Creative Influence

Any mature creative type is likely to have a long list of names of those who have been an influence to them in life. For me, many of the influences border on cliche. There’s the beauty of nature—especially flowers, leaves, birds, animals and bugs. There are designers and illustrators like Louise Fili, Charlie Harper and Ralph Steadman. And of course there are stylistic influences like Native American art, Mexican folk art, illuminated manuscripts, Tibetan thangka paintings, the arts and crafts and art nouveau movements, even grafitti and street art.

I recently was able to visit New Mexico again (left), one of my favorite places in the U.S. and also where one of my biggest influences in life now lives. Debra Fritts, an incredible clay sculptor, was my greatest advocate in high school to keep making art. Her classes changed the course of my life forever. Surprising me with an award in art on graduation day (right) shook me from my awkward lack of self-confidence to beaming pride that would spur me on for years.

I recently was able to visit New Mexico again (left), one of my favorite places in the U.S. and also where one of my biggest influences in life now lives. Debra Fritts, an incredible clay sculptor, was my greatest advocate in high school to keep making art. Her classes changed the course of my life forever. Surprising me with an award in art on graduation day (right) shook me from my awkward lack of self-confidence to beaming pride that would spur me on for years.

While studying art in school, the many famous artists throughout history like Georgia O’Keefe, Van Gogh, Picasso caught my interest. But there are also more recent artists, designers and illustrators like Andy Saftel, Lauren Kussro, Jaq Belcher. Tord Boontje, Vladmir Stankovic, and Nate Williams whose work that I connect with. There are so many more I could list

Even lesser known are the influencers in my life who set the stage.

I don’t know that I can pinpoint the exact moment that I put pen, pencil or paintbrush to paper. I do know that my mother often had crafty projects for my siblings and me growing up. I remember making pot holders, weaving squares of unknown objects on a child-size loom, and of course coloring between the lines in coloring books and paint by number sets for days on end. Even now, the smell of linseed oil takes me back to those early days. We always had Play-doh and crayons ready when the inspiration struck. Drawing from life also provided endless focus with such exciting subjects as the pet parakeet and horses. All these kitschy crafts and artworks likely helped get that creativity muscle flexed early in life.

My siblings and me playing with the ever entertaining Play Doh—focus so strong I couldn’t be bothered with looking at the camera!

My siblings and me playing with the ever entertaining Play Doh—focus so strong I couldn’t be bothered with looking at the camera!

“Let’s pretend” was often at the beginning of my sentences in interactions with childhood friends. There was even the time that, during pretend “school,” I as the “teacher” gave “students” the assignment of designing an invitation to a party. Parents were confused about where the pretend party was when the invitations made their way home. The skills at event planning would come at a much later date in my creative career.

Some recent personal work is taking monoprints from a few years ago and collaging paper flowers, stitching, beads and embellishments to them. The result combines my loves of printmaking, bling, and paper arts. It’s a fine line between craft and art in my world.

Some recent personal work is taking monoprints from a few years ago and collaging paper flowers, stitching, beads and embellishments to them. The result combines my loves of printmaking, bling, and paper arts. It’s a fine line between craft and art in my world.

All of those childhood masterpieces (ahem) are long since gone but the creative spirit is still thankfully thriving.

The thing about the creative life is that there’s encouragement that almost always comes with it—sometimes the encouragement comes from within and sometimes from external sources like teachers, friends and family. Oftentimes the spark isn’t fully comprehended until later in life. It’s a process of exploring with a good dose of curiosity and experimentation. I’m super fortunate to enjoy that process and quite happy to share it with clients, friends, family and sometimes with no one at all but myself. The creative muscle sometimes leads the way and I certainly love the ride it provides. Now back to the work that I love!