Category “Creativity”

The Challenge of Consistency

Monday, 27 September, 2010

It’s always easier to preach than to practice, isn’t it? I’ve been lazy with blogging and keeping to a consistent posting schedule, which is of course one of the first things I would recommend to a client creating a blog…. Keep a list of relevant topics going so you always have something to write about, set up a specific schedule for writing each week… you know, all the things I, uh, haven’t made time to do… oops!

It’s very often a lot easier to help someone else with their strategies and help them keep on track with their ideas and goals than it is to do it for yourself. And time is often the enemy. I aim to schedule in more writing time for myself, so plan to be more consistent about my postings in the future. And I’ve declared it out loud now, so that means I have to do it 🙂

Geraldine

Meerkat Creative Path Series VI : Caroline Johnson

Monday, 13 September, 2010

After a brief hiatus (during which the summer flew by far too quickly!) we’re back with our Creative Path series. This time the spotlight falls on singer, Caroline Johnson.

Bio

Brought up in Cape Town, South Africa, and with substantial public and private performing experience, including a solo recital broadcast on Fine Music Radio at the age of 18 and solo performances with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra at the City Hall, Caroline moved to London in 2001 to study at the Royal College of Music (RCM). Whilst there, she performed in numerous Chamber concerts and recitals, as well as masterclasses with Roger Vignoles and Graham Johnson. She was privileged to be a member of the RCM Chorus when they performed Mahler’s Second Symphony, under Bernhard Haitink in 2004.

 In 2005 Caroline graduated with a BMus degree, with Honours.  Since graduating, Caroline has immersed herself in the business sector and is currently working as PA to the Director of Operations for Firmdale Hotels. Her musical performances have included solo singing at weddings and funerals in London, Somerset, West Sussex, Oxford and Cape Town, as well as visiting primary schools to perform and discuss operatic arias with children’s choirs. Caroline has also recently given two recitals at St Paul’s ‘The Actor’s Church’, Covent Garden and will be performing in next year’s Guildford Music Festival.

1. How long have you been singing? How did you get started with it?

I started singing at the age of ten, my father sent me for lessons to help improve my breathing as I’m asthmatic and we found out that I have a voice!

2. Is this your full time job? A career goal? A hobby?

I really only do it for fun now as I have a full time ‘real’ job, but I love not having the pressure of making a living from my passion, which I can now pursue at my leisure.

3. If this is not your full time career, do you struggle to make time for this? Is there anything you do to ensure you make time?

I work 10/11 hour days, five days a week, so do find it difficult to fit in regular practice, but when I have something to work towards, i.e. a recital or wedding, it all just seems to slot into place and I manage to get in enough preparation.

4. How do you deal with “naysayers”… you know, those voices/people who keep asking when the phase is going to pass? Or negative criticism about your work/creative endeavor?

I have had some difficult times with my singing and a couple of comments from people ‘in the know’ have cut me to the quick and partly contributed to me not being a full-time performer. It took me five years to get back on the stage after graduating from the Royal College of Music, but now that I’ve crossed that hurdle, I feel so much more confident in my self and my voice and have had wonderful support from family and friends.

5. What would your dream project be?

I always wanted to perform at La Scala in Milan… but since that’s probably little more than a pipe dream; my ideal project would be collaboration with all my über talented singer friends at a gorgeous country house – an evening of song, wine, dancing and all round fabulousness!

6. Is there something you have worked on that you are especially proud of? Or received accolades for?

A highlight for me has to be returning to my old senior school in Cape Town, Herschel, four years ago and getting up in front of all the girls in their uniforms, sitting in the theatre, looking expectantly, and talking to them about following your dreams and not being disappointed if they don’t necessarily work out the way you had planned. A good education has stood me in such good stead and I am so pleased I was able to give a little bit back, regardless of whether my time there was sometimes less than enjoyable.

7. What does creativity mean to you?

Allowing your natural talents to shine through and giving joy to others through your passion.

8. What advice would you give to others trying to follow a similar path?

In the words of a certain sportswear manufacturer: Just do it! Nothing you ever do in life will be in vain, every single experience shapes your character and makes you a more interesting person. Following your dreams and passion may not necessarily lead you down the path you originally set out on, but it sure as hell makes for an interesting ride!

9. Any other comments or thoughts?

Life is short, so live without regrets, grasp every opportunity that comes your way, and no matter what, have fun!

Creative Path Series V: Cath Scott

Tuesday, 17 August, 2010

Meet Cath Scott, a South African photographer and mom, our latest addition to the Meerkat Creative Path series. You can connect with Cath via https://twitter.com/cazpi or on her website.

