Season Two – James Nguyen

Image credit: Kim Nhung Nguyen

James Nguyen

Season 2 – Episode 1


Instagram handle @jamesnguyens

british sound library:
national archive of Australia
Arts and Letters Daily:


Nick Breedon 0:00
Hi, I’m Nick Breedon,

Kiera Brew Kurec 0:01
and I’m Kiera Brew Kurec

Nick Breedon 0:02
and you’re listening to Pro Prac

Kiera Brew Kurec 0:04
A podcast where we explore the professional practice of artists and hear their stories.

Nick Breedon 0:10
Welcome to Pro Prac. Today we have with us in the studio James Nguyen. James Nguyen is a Melbourne based artist working with documentary practice, installation and performance. He completed his undergraduate studies with honors at the National Art School and a masters of fine art at Sydney College of the Arts at the University of Sydney. Nguyen is currently a PhD candidate at UNSW art and design researching in home videos and self representation and the Vietnamese diaspora. James was a recipient of the Anne and Gordon Samstag International visual arts scholarship allowing him to travel to New York to be a collaborative Fellow at Union Doc Center for Experimental Documentary Arts in 2016. Just completing a new Commission for the Australian War Memorial and the Australian Government’s Department of Communication and the arts he will be going to Kashmir in September in a regional pilot residency program for the Australia Council. Currently, he’s a studio artist at Gertrude, contemporary and an artist committee member at West Space.

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:08
Thanks so much for joining us in the studio today, James. So let’s start off, as we always do with asking you if you could tell us a story of how you became an artist.

James Nguyen 1:19
Okay, so, um, I guess I’ve always made art. And as a kid, I was always kind of like, praised for being able to color within the line. And when I was coloring in, I was always like coloring in in one direction only. So yeah, I was kind of like a very compliant child. Yeah, and I made very compliant coloring in drawings (Laughter).

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:46
Were you particular about what colors you used?

James Nguyen 1:50
Just Just like bright, clean colors, like not mixing colors up Yeah. And so like, in a way, because I was so compliant with it everyone around me praise me for it. And I’m like, Oh, I’m very good at art (Laughter). Yeah, but um, yeah, I did do art in high school. And the funny story is that so did my little brother we were eight years apart but he got into Art Express. And he didn’t really even care about art and I cared about but I didnt get in to Art Express.

Kiera Brew Kurec 2:33
For those who don’t live in New South Wales, is that like a end of yearh exhibition for high school?

James Nguyen 2:40

Kiera Brew Kurec 2:41
We have Top Arts in Victoria.

Nick Breedon 2:43
Yeah, there’s a big show at NGV.

Kiera Brew Kurec 2:45
Yeah, Nick was one of those kids (Laughter), but I didnt get in accepted (Laughter).

James Nguyen 2:50
I know and so it’s like, it’s the motivation to continue and beat the others

Nick Breedon 2:56
Im going to crush him. (Laughter)

James Nguyen 3:00
Yeah, but no, like, I’ve always kind of made art, but um, I did pharmacy as my first degree. And I worked in, well, I worked eventually, as a palliative care pharmacist, and palliative care really thrilling and shiny and happy place. Yeah, but after about six years of that, it kind of like did affect my mental health. Like, I really loved working with everyone, because everyone who ends up in palliative care is really caring, and it’s really lovely. And the team is like, really wonderful and supportive and kind. But, um, when you’re away from that, you’re like, Oh, my God, like, I don’t want to be there. Yeah, yeah. And so like, over time, I got into a rut. And it took my friends from high school to actually pick up on that. And also, to actually tell me while I was driving them home and they’re like, dude, you’re not the person you are, like, you’ve always been, you’ve got to do something about it. And being me I didn’t do anything about it. And so my lovely friends organised to get me a birthday present, which was like nighttime painting classes. Yeah, the National Art School so like for me like those friends are just like the best you know, like without them, I’ll be completely fucked. Yeah,

Kiera Brew Kurec 4:27
Wow. How amazing for them to see that and act on it and support you in that way. That is really special. Wow. So from those classes did you then decide…

James Nguyen 4:43
Yeah, I was like, not that great at it. Like I learned like how to scramble (Laughter). And all of the painting things. Yeah. But then, yeah, like it did plant into my head that idea that hey, I can do art and also, having worked in palliative care, I’m like, wait a minute, you could turn 30 and get like pancreatic cancer. And, you know, like that idea that you could become like an artist later in life, you know, like, once you’ve paid off the mortgage or all that hullabaloo and then reward yourself with a bit of, you know, like plein air painting at the end of your life like, yeah, it felt kind of like, absurd. Like, well, life’s short. I’ve just got to make it happen somehow. And in a way, having my friends kind of behind me and kind of like having them kind of like trusting me and to support me in this process. Like it made it really easy. Yeah, yeah. So yeah, so so I guess from those nighttime painting classes, you just quickly transferred into like, an undergraduate degree. And that kind of like legitimize the practice of making art because you know, you’re going through an institutional structure.

Nick Breedon 6:10
Yeah we are all brainwashed by our schools.

Kiera Brew Kurec 6:15
Was that a hard transition for you from being in a place of employment to then being a student again? And then and also, you know, what could seem as very different ends of the spectrum?

James Nguyen 6:28
Yeah, So like, I was very lucky. So I developed this portfolio that the National Art School wanted of drawings and things like that. And yeah, and so it took me probably a year to kind of like, do that slow transition to prepare to go to art school, university, and kind of like ween myself of like, public health. And in that process, I did turn from public health to kind of like working at a community pharmacy setting. And with that, it had more flexibility. And also, I could work more weekends. And so that was how I kind of like, managed it. So working weekends, and then studying full time.

Nick Breedon 7:21
We were actually just speaking to our last guest about how working in the arts and then having an arts practice, it’s like, it’s kind of not really enough money to support your arts practice, but maybe getting something more in a medical field is like the way to go?

James Nguyen 7:33
Like, um, yeah, a pharmacy has absolutely helped me kind of, like manage my finances along the way. But one of the really weird things is that pharmacies are a female dominated industry. And so compared to a lot of other health, you know, like, specializations, it’s actually really poorly paid. And especially in like, private practice, like, which is dominated by, you know, like, big chains, like, you know, chemists warehouse, whatever. Yeah, they’re kind of like, yeah, they, they actually don’t pay people properly. And, and the wages are like, not that great. And so it’s this idea where the arts is really underpaid. But then a lot of the other services are just as underpaid and exploited. And, and yeah, especially in industries where it’s like, female dominated, like, it’s just really predictable. But also, it’s kind of like, yeah, it’s really terrible. It’s kind of like childcare, you know, like eldercare, or all these things that involve care. Yeah, it’s just underpaid, but I’m just complaining.

