Brisbane curator Lani Pauli interviews Ben Hamely of Smart Artz.

Tell us more about the Smart Artz journey…

Smart Artz was founded by Graeme Wood (wotif.com). He has developed and supported a number of creative initiatives and has a particular interest in giving young people more opportunities to participate in projects that affect their peers. Smart Artz workshops inspire creative intelligence by giving young people an opportunity to work on real world projects. Every project is developed for young people by young people. We facilitate workshops for secondary schools, universities and community groups in QLD and NSW during which we develop the concepts and ideas for all our projects.

Who do you think is doing cool stuff in our industries?

One of the coolest things I’ve seen recently (out of Brisbane, too) is Lee Crockford’s Future Postbox. It’s not a new concept, but the first time I’ve seen the idea get taken online. Essentially, you write your ‘future self’ a letter and Future Postbox will deliver it to you on your chosen date. Also this year; QUT’s first intake of producers-in-training will commence in the brand new triple-faculty Bachelors of Entertainment Industries degree. The first of its kind in Australia, and one of the first in the world to approach entertainment as a truly interdisciplinary area of the creative industries.

What was your first job?

My first ‘job’… or my first ‘real job’?

The first thing I ever got paid to do was DJ at parties and school discos, I was the ‘AV Geek’ at my school and I quickly discovered that a lot of the equipment hardly ever got used, lets just say I paid my own way through tuckshop for five years!

As for my first ‘real job’ – I originally trained as a lighting designer at uni, so my first ‘real job’ was as an assistant production manager for the Katarzyna group in Fortitude Valley. That involved being paid to go clubbing every weekend for about 4 years and looking after the lighting and sound systems for Family, Cloudland and the late Empire Hotel.

The problem is that I don’t really want to stay in one particular field for my entire career. I do really enjoy interdisciplinary work and as a result, I can never really be sure of where it will take me.

What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to face work-wise?

Focus – with so many new projects, opportunities and people constantly flowing through the scene, its hard to not get swept away in ‘what might be’ and focus on ‘what is today’.

What’s the biggest opportunity and challenge for Brisbane to become a truly “Creative City”?

Brisbane already has a huge network of creative and talented young people. What we need is more support for projects that authentically ‘start’ with young people and are not simply ‘provided’ for young people. There is huge potential for Brisbane to become a leader in the way our next generation of workforce live and work. The Australian Government Suburban Jobs initiative is one to watch, there are some exciting proposals in the works looking at decentralising the way we work and investing in high-end suburban co-working spaces. In my vision of Brisbane as a creative city, there is no such thing as ‘work-life’ balance; that doesn’t mean work is your life – it means people feel passionately about the work they pursue and no longer need to conform to a 9-5, Monday to Friday grind.

What are some local upcoming events you recommend?

Smart Artz are hosting a series of public art and design workshops at Brisbane City Council’s Visible Ink space (Fortitude Valley) throughout February. Check out the event details on Facebook or at Visible Ink.

What’s next?

Throughout my work with Smart Artz I’ve done of lot of work investigating Creativity. This has led me into the mine-field of psychological and cognitive science studies on ‘how creativity works’. In one of my new projects for 2012 I will be experimenting with EEG (Electroencephalography) and interactive art to create a piece of work that will – literally – ‘make you think’. Keep an eye on Smart Artz and Ben Hamley for more information.

You can follow Ben on Twitter here.