Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Creative Revolution


This photo has nothing to do with anything - it's from Christmas, obviously, I just felt like putting up a photo of Jim and me, because I feel like I'm making amazing new friends sight unseen, and I was hiding behind my single artfully enhanced Photoshop self-portrait, but here we are. Nice to meet you all! It's really quite amazing to me, this little community I feel forming in the small colorful, wise, wonderful, seeking, searching, intimate spaces of people's blogs - I never got it before, I never understood what blogging was about or why anyone would want to read about what I did today, or why I would want to read about what they did today, and now I GET IT! I AM interested in what you all did today. It's like a marvelous extension of my own life to meet Claudia's children, read Frankie's email from her best friend, see Meg's boyfriend's awesome snow dragon, and on and on. And I suspect I am THINKING more than usual, or at least, in a more focused way. Sitting down just now to the computer I told myself, even though my last post was stale I wasn't going to take the time to leave a new one because I need to get to work, and also because I don't know what to write about, but then I read Meg's and Jamie's thoughts on creativity, and left long comments on them (with the worry, I must admit, that I was using up all my thoughts for the day leaving comments instead of writing my own post - but hopefully I'll have more thoughts!) and felt completely inspired to write, too. So, that's all a very enthusiastic preamble to talking about creativity:

I see something happening in the world that is wonderful to me: creativity is being taken out of the hands of the "elite" and given to everyone. You don't have to be a gallery painter, you don't have to know how to draw, to make gorgeous art. I'm talking about the paper arts boom, often mis-named "scrapbooking". Somerset Studio magazine (yum yum), craft stores filled with the most amazing papers, stamps, inks, doodads, hinges, yarns, decoupage papers, etc etc, and all the books that are being written to show us all, even if we have no arts training: it's in us all. I think that drawing has always been a sort of gatepost to calling oneself an artist, and it kept a lot of people from identifying themself as such. If you don't draw, where do you start with the blank page? We all know the power (for good & evil) of a blank page! But now, there are all these wonderful resources to show you how to play again, like Jamie was talking about, with matte medium and paint and collage and stamps - and without drawing a line you can make something so extraordinary. And you may gain the confidence to try drawing, if you feel like it, but you don't have to. I've watched this explosion, this revolution in art, happening quite outside the framework of the "arts world" (most snooty painters I know wouldn't be caught dead in a "scrapbook store") and I cheer. Even though I HAD been to art school, this revolution swept me up and changed MY life too.

I was an oil painter, an illustrator, ekeing a living selling prints and cards of my work at an outdoor craft market, getting some illustrations published in children's magazines, when 3 Christmases ago a friend of mine, Maggie, had a Christmas card-making party -- I'd always in the past felt obliged to do a painting for my Christmas cards, and the pressure made it sort of un-fun. But I would't have time for that, so I got a little idea of a collage lady with a quote on her dress, laminated, with a delicate little waist to tie a ribbon around, and dangling beads for feet, and I made THOSE at her party, and whoa, was it fun. It was sitting indian-style on the floor in pre-school-fun-kind-of-fun. And... people loved them. I started selling THOSE at the craft fair, and I sold out every day. My eyes opened a little wider. I spent the two months the market was closed making new designs, and that was the beginning of Laini's Ladies, which is now how I make my living (along with the very new addition of selling my first novel.) Play is so important! And believing in your creativity. And as for learning how to draw, you certainly don't have to draw to be an artist, but it is a wonderful skill to have and I mean it absolutely when I say: anyone can learn! I didn't start until my mid-20s as a result of writer's block and needing another creative outlet. I was astounded with every drawing I did how much better it was than the last. It made me wonder, if I keep at it, how much better can I possibly get? It's a very exciting thought, and I challenge anyone who thinks they'd like to learn to draw to DO it. In secret if you want, you don't have to show anyone, this isn't like learning to dance, it can be private, just between you and your notebooks. When I was teaching art (for a brief time) I did stress the difference between wishing and really wanting to do something. To "wish" you could draw is like saying you wish a fairy would touch your head with the drawing wand and the gift would flow into you; you're probably not willing to put in the work. Like how I "wish" I could play the guitar or sing -- I know I won't try to learn. But if you really want it, more than you want other things, there are steps to take. It's not like wishing you were taller or an heiress or something; this is utterly in your power.

20 comments:

Frankie said...

Laini, it's so fabulous to see your smiling face, and what a beautiful face at that! I am absolutely enchanted by what you have written here and I found myself nodding along enthusiastically from beginning to end. I love that creativity is for anyone and everyone who's willing. I love that this blog community allows us to share our art and thoughts and lives with one another. I feel as though I'm so much better for it, for sharing and for reading. I am so much better for knowing you. I love that we are all our own creators and editors and publishers. I am so grateful to you, for you, for everything that you say here and in comments. I just wanted you to know, and wanted to be able to say THANK YOU for being amazing. Thinking of you!!

chest of drawers said...

You guys are gorgeous! I can totally relate to your words on blogging. I remember looking at amazing blogs, seeing the relationships that have developed and wishing that I could be a part of something too. Now we have this amazing support group of our own, all encouraging each other and moving in the same direction. I really feel like I belong now, I have you all here cheering me on and I am so grateful for all of you!

