EMILY BEESON – YOUNG GOLD TEETH

Who? YOUNG GOLD TEETH

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NM: Hello Emily! After a distant admiration of your creative platform we reach across to you to really find out a little about your creation of Young Gold Teeth. So, first things first, what is Young Gold Teeth and where did it all begin?

EB: Hi Nicola, thank you very much. It’s always so encouraging to hear people speak kindly of YGT. The site began in 2010 and originally, didn’t have the strong motives it has today. I started it as a means of sharing projects that I found inspiring and it gave me a chance to write. I didn’t begin reaching out to creatives, with the intention of forging a network of support, until last year when I started YGT INTERVIEWS.

I was living in the Netherlands at the time, completing my MA, and experienced a change of heart. I thought to myself, sharing projects isn’t enough; I need to get to the root of it all, cut through the smoke and mirrors, discover what drives creativity and how others have achieved their goals and most importantly, I need to support and inspire creativity in others using honest case studies and every day phraseology.

Now YOUNG GOLD TEETH exists as a space in which to share ideas, promote work, review events, discuss the creative industries and how they relate to life as a young person, student or graduate and to encourage positivity. We’re lucky these days that digital provides a platform for all of this; it’s so refreshing to be communicating and connecting with others through an innovative medium and having a great time in the process.

NM: That’s a pretty impressive story as to how YGT came about! It’s amazing that you created the site during your time in the Netherlands too. Were there inspirations that helped to motivate you in the direction to start YGT? How did you initially plan for it to really juxtapose away from other creative platforms that were already in existence too?

EB: I’m always inspired, there’s so much talent out there that it’s hard not to be, so I suppose YGT just grew out of things I loved and my appreciation for them. I found being in the Netherlands a character-forming experience though; it provided me with a lot of insights, both creatively and on a very personal level. My time there helped me to focus on establishing my goals and of course, as I was a couple of hours from Amsterdam, there were great opportunities to check out what others were doing with their websites and creative communities.

I didn’t really plan for the site to differ from other creative platforms, I was just trying to do my own thing and publish things I personally would have liked to read. I guess that isn’t the best way to gain popularity but I’ve always been a big believer in sticking to your guns and being yourself. I think it’s important to trust your instincts and to always try your best to surround yourself with what you love the most; for so many others, and me that’s anything creative, original and honest. I think that’s why I’ve had some wonderful feedback on YGT and why it’s naturally developed in a specific way. I have admiration for those elements in common with nearly everyone I meet through the site.

I did know from the start that I didn’t want to use the snobby art vernacular that surrounds a lot of arts writing though. Giving creativity a believable voice, appealing to and helping out young people and writing about what I consider to be precious and valuable, prompted what might be seen to be taking a step away from other platforms. YGT is about positivity, sincerity and the power of aspiration. That message is tied up in the site’s name. YOUNG GOLD TEETH is a nod to young dreamers, urban living, the aesthetics of hip hop fused with the lofty beauty of visual art and the mouthpiece that a digital generation can take up and use, regardless of where their starting-gate sits – everyone’s work is valuable and deserves recognition. It’s still early days though; I’m keen to see where YGT will go from here.

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NM: There’s certainly and evidently been a really strong progression within your site as you have maintained the content, delivering something ever so slightly unique to the creative community. I certainly applaud you with what you’ve focused on achieving it and progressing to where you are now, and solely of course.

You mentioned that it’s early days and there’s still a great future for YGT, which brings me to my next question – SKIN. How did this initial project for you come about in collaboration with KEA ILLUSTRATION?

EB: Thanks Nicola. The exhibition is the result of shared ideas, mutual support and a friendship. Katie AKA KEA ILLUSTRATION and I met in Cardiff a couple of years back. We both worked in a cocktail bar to fund our lives outside of Uni – resulting in a lot of late nights and a close friendship to show for it. Creative chats, drunken evenings philosophising and putting the world to rights while leafing through books on fine art, feminism and design, as well as excitement about the future and plenty of topical conversation, prompted us to work together to create something special. We wanted to put on a show that would crystallise YGT’s aims, in terms of showcasing work, connecting with creatives and celebrating talent, get Katie’s great work out there, and encourage a dialogue on a topic that we both consider to be hugely important.

