I bloody love a go-getter, and I think I have found another one in Mikala Tai. After an impressive early career working in various facets of the contemporary art world, in both Asia and Australia, Mikala's very own art event launches his weekend in Melbourne... and, it's massive!
Supergraph is Mikala's unique vision - a new Australian Contemporary Graphic Art Fair that celebrates design, print and illustration, with an emphasis on showcasing graphic art in an accessible, affordable way. Kicking off at the Royal Melbourne Exhibition Building in Carlton this weekend, essentially Supergraph will be a three day festival of graphic art and design. It will feature the work of a established creatives alongside emerging talent, and will bring together both original and limited edition artworks - starting at just $30! Alongside all this, there will be with creative workshops, artist led masterclasses, kid-friendly events and much more.
We asked Mikala a few questions about getting her inspired idea off the ground! -
My parents were big explorers and, as a kid, if we weren't moving city we were moving house. There was a lot of packing and unpacking going on, but the constant focus was always the artworks we had. I can picture now exactly where certain works hung in each of the different places that we lived. They weren't necessarily expensive works or by famous artists, but they were really loved pieces of art, and were what always made our place home.
I had a lot of fun at uni and was lucky enough to be taught by some lecturers and tutors that fanned my general love of art into a full blown obsession. By time I graduated I was intent on trying to work within contemporary art. Most of my friends with 'real jobs' raised their eyebrows with suspicion, but I was pretty convinced. Over the past few years I have worked mainly in contemporary Asian art which has led to me working between Asia and Australia, curating shows within the commercial sphere, consulting at international art fairs, lecturing at RMIT and filling blank walls with art. It has been a bit dreamy really.
Supergraph was one of those ideas that just turned up one day and was so persistent that we just had to make it happen.
I had just been working at an art fair and had fallen in love with a work that was not only out of my price range, but out of my price range by triple my salary. It was really sad. Back at RMIT, my third year students were all getting jittery about the big bad art world and how to negotiate their next moves with no gallery representation. It was the clash of these two experiences that led to the concept of Supergraph – a place where artists, no matter how established, could exhibit and a place where there was great art that was was so affordable you could buy not only one work but two.
I sat on the idea for a bit and then told a few friends. My friend Christian was pretty keen on the idea and soon found himself as our Marketing & Sponsorship man, and once he joined the cause, things just started moving. Now, just a few days out from the inaugural Supergraph we just can't wait for it to open, to see all the works in the flesh, to put lots of 'Sold Out' signs up and to dance at our Opening Party.
The weekend is going to get pretty busy - we have masterclasses from The Jacky Winter Group's stable, pop-up studios that allow you access to your design crush, visitors will be able to purchase over a hundred and fifty works in our Supergraph Salon that are $30 and $60, and participate in all sorts of activities that will see them drawing their little hearts out – perhaps even designing a melamine plate like we all did in primary school.
There will also be a little bit of a party - Indian Summer is taking control of the decks on Saturday night, and throughout the rest of the weekend our Truck Stop DJs will ensure your snacks and drinks are washed down in style. Fun.
About 18 months. But in reality it really started moving forward about a year ago but on a much smaller scale. Next thing I knew we were standing in the Royal Exhibition Building and, with a rush of blood to my head, we found ourselves booked into one of the biggest venues in Melbourne. Things definitely got serious from then onwards.
The process then started pretty quickly after that – Suzy from A Friend of Mine came up with a genius branding concept that we instantly fell in love with, and suddenly we were out scouting for people to come exhibit. It has been quite the year!
Supergraph is a celebration not just of art but of the creation of art. Those that are involved are passionate makers, from those just beginning to work within the creative field to those that have had large international exhibitions. What ties them together is their love of creating. As you explore Supergraph you'll be invited into artists pop up studios, you might have your portrait painted, find yourself creating a piñata, or perhaps take the challenge and participate in one of our hourly drawing throwdowns 'So You Think You Can Draw?'.
We are really keen for people to not just walk away with a piece art that makes them happy, but to have picked up a pen and created something themselves.
Open this Friday 14th to Sunday 16th February
Royal Exhibition Building
8 Nicholson Street
Tickets are just $8 for adults, and are available here.