The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond

Bridging academia and art(ivism) ft. visual artist Dr. Angélica Becerra

May 05, 2022 Carmela Season 2 Episode 24
The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond
Bridging academia and art(ivism) ft. visual artist Dr. Angélica Becerra
Show Notes Transcript

Creative joy and revolution is the name of the game. In this episode, artist and scholar Angélica Becerra talks with The Millennial PhD about bridging academia and the arts and building space for resistance in both.

Angélica is a Latinx queer immigrant artist, podcast producer & scholar of political graphics, and current postdoc at Washington State. She received her Ph.D. in Chicana/o  and Central American Studies at UCLA, along with a Graduate Certificate in Urban Humanities, from the Department of Architecture and Design. Her scholarship focuses on twenty-first-century digital arts, exploring the digital realm as a space of production, distribution, and reception of a new generation of artivism spanning national and transnational social justice movements.

Connect with Angélica on IG @aibecerra_art and/or through her podcast @anzalduingit.
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Email Mela at themillennialphd@gmail.com or DM me on Instagram @melamuzio with feedback, questions, or comments at any time. I love to hear from you!

Follow @melamuzio to connect with me (Mela) and for fun creative content + free resources.
Follow @themillennialphd for podcast updates.

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Interested in starting your own podcast? I host mine on Buzzsprout and I love it because, for me, it was the easiest and most user-friendly podcast hosting site. If you follow this link to sign up, you'll automatically get a $20 Amazon gift card included in your sign up; plus, it helps support The Millennial PhD. Happy podcasting!

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Interested in starting your own podcast? I host The Millennial Phd on Buzzsprout and I love it because, for me, it was the easiest and most user-friendly podcast hosting site. Follow this link to sign up, and you'll automatically get a $20 Amazon gift card included in your sign up; plus, it helps support The Millennial PhD. Happy podcasting!
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Support the show

Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani - aka your host, Mela - is a sociologist, dancer, and creative consultant.

Learn more about Mela and get access to creative resources at themillennialphd.com.

The Millennial PhD is all about building community. Join the conversation:
- Connect with Mela on IG @melamuzio
- Follow @themillennialphd for up-to-date info on the podcast & blog.
- Email themillennialphd@gmail.com with feedback.

Speaker 1 (00:09):

Welcome to the Millennial PhD, a podcast about creative survival and beyond. My name is Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani and I'm a sociologist, dancer and creative consultant from New York. In these episodes, you'll find inspiration, ideas, and actionable tips for building new pathways forward in work and life. You'll hear from artists, activists, creative entrepreneurs, PhDs, and professional pivoters. We talk about radical humanity and practical steps to follow your dreams, even in the context of challenging social conditions. Before we jump into today's episode, a quick reminder to follow the millennial PhD on Instagram. And to please take a minute to rate and a review the millennial PhD on Apple podcasts. Your rating really helps the show reach as many listeners as possible. You can learn more about me and get access to free creative resources on the millennial PhD Instagram page, or@themillennialphd.com. I hope you enjoyed the episode. 

(01:18)
Welcome back to the millennial PhD where we've been talking art, creativity, and radical humanity in motion. I'm your host, me and today I'm talking with Anga, who is a Latinx queer immigrant artist, podcast producer and scholar of political graphics and a current postdoc at Washington State. She received her PhD in Chica and Central American Studies at ucla, along with a graduate certificate in urban humanities from the Department of Architecture and Design. Her scholarship focuses on 21st century digital arts, exploring the digital realm as a space of production, distribution, and reception of a new generation of artivism spanning national and transnational social justice movements. Her artwork is primarily portraiture with a focus on black, indigenous and women of color. Artivists activists, excuse me, Her art has been featured in Vice and the LA Design Festival and exhibited at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and Self, Self Help Graphics in Los Angeles made it through. And Heah, thank you so much for coming on 

Speaker 2 (02:27):

<laugh>. You did it. Oh my gosh. Thank you for having 

Speaker 1 (02:30):

Me. I got to the word portraiture and I was just like, woo 

Speaker 2 (02:35):

<laugh>. It doesn't, yeah, it doesn't roll off the tongue, which actually says a lot about it as a practice of colonial groups, so don't worry about it. 

Speaker 1 (02:42):

There's a connection. Um, so I'm so thrilled to talk to you. I'm so excited to have you on, um, because first of all, I love catching up with you. We met thank you. Through Thank you. A fellowship. Yeah. That was really transformative for me career-wise a few years ago. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And we've gotten to stay in touch and meet up a few times over the years. Um, and I admire your art and your creative practice so much. I also told you before we turned on the mic that I'm a little nervous cuz you're podcasting og, um, with your podcast, Anza Doing It, which has to be the best name for a podcast that I've ever 

Speaker 2 (03:18):

Heard. Oh, thank you. We have to explain the name all the time. 

