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Bonds x Reach Artists

Community
By The Bonds Team

Here at Bonds, we’re pretty thrilled that we get the chance to work with youth organisation The Reach Foundation, who deliver workshops to Aussie teenagers, giving them the tools and skills to better understand themselves and their peers.

As part of our partnership with Reach, we’re really excited to launch our latest initiative, designed to highlight their amazing work and the values that drive them.

We employed a handful of up and coming, young, local artists to create bespoke art pieces that highlight the values of Reach.

With one artist bringing this initiative to life each month, we are thrilled to see the creativity already coming through.

Here, we catch up with our Reach Artists of the month to chat art, inspiration and values…

July Artist – Melanie Dylan Kim – Stay Young

@melaniedylankim

Q. How did you get your start as an illustrator?

A. My parents were always working late since I was a child. I enrolled into a late-night art class mainly because I needed supervision while my parents were working but ever since I was always surrounded by people expressing themselves through charcoal, paint and various mediums. I picked it up pretty quickly and I guess ever since then it's been my way of meditation and building friendships.

Q. Where do you find inspiration?

A. I find inspiration in my every day, social situations happening around me, and music. I bounce between what I’m drawn to externally like fashion and graphics as well as political issues.

Q. What was it like working on this collaboration with Bonds and Reach?

A. This project was interesting because it forced me reflect on my very early childhood and how its shaped the way I am now. I guess it made me realise that growing up has been a fun ride for me and has made me understood it doesn't always have to be so serious. I need to enjoy the moment, the process and the 'becoming'. It's where I experience most growth and the most enjoyable part.

Q. Reach runs a lot of programs to help support young people at an important time in their lives, what were you like as a teen?

A. I was very confused as a teen. I had so many things I wanted to achieve that I really had a hard time focusing on one goal. I was also easily influenced by the people around me, trends and I thought for a long time, as long as I produced work that was popular I would be able to make a name for myself. In the last few years I feel like I became more self-aware and really wanted to focus on works that could impact my community. More focused on concept rather than aesthetics.

Q. What would you tell your 16-year-old self?

A. I would tell my 16 year old self to trust myself. All the mistakes you make are necessary steps in making a better, wiser version of yourself. That I am still a work in progress and that’s ok.

Q. What does it mean to you to be confident and comfortable in your own skin?

A. Being comfortable in your own skin means having your own values, and opinions and being able to stand up for those values. Confidence really comes from within and having the ability to freely express who you are what you feel and what matters to you. There is not right or wrong so get comfortable about talking about things to truly believe in.

Q. How do you ‘Stay Young’?

A. I stay young by constantly reminding myself that i don't know everything. And by allowing myself to be curious about how things works, how people think and how the world is evolving. I allow myself to make mistakes and forgive myself for not knowing things.

Staying Young means being fearless.

It means being forever curious, having fun and not taking things too seriously. Being able to laugh at mistakes, having the courage to brush it off and keep going.

The two illustrations depict the special moments we share with people close to our hearts. We share our dreams, what we’re working towards, heartbreaks and the silliest moments with our best friends.

I wanted to capture the support I have from my loving friends and what that means to me in my ‘becoming.’ My dreams are forever changing, maturing and my friends evolve with it. We are a unit. We’re unafraid of ageing because we will forever be chasing, sometimes reckless and having fun when we’re together.

********

August Artist – Marisa Mu

@marisa.mu

Q. Tell us about your inspiration for these artworks and how you interpreted the Reach value ‘Give a sh*t’.

A. We are in a societal system that’s culture is so obsessed with our self-image and not enough on our self-esteem. I give a sh*t about creating a life that I don’t want to run away from; that involves self-acceptance and self-love. Giving a sh*t is about realising that you are the centre of your universe and that you are worthy of love and happiness. Rather than looking outwards for purpose and joy, you first have to look within yourself and realise that your self-worth is more powerful than you can imagine. Love reigns.

Reach high for yourself and surround yourself with people that empower you and support you. The ones that don’t cast judgements, but are always right there with you – every step of the way. Start giving a sh*t about yourself and that is when you realise that the universe is not against you – but is working alongside you. This is when the magic happens, when colours brighten and stars align. Reach high.

Q. We’d love to know more about your artistic journey, what got you started?

A. I have always been a creative person but I stopped painting for years when I lost my mum at the age of 19. She was a beautiful painter and I was so riddled with anxiety and the pressures of not being good enough that I stopped painting up until 2 years ago. I had a campaign launch for my design studio and promised myself I would do a small series of paintings to accompany the showcase and it was a week out from release and I hadn’t painted anything.

