Monday, August 26, 2013

Being a part of Tavi's World

Akjsdkf... It's been a bat-shit crazy weekend. In case you can't tell, that's a good thing. Some of you might be aware that I am a massive Tavi Gevinson fan (as indicated by my photo sets/ moldboards and general aesthetic appreciation) and also that she visited Australia within the last week giving talks in Sydney and Melbourne. I was lucky enough to secure tickets to both Melbourne events, her talk at the Melbourne Writer's Festival entitled "Tavi's World" in which she compared fangirling to religion and Rookie Day with broader panel of female speakers across different fields. The last forty-eight hours has been incredible, empowering and liberating. I feel so inspired and motivated to get out of bed, create art (even if it's bad ugly art!) and actually do my schoolwork. I will try to describe what has been the best weekend of my life in chronological order and in as many glorious details as I am able; for you, dear reader, and myself as a point of reference.

For the past week, an unofficial Facebook group of fellow Rookie readers stalked ADMIRED FROM AFAR Tavi's appearances on radio, television and Instagram updates from her tavitulle and Rookie illustrator, Minna Gilligan. The excitement was mounting, I had an excuse to get out of work. Everything was coming up Milhouse. On Friday evening, I bundled out of the house wearing a spooky-themed outfit of green, purple and bat sweater to meet with girls as passionate about Rookie as I was. We were an instantly recognizable group in a uniform of Dr Martens boots, tights, glitter, sequins and of course, flower crowns. We walked together to Athenaeum Theatre and queued up speculating what would be covered, would we get to meet our hero afterwards, and who were the people taking our photograph? (There were actually a few, some asked and some didn't; I am not a narcissist) I also recognized Hayley from Fashion Hayley and got to thank her in person for a competition I won and generally observed the crowd- there were a lot more people in their thirties and older than I had anticipated.

Tavi's talk was amazing- of course it was, and if you don't believe me there's a montage of her more quotable moments here, but what you didn't hear her mention was Justin Beiber, One Direction's fans being more fascinating than the boy band themselves and general wonderful advice. She mentioned three books; I love Dick by Chris Kraus, Zooey and Franny by J.D. Salinger and Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder by Lawrence Weschler. I'll admit, I haven't read any of the titles, but I really want to now. They helped inform Tavi's idea that the object of your affection (aka. FANGIRLING) is not what is important. The feelings you project onto something you love is a reflection of you. It is something personal you created, because you are a good person.
She also talked about some personal stuff and expressed regret when she stopped making art (journals and drawings) during a creative slump; which kind of shocked me. Not because I think everything in her life is perfect and she is a surreal fairy but because she saw it as a wasted window of time in her life. OK, let me break it down for you on a personal level: I'm a perfectionist. I want to get everything right the first time I do it, and I feel bad when I make something I don't like later on. But for the last two days the importance of making bad art and forcing yourself to work through uninspired phases is what ultimately makes you successful. All the speaker's and especially Tavi got where they are today because of hard work. There is no shortcut. You can't expect to be really good at anything, no matter what it is, without trying and making a few mistakes. We practically ran out of our seats to line up to meet with her after the talk and question time (excited at the opportunity to meet with her one-on-one).

After much thought, procrastinating because I didn't want to go to bed the night before, I decided to leave my copy of Yearbook One at home and instead brought something much more special and personal to be signed; my journal. When it was finally my turn to walk up to Tavi's signing desk my stomach was a bingo barrel churning with butterflies. I blurted to the waiting attendant that I felt like I was visiting the dentist- only this time I was more well dressed. A fellow Rookie reader I lined up with took pictures for me, including Tavi's dismay looking at my overstuffed diary (it has now occurred to me that maybe she thought I was giving it to her- whoops). I asked the question "Which is more magical, prom of vomit?". After a pause of contemplation she replied "Promit" and thanked for me for a "good question". I got a photo with her and she signed a cartoon picture of vomit which is next to the cast of Freaks and Geeks. It was a good day.