Speaker 1 (03:21):

Oh, it's so good though, <laugh>. 

Speaker 2 (03:24):

Oh, I appreciate that. Thank you. I see my art right behind you, so I feel super 

Speaker 1 (03:27):

Welcome. It lives, it lives. It's like this is my teaching and everything corner that I have set up so that people don't see the disaster That is the rest of my apartment. And your artwork lives there. It's part of my zoom is everything. I love it. Honored. 

Speaker 2 (03:41):

I'm honored to be in people's spaces really in that way. Thank you. 

Speaker 1 (03:45):

Um, yeah, we're honored to have it in in our home. Mm. And I'm really excited to talk to you about the process of kind of building your own creative path and, and sustenance through that process. And I guess in a sense, kind of forging multiple creative paths. Cause I think you and I both have have our hands and, and feet and a couple of different things, which is, which is exciting and a little bit overwhelming sometimes, at least for me. So, so excited to, to talk with you and also for folks listening to hear from your expertise and your experience. So I just read off the cliff notes of your bio. Um, so why don't we start with, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, <laugh>? Well, the bio did a great job. 

Speaker 2 (04:28):

Uh, 

Speaker 1 (04:28):

Not to say I 

Speaker 2 (04:29):

Wrote it, you know, um, 

Speaker 1 (04:31):

<laugh>, 

Speaker 2 (04:32):

But I remember 

Speaker 1 (04:33):

Citation. 

Speaker 2 (04:34):

Yeah, absolutely. But I remember struggling with that bio because of what you've already mentioned, which is that there's so many things that are happening. There's so many creative projects slash like in academia, you have to, you know, be legible in specific ways. So, um, you know, I am the, what's not in the bio right, is that I'm from la um, originally I'm from Holly School, Mexico. I immigrated with my mother and my sister when I was 10 to Los Angeles. And we pretty much lived there until I couldn't live there anymore. Um, <laugh> because who would leave, right? Such a beautiful city. And, um, the food man, the food, I missed the food. Uh, but I moved last year after my PhD to my post doc here in Washington State. Um, and yeah, I mean, I think for me, what's really important to say is that like, art is in my family. 

(05:29)
Maybe people in my family didn't call themselves artists formally, but they were definitely creative and had really creative ways of solving problems. And I feel like that's something that I haven't it generationally. Um, so that's I think what's not in the bio that is important for this particular conversation, right? That a lot of us don't think of ourselves as creative or artists or don't even think that that has a root in our families. But it's actually in my experience, like that's where it comes from. You know, know. Um, I'm not the first one by any means. I'm just the first one that maybe caught onto that word <laugh> and used it to describe myself. But, um, I know plenty of people in my family who would qualify as creative slash multifaceted, multi hyphenated. 

Speaker 1 (06:13):

Yeah. Um, that's amazing. Thank you for saying that. Yeah. And I, I think that resonates with a lot of people across different artistic and creative practices, whether it be movement styles Yeah. And, and shared movement practices or creating visual art or just shared experiences. What, so building off that a little bit, when did you, I guess, when did you start practicing as an artist? And maybe even if you could tell us a little bit, when did you start to see yourself as an artist then? <laugh>? 

Speaker 2 (06:45):

I've been asked this question before and I feel like this story's already out there, but, uh, cuz last semester, uh, a student at a UCLA class, like their assignment was to do Wikipedia pages for artists. And that was like their final. And she chose me, which I was honored by the, uh, the Wikipedia entry. That's dope. And so in the Wikipedia entry, you'll find this story, but I'll tell you, uh, here, um, I was about, gosh, I don't even remember. I must, I was really young. I was like five or six years old. My Aunt Mike, the Vida, um, back in Mexico, she was going through a really nasty divorce and she was an architect. Um, and she decided to stay with my mom, her sister for a few months while she got her feet, kind of, you know, her shit together, got back on her feet and she was babysitting us a lot of the time. 

(07:37)
That was like her rent, you know, <laugh>, uh, to take care of us. And she was painting, uh, replicas of religious paintings at the time to make a living, um, architecture. She was still in architecture school at the time. She wasn't fully done. And so she was painting to make a living. And I remember one day she was painting this like really big canvas of like, it must have been Judas or Jesus, one of the two. And, uh, it was like six feet tall <laugh> one of them, you know, they were close. Uh, and uh, then they weren't. So anyway, she was painting and she was like, Oh, do you wanna, like, do you wanna help me? And I was like, Sure. Like I was a kid, I was curious. And she kind of taught me as much as she could. Um, she would like set up fruit, set up a still life for me, get my oil paint set up and a little canvas next to hers. 

