Friday, June 29, 2012

On Creativity (featuring Anthea Krook)

Issue 7 of Spoonful
Anthea Krook is a freelance designer, illustrator, editor, and writer based in Sydney, Australia, and her creative energy and enthusiasm are contagious. We first knew one another through our blogs (hers is For the Visionaries) and an overlapping project (the now-defunct Mankind Mag). In 2009, Anthea asked me to contribute to her zine, Spoonful: a happiness companion, and ever since, it has been an absolute pleasure to know her and work with her. She describes Spoonful as a “short, inspiring little publication which, in light of our insanely busy lives, can be finished by the end of a train ride.”

Her work is delicate, smart, and subtle; most of all, I appreciate how unabashedly she celebrates the ordinary (and how pretty and inviting she makes it look). As viewers and readers, we can’t help but join in!

Illustration for Spoonful

Q: How would you describe your relationship with your viewer/reader? Do you picture your work being received while you make it, or before, or after? How does this affect your process?

A: Well, I think my answer criss-crosses and contrasts between the way I write and the way I draw or design....

When I write, I seem to have this inner-critic or perception of what a reader might be thinking as they read the words I write. It is a constant, ever-present audience that reads with me as I work. I change, edit and shift to try to impress them... engage them... seduce them into what it is I'm trying to say. It's probably silly, but I can't seem to help myself. I reread what I write often, too... editing yet again, so that my reader can fluently and immediately get what I'm trying to say (that is my aim, anyway!).

I have a different relationship with the viewer when I design or draw, though... The funny thing about truly immersing myself in the creative process is that everything else falls away, prospective audience included. I become completely drawn into the detail of the moment--the angle of a line, the shift in colour-ways or gradients, the overall composition of a piece--so that only when I am finished, can my relationship in my mind with the viewer begin. Often I will finish something and stand back and realise it is not good enough for my reader. It does not inherently have the spark or beauty or idea I am trying to express to my audience and so I go back to begin again... I think my relationship with the viewer/reader is something which pushes me further and makes me want to create work that captures something deep within them.

Works that I feel truly have a potential to spark something in someone else are the ones I feel proud of at the end of the day :). So the viewer is an important part. I confess, part of me feels guilty about that a little... like I should be a 'free' 'true' artist obsessed and only caring about where it is the WORK feels it should go... but so much pleasure for me is connected to finally sharing a work, that I am unable to be so focused and forget the 'other'.

Interestingly, if I'm writing a poem (which I write few and far between) it is more of an immersive emotional process, much like drawing or painting for me. I delve into the beauty and brush strokes that language, full stops and line breaks have to offer, and often I've forgotten all about the audience until right at the end, when I polish things to try to ensure (& hope) that the reader will feel as I have felt and be able to immerse themselves as I have in the literary moment of writing and experiencing.

From a series of bejeweled notebooks created by Anthea.

Note: All images are courtesy of the artist.


  1. *blushing* at that beautiful and ever-so-kind introduction lovely Hannah. I can genuinely say that the pleasure is all mine. My life is far more enriched and beautiful with you in it!


  2. Thank you Hannah for the introduction...she is as delightful as you described her...

  3. I like when people create to be impressive. Selfishly, as a consumer, it means I get a more thoughtful effort.

  4. You had me at "the end of a train ride". Wonderful introduction, and bookmark-worthy!

  5. Thea--everything I said is totally true, dear!

    MrsLittleJeans and Semaphore, I am so glad you liked Spoonful :).

    Jack, I totally agree with you! It's refreshing to hear artists say that they care about their viewers.


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