Friday, March 30, 2012

On Creativity (featuring Jennifer Hoyden)

Life is simply not fair

In this series of posts (which I’ll occasionally post on Fridays), I will feature an artist, writer, blogger, or thinker. I’ll include a little information about them, and their answer to a question or two about creativity.

A lesson to be learned from blogging: there are a lot of delightful, brilliant people in this world! Artist and writer Jennifer Hoyden is both of those adjectives. I was introduced to her blog, Up and Down Town, by our mutual friend Tracey (thank you!), and was instantly hooked by her understated, sweet drawings that still manage to communicate so darn much. Her work is a mixture of sweetness and edge, stark line and soft pattern--her art celebrates the philosophical while taking pleasure in surfaces and the material.
(illustrations courtesy of the artist)

Q: How much of yourself (your real life, memories, and surroundings) ends up in your art? Your name on your blog is "Editor"--how do you decide what to edit out (or in)? Has this changed over time?

A: Well, for my blog, it is my diary, vague and slow though it may be, a place for my musings, so that is all me, both in terms of thoughts and experiences, and in appearance (my hair was in that bob for quite a while. After I changed it, I decided to retain the bob for the blog - ha ha, especially when readers protested the new hair!). The clothes I draw for the blog are a mix of personal items (past, present or future) and items I really like - so still, always intentionally personal to some degree. Interiors are a mix of my reality and my fantasy. So, still personal (what could be more personal than fantasy?!). Any experiences recounted on the blog are real.

I used to think that drawing the way I do, very unpremeditated, meant that very little of myself went into the results, but a blog reader I used to have would leave extremely pointed comments based on my drawings. She was, it turned out, a psychotherapist who had experience with art therapy. It was her belief that the subconscious drives everything we do, and she definitely made me recognize that my choices, when I draw, however absent-minded they may feel, are most definitely expressing something that is inside of me. I think that is amazing. And wonderful.

Into boxes
And that then translates into my answer for that same question regarding drawing I do for work. I think the same thing happens - that the subconscious steers me. Of course I am illustrating something concrete then and so my choices are more limited than they are when I sit down to make a picture for my own blog posts, but since I work by hand rather than with computer graphics, I am limited to the resources in my mind. I mean "limited" in a very rich sense. I am not choosing from anything available to anyone else.

The brain/imagination/memory/perspective/subconscious of each individual is what makes our work unique and human. If you work with a generic template or visual tools employed by others, that reduces your influence, to a degree, on what you are creating/expressing. So how I approach what I will draw is very personal, and if I am drawing clothing, then the fun is choosing what to draw, what appeals to me, and then going about drawing it. Yes, always personal. We would have to ask a psychotherapist, though, to understand what all my choices mean. I am pretty content to just know that it is personal, and leave it at that. I let my mind lead, which often feels like it is my hand leading, because I do not interfere and try to force-think. I just follow my instinct/impulse. Sometimes I have to turn on the radio while I draw, to distract my brain from trying to over-control everything.

I chose the name "Editor" when I started blogging years ago because I was far more comfortable being anonymous, and my professional experience was in journalism and advertising, writing and editing. So when I had to find some way to identify myself, it was the first thing that came into my mind. However, when I consider the psychotherapist's thoughts on the subconscious, I suppose I was, by choosing that name, declaring that I was in charge, just as you are now so shrewdly pointing out, of what I would and would not show. But since I ultimately let my impulses dictate what I draw/express/write, the experience is far more satisfying and less coy than it probably appears. I just think you may need to be trained in art therapy to see what I'm saying. ;) I think most of the time I don't see what I'm actually saying.
Not fighting age

Although I originally began as anonymous, I am just now venturing out and exposing more (very timidly) after over 6 years of blogging, so I guess yes, what I am comfortable omitting/editing out is changing.