18 June 2019

Bill Ayres Answers 12 Questions Relating to the Creative Process



What is the creative process and how does it define us?

In this ongoing Q&A series, 12 simple questions are posed to people across different industries to reveal what it means to be creative, whatever your vocation.

Answering the questions this time is Manchester based photographer, Bill Ayres.





C O N C I O U S N E S S




In a nutshell, what do you do?

The majority of my energies are channelled in three directions: I'm a husband to my wife, and father to three young sons. I work in a university library managing systems and services for researchers. And when time allows, usually at the start or end of the day, I'm a photographer of my local environment, and occasionally people.


What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?


I split the process of making photos into two strands: planned, longer form projects and stuff I see when walking around. I carry at least one camera all the time – not a phone camera, although there are some incredible imaging devices in phones now – and make sure I have it with me so that if an image presents itself unexpectedly, I can capture it. For longer projects, I'll usually plan where and how the pictures will be taken, but due to the nature of my work (landscapes, the built environment, the details of things) what I end up with is often not quite what I expected when setting out.


Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?


I try to balance on the edge between states; I like formal compositions, patterns and geometry, but I also love spontaneity and a looser, or more playful approach - so I try to find a midpoint between these. A lot of my time is spent just looking and waiting for an image, or scene, to connect with me so that I have to take a photograph. Maybe lots of people work that way! But I do try to show something of the hidden world behind ordinary places and objects, 'magic from the mundane' as it has been described. I kind of fell upon this process when I returned to photography as a creative outlet about four years ago.


When are you most creative?


I can't really summon it up at will, but if I've planned a particular location or image then I do focus in on what I want to get from that in a creative way. I also try to recognise when inspiration is there to be taken; from a book, or a possible idea, or when a perfect image is in front of me. I work on being open to these external forces, but I’m easily distracted.


Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

With what I do currently, I don't think I could sit down at a desk or a computer and just make something. Although I used to draw a lot when I was younger, and I'd love to be able to get back to that kind of creative headspace again. Now though, I have to put myself into situation that will provoke me to take photographs - either collaboratively, or on my own.





E X I S T E N T I A L I S M




Did you seek being a creative or did creativity find you?

As a child I was very creative. I drew, took pictures, painted a bit, did loads of modelmaking and crafting, played instruments, joined bands etc. The transition to adult life, or at least the responsibilities of independent living meant I had less time for all this and my pastimes became more passive: music, cinema, theatre etc. I love all these things, but they are largely about having something done for you, as opposed to making something. About five years ago I had a moment of clarity where I realised that I had to get back to having an outlet for making stuff. I was starting to see that Manchester had a big photography community on Instagram, and I found the inspiration and support on there to be a great incentive to get back into taking and sharing photographs. It also led to me into connecting with the Modernist Society when they approached me about photos I'd taken of the former UMIST campus in Manchester, as captured in my book Knowledge & Work. Having a brief to work to with the society and their designers was a lot of fun.


Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

My parents always encouraged and supported creativity, so that does give you a freedom to try things and find out what's fun or interesting. If I could pinpoint one thing, my dad in particular is a film fan and sowed a lot of the seeds in developing my visual sensibilities by taking me to particular classic films, or by putting them on at home. So, as well as watching Star Wars and Ghostbusters, we'd go to see On the Waterfront, or Citizen Kane. I'm not sure I even appreciated some of these properly at the time, but the foundations were laid for my own deep love of cinema that developed over the years. I remember watching 2001: A Space Odyssey on the 14" colour TV in my parents’ bedroom when I was about 9 and being completely blown away. I think I've tried to rip off elements of how Kubrick, Unsworth and Trumbull made that film look ever since.


Have you ever struggled with creativity?

Perhaps not with the creativity itself, but with finding, making or having time to just take photographs – especially for more planned projects. There are a set of ideas which have been on my back-burner for a long time. Due to needing to be somewhere at a particular distance and time, and away from home, to pursue them, I’ve just never got around to doing them. Work and family life is busy!





D I S R U P T I O N




Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

Technology as a 'thing'. Being able to carry a high-quality, tiny, digital camera in my pocket, with a card that can hold over 2000 images, and then edit them wirelessly from my iPad before sharing the results on the internet in moments. This completely opened up for me the potential to have fun, collaborate and participate in a photographic community.


Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

Working with academics and researchers in many disciplines, there's an ethos which has been expressed to me by quite a few people, independently of each other, which is perhaps summed up as ‘resilient creativity’. They make the work they want to make – and for themselves – as an output of their discipline or practice or expertise. This may be a ‘success’ and could solve a problem, have a large audience, or fulfil some other aim. But if it ‘fails’ to connect, or work in the way expected, that is also OK because the work and process of getting to it has validity in itself: it can inform the next step, or give a reason for reflection, or still be just what they wanted it to be. Boiled down: keep trying, make what you want to, don't be discouraged!





R E F L E C T I O N




Do you think creativity has defined you?

I don't think so - I've come to this pretty late as middle age lapped at the shores of my lost youth, and my primary reason for starting to take photographs again was as a kind of therapy crossed with an urge to actually make something. I've certainly been reminded of the importance of creativity and having an outlet for it. Whether that's photography, or making tapestries, or solving complex engineering problems is immaterial.


What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

I would like more time to pursue photography and get some of my planned projects started in earnest, but I also recognise I'm lucky to work in a day job that I enjoy, with great colleagues and collaborators, and in an excellent environment. And in the best possible way, family life is keeping me pretty busy. But if I shoot for the moon: a six-month sabbatical, with resources and finances to really push myself and make real some ideas tickling the back of my mind: Iceland, Japan, either or both arctic regions, the Atacama Desert. Until then, bus stops by moonlight, empty school halls and those moments when I know the picture is waiting for me to take it as I walk to work will do just fine.






T H A N K   Y O U



Photo credit: Stuart Phillipsonusing a Pentax MZ30 camera and 50mm f1.8 lens, on Kodak Pro Image 100 film. 

23 May 2019

Shannon Downey Answers 12 Questions Relating to the Creative Process


What is the creative process and how does it define us?

In this ongoing Q&A series, 12 simple questions are posed to people across different industries to reveal what it means to be creative, whatever your vocation.

Answering the questions this time is artist, activist, craftivist,  Shannon Downey – AKA Badass Cross Stitch.





C O N C I O U S N E S S




In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am a community mobilizer disguised as a fiber artist.


What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?


Most of my creative inspiration comes from a deep exploration of the systems that we create as humans as well as my attempts at deconstructing the impact that the unspoken systems have on me and have on others - patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism… you know… the light stuff.

This means a lot of reading, talking to people, listening, observing, and writing. And then, of course, stitching and writing and writing and drawing and stitching and thinking and meditating and stitching and thinking and writing (in no particular order).


Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?


I have a very clear memory of this. I was a child, and a friend and I were coloring pages to enter into a coloring contest at our local grocery store. It involved an elephant and I remember coloring a perfect gray elephant. I looked over and my friend had colored a polka-dot elephant. I remember being horrified and asking why she did that – that is NOT what elephants look like. She told me that no one wins a coloring contest by coloring a plain old elephant. The only way to win is to make it wacky. The judges love wacky. I thought she was bananas. She won. I learned so many lessons through that coloring contest.


When are you most creative?


When I’m most outraged.


Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

Both.





E X I S T E N T I A L I S M




Did you seek being a creative or did creativity find you?

I’ve always been creative, but I did not seek it. I just layered it into everything I did and eventually it became the thing I do the most. But I think everyone is creative. They express it and apply it in the ways that make sense to them and their lives.


Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Absolutely. I was raised in an Irish Catholic community in Boston. I was raised deep in the Catholic church… like capital D… Deep. I was raised in a patriarchy within a patriarchy! It was white. It was homophobic (I’m queer). It was secretive. It was built on shame and subservience. I was an agitator in that world. The minute I could leave it I did, and I’ve spent the last 23 years unlearning, unprogramming, relearning, exploring, listening and eventually creating - in response to my childhood.


Have you ever struggled with creativity?

Definitely, but it only happens when I’m not happy with my choices.

I ran a digital marketing company for 10 years that I started in Chicago. Around year 8, I lost all creativity. I was really unhappy because I was connected to a device 24/7 because of my work. That is actually when I started stitching. I found a pattern that made me laugh on Etsy (it was of Captain Picard) and I remembered that I learned to cross stitch in 5th grade. It was a whim. I bought it and stitched it that weekend and I immediately felt better. I had actual creative ideas that next week. I realized my digital/analog balance was so far off balance that I couldn’t find my creativity. So I sought digital/analog balance with vengeance. A year and half later I closed up shop and freed myself of my digital chains in service to the liberation of my creativity!