(08:33)
And she just kind of taught me stuff. And so my older sister also got the opportunity to learn, but she didn't really like it as much. And so she just kind of went on and played with something else. And for me, that particular experience was really formative. Um, so I learned as much as I could from her. She obviously moved out a few months later, and then we immigrated to the US and when we immigrated, I was really just emo about the move and super upset that we had left everything behind. Um, I wasn't as upset after I learned that like could have McDonald's and Burger King <laugh>. I was like, Oh my God, this is 

Speaker 1 (09:13):

Amazing. Is that silver lining? 

Speaker 2 (09:14):

Yeah. But you know, being a kid and being an immigrant is complicated. So when I got to high school, uh, I had a really great art teacher. His name was Mr. Vasquez, and he really just kind of saw the art bugging in me and fostered it and nourished it. And he was just really sweet. And yeah, he like really encouraged me to paint and draw. I did it all through high school. And then when I got to college, it was kind of a hobby. So, uh, I didn't use my skill set until later in like college slash grad school to like being in solidarity with student organizers and different movements across campuses. Um, but yeah, in, in high school, that's really how it started. Um, when I picked it up again, really. Uh, and I started to like paint seriously, draw seriously and remember what I had learned when I was really young. 

Speaker 1 (10:07):

So for folks who are listening and are not familiar with your work, could you tell us a little bit about your art? I know, I imagine that's a really big question, but you tell us a little bit and it will all be linked in the show, the show notes and the Instagram posts and everything. Yeah, sure. But can you tell us about it a little 

Speaker 2 (10:23):

Bit? Yeah. So my artwork as my bio is primarily portraiture focuses on people that I'd learned about in college that I didn't see posters of at all, and that I felt like, um, I wasn't angry about not having learned. I mean, I think anger is part of what I felt, but I also felt just cheated out of an experience of being introduced to people like Angela Davis, right? Gloria Sal Lua, who my podcast is named after. Um, these women that I felt were really formative for me later in college, but that if I had only learned about them earlier, I would've totally been a different person in a good way. Um, so my, my painting is primarily to uplift voices and faces that I felt like I should have seen and been exposed to earlier in life. Um, and that came from like being an ethnic studies major and learning all this good shit, but not really having a visual to go along with it <laugh>. 

(11:17)
Um, so that's kind of what, what my work is comprised of. I would say more recent times it's gotten about a bit more personal and I've been really lucky to collaborate with a couple of clients where I've been able to draw portraits of people that I think need to be uplifted, that aren't like famous authors or activists, Right? They're just normal people that, um, whose stories need to be told. So yeah, I've been able to kind of expand on that. Uh, more recently my work is super personal. Like my latest piece I think is about capitalism and how I will not love you back. So, uh, <laugh> just gives you an inner, uh, window into my psyche. Right? Uh, definitely having that like pandemic, midlife, crisis <laugh>. 

Speaker 1 (12:02):

Is anybody out there not having <laugh> a pandemic midlife crisis if you are stay strong, I guess, but it's, 

Speaker 2 (12:09):

I know. I'm like, 

Speaker 1 (12:10):

What are you doing? Just like, yeah, write the, write the self-help book. Um, no, I'm just kidding. Um, yeah, so I always throw in this commentary about when I do, I have some solo episodes or I'm just chatting, um, about how creativity and art is so helpful in sustaining us while doing social and political work, especially in the long term and under 100%. Yeah. Like late capitalism, um, <laugh>. Yeah. Um, and a lot of my perspective on that is, is informed by, I guess, the catharsis of, of physical movement and dance, which has served as such an amazing piece of escapism to use a word that you used earlier in our conversation, but also a practice of connection in, in the case of social dancing, which has been really I important in the last decade or so of my life. But your art work is probably even more kind of explicitly revolutionary, some of it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and you're also an expert on this topic as a scholar <laugh>, um, as well. Yeah. Right. A lot of your work is about this. So what can you tell us about the role of art and creativity in political activism from your perspective? I, you don't have let you know speak on, speak on the whole topic, but maybe what are you feeling right now about that? Like, 

Speaker 2 (13:33):

My dissertation is available here, <laugh>. No, it's like 

Speaker 1 (13:38):

A little bit 

Speaker 2 (13:39):

No, no, no. To give you like a really short, concise answer that I've thought about for years is whenever I would have to describe my topic of my work, which is political graphics, uh, particularly from Latinx artist activists, um, in the digital, but also informed by like the 1960s, 1970s, right? Um, is that art has everything to do with activism. If anything, art is the lifeblood of a lot of social movements, Right? Especially since we've become increasingly visual, um, given our access to the internet, right? So before, if you wanna think about it this way, um, if you were an artist or somebody who was creating images for social movement, you had a couple of options. You could do a mural, right? A mural is a community art piece that everybody can somewhat access. Um, you could do a poster, So a poster would be reproducible. 

