Today we’d like to introduce you to Sharon Brenner.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’ve always been drawn to cooking and photography and started photographing my recipes a few years ago as a way to catalog my work. At first, I just used my phone for visuals and wrote down recipes, but over time, I started food writing as well. All of it blossomed into an evolving creative practice centered around food and cooking involving a variety of projects that have taken me to interesting places and brought me in contact with amazing people.
Please tell us about your work.
Outside of this, I pursue food-related work as a way to highlight the creative efforts of others and to inspire people to access creativity through cooking and sharing food. I also love hosting people and hope that my work inspires people not only to share food with others but to think of cooking as a way to explore their own creativity. My food writing is also a way to integrate into the community and learn about other people’s work, as well as highlight stories of people in food and other creative fields. I love seeing how the food zine world has evolved and feel really lucky to be a small part of it, getting to tell stories with a lot of creative freedom and to work with people who are as equally excited about those narratives.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
In addition to my work as a creative, I’m also an immigration lawyer. Yup! (this surprises a lot of people). In that work, I primarily work with artists and creatives so I see a lot of common patterns among different creative industries. Between that, my own creative work and my friends, I think one of the most challenging things is getting paid for work that should be compensated but for which people will do for free to get exposure.
I’m the first one to admit that social media, specifically Instagram, has led me to places and people that I would never have been able to meet without it. I never had Facebook and was always sort of uncomfortable with it all, but the visual nature of Instagram and how the platform has evolved over time have come as a really pleasant surprise to me. It enables me to maintain relationships from afar, learn a TON of amazing things about other people and creative happenings.
That all said, the platform has also diluted traditional modes of compensation. Unfortunately, you can’t pay rent with ‘likes’ but many people will still do work for free in hopes that it will result in exposure that will garner compensation. While there’s nothing wrong with doing something for free for the sake of a creative passion, industry standards of non-compensation undermine people’s efforts and it’s a way for bigger fish to get free content without compensating people’s work. Although social media is the most amazing tool for personal exposure and promotion, the commercialization of it sometimes has unfortunate consequences.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I house all my work on https://www.recordsintheden.com/, but let’s be honest, in today’s world the best way to know about someone and support them is through Instagram! I have a casual cookie popup in LA that I try to host once a month, which is a great way to get to know people and share something delicious. Because my work is constantly evolving, for better or worse Instagram is the best way to stay attuned to what I’m up to!
My writing pieces can be found online and at book/zine shops, but I catalog it all here: https://www.recordsintheden.com/features2
Image of Sharon Brenner by Jessica Chou. All other images by Sharon Brenner.