We began discussing it after I moved back to the UK from the Netherlands and the project soon took flight. Now, Katie’s in Cardiff completing her MA and I’m in London working full-time so we’re going ahead with staging the event in both capitals and are currently circulating information about how to get involved. The exhibition, titled SKIN/CROEN, is open to all. It’s an event that will focus on female body image in contemporary culture and we’re hoping that it will encourage a significant creative dialogue on the subject and give artists the chance to say something important with their work. It doesn’t kick off until next year but we want to allow plenty of time for people to contribute so that we can start putting together the YGT COLLECTIVE.

There’s still an air of secrecy around the event as we have some great elements lined up that we’d like to surprise people with, but mainly, we want to encourage anyone getting involved to express themselves freely, without too much pressure from us. It’s been fantastic seeing a buzz build around the brief so we’re expecting fresh ideas, big statements and plenty of honest, insightful and potentially controversial work from contributors.

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SKIN – a recent collaborative exhibition launch between YGT & KEA Illustration

NM: It really is a key element to make and keep great contacts, especially when it’s clear that you and Katie AKA KEA ILLUSTRATION are both predominantly working in the creative sector but on great angles – YGT as a platform and Katie as an artist! We’re excited to see where it will go and certainly intend on following the project!

Working within the creative sector really is about promoting your own voice and adding that bespoke imprint into whichever form of work you may be inclusive of – whether it be a brand design to setting a competition! But, taking it back to studying when you were at university in the Netherlands, how did you find it to be in terms of preparing yourself for the working world?

EB: Well, we’ll have lots of announcements to make in the coming months so keep those eyes peeled! That really is a horrible phrase; I don’t know why I use it so much. Weird phrases influence what I say all the time, even though I try my hardest to avoid clichés when writing for YGT. I think that acceptance of the bizarre applies to so many aspects of how we live our lives; we don’t question sayings or practices that are bloody weird or highly questionable! That’s why, after finishing my BA, based on what I’d seen and read about getting ahead and what seemed normal, I thought it best to do an internship.

Internships are part of a strange breed of working practices that have grown out of a surplus of highly skilled graduates. On one hand, they can provide you with reams of valuable experience, industry knowledge and an address-book of useful contacts. On the other, they can drain your time, energy and resources and transform you from a bright-spark into a champion tea-maker. Luckily for me, the two I’ve done were the former and I’m so glad I did them; shout out to Orange Dot Gallery and Culture24. Both organisations taught me new skills, provided great opportunities and offered advice and support when it came to YGT.

While I was working at Orange Dot, a wicked gallery and agency based in London, I started writing illustration reviews for a few blogs and that led me to a few more writing gigs. I then got involved with the lovely bunch at Noctis Magazine and began freelancing after starting an editorial internship with Culture24, who I still swan around galleries and pen arts reviews for. The second internship was mandatory as part of my MA in the Netherlands. I came back to the UK for four months and wrote my thesis on the remediation of arts journalism and the impact of digital on arts writing, so working for Culture24, a digital publishing organisation and arts charity was ideal. The team were also some of the nicest and most hard-working people I’ve ever met, so that was a bonus.

If I hadn’t chosen a course that required work experience, completed two very different internships and chosen to pursue a string of freelance opportunities, I wouldn’t have felt as prepared for ‘real work’. Let’s face it, a humanities degree doesn’t provide much help in that department. No one was really pushing me forward, although it was all about self-study and personal motivation. You have to chase down opportunities and make things happen, because nothing will just fall into your lap. As soon as you take responsibility, chase after what you want and immerse yourself in professional practice, it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make, you’re on your way to success. You may occasionally say strange things, such as, ‘keep your eyes peeled’, but it’s all worth it in the end.