Nick Breedon 8:55
Well I think we sometimes have this perception in the arts that like oh waaa waaa, it is so hard being an artist, and it’s so hard working the arts, but I think, you know, so many other industries are really, you know, suffering as well today.

yeah, but but I think the thing is that if we have a platform to complain about it and to kind of like really work towards improving our situation, then it can potentially like lead for other industries to you know, like, maybe work with us or you know, like sharing that idea of, you know, like, it’s we’re just not like separate industries. We’re all people trying to survive and make money and get through and the idea that you know, like all the industry should come together and, you know, fight the good fight. I think it’s really important.

Kiera Brew Kurec 9:51
When he came to art school did you kind of, did you feel better? Was it like a feeling of you were starting to be satisfied in ways you were not before? Or was it a whole new experience? Or were you like, really prepared by that stage and just kind seamlessly floated into that space.

James Nguyen 10:10
Yeah, like, I felt like I kind of seamlessly floated in because I had already done tertiary education with my previous degree. And I guess with Yeah, I don’t know, it’s that it that if you’re, if you’ve done something like that before, and you’ve really wanted to do art, then you just do art like, you just like to all the assignments hand them in on time turn up, like, go to all the drawing classes. And what was actually really fun was that at the National Art School, like you would turn up, and then the whole week, you’d be covered in charcoal and you’d feel like some dirty, dirty grot, right and, and then like on Friday, when it was kind of like, art history and theory day, like you’re able to wear like pants and a shirt (Laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 11:07
I had when I was going through undergrad, a family friend living with us at my Mum’s house and I would always steal his jumpers and stuff to wear it and he would get so pissed off with me because you’d always be like, they always come home dirty with like paint or charcoal or something like mushed into it. I was like, What doesn’t everyone get this dirty when they’re at uni?

Nick Breedon 11:31
I think people thought I was so badly dressed the whole way through uni. And well I was but it was just like, Yes, because I’m in the workshop every day. It’s not I’m like up here like drawing nice pen drawing or like, you know,

James Nguyen 11:44
on your laptop. (Laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 11:46
You know, at VCA at that time as one friend put out, she was an international student. She was like, I can’t believe I paid so much money just sit on the floor for three years. Because we never had any chairs. (Laughter)

James Nguyen 11:59
But also, the other thing is that you can tell like how early on in undergrad certain undergrads are you know, what year there in, the first few months like they are dressed really nice and they’re like this just this steep decline.

Nick Breedon 12:17
Yeah, it’s like everybody in masters just like wearing rags

Kiera Brew Kurec 12:24
Or it is the oppositie and you’r like I actually haven’t been to the studio to make work I’ve just been writing this fucking thesis

Nick Breedon 12:29
Yeah I am in the libary for six months straight.

James Nguyen 12:31
Yeah. Yeah, everyone’s is really just like unhealthy looking no one has got any vitmin D (Laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 12:45
So after Uni were you like you were sold on it, and you want to keep practicing? What happened from there?

James Nguyen 12:54
Yeah, so like, um, yeah, like, I’ll go to mention that pretty much all of my opportunities came from, like supervisors, and like really supportive people. Like, even though the National Art School was seen as this kind of conservative school where, you know, they teach you to, like, draw and make create pictures in proportion and all these things. Um, yeah, like, um, yeah, a lot of the teachers started to put me into like, little exhibitions and things. And then I ended up doing an honors and then I went to SCA to do my masters. Because like, in my head, because I’ve done a degree before, like, when I started. When I started art, I was like, I better be super strategic. And so like, my plan, originally, from the very start was to go to the most conservative, you know, like, practical, hands on kind of like, undergrad and then move to different schools to open up networks. Yeah, because I was like, this kind of like strategic conniving kind of person. No, but but in the end, it meant that I was able to open yourself to more opportunities, or different people. Yeah. And I think that’s really important to not kind of like stay in one place.

Nick Breedon 14:27
I think so often do people I think people studying at VCA particularly guilty of doing that.

Kiera Brew Kurec 14:34
Yeah Im guilty

Nick Breedon 14:35
Yeah, you know, in doing undergrad, and then honors, and then masters and then even a PhD, all in the same school. And I think, you know, depending on who you are, of course, but yeah, it does have the potential to be really limiting. You know, the networks that you have,

Kiera Brew Kurec 14:49
yeah, it’s definitely something on reflection that I’ve thought about of being like, you know, that could have been really beneficial to move to another university or to interstate to find supervisors, that would have been really beneficial for my practice at that point.

Nick Breedon 15:06
Yeah. And so I actually met you very, very, very briefly for maybe five minutes at Salote Tawale’s house, and she spoke a little bit about how moving to Sydney opened up a lot of possibilities for her to kind of continue her practice. And we’ve since learned that you’ve moved to you’ve actually moved to Melbourne

James Nguyen 15:28
Because of Salote (Laughter)

Nick Breedon 15:30
Just need to get away from her.

James Nguyen 15:32
She was sucking up all the energy all the money (Laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 15:38
I was going to say there has been a hole in Melbourne arts community since she left and you have come to fill it.

James Nguyen 15:45
Oh so positive

Nick Breedon 15:46
Oh much nicer (Laughter). Yeah, so you’ve moved to Melbourne just this year? What prompted you to leave Sydney to come to Melbourne?

James Nguyen 15:56
Yeah, so Gertrude studios, so yeah, like, it’s this weird thing where I think when you move or you go away, like people think you’re special.

Nick Breedon 16:10
I thought you’re gonna say like, people think you’ve died? (Laughter)

James Nguyen 16:16
No, that’s why Instagrams there. It’s like, look at me. Yeah, yeah, but I think um, yeah, like, cuz when I finished at SCA, I went overseas to do like an experimental documentary film collaborative, like super long project like, school. And I think that actually really helped my career. And one of the best things was that I had established such good friends that while I was away overseas, I was put in like, a bunch of like, group shows, but all my friends had installed all the works for me. You know, and, and it’s that kind of, like, support network that is really important. Yeah, becuase like, it’s sometimes it’s Yeah, as you say, sometimes when you move like, you feel like you’re absent, and then you lose that contact, but in a way, like having the support network of friends allow you to kind of like maintain that kind of like presence while while you’re away. So that really helps. Um, yeah, but I think since I’ve moved to Melbourne, like I’ve, like, it’s been really great. Like, um, yeah, becuase like, I think it’s really important to kind of like start building up networks before you move. So like, for me, I wouldn’t have moved here. If it wasn’t for Gertrude. Because just going to your place by yourself is really boring and lonely. But to have like an institution or like a group of people involved in a project or something that you that you’re in the middle of like, that just makes the whole process just like so simple and so easy. You’re like plonk

Nick Breedon 18:10
Your like a mollusk

James Nguyen 18:12
Yeah. Yeah, you just insert yourself into things.

