It’s not just with role models and guest artists Tosca shares nice bonding stories with, but also with fellow Next Talents. In Eindhoven we cheerfully spotted quite a lot of present and alumni Nexters hanging around together, but also in Berlin Tosca is joined by fellow friends and colleagues Juliana Erazo and Alina Milkina.
“Especially with Juliana… (Erazo, ed.)” Tosca says “I have become really good friends … right from the beginning of our Next trajectory. It all happened during the Covid pandemic and then Paulien (one of the program’s coordinators) told me ‘Juliana’s also doing work about womanhood, about feminism, so maybe that’s interesting for you. It’s also one of the reasons we chose you guys in the program, because we think you complement each other’s work.’ So we met and we really connected. We talked a lot about our projects, about our personal experiences. I feel like I have someone now in my life that not only understands me and my work but also who I am and what my goals are. Even though she’s from the other side of the world, it feels like we are sisters. And Next brought us together like that.
And it’s not just Juliana. There’s also Aswin (Baaijens, ed.) and he is also creating a story about masculinity. Because of our genders and thus our different perspectives on the topic, it’s really interesting to talk with each other about the projects. The themes overlap but he will use a different medium than mine. He is working on a film and I on a graphic novel. And also our target audiences are a bit different so we’re discussing with each other about how we make those choices. We used to talk every week. Now, as more events start to happen again, it’s a bit less.
I have to say the most amazing fact about the Next program is the connection with the other people. The masterclasses are also great but they are more skill based: you learn this or that. But the connection is something that really broadens over time”.
We take the opportunity to ask more about her experience with the program. “I feel in no way pressured to perform but I do feel a bit of ‘jealousy’ (the friendly type!) that some of the other talents have more concrete projects or are in a stage where they do have the end line in sight.
My Next project consisted mostly in doing research for a project that grew and grew and grew. It’s going to be a graphic novel and a podcast and a couple of other things. And sometimes I am jealous because I think ‘why can’t I write a short script or think of a small animation, and then simply work on it? Produce it, create it and then it’s finished.’ The project that I now work on is going to take a couple of years before it’s finished. On the other hand I really love that. I love that I can work on a bigger story and invest my time in it!
What I also learned during Next and during Covid is that the goal should not be to ‘make’ something good but to ‘learn’ something. Maybe you create a project and you fail because no one wants it. But then you can go back and you can reflect ‘why does nobody want this?’ and then you know and you’re not going to do the same thing again. Sometimes it’s better to fail because next time it will all be much much better. You have to make the terrible work to start making the better work which is the doom of being an artist!” She laughs.
As a final question we ask what Tosca would say to artists in similar positions as hers, regarding attending events like The Art Department.
“Of course you’re going to look in advance who will be joining the event, especially with people posting on Instagram things like ‘I’m gonna go at Playgrounds, who else will be there?’. And then you can think beforehand who you want to talk with and why. You don’t want to overwhelm people with loads of questions. So maybe just have one goal in mind. And it’s also ok if you don’t manage to talk about your work or to pitch a project, but end up bonding with somebody over watching The Simpsons. Making connections is very important.
As for a fun tip, I would go to a Playgrounds event and wear an outrageous outfit. One time I wore an ugly sweater with a bunny on it and I just watched the talks and then I was like ‘oh, I really wanted to ask this speaker more about this subject’. So after the event I reached out to them on Instagram and said ‘I really loved your talk and wanted to ask you more about this and by the way I am the girl with the ugly bunny sweater’ and they actually remembered me! So that really worked for me, then again I am quite often very colorfully dressed!”
Should we ever notice a sea of ugly sweaters at our events, we’ll now all know who started the trend!
Keep an eye on Tosca’s works by following her @mannenmythen (Manly Myths) on Instagram.
*some of the answers have been edited for coherency purposes.