Bio

My career started as a teacher, until I became a mother, which led to becoming a photographer. My passion is photographing children and bringing out the best in them – capturing bits of time. Examples of my work can be found on:http://www.cazpix.co.za/ 

1. How long have you been doing photography? How did you get started with it?

I have always had an interest in photography, but didn’t do anything about it until I got a really nice camera in the middle of last year. I have since upgraded my camera, and the learning curve is huge, but having kids is what made photography amazing for me – something I had to capture properly!

2. Is this your full time job? A career goal? A hobby?

Right now it’s half of a hobby and half of a career. I take pictures because I love it. I have started a small business so that other people can also have memories captured.

3. If this is not your full time career, do you struggle to make time for this? Is there anything you do to ensure you make time?

Making time is a bit difficult, as I run my kids around all week, but my husband is very supportive, and I do most shoots on weekends – and he watches the kids for me.

4. How do you deal with “naysayers”… you know, those voices/people who keep asking when the phase is going to pass? Or negative criticism about your work/creative endeavor?

Most people have actually been very encouraging, and helpful. I have so much to learn, and have not had negative feedback, only positive encouragement – my friends are quite amazing. I would be my own worst enemy in this endeavour!

5. What would your dream project be?

Have a studio, and take pictures of kiddies having fun 🙂

6. Is there something you have worked on that you are especially proud of? Or received accolades for?

I recently won a photography course with the very talented Andre Van Rooyen. I entered a Breadline Africa competition with one of my images, and won. I am very excited about this!

7. What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity is absolute expression. Defining yourself by making things is fun, relaxing, and rewarding. It needs to be an arena where you can explore. You learn a lot about yourself through creating things.

8. What advice would you give to others trying to follow a similar path?

Go for it. Take tons of photographs. Read lots. Ask questions. Experiment. Go way out of your depth, and enjoy the learning curve!

 

 

 

All images are copyright Cath Scott and are not to be reproduced  or used without permission.

Creative Path Series IV: Karen Lum

Monday, 9 August, 2010

After a brief hiatus, the Creative Path series continues with (you’ll excuse the pun) a drum roll…

Bio

Karen J. Lum, aka the Black Mamba, has been playing in a slough of different bands since the age of thirteen. Fifteen years later she still hasn’t left East Vancouver but has toured to such exotic destinations as Abbotsford. Currently, she melts faces in the bands the Stems, Disaster, and esteemed cover band, Crucial Taunt. “Tattoos, good tunes, and bad attitudes.”

1. How long have you been a drummer? How did you get started with it?

I’ve been playing the drums since I was thirteen. I used to set of large plastic buckets in my room in the form of a drum set and pretend to rip. Then my dad bought me a kit for my birthday because he needed the buckets to wash the car.

2. Is this your full time job? A career goal? A hobby?

Yes, yes, no. Music has taken over my life in more ways than one. I am its slave and it is mine. We have a give and take relationship. If I called it a hobby I’d be the fifty year-old fart with the Kiss shirt that laser drums in the jam space beside mine.

  2. If this is not your full time career, do you struggle to make time for this? Is there anything you do to ensure you make time?

Don’t work, ever.

3. If this is your full time job, how did you achieve this?

Don’t work, ever.

4. How do you deal with “naysayers”… you know, those voices/people who keep asking when the phase is going to pass? Or negative criticism about your work/creative endeavor?

I give them an open hand slap. Sometimes back hand, it depends on my mood.

5. What would your dream project be?

Playing percussion for David Bowie. Or if Disaster could just get big time then I could collaborate on some babies with the redhead from Mad Men.

6. Is there something you have worked on that you are especially proud of? Or received accolades for?

Two words: Christmas Band. We raise money for charities every holiday season. Come check us out at the Biltmore Cabaret this year.

7. What does creativity mean to you?

Doing something without thinking about what the end product will be because you don’t care what the fuck anyone thinks. That, and a bong and a Frank Zappa album.

8. What advice would you give to others trying to follow a similar path?

Make sure you practice, take good care of your gear, and never smile in pictures. But most importantly, never forget that chicks love drummers.

9. Any other comments or thoughts?

If you can’t play well, at least play sexy.

Creative Path Series III: Isabella Mori

Tuesday, 27 July, 2010

I’d like to welcome Isabella Mori, a Twitter friend, to the Creative Path Series. Read more about her and her pursuit of creativity, and feel free to add comments below.

Bio

Isabella Mori is a Vancouver writer and counsellor. Born in Germany to the painter Juergen von Huendeberg and his wife Elisabeth, she has lived in the UK, Paraguay and Chile. She immigrated to Canada in 1982. Isabella is the mother to three wonderful children and grandmother to the two most perfect grandsons ever to grace the universe.

While her mother tongue is German (and her grandmother tongue Russian), she writes mostly in English, with a little German and Spanish thrown in for spice. She blogs about psychology, creativity, spirituality and social justice at change therapy.