(14:32)
That's what made posters so popular because you could make hundreds of them and spread them to a protest or spread them to your friends, put them on the wall in the street if you wanted. You know, they were kind of portable art. And I think that's kind of taken a digital transformation, that's my whole dissertation, right? That like the art didn't stop happening, it just kind of started to happen digitally too. Um, and so I I, whenever I tell people like, why this work is important or why art is part of politics and, uh, organizing is that without art, we wouldn't have a visual to go with the messaging, right? Art is the message, and art is often the way that people deliver that message, right? Whether it's like black liberation, when we're talking about black power movement in the sixties, even thinking about the Chicano movement, uh, in the Southwest, like people use art to not only see themselves represented, but also envision a different world for themselves, right? 

(15:29)
Where they weren't, you know, oppressed or underrepresented or historically looted <laugh>, right? So I think there's like a really powerful intersection there. And I love that you said catharsis, because it is cathartic to make art about the struggle that people are going through. Especially that struggle is something you don't wanna experience anymore. It's something that you want future generations to not have to go through. So art is a process of envisioning a better life and a better future for not just the generations now, but future generations. So yeah, it, fuck, yeah, it has everything to do with, um, with activism. It's, it's everything to me. Um, and I, I think my life work, honestly, is making people understand that intersection. Um, that to me seems really obvious as a cross. Uh, but to other people might not be super obvious. So, um, I do that work in multiple ways, right? Um, the artwork is one way, the research is another, the podcast is another, but they all really converge in this idea that like, art is a necessary ingredient for liberation. 

Speaker 1 (16:37):

Yeah. Thank you so much for, for sharing that. I promised you <laugh> kinda a, a, a lowkey conversation and then instantly asked you <laugh>. 

Speaker 2 (16:47):

No, I 

Speaker 1 (16:48):

Questions a really big questions. Um, so I appreciate, I appreciate you getting into that. Yeah, of course. Speaking of digital and social media, how are you feeling about social media these days? I guess specifically connected with the sharing of art and I, I know that, you know, you share some commentary on this on Instagram. Um, so just thought I'd crack that open. That 

Speaker 2 (17:12):

Is a fun question. Um, and one that, yeah, it's, it's pretty much public record that I, I have a very, um, love hate doesn't really describe it. It's more like push and pull, um, relationship with social media. I write about it. I remember writing my dissertation. Uh, when I started writing the this, I was super optimistic and saw the potential of it to connect people. And then towards the conclusion and the epilogue I wrote, I was kind of really suspicious of it. And so were a lot of the artists that had embraced it. So in some ways I, I can see its potential for, again, connecting people, uh, giving access and a platform to artists that had never been able to before. But I also understand this toxicity, right? And I think that in some ways I have to engage with it because if I don't right, then I would kind of lose a lot of the connections I've made through it. 

(18:10)
So it's very parasitic. Um, I think for me what's been important though, like how I currently feel about it, is that boundaries are really important. And I've been really, really like processing and thinking about what are some boundaries that I can have with this tool that I've used to reach people, um, with my artwork that doesn't feel super exploitative to me or to other people. Right? Um, and that's the part that I'm working at right now. Like, how do I engage with this without losing myself in the process and losing my values and, and who I am as an artist? 

Speaker 1 (18:47):

Yeah, definitely. Um, and it has such tremendous, it can have such tremendous impact for people's lives. I know with, with dance as well, again, when people get to a certain amount of followers and a certain level of influence or, you know, certain doors open up. So it does, it does have these really big even economic applications for people. Yeah, absolutely. For sure. 

Speaker 2 (19:13):

Yeah. I've gotten work through it, so that's why it's conflicting <laugh>. 

Speaker 1 (19:17):

Of course. Yeah. So let's talk for a little bit too, if you don't mind. One of the, one of the purposes of this podcast is also for, for folks who are kind of charting their next move, either with the new creative move or new creative project, they wanna start, or for some folks it might be a professional full on pivot or Yeah. Quote unquote side hustle, whatever the case may be. Um, I think a lot of people are looking for new avenues for sha sharing their creative work. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, whether for the catharsis of it or for some economic 

Speaker 2 (19:52):

For the money <laugh>, 

Speaker 1 (19:53):

Yeah. For economic, a little bit of a lifeline, maybe a little bit of economic cushion freedom, holding on survival. Um, yeah. How have, can you talk us through a little bit, uh, some of how you've set up these different avenues through which you share your art? Because you have, you've got a solid social media set up, and then I believe you also sell your art through an online shop. So can you talk through some of that with an audience in mind of someone who maybe has been creating and making art, but doesn't know how, what the next steps are to try to, um, leverage it? Yes, 

Speaker 2 (20:32):

Yes. I love talking about this. Um, 

Speaker 1 (20:35):

Oh, great. 