Nick Breedon 18:16
Like a parasite (Laughter)

James Nguyen 18:17
Oh, yeah, that’s me. Yeah yeah yeah hyper parasydic. But yeah, like I did, like the Next Wave last year. And I had, like, made some friends from that. And it made the move really easy. Because, you know, from working with, like, Bron, my, like, producer, like, she found me a place to stay like, So it’s kind of this thing where, when you’re working in a city, like you really need to kind of like, you put yourself out to do like projects elsewhere. And while you’re doing those projects, make sure that you find friends and find networks that you can really attach yourself to like a mollusk. Yeah, so so that, you know, like, they create kind of like, a safety mechanism for you when you move right.

Kiera Brew Kurec 19:12
Next Wave has come up quite a few times. But it’s such a great program for that because there’s so many interstate artists so you make these kind of Australia wide network. Yeah, I know really intense like yeah, especially if you go through the lead up program as well. really intense relationships and yeah, it’s a great program.

James Nguyen 19:33
Yeah, I yeah, like for for me, I just can’t love anything more than Next Wave So like, when it doesn’t have funding and it’s in the state of precarity like it makes me extremely sad because I’m like, I’ve benefited from it so much.

Nick Breedon 19:48
Oh yeah us too. We both went through I did back then it was called the kickstart program, which was the you know, in between year of development, and I mean, yeah, like so much of of my career I owe to the things that I learned, you know, during during that program. That was all that was all of my professional development that I learnt then.

Kiera Brew Kurec 20:09
And lasting friendships as well. I also want to touch on you were a recipient of Samstag. Which is like the elusive amazing grant that everyone always wants. So Congratulations.

James Nguyen 20:32
That was while ago.

Kiera Brew Kurec 20:33
Yeah. But still, congratulations on being one of those people that get it. It’s incredible. How was that experience for you? And what did that do for your career?

James Nguyen 20:45
Yeah, it was amazing. But I have to say, like, I think one of the reasons why I got it was that, at that time, Samstag was a postal or submission. And, you know, like, I’m a dork that, like, loves writing grants and sending things by post, so I probably sent mine in on time and that probably canceled out a lot of the competition.

Kiera Brew Kurec 21:09
Yeah because you had to always have it postmarked by a certain date.

Nick Breedon 21:12
Yeah i dont think there’s was postmarked. I think you actually had to have it here on the date.

Kiera Brew Kurec 21:20
For people who are a little bit younger than us listening who didn’t have to ever post in an application

Nick Breedon 21:27
Printing slides man!

Kiera Brew Kurec 21:29
and also, I had been at the post office many times with other groups of friends like five of us and we’re running to the post office being like, can you backdate this stamp So it’s like at 4pm rather than being there, like right on? Because they would change the time on the stamp of when you actually took it into the post office and like having to like, plead with your local postal woker.

Nick Breedon 21:49
please post this today, it has to be postmarked by today.

Kiera Brew Kurec 21:53
Yeah. Which is just wild to think about now (Laughter)

James Nguyen 22:04
Now, what we can probably do is like get a VPN so that when you submit things online, you just like change your location like I’m sending it from London.

Kiera Brew Kurec 22:19
I am always like – your server was down

Nick Breedon 22:26
I shouldn’t be telling people this but I am like oh it bounced.

James Nguyen 22:32
But generally they really good. If like you missed that you missed the deadline. Then you write a nice email apologizing, I think, yeah, most people are fine.

Kiera Brew Kurec 22:41
And if you you know, someone who isn’t putting in a shit application, that’s a waste of their time to read that you’ve actually gone to the effort, they can open it up and see straightaway that you have spent the time putting that together and you haven’t written it in five minutes before the deadline or whatever. You know, people are pretty nice about it. So anyway, with Samstag, where did you go and what did you do?

James Nguyen 23:06
yeah, so so we’ve samstag um, I ended up going to UnionDocs And I guess what, that’s maybe one of the reasons why I might have stood out from the crowd, because I didn’t want to go to Goldsmith’s or Parsons. Oh, you know, like, all those kind of like, elite fancy places. And yeah, so like UnionDocs. It took me a while to find them. And, yeah, they were just amazing. So basically, I had a deep think about where I wanted my practice to be. And at that time, was mainly in kind of like performance video and cinematography. And I’m like, Yeah, but then I was like, wait a minute, I’m actually not saying anything with the work that I’m making. And so I was like, maybe I need to, like, look into like, documentary process. And, and so like, having that concrete idea of, you know, like moving my practice into documentary, I found UnionDocs, which, you know, like, every year, they would bring in like six people from overseas, and like six local Americans, usually from New York, and then throw them together and have this one intense year of, you know, like, forcing them to find stories and produce like, six to 12 like little documentaries, and yeah, and you’ve got to learn to work together, you’ve got to learn to like, fight with each other. You’ve got to learn to like pitch. And then throughout that whole thing of making your own work, like you have to kind of also have all these workshops with like, all these amazing documentary filmmakers, it’s like the best thing on earth. And like, a lot of people say that, you know, like in New York, the art world and the art scenes, like kind of like really commercial and lame and blah, blah blah. And I’m like, Yeah, sure. But then there’s lots of like little satellite organizations that are actually like really experimental. And just like really incredible and like super ethical and how they work with each other. And how they train people up to like, develop these skills. Yeah. And so I was like, really lucky to fall into that. And yeah, I had the best time in New York, because I had like nerdy documentary makers like running around, and going to like weird places, where most people would kind of like not have access to.

Nick Breedon 25:40
I think people forget about New York, too. It’s like, there’s no art community in New York, it’s communities. And they’re all like, I mean, there’s just so many people there that there’s all just pockets, like everywhere, they all do different things. And it’s just like, you know, whereas maybe in Melbourne, you have like three of your friends who are interested in that thing. There’s like a whole community that just want interest in that one specific form of practice, or topic or whatever it is.

Kiera Brew Kurec 26:07
And there’s probably some little institution that is working around that.