D I S R U P T I O N




Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

My mom. As I mentioned I was deep in Catholicism as a child and I remember wearing a tiny anti-abortion lapel pin home which was given to me at school. My mom asked me about it and I went on some sort of rant about how abortion was murder and it should never be allowed to happen… because that is what I learned to say. My mom paused and asked me if I thought that a woman who was raped should have to have that baby. In that moment (I think I was in third grade) I realized that I needed to start asking questions. When my mom disrupted my thinking with a simple question – but one that rocked the foundation of the argument – I knew something was wrong with how I was being taught. I started asking MILLIONS of questions about everything. I took nothing at face value after that. It changed everything about the way I think about everything.


Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

You are already creative. You don’t need training in how to be creative. GO. DO. SHIT.





R E F L E C T I O N




Do you think creativity has defined you?

I’m undefinable.


What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

This is what I want to be doing. If I want to be doing something else, I’ll do that. I have reinvented my life more times than I can count in my journey to be where I am right now.






T H A N K   Y O U




Photo credit: Gloria Araya

14 May 2019

David Jury Answers 12 Questions Relating to the Creative Process


What is the creative process and how does it define us?

In this ongoing Q&A series, 12 simple questions are posed to people across different industries to reveal what it means to be creative, whatever your vocation.

Answering the questions this time is author and typographic enquirer, David Jury.





C O N C I O U S N E S S




In a nutshell, what do you do?

‘In a nutshell’ I write, print and publish.

I write about printing and the various kind of people who have used print, both commercially and creatively. This material is in book form (which I invariably also design) and also appears as articles/papers for inclusion in magazines. I also have a studio in which I print my own limited edition books by hand under the name Fox Ash Press, and undertake commissions for ‘fine art printing’, creating limited edition prints for artists attached to art galleries such as Flowers and the V&A.


What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?


Nothing I do occurs in isolation. Things happen because of something seen or said. The prime reason I still teach (one day a week teaching ‘Typographic Enquiry’ on the MA Typography course at Cambridge) is for the contact I get with students. I realise that this is a selfish activity, but it is one that also benefits the students. Indeed, seeking ideas and knowledge makes you a far more interesting person for the student to communicate with. 

How I do things: I have a studio that is separate from my house. The smell of ink on entering immediately puts me in a different frame of mind. I print using letterpress equipment – essentially metal and wood type and a proofing press. It is often an apparently ‘messy’ space but seeing tools and papers on surfaces – usually ‘work in progress’ and often rejected sheets on the floor – is always a huge visual stimulus on entry. Indeed, seeing work in progress is often the spark that ignites the next project. However, I do tidy the studio when a major project is finished and a new one must begin.

Digital technology only encroaches into my ‘limited edition’ print work in a peripheral way: laser cut large wood letters and, of course, as a standard means of communication. However, for writing and work for mainstream publishers my laptop computer is essential and is with me at all times. I write in the morning until around mid-day and then work on printing projects in the afternoon. Evenings are usually reading and writing. If I am commissioned to write a book I always insist that I design it too. The two should be inextricably linked – and all the better for it.


Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?


I’m not at all sure that my way of doing things is ‘my own’, but I am aware that the equipment I have (and particularly my proofing press) has forced me to seek out projects that I would not have done if it had continued working as it should! In other words, I have adapted my projects and my working processes to suit my tools and materials. But I think this is a pretty natural way to progress. The range of work I undertake is broad: mainstream publishing, to fine press books, to fine art printing – and I want this to continue because each supports and invigorates the other.


When are you most creative?


See ‘What’s your creative process’.


Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

Instead of ‘influence’ I would say ‘stimuli’. Art galleries and cinema play a huge role as well as books (lots of them) and television (not so much). But yes, outside stimuli is vital – not as a crutch (as the question ‘…to help’ suggests) but to keep ideas developing. I imagine a ‘fine artist’ being able to work quite independent of the world around them (although all the artists I have met have been avid foragers of information and other people’s ideas) but if you are interested in mass communication, as I am, you are sure to be eager to meet and greet whatever is going on around you.






E X I S T E N T I A L I S M




Did you seek being a creative or did creativity find you?

I have always been creative, never worried about having different opinions and was always drawn to others who sought alternative routes. Going to art school was the easiest and most natural decision of my life.


Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Yes, but I’m not sure how. Having a working class background made going to art school quite a leap of faith for my parents, but never once suggested they had any doubts in my decision. But once in I made very sure I was ‘successful’.


Have you ever struggled with creativity?