Speaker 2 (20:36):

I need to create a resource for this too, eventually. Like, that's one of the many jobs I'm giving myself. Um, because I do think this information isn't rarely available and a lot of it is word of mouth like this, right? Right. Where we're like, Yeah. How did you do that? How did you find printers shrouded in mystery <laugh>? It isn't, I mean, a lot of it is trial and error, right? So when I started to leave my work, um, I was under pricing it cuz I didn't know how much it was worth. So I remember, I remember the days when one of my prints would cost $15 and, um, <laugh> that didn't even cover the printing, you know? Um, but I was sort of like, No, I needs to be more accessible. But then I was like, Yeah, but you need to eat. So what's a good, like, price point, right? 

(21:23)
So I think for me, I started with, um, just really teaching myself about these different seller platforms first. Like, I spent some time looking at like Etsy and Big Cartel and different ones. I have a friend who's an artist that has been doing it far longer than me, and he recommended Big Cartel. So that's how I got started. And then eventually I went into Squarespace and now I'm into Shopify. I'm on Shopify. Um, and so I would say just do a lot of your own research and ask other artists what they use. I use Shopify, I'm very open about it, but I also know that I've jumped from different platforms over time to meet my needs. So your needs will change as an artist who sells your work and just be open to making the jump to a different platform that offers you more benefits, I guess. 

(22:10)
Um, the second thing I had to figure out that I think a lot of artists probably don't, especially visual artists, is finding a printer that's reliable. Um, I worked with a family own Latinx family owned printer, uh, in New York, actually upstate New York, and they're amazing. But it got to a point with my art that I was creating a lot of headaches for them, uh, with my work. And, uh, that was just like a demand thing, right? And so we decided to part ways, uh, I think at the end of 2018, um, I still use them for my personal printing or like my special occasion printing, and I love them so much and I supported them as well as long as I could. But then I went with a more industrial international printer because I started to get tons of requests from people outside of the US who wanted my work, and I wanted to honor that because I am not from the US myself, and I wanna make sure that people in Latin America and Europe and other places get my art. 

(23:09)
And so that was a decision I made prior to the Pandemic. It was like 2019. Um, so yeah, I mean, printing is something I figured out, uh, on my own. Pricing took a lot longer. I think the pricing was something that I would look at other artists that were doing similar work and I would see how much a print of theirs would cost. And then now I have like an equation <laugh> where it's like the amount of hours spent on a piece divided by the, you know, labor that it takes to, um, print the work, da da da da, the shipping. So now I have a pretty like, smooth system, but before it was just like, Oh, I think it's $20, you know, um, <laugh>. But now it's like a very like, you know, kind of cool common collected process. Um, and yeah, I, again, you know, I, I supplement my income with like a lot of different things. 

(23:59)
So the selling of the artwork is, is one component. I have a Patreon, um, that I'm trying to get back into. It was kind of on pause while I was moving to Washington. And Patreon's been great to, uh, really just get more connected to people that are, I think those really like die hard super fans, right? That people that really wanna see you win and succeed. Um, Patreon's been great for me. I also have, um, like revenue from, uh, talks I give on campuses and stuff like that with the podcast and, uh, myself. So over the years it's like the income is really random <laugh>, but I feel like, you know, you just have to keep going at it because you never know who's gonna want your work. Um, I recently got contacted by the LA Times and that was a bucket list for me. 

(24:51)
Like, I really wanna be in the LA Times because it's my hometown and I'm happy that it's happening now, but I've been doing this for years and it barely happened, you know? Um, and they're not gonna pay me a lot either, right? Cause they usually don't <laugh>, um, they're just the publication. But for me it's more about the meaning behind it. So I think just being really open to the opportunities that you do and doing your own research has been important for me. Like, um, no matter how highly recommended a platform comes from a friend, I always do my own research of like, Okay, this is what works for them, but is this gonna work for me? Right? Um, so I just make sure that like, I do take people's recommendations, but also do my research after work for everything. Even with like, how to calculate your rate for speaking engagements. You know, I have a price that I give to nonprofits and people that I know are community members that probably don't have the budget for that. Um, and then I have a price that I give like corporations, right? So just being really open about that has been really helpful for me to Yeah. Demystify some of the shit that I feel like a lot of working artists or creatives don't talk about enough. I hope that answers the question. 

Speaker 1 (26:06):

I think it's great. It's, I I think it's really helpful for people to hear these different perspectives about how you can get a foot in, in different ways. And I would also add one thing I'm discovering myself and, and hearing from other people as I do try to do things like talks and do some creative entrepreneurship or however you wanna term it, is that it doesn't have to be perfect, like Right, No, Yeah. From jump. And I'm hearing that in what you said as well about like, it developed over a course of years. Yeah. Um, because I think that impetus to, Yeah, like I have to get it all perfectly together can stop you right in. 