James Nguyen 26:11
Yeah. And they can get like the best quality people, like people are won like Academy Awards, making documentary film, but because documentary film doesn’t make any money, they’re just as poor as you. And so it’s like, they’ll come in, and they’ll teach you like how to be poor together (Laughter). Yeah, so it’s that kind of, like, amazing camaraderie. And I think you really do need to search for those little places, because otherwise, like, you know, like, I don’t know, like, I feel like a lot of the kind of like, post grad, masters and PhDs, the, they’re kind of like, this churn of people. And it’s like, their way of making like big money and big bucks. And you get a big brand. And you like, you know, like a big, you know, like Columbia on your forhead or, you know, like NYC like, yeah or NYU, like, yeah, like that opens doors, but then in a way Like, does that really help with your practice? Like, for some people, that would be amazing, because they’ll be able to find a gallery, they’ll, they’ll be able to really establish themselves, as you know, like, a maker and also a producer of like, you know, like viable work. But then the other idea of viability is like you find a community that makes your work viable. Yeah. And so it’s kind of like, yeah, you just got to really decide what, yeah, you’ve got to be strategic.

Nick Breedon 27:46
Yeah, yeah, I guess like those, those universities and institutions are only really as useful as, you know, like you were saying before, as if you actually use them. And you know, you do kind of access the resources that they have, whether it’s the lecturers or the, you know, the libraries or whatever, whatever it is, like, you need to kind of be able to, like, utilize what you’ve got there, because like, you know, anyone could go through a degree at NYU, and just come out the other side with no friends, because they didn’t talk to anyone.

Kiera Brew Kurec 28:14
But it is the same here, I remember my master’s program at VCA, there was a few of us that had done undergrad there, and quite a lot there hadn’t. And for some of those students who didn’t know what teachers were there, and what, or they might have known that they were there, but might not have known that they actually had a specific interest in this one thing, even though they didn’t make work about it, that could be really good for them to discuss their practice with they didn’t have access to that, because that information wasn’t readily available. Whereas us who had gone through undergrad, there knew that which can be a bit of a shame when people yeah, go through a whole postgraduate degree without fully getting the resources that are available at a university,

Nick Breedon 29:02
but also maybe they didn’t actually turn up and talk to them and book meetings with them you know, it’s, it kind of cuts both ways.

Kiera Brew Kurec 29:09
Oh totally, definitely. But sometimes, things aren’t particularly advertised as well,

James Nguyen 29:16
Also like, you’ve got to be like, really not, like aware that, you know, like, these universities and institutions are exploitative, you know, like, your resource, you know, like, you’re there so that they can get a certain number of funding, you know, like, they you, you know, like, why would they let you do like a PhD because, like, you have, you know, some caches as a artists, you know, yeah, and so, like, because they’re exploiting you, like, you need to exploit them, like the idea that, you know, like, are you just this passive person, it’s just gonna, like, move through this space, that’s fucked. Like, you’ve got to really take as much as you can from them, because they’re really exploiting you, like, you know, like, if you don’t exploit them, then it’s like, it sucks to be you, right? Like, you’re fucking idiot.

Nick Breedon 30:09
What have been some of the biggest challenges or things you’ve needed to overcome to continue practicing?

James Nguyen 30:17
I dont know, like, learning that… Yeah, it’s that whole whole process of, you know, like being assertive with what you want. Yeah, because like, even though I have that, kind of, like, bigger plan, or, you know, like, being into to institutional slut and making my way through all the institutions like, yeah, like having the confidence to actually approach your lectures, or kind of, like, having that confidence to kind of like, contact artists that you really love. And, you know, like, Oh, you want to work with like, I think that has been extremely long process for me like now like, it feels like I’m collaborating with like, anyone. And it’s kinda like, who is this person who doesn’t have their own practice? But yeah, but But yeah, like that, that whole, that whole capacity to go and approach people and kind of, like, stalk them, and then contact them Like, it’s, it’s actually really hard, like, psychologically, you know, like, yeah, it’s that thing where, I don’t know, like growing up, like you think that anyone in the institution or anyone who’s a teacher, or who has kind of like, I dont know role is God, right?

Nick Breedon 31:45
And anyone, like more than one year older than me.

James Nguyen 31:49
Right, yeah. So, yeah, so like to kind of like, realize that they’re also just like, people. And, you know, they’re interesting people, and kind of like, just kind of like just getting the kind of like courage to just approach them. I think that that has been really hard. But once you do it, like you just kind of get addicted to it.

Kiera Brew Kurec 32:14
I don’t think I was especially in undergrad, it was not something that I was aware of. And then suddenly, after graduating, there was like, certain students from my level that had formed these really strong friendships and relationships with some of the teachers. And I was like,

Nick Breedon 32:29

James Nguyen 32:30
wait a minute

Kiera Brew Kurec 32:31
I didn’t know we’re allowed to do that. And I, you know, continue to these days to have these really strong relationships and collaborative processes, and practices. So yeah, to me, I did not know that that was available. And yeah, and I still am trying to overcome that as well of being able to Yeah, every time we email someone for Pro Prac, that’s like, I feel like I’m asking someone out on a date. I’m like, will you

James Nguyen 33:01
Whe are they going to call back? (Laughter)

Nick Breedon 33:04
I did see an old teacher who was sort of like my standing supervisor some time ago, and I think I invited her for a studio visit. And it’s like, I did ask her on a date her response was like Oh, yeah. I would like that. Yeah, you do that. Soon. Burning on the inside. (Laugher)

Kiera Brew Kurec 33:34
I’m just gonna counteract that with I was really ballsy, though, and contacted two really big artists, about projects. One was in my honors year. There was a text that had been accompanied, he does work at the Venice Biennale, I had visited at that short, like two years beforehand. I didn’t pick up this text. So I sent him an email. When I was actually knows when I was in third year, and he was Daniel Knorr, a representative for Romania. I sent him an email saying, Hey, I didn’t get the text Ididn’t pick it up. Do you happen to have any copies? And he was like, yeah, sure, I’ll post you one. And then he really kindly sent it to me, which was really lovely because I was able to use it for my art history essay, and I sucked at writing essays, and that really assisted me. And then a year or two later, I was in Germany. And before I went, my Mum was like, do you still have that piece of paper that that artists like sent like the packaging that he sent the book in because it had his address on it. She was like, look him up!

James Nguyen 34:44
(Laughter) Your mum is setting you up!

Kiera Brew Kurec 34:48
and I did and he totally invited me to his studio and was so kind he gave me so much information hegave me another one of his books, which then went on to be like a crucial text for me. The European Infludenza It was amazing. And then again, another person I had seen, I’ve just like randomly emailed Tanja Ostojic, and was like, Hey, I really like your work I’m going to be in Berlin can we have coffee? And she was like, Yeah, let’s go out for dinner. And she’s like a massive artist. And she took the time to sit down with me and really talk through concepts that I was going through in my practice, that maybe the teachers at that time weren’t able to have those kind of dialogues with me. So, you know, putting sometimes putting yourself out there and asking someone can really pay off because those two people really, really helped me at a point where, yeah, I wasn’t able to get that feedback within the institution.