No – at least not in the sense that it ever crossed my mind that creativity was anything other than a wonderful and positive activity. I feel lucky and privileged to have been able to spend too much time involved in it. Struggling to find the right way of saying something – in words or visually – is often difficult. And, by the way, ‘writing’ and ‘visualising’ are remarkably close activities although, finally, I find writing to be the more difficult.





D I S R U P T I O N




Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

Camus’ The Outsider – beware, other people’s perception of what you are doing can be quite different from your own. I’m also pretty sure I got onto my BA course in graphic design (in 1968) because I talked to the interview panel about Camus’ idea of reality and how it impacted on the evils of mass communication! I wanted to be a troublemaker when I was 18 and they obviously thought it would be fun to have me along.


Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

Be flexible in thinking, stoic in making.





R E F L E C T I O N




Do you think creativity has defined you?

Yes, it surely has (and does) because it’s the way I define myself.


What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

Where I am now is genuinely where I have always wanted to be. Lucky? Certainly focused.






T H A N K   Y O U






09 April 2019

Steven Olsen Answers 12 Questions Relating to the Creative Process


What is the creative process and how does it define us?

In this ongoing Q&A series, 12 simple questions are posed to people across different industries to reveal what it means to be creative, whatever your vocation.

Answering the questions this time is product designer, Steven Olsen.





C O N C I O U S N E S S




In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am a product designer, designing luminaires and getting them into production. In my spare time I have also tried to design the ‘holy-grail’ of mountain biking: A belt-drive mountain bike which has a gearbox with no external gears – perfect for what I call #greatbritishweather.


What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?


I was taught at a Bauhaus Design School, whose methods are still relevant today – ‘Form follows function’. My process involves research, conceptualisation, prototyping and testing, refinement, production drawings and manufacture.

The most creative parts are the concept and refinement stages, however there is some to-and-fro at each stage to get things correct. It’s all about understanding the material and the relevant process needed.


Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?


It can be nurtured through the Bauhaus ‘thought process’ in design training. At 15 years old I was aware that drawing was an important part of the design process and realised that I could draw something and then get it made in a different way.

Materials and processes have changed and got cheaper, so all of this gets put into the mix when designing something. For example, although 3D printing has been around for over 25 years, in the last five years the cost of printing small parts has come down significantly. This factor has definitely effected my process.


When are you most creative?


In the morning, after some coffee or a bike ride. There is nothing nicer than sitting down with a piece of paper and sketching out a solution or a detail to a construction problem.


Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

I can turn it on and off. Sometimes thinking about it subconsciously can resolve a problem.






E X I S T E N T I A L I S M




Did you seek being a creative or did creativity find you?

It found me. I discovered that I was able to draw better than most kids when I was 10 years old, so that lead me to pursuing a creative career.


Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Not really. I was encouraged to draw, but I also enjoyed drawing.


Have you ever struggled with creativity?

I struggle to choose the correct conceptual path and often have to follow several or go back, trying to rethink something or stripping an idea back to its basic or fundamental needs. ‘Do I need this feature, or do I want this feature?’ Again, that Bauhaus teaching: Form follows function – the stripping and shaping of a product back to how it is going to be principally used. By doing this, you will create a product that transcends fashion and ultimately have a long lifecycle.





D I S R U P T I O N




Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

Marc Newson has some designs that look simple but are extremely well conceived, with no visible fixings and an uncomplicated future aesthetic. Although slightly retro in styling, he has an interesting approach.


Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

Draw and keep a notebook with you. You never know when you will have an idea.





R E F L E C T I O N




Do you think creativity has defined you?

Yes, I think it has taught me to challenge everything. Ask questions. Is there a better way to make something?


What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

Designing bikes to pay the bills and make living off. Or travelling the world by bicycle?






T H A N K   Y O U







20 March 2019

Esther Cox Answers 12 Questions Relating to the Creative Process

What is the creative process and how does it define us?

In this ongoing Q&A series, 12 simple questions are posed to people across different industries to reveal what it means to be creative, whatever your vocation.

Answering the questions this time is textile designer and illustrator, Esther Cox.





C O N C I O U S N E S S




In a nutshell, what do you do?

Professionally I create patterns for fashion textiles and interiors, and illustrations for posters, books and packaging. Personally I explore the human instinct for decoration and pattern through painting and collage. They overlap, feeding and confusing each other.


What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?


Look. Procrastinate. Play. Arrive at an outcome somehow… In practice this means visual research, drawing and collaging elements. Scanning into software and reworking and colouring digitally. The hand element defines my ideas, shapes and textures, the digital element allows me to turn those ideas into a cohesive repeat or composition. Colour is vital in what I do, and working digitally allows me to play with countless combinations. Mostly I know it is 'done' when I can't see any significant changes to make.


Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?


I think my process has largely been built out of trying to find a way to do things that I didn't know how to do. From a place of not thinking I could do things I've managed to create my own visual language and way of making. It has taken me years to unlearn a lot of things from art school that didn't make sense to me.

My first ever client was surprised by the way I presented my colour palette as a little pattern of intersecting shapes to show how they would be combined. I've since seen people use a list of Pantones or a pie chart (yawn).

I still find it difficult to produce roughs for clients. I work in an intuitive way and don't have a finished idea in my head. Offering a pencil sketch to a client doesn't give a very satisfactory indication of what the end result might be. I find it difficult to articulate it, so I am asking a lot from clients to trust in my peculiar process.


When are you most creative?


Usually when there is a deadline looming and I should be focusing on that. New ideas often start to present themselves then. Work begets work I suppose. A blank page and free time is actually stultifying. It's not the best system for a freelancer...


Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

I spend a lot of time looking. Whether that is books, magazines, exhibitions, the Internet or the wall. As a textile designer I have to be aware of trends, but I feel the danger of getting caught up in them. So after my research is done, I tidy it all away and start work without too much reference material. It's the only way to retain your identity.

The thought of sharing a studio horrifies me slightly. I enjoy the solitude at work so my mind can wander or focus as it needs. But there is a great energy and joy in working with a client who is prepared to trust in you and have a free exchange of ideas. It's how I make my best work and I wish there were more of those creative relationships.






E X I S T E N T I A L I S M




Did you seek being a creative or did creativity find you?

I'm not aware of a time without creativity. It has always ebbed and flowed, and it took me a long time to figure out (and still am) how I could use it professionally. I think it is born of a sense of unease, of not fitting, and feeling outside of things. I'm a keen observer so I've gathered a lot of information over the years. Creativity is a way of using and making sense of that I think.


Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Certainly. My parents/grandparents are/were creative in different ways. I don't think it was ever intended as a career for me, but as a child I was always given things to make/sew/draw as a means of keeping me quiet and occupied. And it still does.


Have you ever struggled with creativity?

Most days. But the challenge is an exciting one. Howard Hodgkin, one of our great modern painters, is reputed to have said 'I hate painting'. That makes absolute sense to me.





D I S R U P T I O N




Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

I struggle to answer this question as there are many things, not one definitive one. My mum had a French art book when I was younger on Raoul Dufy and I would pour over the pictures even though I couldn't read it. I have my own copy now and I still look at it with awe and envy. Books have always been a way in for me.

Otherwise I can only really say that when I was choosing my A-levels at school I was told that Art wasn't a proper subject and I should choose something else. Which probably cemented my choice to pursue it.


Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

I try not to give advice. It's there to be ignored isn't it? I'd only say persevere. The path will not be linear and there is almost certainly more than one to follow. It is doubtful you will ever feel you have 'arrived'. But therein lies the excitement and drive and keeps you creative.





R E F L E C T I O N




Do you think creativity has defined you?

Yes. I'm a peculiar bird and sitting in an office in a suit, listening to people talk about 'thinking outside the box' would have killed me long ago.


What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

I've done lots of things as the creative life is not always a financially secure one. But I was quite adamant as a child I was going to be an interior designer, so maybe that. I dallied with the idea of textile conservation once too. It still fascinates me, but I might have lost the patience for it, and I certainly don't have the science for it.






T H A N K   Y O U





22 February 2019

Will Mabbitt Answers 12 Questions Relating to the Creative Process


What is the creative process? How does it differ from person to person? And what are the similarities? Can it even be defined? If so, to what end?

Taking my own fascination for process and repetition, I thought I'd attempt to answer those questions by simply, asking more questions. Questions on what creativity means to different people from across a wide spectrum of vocations, designed to reveal what the binding elements look like; to extrapolate the gold dust in the glue that holds creative process together. At least, that's the big idea.

From designers to artists to chefs to musicians to writers to programmers (and quite possibly anyone in-between) 12 simple questions are posed to see what creativity means to them and to glean insight into how these individuals are inspired, work, and produce their craft.

Although thoroughly tempting to dissect the results, as part of my own process I'll be letting the subject's answers speak for themselves. A Q&A. No more, no less.

Answering the questions this time: children's author, Will Mabbitt.





C O N C I O U S N E S S




In a nutshell, what do you do?

