!

MyBest,

Monyca xx