Lada Dedić for ‘Art Meets Commerce’

We’re partnering with The Print Bar on a new conversation series called ‘Art Meets Commerce’. Their business helps artists turn their work into saleable, wearable, and shareable items. They also have a strong track-record for supporting women’s work, and from Issue #5 onward they are sponsoring each of our Featured Artists! As with our first post in this series, we’ll be sharing with you the work of our Featured Artist for Issue #6: Lada Dedić. We’re also proud to present a very special collaboration, limited edition embroidered tees—printed of course, by The Print Bar—that Lada has designed.  They literally have big brains on them and they’re available for purchase for $25 each or for $20 with any print publication purchase. (Discount applied at checkout.) As with everything we do, shipping Australia-wide is free. Lada is a visual artist working in SciArt, and she describes her work as straddling a space between the disciplines of science of art. Her current body of work is called Self-Portrait: Artist’s Brain, a series of embroidered self-portraits based on MRIs of her own brain. (Images provided by the artist)

 

HCwBB: How do you balance commercial/financial success with your own personal definition of success?

Lada: Art-making can be an uncomfortable place to sit. Ideally, I would be able to separate myself into three distinct personas.  The first is the ‘Maker’ who hermits away in the studio; another looks after the ‘Business’ side of my practice, ensuring that the admin is done, the bills are paid, the events coordinated and proposals written. Finally, we have the ‘Professional’ who confidently attends events, and humbly speaks about the work without an ounce of arrogance or imposter syndrome; a perfect balance of vulnerability and confidence.  I’m a work in progress and I’d like to think that every day I’m getting better at spinning the plates.

The truth of the matter is that so many artists, myself included have poor financial literacy. As a resource, I’d like to recommend the Starving Artist a podcast by Honor Eastly about art, money, and how to combine those things.

HCwBB: Tell us about how you sell your art

Lada: I am represented by .M Contemporary in NSW, they look after the artwork sales and the distribution of funds to the charities I support. Most of my interstate or international sales enquiries come via my website or Instagram.

2018 Lada Dedić studiolada.com | photo by newmanx.com

HCwBB: Can you talk us through the process of designing to embroidering then preparing your work for exhibition?

Lada: My most recent work was nearly 20 years in the making. I volunteered for a research program where an MRI was taken of my brain every few years. I took those images, played with them to translate them into patterns which I then used as a loose guide. The works were stitched over 10 years.

Exhibition preparation is a whirlwind of a process, the works need to be stretched, framed and photographed, artists statements written, essays commissioned and an invite, catalogue and advertising produced. I like to partner with a charity too, so relationships need to be built there as well. There may be media at various points in the lead-up and during the exhibition.

The artwork is carefully packed and shipped with specialist art freight to the gallery where it is installed, an opening event is held and sometimes other events like artist talks or workshops are held as well. The gallery and I look after these tasks together, every exhibition is different.

HCwBB: What does your work-week look like outside of actually making-the-work?

Lada: My work week is rarely structured. Last week, for example, I stayed up until after sunrise two nights in a row researching the Brain/Gut Axis and the unintended intimacy of sharing the gut microbiome (everyone wants to see art about gut bacteria, right?).

I spent an afternoon at .M Contemporary packing works (and saying goodbye to those heading to their new homes). I attended a professional practice event and had a one-on-one pitch to a gallery outside of Sydney. I also wrote a number of proposals and researched materials for a new project. I made the first test stitch on a new series of works which is scary and exciting all at the same time.

I am lucky to live within walking distance of Square One Studios where I work, so if inspiration strikes at an odd hour—as it often does–I can be there in a flash.

HCwBB: What was your process like for designing the HCwBB embroidered tee?

Lada: Designing the piece was lots of fun! I decided to be playful and stray away from my usual anatomically accurate brain images by incorporating the words ‘Hot Chicks with Big Brains into the sulci (furrows) and gyri (ridges) of the brain. It’s a fun mix of bubble lettering and brain anatomy which reminds me of the street art around Melbourne in the early 90s.

HCwBB: Is more commercial, commerce based work of interest to you?

Lada: I’d take a more philanthropic approach to merchandise.

It would be wonderful to have some cute brain hats (or imagine the kinds of aprons I could design for the gut bacteria artwork!) available for those who’d like to own a little bit of my work but who aren’t necessarily in the market for a 2-meter brain for their living room wall. I always donate a percentage of my artwork sales to a charity, this would be a nice way to grow the donation pool in a more accessible way.

The charity I worked with during my recent exhibition was Neuroscience Research Australia—go throw your money at them, they do such important work.

HCwBB: If money–or time–wasn’t a problem, how would you make and share your work in the long-term?

Lada: I’d love to open an artist’s studio, there would be workshops spaces with access to tools and equipment, photo/sound studios, hot desks with a gallery out the front and a well-paid team who’d  look after the management of the place. We’d have resident artists, writers, musicians, other creators/creatives and visiting cross-collaborators from different fields (scientists, lawyers, chefs, monastics…)

2018 Lada Dedić studiolada.com | photo by newmanx.com

If you liked this post, then you’ll love the long-form interview with Lada in Issue #6 (available for pre-order now) where she talks about how her initial career goal of working as neuro-anatomist turned into an art career. She also tells an unbelievable story about car racing for CSIRO (The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) that you need to read to believe.

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