What are you up to in your creative work at the moment?
Day-to-day I’m kept busy working as the editor for Voice. That predominantly means chasing people for content, editing their submissions and pushing them out on social media. More recently, I have started getting invited to do talks on politics, culture and fake news, which I’m enjoying immensely.
I also sit on the board of directors for Unit Twenty Three – a CIC that works to aid development of young people and creative enterprise, as well as enable more participation in the arts.
What are the highlights of your arts career to date?
I’m never great at taking the time to sit and reflect, or even recognise achievements and highlights. I think one highlight is helping oversee the re-brand of Arts Award Voice into Voice, shifting the site to be much more about youth opinion and culture. Another would probably be how our Edinburgh Festival Fringe coverage has developed over the years to make the site one of the recognisable outlets.
I also feel exceptionally lucky to work with some incredibly talented writers with strong opinions, and interests in areas I’m not as clued up in. It means there is always the potential to learn something new! I also love that they are willing to take advice, but comfortable challenging me when they think I’m wrong. It means I’m doing my job right!
What do you hope to be doing in five years’ time?
If we completely reject reality, I’d like to be retired and living abroad!
More realistically, I hope to still be working at Voice, continuing to develop a strong editorial focus that is both clear in its intention and responsive enough to change with the shifting mood of our readers.
Outside of that, if I’m perfectly honest I don’t really know. I like the idea of doing more feature writing and interviews, maybe dabbling a bit more with video game coverage. I’ve also been threatening to write a book for the last four years, so maybe I’ll have done that by then…
Which level(s) of Arts Award did you do, and how did you use it to develop your creativity or skills?
I went about Arts Award a bit topsy-turvy, starting with my Gold and then going back to do Bronze. I used it as an opportunity to develop my writing and analysis skills. I managed to secure an interview with author Joe Craig, which helped cement my enjoyment of feature writing. My part D was an in-depth exploration about the state of the music industry, and how they are essentially doomed to fail if they don’t modernise. Six years later and I was mostly right!
What advice would you give to young people doing Arts Award who want to follow in your footsteps?
Just do it. The amount of work may seem daunting but it won’t become less by procrastinating. You have to dive in and commit to it – the outcomes are worth it!
Gold-specific questions: these will be the focus on the Gold Hub area of Voice.
In what ways, if any, would you say doing your Gold Arts Award helped your creative development?
Gold Arts Award was more a confirmation that I am capable of doing the things I already aspired to do. I must admit, it did give me that little push towards writing as a career, but that was more due to the connections I made as a result of the award than the award itself, if that makes sense. That’s probably the best thing about Gold, it really can serve as a springboard for careers by introducing you to the right people, and provides you with the perfect portfolio that demonstrates your skillset.
Can you show us (if it’s available on the internet)/take us through what you did for your Gold portfolio?
Sure, I must emphasise though that this was created when I was 17-18 years old, and (hopefully) my writing has improved significantly since then!
Could you share with us any highlights you can remember from doing your Gold?
The aforementioned interview with Joe Craig was a particular highlight. My Unit 2 event, on reflection was quite good too. It was very ambitious, and exceptionally stressful at the time. I’d failed my driving test that morning which sort of set the mood for me that day, but once it was over, and I could look at it objectively it was quite a success. Attendance was great, and to date it’s still the largest event I’ve overseen.
What advice would you give young people doing their Gold now to help them get through it?
Eyes on the prize. You obviously love art or you wouldn’t be doing it, and you certainly must be capable if your advisor put you forwards. When it feels like you have too much to do, just take a step back, breathe, and look at how to break tasks up into more manageable chunks. And don’t forget: network, network, network!