What creativity means to me (the long version). Interviewed by Rashell Martin

Interviewed by Rashell Martin

 

There is a feeling of being connected that fills me when I’m inspired, a feeling of becoming one with the subject matter in some way that is unexplainable to me but I just feel it and let it bring me to where ever it wants me to go.

Do you remember how old were you when you first started recognizing any form of creativity? What did you do with it?

I really didnt find it, it found me at a young age. I started drawing things that I saw, mainly everyday objects and it kind of started with the cartoon characters on cereal boxes. I saw something interesting in them so I started bringing a couple markers with me to breakfast in the morning and started drawing what I saw on the boxes. From there, I started drawing my favorite hockey team logos (I grew up in Minnesota where everyone plays hockey). When I got bored of that, I would draw something else. I always seemed to pick objects that were tough to draw and a little more complex. I remember when I got into creating black-light posters of my favorite rock-and-roll bands. They were so cool

You mentioned you were young when you started feeling this creativity itch. Looking back, do you think this had any impact on your life?

My father was blue collar worker and was always tinkering with machines and such. His father was also a blue collar guy and he worked at a power plant his entire life. So it was kind of unspoken that I would probably fall into that category in some way. I started to at first and luckily realized that life has something else in store for me. When I really started showing interest in the arts, 15 or so, my father really didnt know how to approach that subject. So we really didnt talk much about it. I have to say however, that he was very supportive of my decisions about where I wanted to go with art. I was slowly becoming the weird one in the family because I was creative and expressed myself different then the rest. I think they all thought I did a lot of hallucinogenic drugs. To this day, people in my family cannot put their finger on how I make my living and in the back of their minds, there probably thinking I should go get a REAL job

What do you create / what do you do now in your life with creativity?

I created a beautiful baby girl if thats what youre asking. I create what my inner being unconsciously voices to me in all kinds of forms. I know that sounds deep. I guess you could say that I try to be creative in all things I do. Like trimming a plant in some creative way, decorating my home, beating out a great rhythm on my drum, and yes, in visual form. I like to create things that inspire me, that reach out and ask me to look at them through a different set of eyes with a different perspective. Some things are already present in some way, be it an object that I photograph, an angle of a building that catches my eye, a person expressing an emotion that has some depth or just a different perspective on an ordinary everyday object. I like to draw inspiration from the energy of other people, stimulating environments, and nature. The main driving force of my creativity is undoubtedly curiosity. If something reveals its core from all sides without any exploration, than it is not much interest to me. I tend to like things of complexity, things that beg for a second look and are open to new perspectives.

Wow, that is deep. So if you try to be creative in a lot of things, then where do you get your motivation from?

This sounds maybe a bit cliché but I would maybe say life and challenges. Life because when your living your life in a balanced, harmonious way, your open to create beautiful things in any form. And challenges, because they keep me curious and when Im curious, Im motived. They both go hand-in-hand for me. Exploration also motivates me to some extent.

People with a creative nature usually have some sort on inspiration behind what they do. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Challenges, determined motivated people with dreams and passions, go-getters and do-ers all inspire me to be great. Also people who have found their calling in life and exude positive energy in all that they do. Dreaming (not in the sleeping sense) also is a big one. I think that is one thing that keeps me going in hard times. Dreaming gives me something to strive for and it fills me with the thought of how great it will feel once I finally achieve that dream. I feel it hard to be inspirited and motived to do anything without dreams of some sort. Determination is also a big inspiration. When I meet people who are it is almost a contagious and I can’t help but feel excited and motivated to do something which is greatly inspiring.

Do you have a place you go to get that feeling of inspiration?

