Chats with James: Creativity, Proving Yourself & Unexpected Inspiration

When planning blog posts it is easy to get into a cycle of hauls and favourites posts, without stopping to think about what you are creating. That’s not to say that those posts aren’t great fun to put together, and hopefully lovely for you to read, it’s just that sometimes it is good to mix things up and get inspired by trying out new ideas. So, with that in mind, today that is exactly what we are going to do with a first for The Art of Being Holly – it’s time for an interview. Here with us today, to provide the ultimate creative inspiration, is musician, artist and very good friend of mine, James. A bundle of fun, James is the definition of artistic and I know if anyone can help us all to make the most of our creativity then it is definitely him. Enjoy!

H: Hiya James. How are you today? Thanks so much for joining me!
J: Haiiiii. Thanks so much for having me!
H: So, let’s jump straight in. You’re a hugely creative person. What do you think it is that drives you?
J:  I was thinking about this a lot in the car (I gave him an idea of what I was going to ask – sneaky) and I think that my creative drive is kind of a natural, innate thing. It is the natural love of it that keeps me creating. Like, did you watch the Woman in White on BBC?
H: No, but I saw you tweeting about it and I feel like I am missing out!
J: It’s soooo good. So basically, there was this guy on it and he was a painter, and this woman asked him ‘Why do you paint then? and he said ‘because I can’t imagine doing anything else’. I just thought YES!  

H: I totally get that. It is the fact that you are a naturally creative person that keeps you driven. If you love something enough I suppose that is drive enough to keep you going.
J: Exactly, but I also think – here’s the curveball – that we as creative people… Actually I won’t speak for you because I don’t know if you do this, but I try and prove that I am good enough at music and art to make them my job. It’s not like that in more ‘typical’ jobs because there isn’t as much creative competition. But with the arts and entertainment, it’s as if we have to hone our skills enough so that we can survive from doing it professionally in the vast market.
H: Yeah, a want to prove that you can do it as a job is 100% motivating. I also find having constant stream of inspiration helps me to stay driven. Where do you look to find your inspiration?
J: Honestly, I love Pinterest (both laugh). I remember when they introduced us to it at school and I just was like nah, but now I think it is just amazing man.
H: Isn’t it just the best! What’s you favourite thing about it do you think? And is there anywhere else you look for inspiration?
J: My favourite thing. I think it is such big community, like you can see so many different things on there. And it is so nice to have a social media that is based on art and not just people. For inspiration I also love exhibitions, in London – and everywhere else too!
H: Oooh, what’s your favourite inspirational gallery then, or your favourite few? I’d never be able to choose! 
J: I’ve had this argument with my mum a lot (laughs). I think, I really like the Ikon in Birmingham and the National Portrait Gallery in London too. That is my favourite.  
H: And we’ve been to both of those together. I love the National Portrait Gallery, although I like their more modern art.
*break in the interview as Cyndi Lauper comes on Spotify and we have a little dance*
J: I’m finding with this new religion-based project that I’m doing, that it’s so rewarding to look back on the past to find inspiration, so the National Portrait Gallery is the one. I did that a lot with my Colour Blind project as well, like looking back on the history of racism – especially in America.
H: Yeah, totally. I think you can learn a lot from the past.
J: I definitely do, both in art and personally. Listen to me! I don’t mean to be wedging in my work!
H: No, it’s cool. I’d actually LOVE to talk about your projects because I just don’t work like that. I just do loads of random stuff and I was wondering what is it that you like about working on specific projects?

J: I think it is because with each project, I know this sounds so cliché, but the point of it is to make a statement politically or socially. So, I think it helps to have big chunks of stuff, rather than just lots of little bits. You can say a lot more with a series.

H: It definitely gives you the chance to explore the message more and really get involved with one specific theme.
J: Exactly, you can get immersed.  

H: So, going back to inspiration – your main sources are Pinterest and exhibitions & galleries.
J: Yes, so many exhibitions! But ALSO (laughs) plays and music you know. I think you can get so inspired for art by different versions of the arts. Like with my racial profiling project, that whole concept was inspired by a moment in a song by Solange. Nobody knows that! But there’s a section at the end of her song “F.U.B.U.” with this great, sparkling texture in the piano and the visual concepts all came from that.
H: That’s so cool, I love that! Sometimes inspiration can be hard to come by, do you ever get creative block? It can be so demotivating; I never know how to get over it!
J: Ugh yes of course, although I get that more with my music than art. But, I think it was Ed Sheeran that I heard once on a George Ezra podcast. Yeah, Ed Sheeran. He said that once someone said to him that song writing is like an instrument and you have to practise everyday to get good at it. And I was like, whoa yes *snaps fingers*.
H: That is a good one, you can always count on Ed Sheeran.
J: So, I think when I don’t know what to sing or like I don’t know what to play or write, then I just know to keep going. Even if it is sh*t, then you learn from it don’t you.
H: Yeah, so say if you make a rubbish song. No offence. Do you look at it and try and learn from it? (laughs)
J: You know what, sometimes I don’t even edit them because I think if you do so much of something you are going to have say 300 pieces at the end. And maybe like 5 of them will be amazing and the rest will be bad, and that is fine. It is just the process you have to go through to get the good stuff.
H: So your advice for overcoming creative block would be to just keep going and well…
J: Just make rubbish stuff. It’s all learning.

H: I love that and I think that’s a great thought to end on. Thanks so much for joining me today.

And that’s a wrap! I’d love to say a huge thank you to James for answering all of my nosey questions. We are so excited to announce that this is the first post of a series of posts with James and I for one can’t wait for the next one! What get’s you feeling creative?

Love Holly (and James) x

Find James on | Facebook | Youtube | Art Instagram


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