Nick Breedon 35:57
Isn’t that one of those things, like the worst they can say is no.

Kiera Brew Kurec 36:00
yeah, totally. It’s so true. I mean, it’s hard. It’s really hard to overcome that. And maybe it’s because I didn’t know them that I was a little bit fearless and was like, that’s fine. I’ll just like shoot off an email and ask them there’s no harm in asking, but when it maybe is a lecturer or someone within the community that you work in, and like putting yourself out there to say, Hey I really like your practice and can we like talk about what you’re talking about? I mean, to that to like, that big can be really scary.

Nick Breedon 36:25
Don’t you think, though, like if you if you you know, some little art baby from, you know, overseas, emailed you now and was like, ah, Hi I am a really big fan of your work like can I meet up with you? I know I’m like, that’s never gonna happen. No one from like, Portland is gonna be like, Hi, I’m really big fan of you in Melbourne, I’m coming to Melbourne, no one does that. But if they did, like, wouldn’t you take them out for dinner, I’d be so flattered. I’d be like, a rock star now. Like kids out for dinner, tell them about the world and life and art (Laughter)

Kiera Brew Kurec 36:58
I would probably redirect to them to someone else.

James Nguyen 37:05
But it makes you think that kind of like how you know that that idea of confidence is for us, we have to learn it. And we really have to, like practice it. And we actually really have to tell ourselves that it’s possible to kind of like, reach out. Yeah, because I guess there would be like segments of the society where this just comes naturally. You know, like, particular people would have, you know, grown up with a lot of privilege. And so like, their movement through the world is much more easier than ours. And so it’s that thing where they have the confidence to do this. And it’s like, really normal thing for them. And so kind of like, they would get these opportunities. And those opportunities come easy, right? I guess easy to various degrees. But then like, for all of us, like, we really need to, like fight back in a way by believing in ourselves and kind of like, you know, like, be confident.

Nick Breedon 38:15
Asking all the time.

James Nguyen 38:16
Yeah. Because constantly like, as we’re growing up and moving through institutions and spaces, like things undermine us and things like take away our confidence, and prevent us from like, stepping up and kind of like, putting ourselves in a place, you know, like, and, and, and, you know, like, yeah, like, I just find that. Yeah, like, that’s a really important thing that we need to fight back on, in that we need to put ourselves in that place. Like, otherwise, no one’s gonna do it for us. Yeah. Because, you know, like, the other motherfuckers You know, they’re taking up all the space.

Kiera Brew Kurec 38:55
Totally. Yeah So spot on. Like, yeah, some people it’s, they’re taught it from day one, and taught speak with or ask with an authority. I still, yeah, again, really struggle with that and writing. One of my most hated things to do is having to ask people for like to be a referee for something or to write a letter of support. I had an incident in my honors, where I asked my supervisor if they would, I think I said, would you would you wish or would you care? Or would you like to write a letter of support and they came storming into my studio was like, of course, I wouldn’t like to do it. I have to do it. It’s my responsibility as your supervisor things.

James Nguyen 39:42
Stop being so nice, right?

Nick Breedon 39:46
I don’t think they meant it as in like, you need to crush this by the balls. They were like, fucking stop asking me this.

Kiera Brew Kurec 39:53
Yeah, yeah, like it crushed me and like I still I’m trying to get over the fact that like, The people that I asked now, of course, they would want to they’re people that I work with, and people who support my practice, but that was like, you know, when you are someone that doesn’t know how to ask for things, and and then you get cut down or shut down, that can be so damaging because you’re already from a place of so little. That it kind of Yeah, you kind of start going into the negative.

Nick Breedon 40:28
Yeah, when maybe somebody else who has more confidence would have just asked for it with so much authority that they would have been like, yeah or no worries.

Kiera Brew Kurec 40:34
Yeah. Or have the right language to do so that’s, I think another thing is, um, you know, when you’ve, you’ve been shown from young age, how to do that. Yeah.

Nick Breedon 40:44
That that will actually was that, that really great little clip on Instagram that you showed me that was like, how to how to how to change your passive language in your emails. And it wass a chart of like, you know, sorry for the delay in you know, returning to your email, and it was like, Thanks for your patience. So, yeah, maybe we’ll we’ll pop that up on our Instagram. Yeah, it’s great.

Kiera Brew Kurec 41:09
So for you, James, what does a successful practice mean to you?

James Nguyen 41:16
So like, I guess, like a successful practice means that you can keep going and doing what you do. And that means you need a lot of things behind you. So like, you need the support of the people around you, you need kind of like, as we were talking about before, kind of like, the confidence to kind of believe in what you’re doing. And kind of like putting yourself in uncomfortable situations. So you just get there. Yeah, and also kind of like financially, like you could go to, like, make enough money to make the work that you want. But, um, what I’m learning really quickly is that when you are making work, that’s a commission or, you know, like, when you get an artist fee, like, a lot of people see that as, like a big opportunity to do something big, and to do something ambitious, and then push themselves financially into like, a really difficult position. And, and kind of like a lot of institutions they give you seed funding, and they give you like, a little bit of money so that you have to spend a lot of time yourself, like to find more money to present something really big and ginormous and fabulous inside their space. And then they get kind of like, yeah, the credit, like yeah, and I’m like, that’s kind of fucked and so to make my practice sustainable, I’m like working from Okay, so you’re giving me that amount? I’m gonna work backwards, and work it out how I can make my work to that amount that you’ve given me. Like, if you pay me $500 for a show. Okay, expect something on USB. Like, um, yeah, and I think you’ve just got to be ruthless and smart like that. And sometimes, you don’t need to be spectacular. And the best person in a show like you, you don’t need to put yourself in financial danger to to make something that lasts for like, four weeks right. I’m like, What the fuck?

Kiera Brew Kurec 43:34
yeah and the more the institution see artists, you know, not pushing back. You know, not seeing it, you know, just as an opportunity and, you know, doing what is actually being paid of them. I think that’s a really good thing. And yeah, that’s something that I’m kind of learning at the moment as well.

Nick Breedon 43:54
that’s something I only really picked it up when I started working, like freelancing is like an art installer, that, you know, you have a budget to do a project and you have to, you know, you have to deliver that or you need to change the scope. And so, you know, reading some books on like, freelance freelancing, you know, especially, like, you know, freelance, like web design and stuff like that. It’s like, yeah, if you know, if this is the money that you have, like, this is what I can provide for that much. And I think that artists so often don’t do that. They, they think that they’re sort of like, you know, they’re putting like a down payment on a future return. And it’s just, it’s never gonna,

James Nguyen 44:35
It is not going to be a return. No

Nick Breedon 44:36
Like you’re gonna get, you know, you’re gonna have a show and like, the biggest museum or art gallery in the world, and it’s still gonna be like, they’ll give you five grand, and want to, you know want a 30 grand show.