The following day I misread the train timetable and sat in quiet reflection while also studying for an exam. When I got to the train station I ambled up to a circle of girls, which I assumed to be Rookies. I greeted them with a cheery good morning, looked around at their eager faces and then almost threw up/ had a Hanna Barbera eyeball-bulging moment. Tavi herself was standing amongst out circle of girls, surprising the unofficial Rookie Melbourne Meet-Up at Flinders' Street Station and I did the most horribly strange double take. Thankfully she was engrossed in conversation when I was derping. She was under the watchful eye of a writer for Rolling Stone Magazine (!) and everyone around us was none the wiser that a celebrity was in their midst. After her talk last night, members of our Facebook Group mentioned those unlucky ones who missed out on buying tickets for either event. So she spent part of the morning with us, before preparing for Rookie day.

Tavi went shopping with a group of us at vintage store, Retrostar where she bought a floral dress she would later wear at Rookie Day. We assembled together for a group photo, and before she went off to be photographed by Carolyn she hugged us all goodbye. My blogging hero and style icon, hugged me. AND IT WAS A REAL HUG!! I died. Like others before me who have met Tavi and have been long time fans of her work, I was humbled by Tavi's wit, her generosity with her time and her ability to stay so grounded and remain genuinely thankful whenever someone made her something or asked for a photograph. She was so polite- that's another thing I took away from her talk on Friday: dealing with criticism. Don't pay attention to dumb comments people post on YouTube, they are often ignorant. But if someone takes the time to email you because they have a concern about the ideas you expressed you apologise to them, thank them and change your ways. That was powerful to me.

After only having met her on a personal level for fifteen minutes, her absence left me feeling like a lost kitten. But that's okay, about ten other girls were in the same boat and we felt lonely together. From Retrostar we walked to Lady Petrova in Flinders Lane. I had been in her store, many many years ago when I was still in Year 9 and trying not to smear chocolate sauce from French crepes on her beautiful floral jeans. She is literally a tiny woodland sprite, maybe the closest thing Melbourne will ever have to seeing Bjork. Her store is so fantastic, but I don't have any photographs. Let me paint you a picture: interwoven braids of pink, purple and blue extensions support the lighting fixtures. The walls are painted with rainbows, space motifs, cats and unicorns. The dresses are a mixture of velvet the colour of red wine, crochet and pom poms. I was almost lured into buying an enamel ice cream ring in gold, but settled for a pair of dangly earrings with tiny unicorns after marvelling at the jewellery display. I will have to eventually buy a pair of Miista heels, the perfect culmination of perspex and psychedelic tie dye.

We visited Polyester Records, a library full of both vintage rock music, bands embedded in popular culture and new releases for indie/alternative lovers and the Sticky Institute, purveyors of cool handmade zines. Polyester Records was lovely, but in our gang of girls I think we pillaged the Sticky Institute like a hoard of merciless vikings. It was a strangely satisfying feeling. At both pit stops I collected tonnes of free magazines, festival guides and adverts for my collage stock collection in an almost shameful manner. The amount of free material I picked up alone would have been enough to cover the meager train fare I payed to get into the city- something I should remember when I have more free time at my disposal and am running out of magazines to dissect.
By this point it was time for most of us to leave and attend the finale of a Tavi Gevinson jam-packed weekend: Rookie Day. I would to compare the experience to cherry sitting atop an ice cream sundae or if you will, the icing on the cake of what had already been an amazing day. The others would picnic together in a show-and-tell event of what Rookie meant to them and general gossip about important issues, blogging and feminism. Our group was the first to arrive at the State Library and line up where we spotted and talked with, other cool and like-minded people we knew. I was personally excited to see Carla of POOP still rocking her trademark patent red Dr Martens with mind-blowing tie dyed tights and a general fluffy aura emitted from multiple layers of cashmere. But I was excited to see everyone. Everyone made the effort to look amazing; there were so many shades of dyed hair, short bangs and generally amazing outfits that left me feeling in awe of a wonderful community I had found on the Internet. When I'm feeling sad and lonely, I'll look out my window and remember there are creative people in Melbourne and within Victoria, I just haven't met them all yet.
Being the first to line up is an obvious advantage, we were privileged to sit in the front row being able to hang on the word of every speaker. We first heard from Minna Gilligan about blocking out negativity and the naysayers, even if those people are your parents or friends. She gave advice on making art, letting yourself fail and the path to making good art. I feel pretty energised by her pep talk and have already finished a page in my new journal. Other women spoke about feminist radio shows, video games journalism which entailed surviving in a male-dominated field and environmentalism. Although each speaker had very different agendas they were all fiercely passionate about their respective causes and believed that what they did was right. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many good vibes, looking back I am surprised the room simply didn't explode at some stage with the amount of feelings.
The last speaker was Tavi, who acknowledged that many of us had heard her speak the night before and did not repeat herself on the sanctity of fangirling. Instead she told an anecdote about how women are told to be falsely modest. If I paraphrase her, while watching a sketch on television once a group of four women in New York city compliment each other. Each time one receives a compliment, they brush it aside, "What, oh this outfit? No! I got this from a dumpster!", and more to that effect. But false modesty doesn't make you more relatable- people see through the facade and yet the impression within society is that women have to sell themselves short. Learn to take the compliment, accept that someone has said something nice about you and they appreciate you. If that's too hard, compliment them back which will make you reach some sort of compliment equilibrium. You have to believe in yourself in order to do amazing things- Tavi asked the question 'Do you think I could have launched Rookie if I didn't believe in myself?' of course, the answer is a resounding no. You have to be a tiny bit narcissistic and believe in yourself to do great things. Just don't be a jerk about it.

