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Writer, producer, artist

paintingTell me about your job

I've always loved the arts, be it theatre, comedy, painting, reading, writing, or music and sign singing. My true passion is writing and painting, except my career trajectory took me into administration and hospitality, with detours to travel and living and studying overseas. 

How did you get into this line of work?

As a kid, I loved reading; my nose was always in a book. I also loved movies and television. I loved the stories and the pictures; ideas, imagination, escape, chills, thrills and spills. In high school, I discovered a talent for drawing and painting, a talent that I never took seriously, but saw me go on to Sydney College of the Arts.

In the summer after my HSC, I started dabbling in writing song lyrics. During my college years, not only did I paint, I also discovered that I liked to tell stories. The range of mediums I could use expanded to include photography.

My first job was with Australian Taxation Office, as an office clerk/ administrator. Even though I was not working in my dream job, I kept up my writing and interest in visual arts, by getting involved in various groups and projects in Australia and in the UK, such as Friends For The Young Deaf [FYD], NSW Association of the Deaf, Deaf Australia: NSW, projects SILENT MESSENGER, SOUND OFF, CHIPS, blogging - Deaf Muse, Visual Instincts & Radio666fm, 2SERFM [community radio], READ MY SHORTS [short film festival], and Arrt.Boxx.

I quit the Australian Taxation Office to travel, study and live overseas. I maintained my interest in the arts and discovered another talent - administration. This fits in neatly with my ability to conceive, conceptualise and realise ideas. A talent that showed up in two major works for two different courses. I designed a flexible learning package for my Certificate in Training Practices course [UK] and an interactive CD, for my studies in multimedia [Australia].

Since I graduated from Sydney College of the Arts, computers have become mainstream, expanding the range of tools that we use to create and to communicate with. Having avoided my true calling for many years, I have decided that it is time to shift my attention back to my writing, painting and production.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of being a writer/ artist is that I get to call the shots. No one can tell me what to do. That's right; I decide what to write, what to paint, what to draw, and what story to tell. The most enjoyable part is being creative. I really enjoy using one of my best assets, my analytical brain and creative visualisation skills. To conceive, conceptualise and realise ideas: the thrill of conceptualising, exploring its potential, and mapping out how I will achieve my aim. The icing on the cake is the enormous satisfaction I get when I see the enjoyment from other people. I get to use all my skills that I have accumulated over my life: write, paint, analyse, administration, computer, design, website building, and storyteller.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

The only real challenge for me as a writer/ artist and producer is that of being Deaf in a hearing world. We all know what those are, so I won't repeat them here, but suffice to say, they can be frustrating. However, with the advent of computers, social networking, and a greater awareness of deafness, Deaf people and Deaf culture, the challenges are not as daunting as they were. 


A secondary challenge is the lack of networking and cultural support in the Deaf community for artists, where sports are the nucleus of many of the bigger social events. Networking, access and updating skills are still serious issues that need grappling with.
 On a personal note motivation, distraction, working alone, and cabin fever, as anybody who works as a freelancer will attest to.

What advice would you give a deaf/hearing impaired person who is looking for a career like yours?

If you have a passion, just do it. I don't believe you can study to become a writer or artist. You really learn and grow by working at it. What you learn in school, TAFE or university, is only the tip of the iceberg, there is still more to learn and discover. After all, my role model and spiritual mentor, Suzi Quatro, like many before her, did not study her vocation. She discovered she had a talent and a passion, and she followed her muse. She went on the road, played pubs, clubs and concert halls. In the process, she redefined a woman's role in music and how we see women entertainers. They used to be singers in dresses, now they are rockers in leather.

I do believe you can do courses and workshops to learn the necessary skills and techniques you need or want, that will help you become a better artist. You can learn new skills or expand the skills that you already have. If you want to write, paint, sculpt, take photos or perform, my advice would be to just paint, write, and take photos. However, if you want to learn new techniques or skills, then yes, TAFE, university or short workshops, is a good idea. By all means, go and study, it is a great way to learn the tools you need to do a job, but remember, life and working with people, is a better teacher. They will show you that artistic expression comes from finding it within yourself and doing it. They will show you that everything you learn by formal study can be challenged, and even useless. They will show you how to become aware of what and how you learn the new techniques, and how to access this knowledge whenever you want it.

Parting Words

Looking back at my life and career, we Deafies have sure come a long way. I know we have brains, talent and skills, and I know that we are out there in the world making our mark. But I'm still waiting for that Deafie who will redefine what it means to be a Deaf person in a Hearing world, the Deafie who will challenge Hearing people to see us as their equal. Just like Suzi Quatro did for women in music.

Will you be that Deafie?


For more information on becoming a writer or artist


Tony NicholasFor more information visit Tony's website.

11-Nov-2015 5:07 PM (AEST)