Shapes of solitude

A little bit about the artist:

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1982, Juan spent most of his childhood with his grandparents, It was there in the kitchen that he fell in love with cooking and tango. Soon he pursued studies in culinary arts under the supervision of L’école de Cuisine Lenotre and soon started working in professional kitchens were he found cooking as an art outlet. By 2007, working at Palacio Duhau had the opportunity to collaborate with the French artist Laurent Moriceau in his ephemeral art series titled Proyecto Deguste, which involved the creation of chocolate sculptures for an exhibit at the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art. This project made a great impression on Juan and inspired him to begin integrating plastic arts into his cooking.

Juan’s culinary career has taken him around the world, cooking both in restaurants and on stage at some of the most exclusive events such as Taste of Auckland and New Zealand Chocolate Festival. He has been mentioned in the New Zealand Herald and Cuisine Magazine, and even featured on an episode of Hangi Masters on Māori Television.

Although he’s known for his achievements and accolades as a chef, Juan is also a talented saxophone player, and has performed at the popular Sundeck in Queenstown with DJs Guillem Ribera and Murry Sweetpants. Juan himself is also an acclaimed electronic music DJ, playing under the stage names Ship Shape, Chupa Trance and Electric Rush at acclaimed clubs such as Ink Bar.

In addition to the culinary and musical arts, Juan is now taking his artistic talents to canvas. His paintings were recently displayed at a private event at Studio Dinner in Auckland.

Amongst other projects, he’s currently working on a photo portrait project involving 100+ people, a commission for a mural artpiece for a new restaurant in Auckland. Juan is comfortable with abstract, mixing techniques and medias.

From School to University – The changes and differences to be aware of.

In my lead up to leaving my secondary school (which also acted as my college) to University, I found the transition difficult, particularly in the differences in structure. I know that for many young people, whether going to university or not, it’s a hard experience to go into the unknown. As a person with some experience now, I hope to put your mind at ease, even if not completely, but just a little, during this transition, particularly in this time where nothing really feels right

The Workload can vary 

For people coming out of A-levels, it was a time of having an extreme revision of a lot of content for exams. This may be something you never want to do again because of this. University is similar but not the stereotype of being A levels on high energy. Instead, most of your First-year work will be things you may have covered already and then build-up to the new elements. Lectures are similar to classes with the typical PowerPoint and taking notes, however, there are also seminars later on that are much more suited for you, instead of waiting behind to ask your teacher a question about your work after class. Instead, you have an hour with other people in your course to, not only ask questions but also get other perspectives that may change your mind. In many courses, you don’t have to go in every day, similar to college, but this time is not just to do homework but also do research on your own. In my opinion, University is a perfect space for people who don’t mind doing some extra work. As you work through your modules, it may appear that because you study one thing (or two if doing a joint degree) that you do less, but like college, you will have more substantial work instead to build your understanding. 

  • Teaching

In my experience, self-study was always the main focus at University. The majority of my teachers are good at what they do because they don’t need to specify that they are knowledgable. You already know that they are (partially because half of the books you will read are written by them) but also because they trust you enough that you can answer your own questions and solve your own problems instead of relying on the teacher. This can be one of the hardest things to adjust to, but the way to get over this is through doing your own research. If you simply rely on what your lecturer tells you throughout your degree, you will not get the full experience. Instead, you should gain more experiences. A good way to do this is not just to talk to your lecturers but perhaps reach out to other lecturers in different modules too to gain their view in order to eventually come to your own.

For this reason, most of the best teachers in my university experience acted more like hype-men and give advice rather than lead us to conclusions for the entire time. This transition is hard to get around but it is important for students when going into careers. Just make sure you still ask as many questions as possible.