James Nguyen 44:44
yeah, and then like next month they will want something else, right, like, you’re like, the idea that you put on a show is in a carousel. And so is it really worth like, going into debt so that you spend the next few years paying it off? While you’re just like, you know, one blip on kind of like their programming like, it really there’s no point. So, yeah, I yeah, my thing that I would kind of like always recommend is to look at, you know, like, what they’re gonna give you work backwards from that, you know, like and, and also kind of like the creativity is not always to make, like the most spectacular work or make the most of that opportunity, like the opportunities there to kind of like make cheap work. Yeah, you know, like, how can you make your work as cheap as possible for a maximum outcome? Can you just throw everything on the back of your ute and then drive around and make, you know, like, 20 minute performances, because, you know, you don’t want to book you know, like, all these extravagant kind of spaces that no one’s gonna pay tickets for. So you’ve got to be creative as an artist to Yeah, to kind of, like, exploit that system where you can make work that’s, like, not expensive, like, make things out of paper and staples, like, you know, like, just pare back, and sometimes paring back actually makes the work a lot more. Like, impactful, in a way, like really humble, like, cheap. Like, everyone can relate to cheap. (Laughter)

Nick Breedon 44:44
Yeah, unless you’re rich, and then it’s not for you. Yeah. But yeah, I think I think everybody can benefit from finding where that that balance is for them. Like, you know, I’ve definitely gone, you know, both ways, and it’s maybe, you know, a little bit in the middle, or, you know, more towards the cheap side, but I think, yeah, I think that everybody can benefit from from exploring that. Of seeing how, you know, how small can you pack something up? How portable can you make something? how cheap can you make something?

Kiera Brew Kurec 46:56
how much of your artists fee, can you put away for your savings?

Nick Breedon 46:59
Yes pay yourself first

Kiera Brew Kurec 47:01
Yeah, you know, it doesn’t all have to go back into your arts practice.

Nick Breedon 47:06
Yes, I do see a lot of artists that, you know, they do get, like a big opportunity like this. And then like for, you know, three months, they like, party and like live it up, which is, you know, part of part of often part of that kind of, like, you know, the peaks and troughs if you like, yeah, you know, you like really, really poor and staying with friends for a little bit, you know, and maybe can’t afford your rent, and then you like, you know, drinking martinis on the rooftop.

James Nguyen 47:38
You know, like, I think that art is totally has the prerogative to do that if they want to, because, you know, that’s their mental health. And that’s their care. Right? Like, yeah, you know, like, you work two, three years, like on these really difficult, conceptually challenging, vulnerable things, and then you get a little bit of a grant fuckin enjoy it like, yeah, no one, no one can tell you what you can do with that money. Like, just be really clever with how you fill in the forms afterwards, like, Yeah, and I think sometimes in those moments, like, extreme partying, or sometimes, like, things can come out of those. And you know, you can actually create art from you know your extravigance.

Nick Breedon 48:26
Yeah, I just think maybe, like, you know, have intention for what you want to do as well. Like, and just be aware of the fact that like, you know, you don’t always want to be super frugal, and poor all the time because it can be really damaging to your mental health. But like, you know, yeah, make sure make sure you maybe pay yourself a little bit first, and then have your martini on the rooftop.

James Nguyen 48:44
Yeah, yeah.

Kiera Brew Kurec 48:48
Could you give us a rundown of what your practice looks like, in a day or a week in the life of James?

James Nguyen 48:56
Yeah. So at the moment, like, I’m, I’m working, like locum in pharmacy, like, so whenever my funds go really low, then I go work at a pharmacy for a few days. And then, you know, like, get back into kind of like, normal finances yeah, but Lately, I’ve been kind of lucky in having projects with a little bit of funding. And so I’m able to kind of like eke my way from project to project at the moment. And so like, basically, most of my time is spent hustling, answering emails, responding, and, and in a way, I think a lot of my opportunities have come from the fact that you’re seen as reliable. And also, like, I make videos really quickly, that can slot into places where if people have a gap or if people Have someone who happens to pull out or something, then they can just slip a video or something little that I’ve made. So make sure that your practice is like really broad, like, you know, like, make some video, like make some sculpture things like, yeah, in a way, that’s just just so that you could slot your your practice into multiple places, and most of my time is spent kind of like answering emails on time, you know, like responding to people’s things like, on time, so that, you know, like, you hold on to those opportunities, and you can keep those opportunities afloat. And then you can slip in kind of like this work there that work there. And it’s kind of like that.

Kiera Brew Kurec 50:50
Yeah. Nick and I are both we’re pretty into being really prompt with email responses to people

Nick Breedon 50:58

Kiera Brew Kurec 50:59
Yeah, most of the time. And it’s like, something Yeah, that I kind of pay attention to as well, because I don’t want to be known as a person that’s like,

James Nguyen 51:09

Kiera Brew Kurec 51:10

Nick Breedon 51:10
Yeah a hugefear of that

Kiera Brew Kurec 51:13
Yeah. And being like, slack or like, you know, flaky or whatever it is, that people are thinking. And, yeah, I think I think there’s a lot to be said about being someone that, you know, it really sucks writing emails all day, and it takes up way too much of our time. But at the same time, I do get emails back being like, thank you so much for doing this or like, things turn around a lot quicker, because you are turning things around a lot quicker. And it, it can be really helpful. I understand that not everyone can be like, on their emails all the time. I mean, neither can I but I think it’s, you know, it’s a considerate thing to do when there’s people that are at the other end, and their jobs are like

James Nguyen 52:02
under pressure like when they need, like, yeah, like with with grants, and, you know, like, half the time they’re hustling for you, right? Like they’re, you know, like, museum people like non, you know, like, people who aren’t, you know, directly making art for you. Like, they’re actually working in ways that are really supporting your practice. Yeah. And kind of like, just be responsible. Just turn up. Just answer emails, like,

Nick Breedon 52:36
I might only be working three days a week as well. So like, if you don’t answer an email for three days, it might be like a week before they are back in the office, or whatever it is. And like,

Kiera Brew Kurec 52:46
yeah, and on the flip side, you’re either working with your peers, and they’re in exactly the same position as you. And they’re probably working for no money. And it’s like, you know, thing that you’re organizing together. You know, being courteous in that way, I think goes a long way.

Nick Breedon 53:01
Thank you for being super prompt with all of your emails James.

Yeah. Do you find? Do you have like a kind of rhythm with how you sort of set up your day? Like, do you spend like your morning doing emails, or you just kind of like always on call or like, you kind of have on your phone? or?

