On collaboration and mixing work stylesRaigo Law, artist, interviewed by Johann Yamin, 20 March 2021
This is a two-part interview. You can access the first part of this interview, On rebelling to keep an art practice during National Service, here.

Johann Yamin: Thinking about working collaboratively with others as well, since you are with PURE EVER, how is it like taking care of or negotiating work habits, schedules, or timelines?
Raigo Law: PURE EVER is definitely not a full-time thing, we have our other work commitments. So there's definitely negotiation, because I'm in the army and most of the time, I'm not free during the weekdays. I'm very happy that some of my members sacrificed their weekends for me just to work on Sunset X, the film that we were doing.  

Before any project that we embark on, we definitely put out that, I have this on this day, or this project I'm working on, so I can’t commit 100% to it. Or you know, I want an easier shot. In a way, we always talk, “maybe I can work on social media,” and “I can work on the schedule for filming.” I did project management because I can work on it as an Excel sheet and then just send it to them. Though when we are working creatively together to make the project, everyone has to be 100%.

JY: So though you’ve gotten remarks that you shouldn't be able to uphold a practice during the army, it sounds like people are able to accommodate.
RL: Sometimes I feel like a burden. But it's a five-person collective, so me not being there doesn't really make a lot of difference. When we start splitting our workload, we make sure it's balanced. So everyone works on the same amount. It’s fair for all. There is no like, “Rifqi has to work more because Rifqi is more free.” No such thing. Even though I’m in camp, I have to work on some stuff so that I can submit it to the curators, you know? I think the tougher part is the filming process. That's where everything clashes.

Despite how organised your plan is, it still fucks up in a way, and I can’t handle when things aren’t according to my plan or if it's a mess, and it doesn’t end at the correct time. Because we have to care about the welfare of our talents and our crew members, so that's one thing that we have to really consider.

Working collaboratively, sometimes you give in on certain creative aspects. We are always exchanging creative energies and ideas and there’s always arguments and conflicts, but then we just give in or let the majority win, and we just try to make things perfect from there.

JY: You also have experience working in fashion, I'm curious, have you felt any kind of contrast in terms of working styles?
RL: I’ve been to shoots, and working with fashion designers is actually very different from working with artists. Artists are fine if it's not perfect. For fashion designers, they have to make sure that it is perfect, that it has to be pretty, even if it's not supposed to be pretty. Fashion designers pay attention to details, they’re more anal about things and if they don't like it, they will just say no, and they make sure you do whatever it takes. That's what I like about fashion designers. Straightforward. Sassy.
I used to have projects with fashion photographers. Sometimes, things are being executed purely as fashion but I always want to infuse my practice into it. I make sure that some of the elements that I have in my practice are inside. They don't complain, they find ways to work it in, how to have my artworks be in that project.

JY: Would you say the kinds of labour are different in your film project and a fashion shoot? From work hours to crunch periods, what kind of rhythms did you follow?
RL: Our film is pretty much fashion-based as well. Other than the crew members, and the talents that we have on board, we have set assistants, and some are my friends from fashion. The way we plan and work is pretty much the same as how they conduct a fashion shoot. Of course, we need to have different systems, it's not just a fashion shoot system, we have to ask our film friends how they normally conduct a film shoot. So we just mixed it together lor. I was project manager for the project, so I just worked around what worked best.

In a fashion shoot, they don't take breaks, they just work and work, they don’t even eat sometimes. It's work constantly, and then one outfit is done. If you’ve seen our film, there’s a lot of fashion garments by different designers. We had to always check in on the styling department and the lighting side, and the set plays a very important part in our film. We’ll try to incorporate different systems into the process.
JY: It sounds like you take elements that work from what you already know, from fashion shoots. But it also sounds like you also care a lot about things like welfare. Maybe just to round up, what changes would you wish to see in the arts?
Not saying I’m unhappy, but maybe I'm familiar with the system and this is just something that I've been questioning. There's always people telling me that if you want to apply for grants and you want to propose a project, you have to find a very influential, established artist to help you apply, because normally they accept artists who are more established in the scene.
I don't think it's really fair, because there are under-represented artists who may have like, fucking cool ideas, but because they are not known, they won't get a grant to do whatever they want to do, you know? I think that's one thing that I really dislike. Sometimes I have a project that I want to propose, but I wouldn't have the confidence because I just think that there’s a very low chance I'll get the grant. 
JY: Conversely, then, what do you enjoy about working in the arts?
No matter how exclusive some artists are out there, sometimes I'm just very glad to have friends who are performing really well in the scene, and also using their credibility to help out other underrepresented artists in a way. One person is Syaheedah, I think she's always trying to reach out to artists who are often overlooked by institutions, and then supporting them throughout the process. That’s what I'm happy about, I see change. I want to see that more in institutions. You have the money, you have the name, why not just use it wisely. You're giving this X X X artist multiple shows in one year, but you're not giving any opportunities to other artists. You want to talk about the creative economy but you can't, because no one's earning any money. It’s not an economy anymore!

JY: So many people in the arts are doing what I feel is interesting or important work, and sometimes they’re your peers, they are people that you love and respect very much as well. So I really like that you brought it back to that, it's very gratifying to see them succeed as well. I think that's a nice note to end on.
Read the first part of the interview here.