by Robin Casey
As creative people, we are all inspired by someone or something in our life that we can probably credit with lighting that creative spark for us. That inspiration will show up in what we make, how we think, the other creatives we associate with, and the way we make our mark on the world. Sometimes, we find ourselves in a position where we have to disassociate ourselves from that thing or inspiration, and once we do, it leaves us with a bit of a void where it used to be. It’s usually preferable to outgrow things, learn new ways, and generally move on in a natural way, but occasionally that rift happens in such a way where the absence is immediate, and maybe even painful, and our ability to handle that in the way we make our work is not a very talked about experience.
I’ve recently experienced this on a personal level. For a portion of my creative presence (mostly since the beginning), I was really involved in a subculture community based around a particular artist and their creations. I was heavily enmeshed in the social circles, went to events, spent time with the creator, and generally considered both the artist and the work a huge inspiration to my own creativity. This person and their work were the reason I wanted to be an artist as an adult.
Over the past year, I had a personal falling out with this entire situation. The details are personal, but in short, I found myself unable to continue to be part of the social circle or engage with the media anymore. It was a very personal decision, but it left me feeling incredibly empty for a long time. I no longer had people to talk to about the things that moved me to make art. I no longer had my outlet to be that part of myself, and I no longer had the person who inspired me to inspire me any further. I’ve felt lost and alone, and I found it really hard to make anything for a while. Even when I work on professional projects, I’ve found myself making different changes or stylistic measures to avoid adding in bits of the things that remind me of that part of my past. I’ve felt like I’ve completely had to bury that part of myself in order to move on.
I’ve been sad about it, I’ve mourned over it, and now I’m getting on without it. In a weird way, I think I’ve found that getting past that initial stage in my creative process has been INCREDIBLY helpful to me. My work has changed, my ideas have changed, I’ve learned new skills, and I’ve spent time with different people (including the lovely folks here at Arte Soleil), and all of that has made the healing process feel like something of a new beginning rather than an ending. Being involved in something lighter, more openly expressive, and supportive of a broader creativity has been really healing to that part of me. I wonder if keeping myself tethered to this particular brand of “creativity” so long is what kept me from making things that were new or interesting to even myself (never mind anyone else). This happened a little after I started getting involved with Arte Soleil, but before I took on a role as a Core Creative.
I feel like I express myself differently since getting involved with Arte Soleil. Even if it’s not work I put in the shoppe, I feel like the things I make have been something I put myself into, and not just the kind of thing I would make to emulate or impress whats-their-face over there. I interact, I make, I create, I express, I collaborate, and I do all of it so much more freely than before.
I think a “phoenix from the ashes” would be too much of a cliché to ascribe to the situation, but something to that effect is what it feels like. That part of me had to die in order for me to start over and start something better. I’m glad I’ve had Arte Soleil to hold onto while I got my bearings again, and I’m glad I’ve been able to contribute what I have. I hope we have many more adventures coming!