James Nguyen 53:20
Yeah, like, I’m always on Instagram.

Nick Breedon 53:23
Yeah. Are you like, Do you incessantly jind of like refresh your email geed? are you one of those kind of people?

James Nguyen 53:31
Yeah, I’m totally captivated by that churn. So part of it right. And so it can’t kind of like yeah, like, I justify myself by saying look like, this is how I keep an eye on like, the practice around me. And like, look at like, who’s making what doing interesting things. And I’m like, wait a minute, who are they doing what with who? And then like, you kind of like, follow? Yeah. And then you’re like, actually, that’s how you kind of like network like, you look for kind of like choreographers or musicians, like people that don’t actually usually fall into your sphere, like, you kind of like, use that but then it becomes like this addictive crazy thing where it just dominates your life. Yeah, and I guess you sometimes gotta just step away from it.

Kiera Brew Kurec 54:28
Yeah, some people are, like, so good at like being able to use it as a total resource. Yeah, I’m kind of like you where I’m like, Oh, yeah, I’m totally like doing some research and I’m finding this and all I’m saving all of these things for this new project. And then im like erghhh I’m on like Pratt Daddy.

Nick Breedon 54:48
Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting like i’ve i’ve personally had about a year about a year away from social media. Aside from The Pro Prac stuff that I’ve, you know, been doing as part of what we’re doing. And it is, it’s funny because there is like, there is a sense of like, not knowing what’s going on, which has been really beneficial in a lot of ways, I think just to have a real like, deep, you know, break and just kind of cut it all off. But it is, it’s made me rethink like, you know, I there is things that I miss and I do miss having those connections and kind of seeing what people I think, you know, people I think, who are really interesting what they’re doing. And I think maybe, for me, what I might try when I kind of reintroduce is actually just like unfollow everyone who negs me out. Because it you know, for me, it does, like, you know, I think I spent like half an hour on it or like 20 minutes on it on a train ride recently. And it was just like, I felt like, horrible afterwards. And it’s like just like just unfollow everybody who’s just neggy gross person and just kind of just Yeah, like, follow the people who are doing projects that you find really like, inspiring. And you know that you do want to stalk and get in touch with and like, get in touch with them.

Kiera Brew Kurec 56:06
Yeah. Is there any other kind of parts to your practice? Or to your day that like benefit your practice? Like, you’re really into walking? Cooking?

James Nguyen 56:18
Yeah, like, I guess? Yeah, like, I guess one of the privileges is that your day is really your day, like, you could decide what you want to do. Like, if you want to just have a day in bed. That’s perfectly fine. But then, you could also like, make sure that you answer a few emails or you know, like, you can take care of yourself in more productive ways and help with your health and your diet. Yeah, oh my god, like Melbourne in winter. (Laughter)

Nick Breedon 56:52
Oh how are you finding it so far? just horrible?

James Nguyen 56:56
Yeah. It hasn’t been that bad. Because like, I was expecting like, no sunshine

Nick Breedon 57:04
it’s been Yeah, it’s been quite sunny. But I do have to warn you that like, the weather only gets shit off to solstice. So it’s really only just beginning now. Maybe the horrible thing to let you in on

James Nguyen 57:18
Yeah, well, my. Yeah. Well, Jamie Lewis reminded me that you know, like, there are three ways to survive Melbourne winter, A. buy really big jacket, 2. make sure you live in a brick house. And no matter how cute like a weather board is, just don’t do it.

Nick Breedon 57:39
That is such good advice.

James Nguyen 57:41
And number three, book a holiday in July or August, it helps give your mental health.

Nick Breedon 57:48
Yeah, I mean, everybody, like when the Biennale is on, like, everybody’s just like, yes, Sydney and just get like, a couple of days of sunshine. I see you’ve got the jacket already, though.

James Nguyen 58:02
Yeah, that was like my first purchase. But yeah, it’s that thing where you need to go outside. You know, like, you can’t be inside all the time. And then get vitamin D get fruit and vegetables. it is really imporatnt.

Kiera Brew Kurec 58:24
Really important.

Nick Breedon 58:26
So are you spending like a lot of days in the studio?

James Nguyen 58:29
Um, yeah, it depends. Like, um, if it’s, if I’ve got, like, projects coming up, sometimes I spend it in the studio making things or other times I’m running around, like, having meetings with people like, it feels completely unproductive. But I get to, like, have a coffee and hang out and you know, you kind of like turn meetings into kind of like an almost social thing. So you feel like you’re not a complete recluse. Yeah, but I’m finding that weirdly, I’m not doing so many social things. Because like art is almost all consuming, which is crazy, but I like it like, yeah,

Nick Breedon 59:10
yeah. are you sort of going to a lot of openings and things now since you’re like a recent

James Nguyen 59:16
No, weirdly, not Yeah. I don’t know. Like, I only go to openings when it suits me. Like, I used to be like a complete opening fiend. Yeah, like in Sydney I woudl have a car Like on the Wednesday like, you know, there’ll be like first draft you know, yeah. And and you’d go to like three or four.

Nick Breedon 59:38
Were you also the person that everybody would be like, oh, James has his car.

James Nguyen 59:43
And I’ll be like herding cats. Stop saying bye to people yeah.

Nick Breedon 59:51
So helpful in Sydney too, because it’s so it’s like so hard to get to so many spaces all at once. I mean, Melbourne is not that easy anymore, but I feel like you used to be able to let pop to a couple, you know, like, yeah, just walking in the city, but that’s great.

James Nguyen 1:00:06
Yeah. But like, that’s not my life anymore (Laughter). Yeah, like I yeah, it’s, and I think like it is really important to actually go and see work because so many times like I’m stuck on like an idea or I’m stuck on some problem with my work. And magically The moment I step out of the house, and then I go see some random, you know, like, abstract painting exhibition like yeah, things that I don’t usually engage with, like, my brain is able to switch and then, you know, like, whilst looking at some, you know, like, blank, minimalist grid, like, I’m able to, like, resolve a bunch of like, problems. Yeah. And so it’s really important as an artist to go look at things. And I think looking at things that aren’t part of your realm is really good. Yeah.

Nick Breedon 1:01:08
Yeah, well, that might be a good spot to ask you. What some of the resources that have influenced you during during your carreer.

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:01:20
James has brought a list!

Nick Breedon 1:01:23
We’re very excited about the list.

James Nguyen 1:01:27
Well, like, um, yeah. So when I started at the National Art School doing like, performance art and stuff, like, one of my lecturers recommended me, Ubu.web. Like, I still go on it.

Nick Breedon 1:01:42
Yeah, I always forget, like, I go through periods of remembering and then forgetting. It’s there that it exists.