Places where there is a lot of energy and vibration usually. Im very susceptible to energy and over the year I have come to learn how I pick-up on it and how it affects me. Since living here in Portland, I have come to find inspiration mainly at coffee shops. There is some much going on there. Some conversations going on would blow your mind and are about the most off the wall things. That is sometimes all I need to get thinking, kind a like what would you do in their shoes thing. And no I don’t eavesdropping on everyone talking, when you’re in a small place with that many people, it’s hard not to overhear. I also see a lot of people sketching in note books, on computers, meeting with someone about the next big thing and the combination of all that makes for a cosmic blast of energy for me and gets me in the mood to create.

What is the feeling you get when you’re inspired?

There is a feeling of being connected that I get when I’m inspired, a feeling of becoming one with the subject matter in some way that is unexplainable to me but I just feel it and let it bring me to where ever it wants me to go. Its kind of like that feeling you get when you finish a huge puzzle. When youve popped the 10,000th piece on the table and take a step back and look at what youve created. All the pieces fit together to make one large beautiful thing.

If you were asked to define success, how would you answer that?

Doing what I love to do and feeling fulfilled in my life. I dont gauge it by materialistic possessions, my bank account balance, or my career title.

We all have roadblocks or things that get in the way of letting us be creative. Is there anything holding you up from time to time?

Mainly, my duties as a parent. Dont get me wrong, I have a wonderful family however my kids, 22 months and 9 years old, divert my attention from focusing and finding an inspirational stream of creativity. I love my family but not having a lot of free time to explore and create has really changed things up for me. Before I moved here to Portland, I really didnt have anyone solely depending on me. I could move around the country (and I did for 10 years). I could go hike out in the woods for a week at a time, studying the trees, be freed from the daily grind and come back fresh and ready to create. Now there are a lot of responsibilities, not to say I didnt have them before, that don’t allow me to have a lot of time to create. Im now finding a way to bring more room in my life to be creative and returning back to AI to work on my second degree is really helping me make that happen.

It sounds like creativity or being creative is important to you. How do you bring it into your day to day life?

An example, recently I was inclined to hang a mirror in our place so I went out shopping around for some and really didnt find anything I could deal with seeing every day (I’m kind a particular) so I backed off from buying one for a while. While I was out for a run one day, I stumble across a large mirror someone was throwing away. So I went back to grab it latter, brought it home and started painting some crazy abstract design on it. It now hangs on our wall at the end of a staircase. Its those kinds of things that I do to bring in a not so programmed, plain, bla, life. I like fresh and new ideas. I also encourage change a lot in my life so that gives me the chance to be creative in many regards.

Straight up, what does creativity me to you?

Well, for me personally, creativity is expressing ones true emotions in a unique way. It comes in an endless forms, like visual arts, music, film, photography, writing, singing, parenting, gardening, planning, making dinner for your family to name a few. I like to keep an open channel, as I call it, within myself to freely express my creativity. This is key for me to help keep balance in my life. If a few weeks go by and I haven’t had a chance to do anything creative, I get this blocked feeling that eventually throws me into a downward spiral of funk which affects all kinds of things in my life…

Have you ever thought of where you see yourself down the road, in say 10 years? Do you think creativity will play a part of your life then as it does now?

I see myself either being in the top seat of a creative studio or creating my own creative design studio that I have built from the ground up. If I had to choose between working for someone or myself, I would say myself. Ive done in for about 6 years and created 2 small studios during that time. I would like to be back at the wheel of my own ship again in the future. Wherever the road takes my career, I want to be in an environment where I can freely express myself and not be judged, a place where there are no BS politics, and were people are open to ideas and dont categorize them immediately as being Good or Bad. A place where people can be free to be themselves.

You seem to be interested in the business side of the arts almost as much as the graphic side. Tell me where that came from and where you want that to take you?

It came from when I was running my last design studio in San Francisco. I started bringing people on when I got too busy to do the design work myself. I really liked the process of collaborating with other artists and eventually, I took myself out of the designer role for the last two years of my business, and took on more on an Art Director role.  Granted it was only one or two people at a time but still the energy and excitement was there. So now Im going back to school to study design management with the hopes that my training here will help me get to where I want to be in my career. 

 

thenelson

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