Written by CORC assistant and recent graduate, Summer Hirtzel F08
Cameron Vokey 05F learned at Hampshire that if you want to do something, sometimes you have to invent a genre, create a space, manage teams, and do all the work – dirty and otherwise – yourself. He’s taken this lesson out into the world with vigor. Taking his passions for art, performance, and technology and the intersections therein into the world after Hampshire has been a challenge, but it has also brought him great joy.
In his own words, “I had an awesome experience at Hampshire […] I worked constantly and was passionate about everything. That translated well into my professional career.” For the past two years, he managed an art space called Space on White, where he was the “primary dude who does EVERYTHING.” Space on White is a venue for hire in Tribeca, NYC that hosts performances, events, classes, installations, pop-up shops, film screenings, exhibitions, and on and on.
Cameron says that his studies at Hampshire gave him the experience and the vocabulary to do this kind of intense and involved work. During his four years here, Cameron studied the potent amalgamation of Production Management for Theatre and Film and the Integration of Arts and Technology. He spent much of his time doing interactive installations, performances with projection, and independent studies. He liked the idea of bringing the technological tools that were being used in film, music venues, and at parties into the space of performance.
Cameron has done a lot in the three years since he graduated: working as a Stage Manager for several companies, doing marketing consultant work, working for a company that did parties, theatre, and concerts in Manhattan and Brooklyn, freelancing as an artist assistant, and doing odd jobs to pay the bills. In his experience, “Life after Hampshire is actually a lot like Hampshire except you have to rally a LOT harder to do what you want to be doing and things like food aren’t just ‘around.’” New York even operates on its own version of time, much like Hampshire Time, much to Cameron’s dismay.
One strategy Cameron described for his job hunt was cold-contacting companies – even when they did not have any open positions – to get his name out there and see if there were any unadvertised openings. He kept track of the companies and their responses in what he calls a “HUGE” spreadsheet. He was frustrated by the fact that he kept getting hired as a Stage Manager at the beginning of his career because he disliked the work and was interested in putting his jack-of-all-trades background – which no one seemed to take seriously – to good use.
When asked if he had any advice for current Hampshire students, Cameron responded with ardor and a candid list of pointers and suggestions, “Work hard. Don’t forget that you’re paying for your education, so make it worth it. Find people to collaborate with that are as excited as you are and take as much initiative as you do. Get a job even if you don’t need one. Try to do an internship while you can afford to.” Cameron interned as a Production Assistant for two summers at Cape Playhouse, which he described as the perfect foil to the Hampshire experience, “Traditional theatre, traditional approach, traditional administration.”
The list continues, “Go to the city where they’re the best at what you want to do and see if you like it. Study everything you’re interested in and if you can’t get in a class, do an independent study. Get a committee of professors that you can see yourself working with after you graduate or that you can see yourself inviting over for dinner in 10 years.”
Cameron was recently contacted by 3 Legged Dog, a company on the forefront of technology and performance to fill a new position in Multimedia and Arts Administration. He will be sad to leave Space on White but is excited about the opportunity as he has had his eye on 3LD since he was introduced to them by Hampshire Professor Peter Kallok – Cameron describes him as “Design Professor / Personal Hero.”
Besides his professional work with Space on White and his upcoming position at 3 Legged Dog, Cameron collaborates with other Hampshire grads to make music videos and shorts with OF CLOUDS, runs an arts, music, and event blog called The Zen Zone, and releases mixtapes monthly at vacaland.com. He’s a busy person, but he’s doing what he loves and working with people who he loves. Besides the frustrations of dealing with the red tape and bureaucracy of organizations and the difficulty of finding health insurance in the arts, he says that his life “is an A+.”
Reflecting on how his time at Hampshire has shaped his current work, Cameron remarked, “Looking back it’s funny to think how ‘By Your Bootstraps’ Hampshire College is if you want to be successful – an ideology that’s really rooted in the conservative. I joke around about it, but truthfully, Hampshire has made me a Socialist-Capitalist. It’s an oxy-moron, but isn’t also ‘build your own major?’”
When asked if he would be comfortable being contacted by students with questions/interests about his work or the companies he has worked for, he responded, “For sure. Just don’t beat around the bush.” You can reach him at zenzone [at] thezenzone [dot] org