I make up stories.


What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?


I alternate between hard work and daydreaming.


Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?


I think i developed daydreaming abilities in childhood but it’s taken me years to learn the hard work part. It didn’t come naturally.


When are you most creative?


When I’m happy.


Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

I prefer to work alone, but I'm always looking outward for ideas and inspiration.





E X I S T E N T I A L I S M




Did you seek being a creative or did creativity find you?

I think everybody is creative. I was lucky to find a way I could express myself.


Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Ideas, jokes, books and art were celebrated in my family. Having said that no-one ever told me I could do any of those things for a living. I definitely left school thinking that doing 'art' of any sort would be a waste of time.


Have you ever struggled with creativity?

Only happiness.





D I S R U P T I O N




Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

Yes. I was writing as a hobby and mainly in secret until I saw a postcard of Austin Kleon's book Steal like an Artist. It was a list of rules. Rule 6 was 'The Secret: Do good work and share it with people'. Until then I hadn't even considered showing people my writing. Getting some very basic feedback from others made me better, quicker, and eventually lead to my first book being published.


Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

Ideas are great but it's bringing them into existence that will make you happy.





R E F L E C T I O N




Do you think creativity has defined you?

I think it defines everyone.


What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

I'd like to be a talent scout for picture book artists (if that job actually exists). I see so many illustrators on Instagram that I think could make amazing picture books, but either haven't been given the chance, or haven't thought to give it a try.






T H A N K   Y O U




14 February 2019

Ismini Samanidou Answers 12 Questions Relating to the Creative Process

What is the creative process? How does it differ from person to person? And what are the similarities? Can it even be defined? If so, to what end?

Taking my own fascination for process and repetition, I thought I'd attempt to answer those questions by simply, asking more questions. Questions on what creativity means to different people from across a wide spectrum of vocations, designed to reveal what the binding elements look like; to extrapolate the gold dust in the glue that holds creative process together. At least, that's the big idea.

From designers to artists to chefs to musicians to writers to programmers (and quite possibly anyone in-between) 12 simple questions are posed to see what creativity means to them and to glean insight into how these individuals are inspired, work, and produce their craft.

Although thoroughly tempting to dissect the results, as part of my own process I'll be letting the subject's answers speak for themselves. A Q&A. No more, no less.

Answering the questions this time is artist, Ismini Samanidou.





C O N C I O U S N E S S




In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am an artist and designer working with weaving, drawing and photography. I work on one-off pieces for exhibitions and site specific commissions, design textiles for industry and collaborate with other artists or designers. I used to teach more than I do now which I really miss. I also travel whenever I get a chance!


What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?


I do a lot of hand weaving, I also work on photography, and drawing and, depending on the project, may do a lot of design work on the computer too. A big chunk of it though is outside the studio, meeting people, writing emails etc. etc. etc.


Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?


I was pretty single minded and determined when I was a student so I think quite early.


When are you most creative?


When I am left alone to play without pressing deadlines and toddler tantrums, and able to focus on one thing at a time. Also on the train looking out the window my mind seems to wander and work ideas through.


Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

Both: I need outside influences and then to be left in a vacuum for a while to make sense of them all.





E X I S T E N T I A L I S M




Did you seek being a creative or did creativity find you?

I think it found me. I always thought I would be a vet growing up. Photography captured my imagination and made me look and see, and weaving grounded me and made me ask so many questions about making and the world.


Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Yes definitely, I didn't grow up in a creative household and it takes me a while to throw myself into creativity today. It's not the most intuitive thing which is why I am so drawn to the process based work with weaving where math, planning and a methodology is a big part of the creative process.


Have you ever struggled with creativity?

Every minute every day!





D I S R U P T I O N




Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

I love the quote from Anni Albers 'You can go anywhere from anywhere' about the importance of experimentation and play and not worrying too much about the outcome, but enjoying the process of making. Also it reminds me that everything is connected.


Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

You need to be ready to stomach the creative lows and blocks along the way.





R E F L E C T I O N




Do you think creativity has defined you?

Something has given me a fire in my belly to keep working as an independent artist and designer, but I don't know if it is creativity as such. Good question. Need to keep thinking about it.


What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

On a bad day I want to have a 'proper' job with well defined hours and a stable income every month, or that I should have stuck to the original plan and become a vet. Generally I would like to work more outside the studio on people projects: with schools, with the community close and far, and with projects in other countries looking at weaving and how this brings people together and changes values in the world.






T H A N K   Y O U




Photo credit: Gary Allson