1. How long have you been a creative?

As Picasso said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” I was just lucky that growing up in an artistic family, not all of my creativity got stunted (although being told to take up the violin when I was 5 sure put a damper on my musical creativity). I was fascinated with typewriters all my life and made my first money by typing addresses for an invitation to a gallery opening for my father, who was a painter. And what did this 6-year-old do with it? Buy a fountain pen. I tried my first novel when I was 11.

Now you might say that because I talk about typewriters and novels, I should have said that I’m a writer. Which I am. But it’s more than that – and yes, I said “it’s”, not “I am.” The expression of my creativity may be most obvious in the word – in writing, and in conversation (I make my money as a counsellor) – but it is everywhere. “It” – creativity – moves through me in many ways, be it cooking, writing, thinking … it’s everywhere.

2. Is this your full time job? A career goal? A hobby?

It’s what I do.

3. If this is not your full time career, do you struggle to make time for this? Is there anything you do to ensure you make time?

While I also do lots of writing for my paid work (among other things, I blog and create resumes and artist’s bios), I do struggle often with making space for other creative writing efforts. Note I said “space” – not time. Making time is relatively easy (e.g. for a while, I did not allow myself to go to bed unless I had written a poem); making headspace is a bit more challenging. In the end, “just do it” wins just about every time, for example when I participate in NaNoWriMo, the annual challenge on the internet to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November.

4. If this is your full time job, how did you achieve this?

The part that is my paid work – the easy answer would be “it just happened.” However, this “just” was long and arduous. First, I inched myself closer and closer, not even knowing what I was doing. I always found a way to carve out a creative niche for myself, although for the longest time, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to call it that. The strangest time was when I worked for a lawyer and would occasionally make incomprehensible mistakes; only later did I realize that was my creativity forcing its way through. Shortly after, when I was going through a difficult separation, I was able to make the jump into the counselling field. Education – university and all that – gave me some credentials but also sharper tools in thinking and expressing myself, mostly through taking courses in philosophy. I’d say I’ve achieved where I am right now through refusing to work in an environment that does not allow me to be creative.

5. How do you deal with “naysayers”… you know, those voices/people who keep asking when the phase is going to pass? Or negative criticism about your work/creative endeavor?

I don’t hang out with people who are unsupportive of who I am.

As for most of us, the biggest challenge are my inner gremlins. There is the Procrastinator, then there is Mr. Nobody-Cares-What-You’re-Doing and good ol’ You’ll-Never-Be-Able-To-Finish-This. The trick is to catch them talking out loud, then I can usually do something about it. The Procrastinator is easily defeated by simply doing one little thing – even a little haiku on Twitter – right now. The “nobody cares” voice can often be countered quite rationally by saying that a) it doesn’t matter and b) remembering there are at least a handful of people (including myself!) who do. The last one is the trickiest; being accountable to others really helps there. Unfortunately, finding someone suitable and reliable to be accountable to can be hard. But as I said, being attuned to those negative is a bit difficult; I’ve always been the kind of person who is more successful dealing with a direct challenge than with the quiet, subtle manipulation that those negative voices are so good at.

6. What would your dream project be?

Oh Gawd, you want the list? Ok, here’s one thing: I’ve always wanted to be a corporate philosopher. Work in a biggish organization, wandering the halls having deep conversations with people. Mostly for the fun of it (I’m really, really big on fun!) but also to help the organization become wiser, more creative and more humane, and to become a better force for the good in the world.

7. Is there something you have worked on that you are especially proud of? Or received accolades for?

There’s a few things that I look back on with a big grin on my face. Creating Mental Health Camp with my friend Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega, a conference about the intersection between social media and mental health, is one of them, particularly since the 3rd Mental Health Camp had a strong artistic component. Another one is my Tea Table Book which I created with my friend and book coach Carol Sill. In it, I make poetry more accessible (I hope) by accompanying each poem with a little story. Receiving the annual best thesis award from Athabasca University for my little opus on transformative learning in distance education wasn’t bad either.

8. What does creativity mean to you?

I’m sorry but I never know what to make of the word “meaning.” That’s what happens when you deal with words a lot. It’s hard to just glide over them; their sound, their many dictionary meanings, they way they look on a page, even the way they feel in the body when I say them – all of it easily sparks thoughts, associations, dreams, none of it seems insignificant. But I guess before I write a few pages about the many possibilities I see in this question, I’ll move on to the next question …

9. What advice would you give to others trying to follow a similar path?

DON’T STOP! Whatever it is that you’re doing – pottery, dance, writing, filmmaking, anime, oil paintings, throat singing – DON’T STOP! It doesn’t matter whether it’s “good” or “bad” or “mediocre”, DON’T STOP! Follow your creative urge because it’s the spark of life – not just for you but for the whole wide world.