Shari said...

Your words and art are so inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story. I am always curious to find out the paths that artists take in order to get to where I want to be, which is making a living creating art. How did you get from making your handmade cards to having the line of Laini's Ladies? I also love that you encourage people to draw or create. Can you imagine what a different world it would be if everyone enjoyed some kind of creative expression daily.

M Payne said...

I'm so excited to have found yet another gorgeous blog to spend my days reading! And you only just started...wow! You are an inspiration and I feel my own thoughts and life reflected in your words...interesting how I'm finding so many other blogs that do that as well. Who knew there were other people like me out there?!! I'm in a dead end admin job and have found my creative mind is opening up in leaps and bounds by being able to read blogs like yours, and Andrea Scher (Superherodesigns), Swirly, Meg, and so so many more. What a gift. Some days there are the only bright spots as I sit here doing something I'm sure a monkey could handle!! Oh well, everything happens for a reason and I know only good things will come from this. Keep on writing! Can't wait for your novel.

HoBess said...

You always make me smile ... thanks! (I have to thank all the people who's blogs I read because I have found such inspiration in getting to know all of you!) What a wonderful tale of your own path toward making a living out of making your art. Scrapbooking stores are some of my favorite places to just be and imagine the possibilities.

megg said...

It was so great to be able to read your words about your creative journey. I always 'wished' that I could do art but I think that you have inspired me again. I am going to start drawing more, and try to see how I see the world. I have found how much benefit showing up and writing every day has been on my writing so I am going to work on practicing drawing. Thanks again for the inspiration!

P.S. I feel the same way about this blogging community! I always read other people's blogs and was so jealous of what they had built. It seemed so unavailable to me. I loved seeing your picture today! I'm loving getting to know you and I love that there is a strong and supportive tribe forming here. OH! I think you may have inspired a blog right back!! Have a great day!

Cate said...

YES! What an inspirational, joyful post! I've always loved Julia Cameron and her idea that there is "room enough" for everyone in the art world, but to meet other people who feel the same way, who believe that creativity can be incorporated into daily life and is a possibility for all, well, that's just so exciting to me! I just gobbled this passionate post up! Thanks for sharing!

Laini Taylor said...

Thanks so much for the comments, everyone! To answer Shari's question, about how did I go from the handmade product to the Laini's Ladies line (made in China - ulp!), that was something I almost talked about but felt the post was getting a little bit long. It's something that I firmly believe is the next most important component for an artist after actually doing the work: making others SEE the work, and really creating the path to the career you want. In this case I took a big deep breath and charged plane tickets I couldn't afford to go to the National Stationery show in New York. It was scary as hell; I'd never been to a big gift show before, but while I was there I reconnected with a licensing agent I'd met at another conference (now my wonderful, wonderful agent) and I looked for companies exhibiting who I thought might be interested in my line. And I found one! I almost didn't have the guts to go on that trip, and every time I approached a company I had to PRETEND to be someone with courage and confidence -- but it worked out. So, that's that story. It's really really important to put yourself in the sphere you want to be in, as an observer and learner at first, and figure out how to get where you want to be. Going to conferences and shows lets you see how many other people are doing it, and makes it seem very real and attainable. Thanks for asking!

baylor said...

I love your blog, your and your art and the way you ended this post touched me so much! Thank you!

Shari said...

Thanks for your response. I'm preparing myself to take a leap soon and it is great to hear other's stories. I have never blogged before, but reading of all the warmth, compassion and generous support out there is inspiring me to start.

Shari said...

Thanks for your response. I'm preparing myself to take a leap soon and it is great to hear other's stories. I have never blogged before, but reading of all the warmth, compassion and generous support out there is inspiring me to start.

Patry Francis said...

Great pic. You both are beautiful, and I love the way you're holding his arm.

Wonderful post, too! Almost makes me want to paint again!

Jamie said...

Hi Laini,

How nice to see your smiling face!

Thanks for your post today. When I read yours I felt so in synch - for some reason I decided to post a real and up-to-date photo for the first time today too. I hear you on the 'edgy artist' thing. I got so bored of that when I as at school.

And I really share your belief here about what's happening with art and who it's available too. Yay to everyone being included!

I'm so glad that we can all celebrate, share, encourage and play together! Cheers to playing!

twistedsoda said...

Creativity is given to everyone...its yours to decide what to do with it. BRAVO!!! I love your blog, your writing is inspirational!

Jim Di Bartolo said...

I've loved watching your play evolve into something that's touched so many people! I'm blessed with my front-row seat and exclusive behind the scenes pass :)

Love ya!
J

Colorsonmymind said...

Oh Laini, you are such a gift.

Thank you for sharing:
1. your path
2. great metaphors
3. loving encouragement
4. sage advice
5. YOU!

Anonymous said...

You get it!

You got it!

You're good!

And so pretty! Wonderful wonderful post--
~Elizabeth
http://bluepoppy.omworks.com

Terri /Tinker said...

Beautifully said!
Your ladies ARE lovely, btw
:>)

kelly rae said...

you're so right about creativity being given to everyone. i'm just now discovering my artist within and am having a ball not only creating, but at stores such as Collage on Alberta (i live in portland, too). it's a wonderous, freeing, and affirming feeling!

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