  • Freedom and looking after yourself

For many people, going to University means freedom you don’t experience being surrounded by your family. It’s almost like a temptation once you get there, your focus is on making friends, making memories and going clubbing because now you can. However, these wants also distract you from the more negative elements of becoming an adult which you may not need to think of in school. One of the examples may be feeding yourself and being away from home. For some, this isn’t a problem but being in a new atmosphere and environment distracts from learning. In college, there is an intensity which people again want to avoid and University, for the most part, can do that, however, this will only happen if you plan. It is important to find in your first year, while things are little more relaxed, a balance between work and social life, such as doing 4 hours of revision a day on the lead up to exams or going out at least for 2 hours a day to see a friend. The main thing is to build a plan that can be challenging at times but also allows there to be some pacing. 

Once you have that, the university may become easier and less pressing on you and your mental health, which is the most important thing to look after.

Uni is a strange experience, to say the least between the so-called real world and childhood but this makes it the time in which you can start to figure out who you are, what you want and start to build it. In this time, it may be hard to know that but uni will continue differently through zoom and if they can continue so can you.

Em x

Em’s tip- It’s okay not to understand who you are as an artist, explore and try new things and don’t feel you need to stick to one thing to be popular, versatility is a good trait to have and being able to adapt is even better.

Also, take your vitamins.

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.

Motivate yourself!

Working at your own pace can prove to be quite difficult sometimes. When it comes to my creative endeavors I am my own boss, which means no deadlines, no briefs, no actual boss. I am naturally a very self-motivated person and I find myself doing multiple things at the same time. Thanks to the flexibility of my day job I can easily maneuver between doing my master’s degree, various courses (now it’s mental health, hr and pr courses) and planning to open yet another business – for now there are only plans and even more courses! But how do you stay motivated in the world filled with day jobs leaving you little to no time to relax and have a breather? Let me give you some tips!

  1. Working on a project doesn’t always mean getting stuff done – make a list of things that you need to get done in order to be able to sit down and start actually working. It may be something like getting more pencils and paper from your local shop or drafting a plan of dealing with everything. Get a scrapbook and make your mind map for the project, it makes it easier to keep on top of things!
  2. Every little bit helps – if you find yourself stuck at some point look for inspiration in different places. My current go to are online forums with fellow creators. My favourite one at the moment is the Dots. It’s a platform for creatives run by an amazing creative Pip Jamieson. You can ask the creative community questions, read posts and project plans by other creatives and simply get engaged!
  3. Webinars – in the age of global pandemic there are more and more online webinars which are easily accessible, all you need is a laptop and the access to the internet! Many creatives and entrepreneurs make free webinars where they talk about their craft and how they got started. For example Sophia Amoruso is holding a free webinar on 5 Things you need to know to start your business today this Thursday! If you’d like to sign up for the webinar click HERE.
  4. Set little goals for yourself – I love the feeling of crossing out things I did from my to do list. It gets me going and keeps me motivated. In order to be pushed forwards and not held back by your own lists make sure that what you write down is not a goal that would take weeks or months to achieve. Start small, even with a breakfast plan or morning meditation and grow from there. You need to make sure you know what to do to get to your final goal and not get demotivated by the amount of work you need to put in to get there.
  5. Treat yourself – I can’t stress this enough – happy and comfortable person equals more shit done. Don’t stress yourself, don’t overwork yourself and always put yourself and your well-being first. Make sure you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, eat that chocolate, go watch a movie, buy that book, go out with friends. Things we enjoy doing are not a distraction but a treat and sacrificing doing something that brings you joy to throw yourself into a spiral of constant work has never done any good to anyone…

Keeping yourself motivated can be a hard full time job. It is necessary to remember that we are allowed to have a day off and just… breathe!

Working and… working?

During the lockdown I’ve spent my free time doing what I’m truly passionate about – reading, writing, editing, I have finally started the magazine you are currently reading. A lot of good things came out of the lockdown, I have all the time in the world to simply create all day every day and do all the courses I could think of. Then the 4th of July happened and with my freshly washed uniform I went back to my day job since I don’t make enough money from commissions and the magazine at the moment is mostly a hobby that adds to my bills. I work in a chain pub in the town centre, honestly, I was really looking forward to going back to work after three months of being sat at home. However that meant that I will have less time for my creative work, which at first didn’t seem to be that obvious to me.