Creative Path Series II: Annabelle Nicoll

Wednesday, 21 July, 2010

"Twelve Days" - copyright Annabelle Nicoll 2010

Our next creative to be featured is Irish photographer, Annabelle Nicoll.You can see more of Annabelle’s exquisite work on her website www.annabellenicoll.com. In her words, “it is what you see that informs how you see”.

How long have you been a photographer? How did you get started with it?

I have been a photographer for 10 years. I fell in love with the medium while doing a year’s foundation course in art and design; I then went on to study Editorial Photography in Brighton, UK, though I would see myself more as a Fine Art Photographer.

Is this your full time job? A career goal? A hobby?

It is a full time, part time, hobby that drives me crazy. There is a love hate relationship with it as there is no consistency and no predictability to how I work. For the last 5 years I have made good money from it but I now have 2 daughters who take up most of my time. My work is mainly shown in a gallery context and I have had work bought for the commercial sector.  I struggle with balancing the need to make money and my attachment to making work for this, and just working for pleasure’s sake.

If this is your full time job, how did you achieve this?

With lots of self help books!

How do you deal with “naysayers”… you know, those voices/people who keep asking when the phase is going to pass? Or negative criticism about your work/creative endeavor?

It depends on my state of mind at the time, if I am feeling confident, I would think it was only their opinion, yet if not, I may question my motives etc…

Annabelle Nicoll at work - copyright Annabelle Nicoll 2010

What would your dream project be?

To photograph the Ice caps, to highlight the worlds fragility and link it to our current state of consciousness as  a species.

Is there something you have worked on that you are especially proud of? Or received accolades for?

Yes. I worked on a body of work around Meditation and state of mind which has received numerous mentions in articles, including in the Sunday Times. This work has also had a lot of sales, enabling me to carry on working, going to Finland  to complete another body of work.

What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity is a human condition; it is part of who we are and to deny it is to deny ourselves. A  moment of flow, of true connection to who you are in a place in time. It is an unformulaic discovery, a process. It is something I cannot live without, yet to be creative is a calling that can drive you mad. Reaching the highest highs and lowest lows.

What advice would you give to others trying to follow a similar path?

To journal every day, to try (though hard) to not be attached to outcome . To be present, patient and persistent and to believe in yourself (hard also). To never give up and most important, to not be perfect, to make mistakes .

Creative Path Series I: Al Zacklen

Tuesday, 20 July, 2010

The Meerkat Creative Path series kicks off with writer, drawer, designer Al Zacklen. Al is the designer of the Meerkat logo and our ‘go to’ guy for website questions.

Bio

I am a 30-something software developer who would prefer to spend his time writing and drawing, often both at the same time. With a full-time and very demanding job it is difficult to make these more than hobbies, but I’d like to change that as soon as possible.

I have a very new blog at www.alzacklen.com, and I will soon be putting examples of my writing here. You can see one of my drawings in the header of the website you’re currently reading.

1. How long have you been writing? How did you get started with it?

I’ve been writing ever since I was old enough to browse through the vast collection of books my parents had collected. In particular my dad had a fascinating selection of old sci-fi which inspired me to think up many bizarre stories and kept me speculating ever since.

2. Is this your full time job? A career goal? A hobby?

Right now it’s a hobby, but …

3. If this is not your full time career, do you struggle to make time for this? Is there anything you do to ensure you make time?

I do struggle, but I have recently been focusing more seriously on making time. I have set up a blog for myself and I will be putting the first few chapters of a story I am working on there – this is my way of prodding myself to work on completing it, since other people will be able to read it and give feedback. It’s not easy to write in the evenings after a work day, but once I get going it’s a lot of fun.

4. If this is your full time job, how did you achieve this?

It isn’t, but I am lucky enough to be in a position to make it a serious part of my working day very soon.

5. How do you deal with “naysayers”… you know, those voices/people who keep asking when the phase is going to pass? Or negative criticism about your work/creative endeavor?

Luckily for me I haven’t had anyone telling me I shouldn’t give up my current day job. As for negative criticism… if it’s valid, I’m happy to listen. You can’t please everyone all of the time, so I believe one can choose what one wishes to take to heart. It’s still your work, after all.

6. What would your dream project be?

I’ve already begun. I’ve wanted to complete a full-length novel for a long time and I am now working hard to get there. Keep an eye on my blog for a preview.

7. Is there something you have worked on that you are especially proud of? Or received accolades for?

For fun, I submitted a short story for the 2003 ITSF competition, which got me a place in the top five. That boosted my confidence somewhat.

8. What does creativity mean to you?

Building something awesome when you didn’t know you knew how.

9. What advice would you give to others trying to follow a similar path?

For anyone who is just starting on a creative path, whether it is your first novel, first drawing or first software application: Don’t be shy about showing other people what you’re working on. I have learned a lot from others, whether I liked what they told me or not – particularly how to take criticism without taking it personally.