My name is Molly, and I’m an artist. Like many, I still feel somewhat uncomfortable saying that, but the space Nathan created in his tiny home felt companionable and warm, enough for me to open up and talk candidly about my creative journey. We settled across the table from each other, the sun dipping behind the hills surrounding Tatapouri Bay as we cradled mugs of hot tea.
It would be understandable to mistake this scene for two pals hanging out, and in a lot of ways it was. The key distinction being the two high tech mics bowing their heads together as we each snuggled a set of headphones over our ears.
Nathan Foon is a Gizzy born-and-bred man of many hats. Some may know him as co-manager of Tatapouri Bay campground, or as co-founder of Studio4 Artspace, but there’s no ‘co-’ about Artists Anonymous Club.
This is all Nathan.
“When I was first thinking about the podcast, in a selfish way, I was thinking ‘this is going to be cool, I'm going to get to talk to people that I'm interested in, that I can connect and have meaningful conversations with… And can grow a community through.”
Nathan’s strength lies in creating a safe space, of gently holding the conversation without twisting it out of shape. He talks passionately of the art of conversation, of the importance of listening, and of his desire to get to the nitty gritty of the creative experience. Whether a professional artist or hobbyist, we’re all trying to find ourselves, to express ourselves. How do you find the time and energy to dedicate to activities that maybe aren’t the most productive, but that calm the mind or bring joy? Or how might you make money from your work while maintaining creative freedom?
“I wanted to connect through common creative struggles that we all had. That was really it. Being able to just openly talk about them and have different perspectives. Having the struggles being talked about as well as the most amazing successes and beautiful things that happen from creating art.”
Bumping into a fellow interviewee recently, we joked about how our respective chats with Nathan had turned into what felt like therapy sessions. When I recounted this to Nathan, he laughed, admitting:
“Part of it, for me, is about how do you dig deeper? How do you get the most out of the topic? …I try to have a really organic conversation. And listen. Because people don't listen enough, I think. If you’re already too prepared and predetermined, if I researched you, then I would have a preconceived idea of who you are in my head instead of just being open to actually hearing you talk about yourself and your journey.”
Each episode unravels bit by bit, as the artist settles in and Nathan carefully allows the layers to unfold. Sometimes to the artist’s surprise. For some interviewees, casting their mind back to what was said, or even listening back, can be a little confronting. The interview hangover. And Nathan admits that he has had one or two artists getting cold feet:
“I understand when people want to listen back or they want to pull the episode… there’s been people that have done that and I haven't published. When the recorder’s on, you want to give the best version of yourself. We've all heard great podcasts and we all know they have great anecdotes and quotes, they give advice and share wisdom. I think people are so locked into that part of it, so they worry about the end result.”
Perhaps Nathan’s compassion on this subject comes from a deep understanding of this self-doubt, of the imposter syndrome so many of us experience, whether through our art practice, careers, or other aspects of life:
“When I think about popular podcasts that I listen to, the host is always someone that's either successful in their field… and they start this journey with an audience already.
“Having people listen or take interest in what I have to say feels a little bit weird, but that adds to rebuilding my identity just for me. That’s always been a battle for me."
When there’s something missing, when there’s space to create something where once it didn’t exist, the need soon outweighs the imposter syndrome. A sentiment shared by Georgia Harrison, interviewee and powerhouse behind ‘Sexy Dance Class’:
“I arrived in Gizzy and there’s no dance like what I want to do… and so I thought ‘I’m going to have to start my own thing’… You just have to do it. And for me, the motivation to dance outweighed the imposter syndrome.” – Georgia Harrison, AAC E08
When broaching this question to Nathan, he responded, “That's what Gizzy does. Gizzy feels like it's still full of so much opportunity.”
Slowly working through his friend list and network, Nathan tells me his focus is really just thinking of who he’s interested in interviewing next; choosing guests based on those around him and who he’s inspired by, be that close friends or local artists. This intimacy and organic, artistic approach is something he’s keen to nurture:
"I read something in a book recently. It was asking: how do you give yourself to the art form, rather than trying to think about the art giving you something? I’ll see ads for ‘how to grow your audience’ and how to do all that stuff. I think I’m trying to do the opposite, trying to think about it more as an art form, rather than a business.”
And an art form it truly is. There is an art to holding space, to creating a safe space, and to listening. Both as an interviewee and a listener, I am struck by the cosy, confessional vibe of Artists Anonymous Club. It feels special and, although I’m a relative new-comer to Gizzy, like an authentic reflection of the beautifully open and supportive creative community here:
“I feel like in Gizzy we’ve got such an awesome community here… I reckon encouraging all your friends and encouraging people with what they love is one of the best things we can do as humans.” – Nathan Seaver (Oceanspace), AAC E03
Sign me up.
Join the club: listen to AAC on Spotify, or follow @artistsanonymousclub on Instagram, merch coming soon.
Story by Molly Wilson
Photo by Nadine Probst