After each speaker had finished, there was an intense question and answer session and my eyes were opened to a shocking reality. In the year 2013, there are some girls being told that they are creating a commotion and attention-seeking for standing up for feminism by the people who should support them the most- their families. I applaud the young women who stand up for what they believe in, even when called a feminazi and having to deal with jerky boys in high school but still wish I had verbalised my support to them in person. We were whisked away to round tables cluttered with magazines, glue sticks, gems and told to create a collage of our vision for the future. I cut up lots of cute things but decided to bring them home to be used for my journal. The team from 'No lights, no lycra' then got us to dance. We all danced with Tavi Gevinson and screamed the lyrics to Taylor Swift's "We are never ever getting back together" with horrible karaoke theatrics. May I remind you this was on the first floor of a LIBRARY (much to the dismay of everyone below us on the ground floor). It was a surreal experience.

I was one of those annoying people that loitered around for what felt like hours to say goodbye to Tavi. I contemplated thanking Minna for her lovely talk (because I was a terrible audience member and forgot the other speakers' names) but instead decided I should say hello at her next art showing instead and introduce myself properly rather than in a rush of "GaH hey grrl I lyke ur wrk!!". So I waited and waited for many people to take a photo and leave and said goodbye to my hero and inspirational blogger Tavi Gevinson. I didn't cry but did forget all the nice things I planned on saying.
She agreed to a few photos with me (because I was using my horrible Fujifilm Finepix Z) and we wore matching mini tiaras, which I got as a gift from the Facebook group thing. I cannot stress just how nice Tavi was, she even managed to say something nice about my dodgy camera, quoting its year of make and nostalgically reminiscing, "2005... that takes me back". In summary, Tavi hugged me twice, I have some photos with her and we have the same tiara hair clip which I will hold while meditating it when I feel uncreative and worthless. 

Because I am not worthless, and I met lots of great and wonderful people on the weekend. This does not have to be the end of an amazing experience either, because some of the people I met made zines or were photographers and artists. They were cool, wonderfully and genuinely nice and now I have lots of ~*contacts*~ who I can approach if I had a submission I was particularly proud of or collaborate with in the future. And finally I have clarity. Clarity of what I expect from a future with blogging now and art and a new found sense of conviction in all aspects of my life.

*I cannot remember where each individual photograph came from, but images used were from: tavitulle instagram, Minna Gilligan's instagram, Carolyn West, Rookie Meetup Australia, Rookiemag Tumblr.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I can't see your comment, but I DID read it and yes, we should hold like a crafternoon or something.

      And thank you for giving me a butterfly clip, it was very sweet <3

  2. Glad you too got so much out of meeting all the wonderful ppl at the Rookie meetup and seeing Tavi & Minna speak Adele. Nice little blog you have here. I look forward to reading/seeing more of your awesome work.

  3. Ahhh! Sounds like so much fun, glad you had a blast <3

  4. this sounds fucking awesome - you have a fab blog aswell xx

  5. Ugh this was a great post, you summed it all up amazingly!
    Ps. you just HAD to use my lame vision board that isn't particularly about my future, didn't you?! :P

    Haha! But seriously it was lovely to meet you finally! Keep being awesome!

    1. I really liked your vision board! Seeing yours and everyone else's reminded me how lame I can be in a creative slump
      let's hope it's not the only time we meet!