NM: There are definitely bursts of amazing advice within that last answer, through the form of taking what is in front of you and working with it to make something happen! It’s those phrases that keep communication going really, you’ve got to have a slight bit of cheese here and there right?

Internships do sit on the fence when it comes to working for good experience or bad, but you’ll never know until you complete them. Working within new companies and meeting contacts like there is no tomorrow is a huge aspect to the working world; one that most graduates would be sure to say has helped their career to date.

Now that you’ve moved away from working as an intern for companies and completed your education, you’re now working full time in London! The upkeep of YGT is something that must take a comfortable piece of your time. How do you manage your time keeping between the two?

EB: Working full-time does mean that YGT has slowed down a bit. I love the job I do but I am always wishing there were more hours in the day. I’m pretty busy, and when I’m not at work I’m writing for the site or for a freelance piece, interviewing someone, taking in an exhibition or visiting a show or event. It’s fantastic but tiring. I live by my diary, make a lot of lists and am always mindful of how lucky I am; it’s great to be busy if it means always meeting interesting people, constantly expanding your knowledge and filling your eyes and ears with awesome and delicious things. I get a real kick out of it. That said, I think it may soon be time to branch out and welcome a few more guest writers to YOUNG GOLD TEETH as collaborations have worked well in the past and there are a tonne of talented writers out there. It would certainly make life easier for me and I’d really like to focus more on music and style, as well as visual art and illustration, in 2014.

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Emily Beeson

NM: Bring on the next year ahead – onwards and upwards for new content, especially with branching out with new contributors!

Aside from working full time and on YGT in your spare time, tell us one crazy thing about you as a person.

EB: I don’t really know what to tell you to be honest. I’d love to be able to say I’ve got phenomenal skills and am a secret waterskiing champion, but alas, that kind of prowess is beyond me. I do favour a bit of Biggie-cise in the mornings to hype me up for the day, though. That basically consists of throwing on some Biggie Smalls, or some of my favourite 90’s hip hop tracks, and shaking it like a mad thing before leaving the house. That’s not too crazy, I’m sure there are far crazier things I do, but either I can’t think of what they are or am intentionally leaving them out of our conversation. I think it’s a given that most creatives are wonderfully mental anyway, that’s what makes them such a brilliant, imaginative bunch and such a pleasure to work with. All hail the crazies, they are the future, right?

NM: Hail creatives indeed – we really are a crazy bunch, but completely in a good way.

To round off this lovely interview with you, a crazy question in itself has got to follow… If you were to go into space, who would be your chosen three members of crew on board and why?

EB: Assuming we’re all fully trained as astronauts and not about to plummet through the atmosphere to a grisly, eye-popping death, I’d probably enlist the help of a few people I really like and admire. Not the celebrity kind. The realisation of how poorly I’d actually get on with some of my idols might be a little too much to cope with while floating in a tin can. I’d also want to avoid a bizarre ‘I’m a Celebrity’ in space scenario. I’d pick a few close friends as my cosmic crew and set up a space studio on board. After a couple of months in space spent ogling at stars and meteors and floating around at zero-gravity, we’d fly home to publish a wicked film and a glossy hardback coffee-table compendium of our incredible photographs and stories. If I were going away for that long, I’d need a pretty sound crew with a good sense of humour and a healthy mix of arty skills and survival credentials. I know plenty of lovely and talented individuals who tick all those boxes and who would be great company. I can’t even think about picking just three either, as I’m always meeting people I’d be more than happy to spend a few months in a space vessel recreating the Space Oddity video with; just one of the perks of running YOUNG GOLD TEETH.

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With the interview drawing to its end I don’t really want to add much to this talented creatives interview, it’s pretty impressive as it is – I’d hope you agree. If you’d like to jump on board and share, promote, review and discuss  for YOUNG GOLD TEETH, then contact Emily Beeson through this inspiring website.

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