Speaker 2 (26:47):

If I showed you how my shop looked like when I got started, when I launched it, it would be like, I would be mortified now. But at the time I just didn't know. Like, I didn't even know that I was supposed to be collecting tax. Um, so for the first year I sold my art. I had to pay the state of California money because I forgot to ask for the tax and like the website <laugh>. So, you know, don't do that. I'm just saying it to people, don't do it. But like, that was one of the learning curves I had to, you know, get used to that. You know, taxes, taxes got more complicated, but also I got so much more financial freedom out of it. Um, and I got to share my work with so many people. I think that people forget that like the motivation for selling your artwork might be that you wanna get more financial freedom, that you wanna get some independence financially. But to me anyway, what's been the biggest thing about my artwork being shared is that it's in homes and centers and institutions that I would never even think about stepping into myself. Like I never thought I could be in. Um, and it's just really cool to, that my art gets to reach those spaces, you know, here and internationally. So, you know, just keeping in mind that, that at the end of the day, like it's about sharing your work with other people. 

Speaker 1 (28:07):

Yeah, for sure. Um, and about the, the economic lifeline piece. <laugh> Yeah, <laugh>, I wanna draw back just for a minute because we're talking to right now. I feel like we're talking to general audience, but for when it comes to academics 

Speaker 2 (28:23):

Yeah. 

Speaker 1 (28:24):

Specifically for me, we've, and we've chatted about this, but for me it's really important to keep a creative lifeline alive outside of academia. Especially because they'll try to squash that real quick and an economic lifeline of some sort because it's such an unstable industry and such an exploitative industry that it's been slowly in recent years, uh, an experience of taking back just at least a little bit of a feeling of power over myself mm-hmm. <affirmative> to try to say, Okay, well, you know, if this crashes down or the position falls through, or if I'm, you know, I have a contingent position, then my whole economic stakes are not tied up in that at the moment. Um mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I think that can be, you know, something, something that can be helpful as well. 

Speaker 2 (29:17):

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Have a lifeline, have a side project, have a side hustle. <laugh> it will save you in more ways than one 

Speaker 1 (29:25):

I know. Not, like, I feel bad saying when I say like, Oh, like, definitely work on some sort of side project cause everybody's so, so swamped and overwhelmed and busy and struggling. But at the same time I'm like, it's for, I feel like it's one of the most important, um, Yeah. Or it, one of the most potentially helpful things I feel like is, 

Speaker 2 (29:43):

It could be related to 

Speaker 1 (29:44):

It could be anything. 

Speaker 2 (29:46):

It could be anything. It could be fucking Zumba, it could be my Thai, it could be just you going to, you know, transcribe things for people in the community. Like, because you know how to do that. It doesn't have to be super formal or like amazing, you know? Um, I do wanna honor that. Like, people are busy already and, um, you know, do whatever you feel feeds you. I do also believe, and I know you agree with me, that um, academia's not gonna fulfill all of your needs. It's impossible for one thing to fulfill every single part of who you are. Um, I haven't met somebody that's completely fulfilled by academia yet. So that leads me to believe that, you know, they have other things that feed them, right. They should. And I do <laugh> and I know you do. So, um, be open to, you know, that, be open to having multiple things that, that feed you as a person. 

Speaker 1 (30:45):

Beautifully said. 

Speaker 2 (30:47):

<laugh>. Thank you. <laugh>. 

Speaker 1 (30:49):

Can you share a rose and a thorn? Um, of 

Speaker 2 (30:54):

Ooh. Okay. 

Speaker 1 (30:56):

Yeah. So something, you know, something that you love and enriches you and something that is <laugh> not so great 

Speaker 2 (31:04):

<laugh> about like, my life as an academic or an artist, or what 

Speaker 1 (31:08):

I think let's stick with your life as an artist since that's been kind of what we've, we've focused on. 

Speaker 3 (31:14):

Hmm. This one's hard. Um hmm. I feel like a rose of my work as an artist. I've already mentioned it a couple times, but it really has been seen how far my art has reached and how many people's lives it's been able to impact. Um, I don't take for granted the, the reach of the work 

Speaker 2 (31:40):

And in some ways, like, you know, I'm not a very well traveled person cuz I was, I was undocumented for some part of my life and I didn't have the mobility or the, the financial wellness to do travel a lot. But I feel like my art's more well traveled than I am. And I love that, um, <laugh>. So in some ways, like I love the reach and the impact of my artwork, and that's been part of the biggest row of the work I do as an artist. Um, I would say the thorn is like, you know, how much of it is really when you, when you ask an artist like a working artist, freelance or not, like how many roles they play, how many hats they wear, it's like the amount is just too many. You know, we have to be our own publicist. We have to be our own social media managers, We have to be our own accountant. 

(32:30)
Like, there's just so many things we have to make sure we do. And a lot of artists are overwhelmed by that part and they don't even get to make, you know, and that's what sucks about it. Like, I'm not gonna sugar coat it. The amount that I have to create work is very small compared to the amount that I have dedicated to like all the other shit that came with it, you know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, like answering the emails, figuring out how much to charge for a specific thing. Today alone, I had to file, uh, a complaint with Flicker about one of my pieces being under public domain when somebody posted it without my permission and I have to ask for them to remove it from their website, you know, which I do all the time. Like, that's the kind of underbelly of artist work that people don't talk about. Um, the nasty kind of like weird copyright infringement part. Um, and I think that that is a thorn, right? That we don't have a system or society that values artists enough to help them with that labor. So yeah, 

Speaker 1 (33:33):

Definitely. 