I woke up one morning and heard my mums voice tell me, ‘Today is the day you try’, and I just recall shaking from fear as I set out my mum’s old paints and I don’t know what possessed me but I started painting naked women dancing freely. And I just was so overwhelmed with happiness and relief that I was crying and laughing at the same time. All the paintings sold at my campaign and that was the definitive moment for me where I realized that painting and art has the power to change lives – its changed mine in ways I can’t quite articulate. Just very grateful to my mum and to art.

Q. Where do you find inspiration?

A. Inspiration comes to me in the form of colours, moments and womanhood and it’s my personal mission statement to spark happiness and positive change within people. I’ve learnt that overcoming adversity and confronting challenges has made me a resilient optimist – I believe in the spirit of the human condition and know on a deep level that we are all interconnected. I want to channel that energy through my art in hopes that it will inspire others to celebrate our day-to-day moments that epitomize what makes us the wonderfully colourful women we are.

Q. What were you hoping to capture in this piece?

A. In ‘Reach High’ and ‘Love REIGNS’, I was hoping to bring cultural diversity, womanhood and body empowerment to the forefront. We are all so unique and wonderful and I want to embody that positive energy and love through these artworks in hopes that people will connect and relate on a deep level.

Q. What do you most ‘Give a sh*t’ about?

A. I give a sh*t about human rights – giving a voice to people of colour, to women and to the LGBTQ community. I want everyone to stand alongside each other, hand in hand, knowing that we are all worthy of love and happiness and for our voices to be known. This is our time for change.

Q. What was it like working on this collaboration with Bonds and Reach?

A. It was incredibly fun and positive – I used to actively buy BONDS underwear when I was a little girl and to know that such a big Australian brand is supporting local female artists makes my heart sing. I have a lot of love to give and collaborating with Reach just deepens and strengthens my love for art and community. We are all witnesses to the current societal movements and it is up to us to make a positive impact onto the next generation. I am so excited and so grateful for this opportunity.

Q. Reach runs a lot of programs to help support young people at an important time in their lives, what were you like as a teen? Was there anything you wish you cared more about at that time?

A. I was a really angry and attention seeking teenager. I went through every phase imaginable, even the Myspace Emo Kid phase and I didn’t even listen to screamo music. The social pressures whilst being a teenage are so intense with every person around you giving you their ‘two cents’ on what you should and shouldn’t be doing.

I don’t know if there’s anything I wished I cared more about, I just wished I was taught to be comfortable to reach out when I needed help or knew how to listen with empathy. Because since becoming an adult, I’ve learnt and felt the power of listening with empathy and isn’t that why we are all here? We speak to be understood but no one is listening.

Q. Where can we catch more of your art?

A. You can find my work online on my website or social media, but I also do exhibitions and Art Fairs. I have a solo booth at The Other Art Fair in Santa Monica, LA in September and also showcasing at The Barangaroo Edition in October.

********

September Artist – Paria

labyrinthofcollages

@labyrinthofcollages

Q. We’d love to know more about your artistic journey, what got you started?

A. I was about 16 when I started creating collages. It gave me something to do that was away from studying and homework during high school. I wanted to have an outlet to de-stress and have fun in my own time. For me, creating collages was the first time I discovered a creative outlet for myself since I had never really considered myself to be an artistic person in any sense. Around the same time, I was discovering what feminism meant and was enthralled in the world of fashion, so my collages were and still are a combination of both.

Q. Where do you find inspiration?

A. I find inspiration through fashion a lot. If my collage revolves around a designer or a specific fashion show I love to research all about them and their inspiration for that show and try to incorporate that into my collages. I also find inspiration in women. I call them ‘muses’, it was important for my younger self to look at women and to know they’re not simply there to look ‘pretty’; they’re building their own empires, using their platforms for wonderful causes, and promoting self-love and confidence.

Q. What were you hoping to capture in this piece?

I wanted to capture something whimsical and fun and overall magical. Being able to express myself in a creative aspect was magic in itself and such an exciting thing to discover. So I wanted to combine all of that into this piece.

practicethemagic

Q. What does ‘Practice the Magic’ mean to you?

A. I’d like to think that ‘Practice the Magic’ encourages you to practice what you’re passionate about and that it invokes a sense of excitement in whatever it may be you’re pursuing.