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:01:49
yeah that is great one.

James Nguyen 1:01:51
Yeah. No, like, that’s, that’s really important.

Nick Breedon 1:01:53
And like, yeah, for anyone who doesn’t know what it is.

James Nguyen 1:01:56
So it’s kind of like an archive of kind of like experimental performance arty theory. Everything’s in black and white kind of thing

Nick Breedon 1:02:06
It is such a such a shitty website too, it’s Like web 2.0.

James Nguyen 1:02:17
No, it’s, it’s like the best like, yeah, I go through periods not seeing it. And then just like sometimes looking at it, and it just, it’s great. Yeah, it’s like a home, the other thing is like, kanopy, the Film Archive, so like, I think if you’ve got a university, then you know, like, you just go into their library, but also, I think kanopy now is just part of your public library. So if you’ve got like a kind of, like, just a library card, like you can access, you know, like, all these cool documentaries, and yeah, and like old films and like short weird stuff, like,

Nick Breedon 1:03:01
Is kiera writing that down right now?

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:03:03
I just realised I dont need to write it down I am recording this. (Laughter)

James Nguyen 1:03:07
Yeah, so it is Kanopy it’s great. Like, you can find things like the Caribbean collective, you know, that the indigenous, like lead filmmakers, like, like crazy, amazing stuff. So that’s really good. Um, the other thing is the British Library Sound Archive. That’s fun to see, like, play through and like, if you ever need like, funny, hilarious, like glass breaking things falling in water. Like, you know, like, sounds for your videos. Yeah, that’s really fun. Like, one of my things is that I hate listening to kind of like art drone.

everyone 1:03:54
(Kiera, Nick and James all gasp and sigh collectively)

Nick Breedon 1:03:55
Like the musical equivalent of that noise that the three of us all just made (Laughter)

James Nguyen 1:04:03
I like, I can’t deal with it at all. So I’m like, please, just like, at least put in some like soud effects. The next thing that I really love is the National Archives of Australia. Yeah, it’s like so great for ideas like you just, well, one of the things that I love doing, it’s like just randomly going on eBay, or just YouTube or whatever. And then you find weird stories. And you’re like, Huh, that was like, I don’t know, like, internment camps in Sydney, or like, Oh, they have these. Like, there was like murdered Japanese people in Cowra. And so like, yeah, and so like these weird things that you encounter, just look on the National Archives, and they’ve got materials. They’ve got images, they’ve got like, yeah, amazing stuff. And so it’s kind of like your art is pre made, because yeah, you know, like a bunch of Researchers have compiled all this information. And you’re like da daaaa! I made an art

Nick Breedon 1:05:10
We should all move to Canberra to hang out. So many amazing things there.

James Nguyen 1:05:17
but you don’t need to even be there. Just go into the interwebs. Yeah, it’s so good. And the other thing that Lauren Carroll Harris just introduced me to which I’m such an idiot for not realizing is Trove. So it’s just like National Library of Australia and all the images. Yeah, it’s like, Oh, my God.

Nick Breedon 1:05:39
Yeah. Our last guest literally just said that as well.

James Nguyen 1:05:43
Yeah, yeah. So good. But um, yeah, like, for me, I love listening to like podcasts. And like, just reading random articles, and Arts and Letters daily, is really amazing, because it’s like, they give you links to free articles. And they usually like really about interesting things that you probably that don’t probably come up in your news feed. Yeah, it’s kind of like that anti Apple anti feed. Yeah. Yeah, it’s feeding you mindless crap, but it’s not Apple crap.

Nick Breedon 1:06:23
Yeah. Like it’s from someone else.

James Nguyen 1:06:25
Yeah, so yeah. It’s amazing. And yeah, and also like, they every week, they send you like five or six articles that you scroll through. And I’d usually just read one. Yeah, that’s really cool. Radio national is always fun I just leave that on.

Nick Breedon 1:06:45
Yeah, I really miss that.

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:06:47
Do you have the radio on in the studio or at home?

James Nguyen 1:06:51
I just turn on the app Yeah, like, yeah, radio national is just amazing I just love like background briefing. Like, just just go online, get all of their old episodes. And then it’s like so many ideas for work. Like, once again, someone’s done all the research for you. You just have to visualize it somehow. Yeah, so that’s always fun. Yeah, I think that’s pretty much it

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:07:36
That was an amazing list thank you for sharing

Nick Breedon 1:07:39
I love how much when you know, when you’re doing like a residency or like making a work that’s really like studio, heavy, maybe something’s really like kind of labor intensive, but it doesn’t require a lot of thought that’s like really repetitious. It’s amazing how, like, well informed you end up being through that process. Like when I did tapestry, like a couple of years ago. And yeah, a lot of it was just like, kind of slogging through the work, but it was just like, I was running out a podcast to listen to. I was like, you know, I was listening to, like, I had maybe 20 that I was subscribed to, and I was, yeah, I would run out, like, every day.

If you could travel back in time to the start of your career, or when you’re a kid is to tell you something that you know, now would it be?

James Nguyen 1:08:28
Oh, yeah. Like, yeah, like what we were talking before, just like, having the courage to ask, like approaching people. Um, yeah, like, if, if only I had done those things earlier. Like, imagine what could have been. Yeah, no, yeah. It’s It’s that thing where? Yeah, like, how do you develop your sense of yourself and your confidence in the world? Right. Like, it’s, that’s actually really hard. And everyone has to negotiate that. And it’s kind of like, you still have to do that now. Like, I’m being constantly knocked back for things and it is like how do you grow your thick skin, like, um, maybe it’s a good thing that you know, like, you weren’t confident and you failed lots, and then you didn’t? Yeah, and you’ve got lots of rejections. Like, maybe that’s a good thing. Yeah, like, I think that’s, that’s useful. Like it’s not, it’s not a bad thing.

Nick Breedon 1:09:28
You definitely learn something else.

James Nguyen 1:09:30
Yeah. But if I could go back in time, of course, like rob a bank or something, set myself up like buy shares in tech companies.

Nick Breedon 1:09:40
Good advice. All right. Yeah, I guess we’ll end on that note then. Thanks so much for joining us in the studio tonight. James.

James Nguyen 1:09:48
Oh no it has been a pleasure

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:09:50
It has been great.

Nick Breedon 1:09:53
This episode is recorded on the sovereign land of the Kulin nation. We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land the Wurundjeri people and pay respects to elder’s past, present and emerging.

Kiera Brew Kurec 1:10:05
Thanks for listening to Pro Prac you can listen to other episodes and subscribe to us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can stay up to date with what we’re up to on Instagram @propracpodcast or send us an email at