We have reopened almost a month ago and I haven’t submitted any of my poems to any competitions or poetry magazines. I haven’t written a single article as a ghost writer and I have not had enough time to reply to all of the emails as quickly as I used to before 4th of July. The lack of time for something that used to be my entire world for the past three months made me think that I’m doing something wrong. It made it difficult to enjoy my day job, even though I adore people I work with, they never fail to put a smile on my face and they are very supportive when I tell them about my creative work.

This is one of the issues a lot of creatives face. When we just start off in the world of creative industry it can be hard to find a job in the art world that pays you well enough to support yourself only from doing art. Apart from pursuing our passion we also need to support ourselves and yes, we won’t have that much time for being sat at home creating but with good time management one can achieve equally as much with a full time position, which pays for your bills. I’m lucky enough to be equally happy at my day job as I am as a creative – that’s a first piece of advice – find a day job that makes you want to wake up in the morning and go to work. No matter what you do for a living if it doesn’t make you happy you have to change it!

Plan your days off and days when you’ve got a late start. I don’t always have to wake up at 8am bu I do. Why? Because if I start at 3pm I still have time to do some social media marketing for the zine or reply to some emails. I have enough time to get ready, have breakfast, work on my creative projects and then go to work. Since I usually write at night if my partner isn’t home I will spend good 2 hours working on the book I’m currently writing. As long as you want to find time for your projects, trust me, you will. Go, get yourself a planner, calendar, notebook. Write down what you want to do during your day off. Make the points very specific so that you have ten tasks to do and then cross out half – amidst creative jobs and working day jobs don’t forget you also need to rest.

Take care of yourself, get those bills paid, stay safe and stay creative!

Why rejections are important for an artist?

I remember the first time when I sent one of my short stories to a magazine. The excitement was mixed with anxiety. What if they don’t publish my work? Does it mean that I’m a bad writer? Does it mean that I should abandon my dreams of ever publishing anything and look for something else, choose a different path? My grandma always wanted me to become a doctor so maybe that’s what I should do? After a rather long internal monologue I clicked submit. Immediately after I closed my laptop and continued watching videos on my phone.

Then the day when I received an answer to my submission finally came. I got rejected. The story didn’t quite fit the magazine, they were looking for something else entirely. I didn’t understand. I have put so much work into this piece, the thought of it not being good enough to be published was very disappointing. I kept on reading. They said they liked my story, however, even though it was a well written piece it didn’t give the reader the feel they were looking for for the issue. A part of me wanted to stop reading the email – what’s the point in reading it if it’s a simple no from the editing team? Let me tell you!

Every rejection is an opportunity to further improve your work. If a publication says they won’t include your work in their next issue there is always a reason behind it and usually they will tell you why it’s not the best fit for their publication. Rejection is not the end of the world, it’s a suggestion on how to improve and perhaps what to do next time to get that publication! It’s always fairly disappointing when our work gets rejected but hey, do you know how many times Stephen King got rejection letter before he got published? Exactly! It’s not a sign that you are bad at what you’re doing, it’s a sign you still have a room for improvement or that you simply didn’t read the submission guidelines careful enough and your work doesn’t fit the theme of the issue.

What are my tips? Easy:

  1. Always read the guidelines very carefully – they tell you what size/font to use, what genres they accept and what else you need to include in your submission.
  2. Don’t beg to be published – let your work speak for itself.
  3. Never send unfinished work or first drafts – take some time and put effort into the piece you want to get published. It does pay off.
  4. Don’t get discouraged, rejection is nothing else but an invitation to try again.
  5. Keep on trying till you succeed – I have received multiple rejection emails and then one sunny day I got an email from Vice inviting me to write for them! Whatever you do – never give up.
  6. Observe publications you like, read what they publish, see what they are all about and only then submit your work. If you don’t know a publication, how can you be sure what you send is the right material for them?
  7. Keep on creating!

I hope I helped you a bit and made you realize that rejections are only part of creation. Keep on creating! – Monyca