Thinking Creatively In A ‘Lmtd Space’
By Mindy Davies
When you meet Christopher Mckenzie you know immediately that you are in for a good conversation. He is a genuine and kind person with a humble ability to inspire. Christopher is studying a Bachelor of Digital Media with Honours and has a major in Studio Art, which is just one of the reasons and Social Media reporter Mindy Davies caught up with him over the weekend to talk #unigoals, art, football and how to make your dreams a reality. In fact, Chris and four friends and colleagues recently opened ‘Lmtd Space’ an art gallery in Southport on the Gold Coast. Sounds like a #unigoals dream come true..?
How did you choose your degree?
When I left high school I studied a diploma of visual and contemporary art, but then I decided you can’t make money in art. So I did a diploma of graphic design, but then after sitting in a job for three months I realised I hated sitting at a computer. So, I went to Griffith, where I started my Bachelor of Digital Media in Studio Art, which I completed last year. I didn’t get employed straight away so I enrolled in honours and now I have employment opportunities coming at me left right and centre!
What are you doing now?
I’ve recently quit three jobs; I was the gallery coordinator of Griffith ‘Whitebox Gallery’, a retail assistant and an AFL umpire, but I’ve quit all of that because I got a job at ‘Corporate Art’ as the in-house artist and creative director.
The role includes graphic design work, helping our artists create work for clients and getting out and about with my boss, landing deals.
What else have you been up to lately?
I’m running a gallery called ‘Lmtd Space’ in Southport with the Gold Coast City Council and four other people. A group called Brand X and the owner of Brand X, James Winter, is mentoring the project. Brand X is a gallery/rehearsal space in Sydney. They’ve been operating for 10 years so they’re giving us mentoring on how to make our business sustainable, how to market it to the right people and helping us get grants and funding.
How did the ‘Lmtd Space’ project start?
There was a tender on the Gold Coast City Council website so I put an application in, which was successful, then two weeks later we met James (Brand X) and the mentoring began. He touches base with us every week, and gives us guidance on where to go next. Staff members from the Gold Coast City Council offer us mentoring as well.
‘Lmtd Space’ has now been operating since 2011, the idea came about in 2010, and we have been working as a pop up space since then, I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learnt a lot, I think mistakes are important.
I started ‘Lmtd Space’ because as an artist to trying to market yourself individually is really hard, but promoting yourself as a group of artists is much more marketable. When you have a group of artists the exhibition is going to have a lot of diversity in it and it will pull a good crowd, so a gallery will see it as a great marketing opportunity.
So that’s the way I’ve done it, I’ve had 51 group shows this year and 1 solo. The process is that I create 3-4 works a month, find and talk to people and go to exhibitions, I’ve been to 112 shows this year.
Do you have any advice for other students?
I treat my career like a football game. I train every week, and when I set up things with teams, it’s not about me being the best player, it’s about, how I make my weakest player a better player? And then the team performs better.
That’s a model I’ve always worked off. I was taught that, you don’t win a premiership off having a lot of good players, you win a premiership off building your weakest player into a good player then those good players will feed off and become better players and then you have a collective team that just knows how to work with each other.
For example with ‘Lmtd Space’ I curated the first two shows, now I’m stepping down and letting my team learn and make mistakes and I come along and sweep them up. When they do something wrong, I teach them how I would do it and why. But I know am going to learn things off the way they do it as well, so it also helps me.
I can see networking is important to you
Yes. The most important thing I do at an exhibition is I walk in, look where the photographer is and I always try to get a photo, because it’s not about you being seen there by the right people, but if you keep appearing in photos at events people get curious. I now go to events and people ask me who I am? And then I get talking to them, get their card and make sure on Monday morning I send them an email.
When we had our opening of ‘Lmtd Space’ I got 17 cards, I’ve caught up with every single person who gave me their card. Even if it’s just 20-30 minutes I give them that time just to tell them the story of why we started ‘Lmtd Space’, and that way I can see if they have any opportunities on the horizon.
For example I’ve had a London gallery contact me about my work. So I have to get my work to London in the end of October.
What challenges have you faced?
Well I’m dyslexic, so reading, writing emails, etc. that’s a real battle for me. That’s why I like meeting and talking to people. A lot of people question why I call them, I’ll email someone once or twice but once I see a phone number I’ll call them straight away.
Throughout uni it’s been the hardest thing to overcome. Spelling, writing everything, but I have worked out tricks, Google Speak is amazing, when I don’t know how to spell a word, I just go to Google and talk to it and it spells the word and gives me a definition.
It’s a battle but it’s just a hurdle, if you let it beat you, then you are going to let it beat you. I got told I would never go to university by my guidance counsellor, I graduated last year, and now I’m doing honours.
Someone told me three years ago that ‘Lmtd Space’ was dead, I just laughed and said it will come back.
We’re talking about #unigoals this week at the Gold Coast, so what are your goals for now and the future?
In 2018, I want to run the first art convention on the Gold Coast. That’s my goal and I’m going to get there.
I aim to get international, local and national galleries onboard and bring the art to one location. We have all this culture coming to the Gold Coast, plus the Commonwealth Games to look forward to.
I often look at the Gold Coast Convention Centre and think this is the perfect space to do this, you’ve got all the people and the trams right there, I just need to find the money to back me.
That’s what I want to do. I want to show them that we have beaches, we have sport, and we also have culture!
The next exhibition at ‘Lmtd Space’ is this Friday 11 September – Event details
Lmtd Space Team:
Written by: Mindy Davies
Photographs: Claudio Kirac, Kelly Mcilvenny, Emmy Peterson