Speaker 2 (33:34):

Yeah. 

Speaker 1 (33:36):

So can we talk a little bit as somewhat, So I, I think a lot of people are in this position now and have been, um, for, for a long time. But as someone who you're kind of creating and forging this hybrid academic artist path, and I think a lot Yeah. You know, however, or, you know, whatever, however we wanna call it. But that's what I would call, I think a lot of people do do that in one way or another. Not, it doesn't even just have to be academia, right? People are working in a full-time gig of some sort and doing their art on the side or, you know, dancing mm-hmm. <affirmative> or, and also, you know, doing something else, but trying to create something new moving forward. Um, so as someone who's, who's kind of in that mix a little bit, what is, what does a, a day look like for you? <laugh> Just, um, building all of that piece, because you just mentioned wearing many hats <laugh>. Yeah. 

Speaker 2 (34:35):

Yeah. No, I love this question. I saw it in the brief before we met and um, I thought it was a really interesting question cuz every day's different. Um, you know, obviously I have a full time job as a postdoc. I teach, uh, courses in technology and, um, yeah, like, you know, a typical day would be if it's a teaching day, right? It would basically be me going to class teaching. I'm teaching digital storytelling and podcasting this semester. So, you know, my day's comprise of very much stuff like this. Like how, uh, like for example, last week my students just pitched their ideas for their podcast to me. So we went, like for three weeks we developed a pitch and, um, um, they met with their groups and they were filling out this like NPR workbook on, you know, um, determining their roles and all that. 

(35:28)
So they had to pitch it to me. So I basically sat through pitches for one class, and then the next class were moving into visual digital storytelling. So I had to prepare a lecture on framing and composition when it comes to visual film. And so I thought about that and like the rule of thirds in film and how to divide your visual so that it's balance all that, so that, that's what my teaching day looked like. And then I would get home and take a nap. I take naps around like one o'clock <laugh>. And then I would kind of switch my gears into either like, prepping for, like, right now I'm writing an article actually about the podcast with my co-host and co creator. So we are meeting every day until we finish it and we're on Zoom for like two, three hours writing and like talking through the paragraphs and stuff like that. 

(36:18)
Um, they're in Illinois, I'm in Washington, so there's some coordination and then, yeah, like the art management, right? So like, I'll try to look at my inbox, both my art inbox and my personal inbox and my work inbox and just trying to like keep up with them. And, um, yeah, I had that request come up from the LA times that day. So I had to like, okay, I'm gonna respond within 24 hours. That would be by tomorrow night, so I'm gonna sit with it tonight and then tomorrow I'll say yes. Right? Um, so as an artist, like not every day looks different, you know, if it was like a non-teaching day, I would probably do the inbox thing again and also, uh, look at my shop and like see, okay, I've made this many sales, like I need to, I just did my taxes recently, so every day looks different. 

(37:06)
Right. Um, there's obviously unpleasant parts of it and I've mentioned it already, but there's parts that are fun. Like, you know, keeping up with people tagging you and you know, your work in their home and like accepting the tags and being in the dms. And I just had an email from somebody who lost their print and wanted to get a new one, but I no longer sell it. So they're just like trying to, you know, play detective and be like, Hey, can you, um, you know, I really love this piece. You don't sell it anymore. Can you print it out for me? I'll pay you. You know, so like, there's like all kinds of random requests and stuff you have to address. Um, the art making doesn't happen, like I said, as much anymore, but I recently remade the logo for our podcast and that took me like six hours on a Saturday. Right. <laugh>. So that was my day that day, <laugh>. 

Speaker 1 (37:55):

Right. I love this question because I ask it to most people coming on the show, and obviously everybody does different things, but it gets such a diversity of answers. Cause some, some folks are like, uh, literally every day is different. Um, occasionally people have the, like a really kind of set schedule, which is mm-hmm. <affirmative> amazing to me, <laugh> like, Wow. Um, but no, I, you know, I think the point is that it can look a lot of different ways. Um, yeah. Thank you for sharing a little bit about how your practice looks. 

Speaker 2 (38:26):

Oh, for sure. Yeah. 

Speaker 1 (38:29):

So do you have any general parting advice for folks looking to pursue art or a new creative practices of some sort? And do you have any particular advice you'd wanna share for women, people of color or people who've mm-hmm. <affirmative> traditionally been pushed out of those spaces? Mm-hmm. 