Q. What was it like working on this collaboration with Bonds and Reach?

A. I was excited to be able to have fun and spend time playing around with glitter and paper, which was very reminiscent of when I first started creating. It also meant a lot that this collaboration includes a program that was taught at my high school, which delivered a positive and rewarding experience during that time.

Q. Reach runs a lot of programs to help support young people at an important time in their lives, what were you like as a teen?

A. As a teen, I was in a constant state of self-criticism, striving for perfection and trying to please others. Because of that, my emotions were all over the place so I never had time to be my self. Once you realise this is a journey a lot of people go through in their adolescence and there’s a way to work through it all, it becomes a little less daunting.

Q. If you could pass some advice on to other young aspiring artists, what would it be?

A. One piece of advice I would give to other young aspiring artists, and something I try my best to follow through with is to stop undervaluing your time and your creativity. Your art is created by your vision and therefore it is unique and authentic so there should never be a moment where you’re in doubt as to why you’re creating and why you’re sharing it with the world. As long as you’re passionate and doing your best that’s all that matters.

********

October Artist – Jake Ross

@jakeross.art

Q: Tell us about your inspiration for these artworks and how you interpreted the Reach value ‘Be Your Word’.

I wanted to achieve the sense that your next step is the most important. Be honest with yourself, take the time to see what you really want, have the discipline to realise your goals are right in front of you, and have the courage to take that leap.

We are forever judged that our goals are unrealistic, that we have to find a job that pays regularly, to buy a house, have a family and do what we are supposed to do. But we are born creative, we are born with unrealistic goals. And we lose that fire, we lose our sense, and we lose our hope. WHY!

Our next steps are the most important, we have the ability to change in an instant, and that's what I wanted to capture. The importance of direction, the importance of self-belief, the importance of Being your word.

Q: We’d love to know more about your artistic journey, what got you started?

I’ve always had a grey led in my hand, ever since I can remember. An art teacher or an architect was all that I wanted when I was going through school, because, for all I knew, they were the only jobs that you could get paid to draw. As you grow older, money, comparison and direction come about, and I joined the military. Whilst in the military, I drew to keep my mind occupied, and escape my reality, in heavier situations where I couldn’t physically escape, my mind was always occupied by a grey led and pad.

I was injured in the military, so now I’m lucky enough to fulfil my dream of drawing for a living. Drawing has always had the biggest impact on me, as rehab, as a way to express my emotions, as an escape, and now, as a full-time job.

Q: Is this your day job or your side hustle? 

As crazy as this seems to say, this is my full-time job. I paint, draw, surf and Illustrate daily. I have to pinch myself every day that I am lucky enough to live the life I have right now.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration strikes you from anywhere. I am a strong believer of anyone in the creative field to carry a pad a pencil everywhere you go, even sleep close to one, because you never know when you’ll feel that fire.

My colours are derived from seasonal flowers in my backyard and the beach I surf. And my lines, my illustrations are inspired by the events of my life. I also get a load of inspiration from the surf. Surfing is something I do every day, it’s my greatest love. If you are feeling a lack of inspiration, then a great way to get some, is to take yourself out of your comfort zone, and do something that you really aren’t used to.

Q: What were you hoping to capture in this piece?

I was hoping to capture that your next step is the most important. If you want to achieve your greatness, then all you have to do is take that next leap, have confidence in that path.

Q: What does ‘Be Your Word’ mean to you?  

Being honest to yourself and having the courage to say who you are. Do whatever it takes to achieve your goals and have that self-belief that you can do it.

Q: What was it like working on this collaboration with Bonds and Reach?

I had to pinch myself a million times when I received that email, to work with Bonds has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. And then to read on and see that I was also collaborating with the Reach foundation, something that I believe in truly was just mind blowing to me. To collaborate with two companies I admire, was truly an honour.

Q: Reach runs a lot of programs to help support young people at an important time in their lives, what were you like as a teen? 

My teenage years were full of creative mishaps and often in a lot of trouble. But I was lucky enough to have two supportive parents, an identical twin we could blame each other on anything, and an awesome sister.
We bounced off one another, and all challenged each other.

Q: If you could pass some advice on to other aspiring artists, or to teens in general; what would it be? 

Comparison is the killer of creativity. Never compare yourself in any field to anyone else.
Be your word, and beat yourself, give yourself a goal, and have the drive come from you, not to show others you can do it, but yourself.

Keep creating, never lose that fire.

********

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