Alumnus Sarah Ziessen Has Advice For Tomorrow's Artists

18 Feb 2016

Sarah Ziessen is one of the latest Waiariki graduates to join a small but growing list of the institute’s alumni who are entrepreneurs.  

Sarah and her husband Neville Baty opened Helium, a gallery of contemporary New Zealand art and custom framing workshop in Rotorua in November. The newly renovated showroom include works by emerging artists as well as those more established such as Barry Dabb, Rick Rudd, Lani Eyles and Bridget Thornton. The owner herself has an eye-catching painting on display, as well.

Although Sarah has been an artist for many years, she says she enrolled at Waiariki because she needed to take her art to the next level.

“The difference it made was with my critical awareness, that in order to be a professional artist you can’t just be a good artist – you have to be a businessperson and you have to be able to talk about your artwork, which I still can’t do but I know I have to do it. You just have to be way more switched on than you think you have to be.”

Waiariki’s new suite of six creative arts programmes aim to teach students not only how to hone their artistic abilities but also how to make a living with their talents. Sarah was on the advisory panel whose input on the programmes was sought.

She agrees these new programmes are necessary in order for today’s artists to thrive.

“It’s not like the old days and the romantic notion that some art patron is going to pick you up and support you through. It’s just not going to happen. It’s a business more than ever.”

The business woman’s advice is, “Make work, lots of work. Get a degree, actually. You need to know about and understand art theory and the critical side of art or no gallery will ever be interested in you. It’s just the truth. You’ve got to have the contextual awareness and not be in your own little bubble. College will do that for you.”

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Page last updated: 02 May 2017