Sustainable Artistic Practices for Queer Creators

MACLEOD QGCon 2015 headshotSPEAKER: Riley MacLeod

As LGBTQ game designers, academics, and critics, our diverse fields are united by the particular challenges we face as creators. While myriad workshops exist on the art and form of our various mediums, there are barriers to undertaking any creative practice that go beyond the basics of possessing a particular skill set or technical proficiency. Creative people of all kinds struggle to come up with ideas, stay motivated, set achievable goals, give and receive feedback, and incorporate their practices into their daily lives. For queer creators in particular, life circumstances, political contexts, and personal histories may cause us to struggle to express and disseminate our ideas, find communities of like-minded creators, and financially sustain our work. We may work without institutional support and fear reprisal and harassment for putting our creative output into the world. A lack of focus on these concerns can keep new and important voices out of games and cause people already working in our field to struggle or burn out.

In this casual, participatory workshop, we will discuss barriers to beginning and sustaining creative practices from a holistic perspective. This workshop is intended to be a welcoming space to discuss struggles such as time management, personal and artistic concerns and fears, inabilities to come up with ideas or sustain interest and energy in projects, finding communities, soliciting feedback, and anything else that keeps us from starting or finishing projects. We will consider the struggles queer creators in particular face and work together to brainstorm accessible, sustainable, and functional workarounds and strategies to support each other in establishing good work habits and pursuing our creative goals. The workshop will be discussion-based and centered on participants speaking with and helping each other, with the workshop leaders serving to facilitate and manage the discussion. Participants from any medium and with any level of experience are welcome and encouraged to come and share their strategies, struggles, and ideas.

As working artists in and outside of games, the facilitators have in-depth knowledge of the struggles and rewards of the creative process, as well as the particular difficulties faced by queer creators. Drawing on our own experience as artists and teachers, as well as a previous version of this workshop from Different Games aimed at beginning game designers, we hope to foster an honest, useful dialogue tailored to the needs of our participants.

RILEY MACLEOD is a freelance writer and editor from Brooklyn, NY. As the former editor of Topside Press, an award-winning independent press fostering new voices in transgender literature, he has led numerous workshops for emerging trans fiction writers focusing on overcoming barriers to beginning and sustaining an artistic practice. He is Managing Editor at Haywire Magazine and has contributed to Critical Distance, The Border House, Lambda Literary, and merritt kopas’ Videogames for Humans, among others.

CURTIS GLENN is a visual artist and archivist at Gavin Brown’s enterprise in New York. As well as showing work individually, he has exhibited collaboratively as CMYK and Malcolm Glenn Project Space. He has shown at Interstate Projects in Brooklyn, Cave Gallery in Detroit, Detroit Industrial Projects in Detroit, and an abandoned car wash, also in Detroit. He co-ran the now defunct Malcolm Glenn Project Space, a physical gallery in Brooklyn that took as a basic tenet the conviction that failed projects are at least as interesting and valuable as successful ones. Recently he’s been providing concept design for Rail Slave Games’ new project Nauseous Pines.