Speaker 2 (38:51):

<affirmative>. Yeah. I mean, I, I feel like I have too much advice, um, but I'll just leave it at this. Like, the first thing I'll say is for my academics looking to do art or art creative stuff, I was told no multiple times. I was told to stop pursuing artwork in a very formal, scary way. I was pulled into an office and told that it was distracting from my PhD coursework to do art. And I told this story to just emphasize that like, a, that person was outta line for that. B they were wrong, right? The art is the reason I finished my PhD. Um, so if you're pulled into rooms and offices and told that, that's like a really extreme example. But even if you're not, even if the person who's telling you not to do it is yourself and your inner voice, um, just really keep going. 

(39:46)
Like, I stubbornly kept going at it for years and years until I saw any return on my investment <laugh>, You know? So just be really mindful that like, it might take years for you to see the results, but it's totally worth pursuing if you find yourself thinking about it constantly in your day job, which I did. So, um, that's number one. And then the particular piece about women and and BYOC folks who are constantly pushed out of these fields is like, there's somebody, and this is advice that I got from somebody who's white and I love, it's like there's somebody doing, so there's somebody who's mediocre doing the same thing you wanna do right now, <laugh>, you know, so if somebody feels like entitled enough to do this work, then you should just try. Right? Um, mediocrity exists out there. There's a lot of it. 

(40:37)
And I, you know, I know I've, I have been mediocre tense myself. That's fine. Um, that's how you learn. That's how you get better. You gotta be mediocre for some time before you feel confident enough in what you're doing. So just remember, there's people already doing the thing you wanna do and they didn't even think twice about it. You know, they're just like going for it. So if they're doing that, then you are entitled to go for it, you know, especially because you come from this experience that isn't normally in that field. So, uh, we need those perspectives, we need those voices. And a lot of the times there's white counterparts to those people doing work that's mediocre. And I, I wanna emphasize that. Like, if you are a creative of color, you need to put your story out there because somebody will tell it for you. 

Speaker 1 (41:25):

Mm. 

Speaker 2 (41:26):

Yeah. 

Speaker 1 (41:27):

Yeah. 

Speaker 2 (41:29):

<laugh>, Yeah. Mic drop, <laugh> 

Speaker 1 (41:32):

And cut. Um, <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah, definitely that. Thank you for all those pieces of advice, that, that was really helpful. Mm. Is there anything I didn't ask you about that you wanted to, to talk about or would wanna say? 

Speaker 2 (41:46):

No, I'm like, what, what did we cover? Uh, 

Speaker 1 (41:48):

Right. Yeah. No <laugh> no, do, 

Speaker 2 (41:51):

No. I mean, a lot of people don't know that I have a podcast and I think that if they do know, they know too much about me, but if you are not tired of my voice yet, I would love to plug the podcast and just say, go listen. Um, it's really, I call it my stepchild, but it really is such a beautiful project that, um, we did out of, again, this idea that like we were in academia, we were very unhappy and we wanted to do something that wasn't super high stakes. And so the podcast came outta that space of wanting to just talk about the stuff that we were learning, and I'm really proud of it. So if you wanna listen to it, it's called ENL Doing it. And, uh, we just came back, um, after a year hiatus. So it feels very cool to, to finally have new, new things about it again. 

Speaker 1 (42:40):

Yeah. Um, and so again, that'll be in the show notes and it'll also be tagged in like the Instagram posts as well. So if you're listening to this and looking for it, that's where you can go and find a direct link. Do you want to also share any other social media or, or where can people connect with you? 

Speaker 2 (42:56):

Yeah, uh, it's basically my name. I'm very boring on social media in, in regards to like my username, uh, creativity. So it's just my name on he Gabaa. If you look, if you Google me, it'll come up right away on the first page. Um, I'm on Instagram, I'm not on Twitter. I'm afraid of Twitter. I'm terrified of Twitter. 

Speaker 1 (43:17):

<laugh>, I got, I gotta just, I gotta just cancel it. I have, as 

Speaker 2 (43:20):

An academic, I'm terrified. 

Speaker 1 (43:21):

I just regret opening it anytime I do it. 

Speaker 2 (43:25):

Yeah. So, you know, you can find me on Instagram and, and, and all the other things, even TikTok, but I'm not gonna be on on Twitter any, any minute soon. So 

Speaker 1 (43:34):

<laugh>. All right. Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your experience and spending some time with me. 

Speaker 2 (43:41):

Thank you. It's been great. I really enjoyed this. 

Speaker 1 (43:47):

That's it for this week's episode of the Millennial PhD. You can find more content, resources and information on Instagram at the millennial PhD and@themillennialphd.com in this collective moment of reevaluating our relationships with work and exploitation. I look forward to connecting with you and building stronger bonds of community and collaboration. I would love to hear from you via email at the millennial phd@gmail.com with any feedback, comments, questions, or concerns, or if you're interested in coming on the show as a guest. That's all for now. It's been real. See you next time.