This is not Just Another Interview. This is an interview with Toby, head honcho of ‘Just Another Agency’. I have been lucky enough to hang out with Toby a few times and she is the hardest working person I have ever met! The scene in Melbourne would not be where it is without her contribution. Toby does. not. stop! A ‘mum’ to almost 40 artists (and a ring-in VNA contributor), Toby kindly made some time to chat….
DW: How did ‘Just Another Agency’ (JAA) come to exist?
JAT: Upon moving to Melbourne from Perth in 2007 my partner and I at the time were looking for somewhere to live and we came across what I like to describe as “a squatters hole”. It was a 2 storey building containing three rooms downstairs and four rooms upstairs along with an amazing outdoor space. When we moved into it however there was no flushing toilet or electricity upstairs. However it very quickly became home. Once moving in everything else just happened. We turned the downstairs rooms into a shop front and gallery along with an outdoor exhibition space and started supporting emerging and established local, national and international artists. Located at 696 Sydney Road, Brunswick (Victoria, Australia) we only found it fitting to call the space ‘696’. However after running the gallery for three years, we decided to close taking what we loved from the space and transforming that into the agency. Just like that, ‘Just Another ‘was born.
DW: What’s the idea behind the agency – what do you hope to achieve?
JAT: The agency’s main ethos is to support, encourage and promote artists. I want the world to see the Just Another Artists for who they really are and what they do – beautiful people that create beautiful things. Whether it be illustrations or murals, branding or installations, I believe the JA Artists are some of the best in the world. That and to create a community. My artists are like my kids, I believe in each one of them wholeheartedly and I want them to believe in each other. Support and encourage one another. Feed off one another to push each other to reach new heights.
DW: JAA has a diverse collection of artists. How do you go about choosing who can be part of the fold? What recommendations would you give for up and coming artists wanting to get into the industry and get some representation?
JAT: There are many different ways I go about selecting artists to be apart of JA. My main requirement is to have no two artists alike. I want artists not only with talent but also the potential to grow. Any advice I can give to someone wanting to get representation or break into the industry, is aside from your talent, your personality is key. Being unique and standing out. When approaching people it’s not just about putting your best foot forward but also putting your personality forward. Showcase who you really are, show how much you want this. Send through a link to your portfolio or site but make sure the work your putting forward represents who you are and where you want to go. You have approximately 40 seconds to impress so you may as well give it your all!
DW: You get first look at some pretty amazing shows… What’s the JAA personal collection like?
JAT: Hahaha. I have too much artwork and not enough room. Does that answer the question? I’ve only been collecting artwork for the last 7 years however I’m really proud of the work I have. Along with some of the Just Another artists I’ve been lucky enough to collect work from all over the world. I admit that my favourites are usually from Australian artists though, including Ian ‘Kid Zoom’ Strange, Meggs, Rone, Kaffeine, Bec Winnel and many, many more.
DW: You focus so hard on JAA – Tell us more about Toby. What’s your background pre 696?
JAT: Pre moving to Melbourne and throwing myself into the creative community I was actually an apprentice electrician. That is my other love. For someone who hated Maths in high school I found an appreciation for math and more specifically when it makes things “light up”. That and I like getting my hands dirty…
DW: I was lucky to hang with you a bit down at Analogue/Digital. I could not help but notice you Do. Not. Stop. When you get 20 seconds to yourself, how do you spend it?
JAT: Ha. I SLEEP!
DW: You are lucky enough to live in the street art capital of Australia, if not the world. Any hidden gems we need to know about (other than the JAA project space)?
JAT: I think that is all part of living in Melbourne, exploring. Hidden gems are different for everyone. There are some great creative spaces and laneways but it’s relative to what everyone else likes. I suggest going for a walk. No matter which suburb you are in you are bound to find something awesome that blows your mind away…
DW: What can we expect from JAA for the rest of 2014? The bar is pretty high after two Mr. Penfold shows…..
JAT: I definitely have a lot of stuff happening right now with big plans for the later half of the year, nothing I can divulge as yet though…
DW: Cannot wait to see it! Keep us posted!