We had the good fortune of connecting with Eron Rauch and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eron, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Like many people in creative fields, early in my career, life was defined by my work. This was especially true because I came to photography, art, and design comparably late, so I had a lot of technical skills and historical knowledge to backfill. Living in a loft with other artists, working until 3AM, talking work at bars where other artists talked shop—I learned so much so fast—and regularly cratered into burnout, production stalls, and emotional breakdowns. My response was to attempt to strict lines between work and “life.” But that seemed to only make the problem worse. Moving forward twenty years through a multifaceted career touching many fields, I’ve increasingly found the very idea of the split implied in “work life balance” to, itself, be a problematic idea. Reading through “Leisure the Basis of Culture” by Joseph Pieper (at the impetus of Brain Pickings) really started me thinking about all aspects of living as woven together. As creative people, we all intuitively know this even if we’re bad at doing it: 20 burnt-out 20-hour days rehashing your worn-out ideas is far less useful than taking two days to hike and giving all those things percolating space to breathe converse. Yeah, you still have to do the hard work, but long term, it’s a matter of getting intimate with your own working methods and paying attention to the ways those change over time. What works when you’re still brute-force learning Photoshop at 21 isn’t the same as when you’re an art director at 39. Forcing yourself to stick with the idea that “more hours = more better” is just a recipe for a painful slide into workaholism.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work has had a particular set of challenges because early on I dedicated myself to exploring the hinterlands and interface zones between fine art and the rising subcultures. This has been incredible because I’ve been able to be at the turbulent areas that would become the next decade’s touchstones. Try explaining why artwork you’ve made using World of Warcraft as a subject (projects like A Land to Die In, Travels, and The Many Deaths of Guy Debord) should be in a gallery in 2006. It’s almost impossible! But in 2020 when everyone plays games and we’re in quarantine, that work makes all the sense in the world. I’ve done more interviews about the WoW projects in the last size months than I did in the previous 15. Honestly, this really frustrated me. But over the months, I’ve realized I should be proud that I make things that are more important 15 years later than when I originally made it. That’s kind of incredible, even if those intervening years aren’t easy. A pro is that I’ve gotten really good at getting people who know nothing about my subject really excited. But a major challenge is that these endeavors get me seen more as of a curator and writer than for the copious work I produce. But as Cory Archangel and Seth price have mused, maybe that confusion and hybrid identity is useful in our current information-overloaded media sphere.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Los Angeles has a wealth of DIY, artist-run, pop-up, and community spaces that host events and collaborate with other institutions across disciplines. Elephant gallery, Glitch City, Southland Institute, bluewhale, the Wulf, Monte Vista Projects, Insert Blanc Press, World Stage, and so many more. There’s a wonderful confusion across these spaces that shows the real interconnectedness of the Los Angeles creative community. Also, all the food. I’m a massive food nerd and no trip to Los Angeles would be complete without a tour through my and my partner’s epic Google doc of restaurants. Shoutout to Roy Choi, doing the good work during the pandemic, and who is always an inspiration for me.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to all the coffee ramble compatriots, the beer and theorize partners, the hike and talk about the interesting art we’ve seen troupes, the late-night Zoom link sharers, the epic Twitter DM thread ponderers. Shoutout to everyone who is the part of the creative iceberg that isn’t seen. For every successful artistic project, there is a wealth of people who share their time and energy, unseen, in speculative conversations, informal information sharing, sounding board sessions, people who give each other space to think out loud, and hilarious-serious long-shot idea bullshitting. Specifically, right now I’d like to thank Kent Sheely, Shing Yin Khor, Adam Feldmath, Gretchen Andrew and the Art newspaper xR review panel, the Space Jedi games Discord crew, and everyone who has humored and fed my obsession with Blaseball.