Finding your creative pathway is a difficult journey requiring constant learning & invigorating sources of inspiration. How can creatives elude stagnation, the major killer of creativity?
I’ve written about life as a creative before, about staying inspired and filling my creative cup. I’m not sure if I ever mentioned that it can be tricky to do when you’re living in a city of bankers and lawyers. Where they work extended hours and end up with little time for fun apart from sleeping, dining, or fleeing the city whenever there’s an extended holiday. Creativity is alive and well in Hong Kong but (often for monetary reasons) it seems like it’s hiding in crevices or under rocks, it’s frequently highly commercial, or zooming by so quickly—if you blink, you’ll miss it.
Creativity is a lifelong pursuit. Finding your creative pathway is a joyride that doesn’t quit, it keeps on flying along the highway with the top down. You need to have the fortitude to keep up with the pace. Creativity in the 21st century is not for those slackers that thought grade 10 drama was an easy credit. It’s hard work. You can’t mentally checkout and just go through the motions. You have to be ever-present, because what you’re making is completely brand new and your integrity/brand is on the line. Creatives are defying the norm, standing up for their beliefs, fighting for what they want (including bargaining for money so we don’t end up in squalor), being our own personal cheerleaders, and striving toward goals to prevent stagnation. Creatives were entrepreneurs before it was cool. And many of us are doing it alone.
Isolation, is rarely a good thing. Sure you can get heaps done when you seclude yourself in a creative den but do it for too long and, like a neglected plant, you wither and die. The well of inspiration dries up, resulting in creative death in the form of loneliness, sadness, & depression. While paving your creative pathway, creative people need to be nurtured and fed a diet of culture, politics, opinions, creativity in a multitude of forms, beauty & ugliness, fun, adventure, nature, love & friendship. We absorb information like a sponge, organise & analyze, and wring out the creative juices into our craft, rinse and repeat. Without inspiration, passion, and lifelong learning we cannot create meaningful work.
Finding your creative pathway is a joyride that doesn’t quit, it keeps on flying along the highway with the top down.
In a cultural climate like Hong Kong’s, trying to stay focused, resilient, and energized is not an easy feat nor for the weak of heart. Personally, as an artist and designer in HKG, there are no mentors for me to look up to or learn from, and most definitely no one to assist in between gigs (for either the growth of my mind or my bank account). I’m at the top of my field; on one hand a benefit but on the other, a disadvantage. There’s so much more I could learn but nowhere for me to learn it—at least not here. This is one area where my creative pathway comes to an abrupt dead end.
In 2016, with the approach of spring and feeling the need for something more, I threw together an attractive application for a rare learning experience back in my home country of Canada. Accepted and whisked away across the world to Alberta for the Designing for Dance costume workshop, I became one of 6 talented women under the tutelage of 2 delightful instructors. There, nestled in the rocky mountains at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity, I was encouraged to reach deep into my creative self. As I learned and shared, I experienced a transformation from tired & frustrated, to rejuvenated & reinvigorated, ready to tackle the struggles of my creative career once more. I left Banff with a sense of validation—I know I’m soaring along on the right creative pathway and heading in the right direction.
It might be a bumpy ride, but for now, I’ve filled my creative cup back up again with delightfully charming and talented women, stunningly beautiful scenery, and wonder, fascination, & education. Like plunging into a sea of cool blue water after a long road trip on a hot summer’s day, it feels satisfyingly refreshing.
Special thanks to Andrea Brussa for her generous donation and patronage to the Canadian art scene. Without her contribution, it wouldn’t have been as magical.
The Best of Banff
Eight Amazingly Talented Women:
Brilliant Instructors Stine Sjøgren & Liz Vandel:
Chilling with Iconic Power Couple, Michael Whitfield & Susan Benson:
What a treat!