My Process: An Artist Blog Hop

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I have been asked by artist and fellow blogger Tara Leaver to take part in this artist blog hop and share a bit about my creative process. First of all, I couldn't be happier, since I would really like to connect with more artists online and this is a great first step toward that goal. Second of all, the whole point of this blog is to share my experiences with creativity so the topic is perfect. I'm hoping that this exploration will give you a better idea of how and why I do what I do. Considering how much I write about creativity these questions were surprisingly hard to answer! I'll give it my best shot though.

How does my creative process work?

For the most part my ideas seem to come from my environment, and particularly from travel. I can trace back many of my current and past artistic projects to things I saw in museums, nature, or on the walls of a coffee shop. I'm really inspired by natural history and the ways that art and science intersect. Most of my work tends to use maps in some way, and often is made to look weathered and old.

Usually I get an idea- like "I want to make a papier mache sculpture of a heart" - and then either start brainstorming how to do it, or just jump right in. Most of the things I make are either one-offs that I give as gifts, or need to be made in multiples to be sold at art and craft shows. Until recently I rarely made art for its own sake - I would only make something if I had an audience in mind. I have an art journal but would only work in it once every six months or so. Lately I'm trying to take my own advice and do something creative every day. Some of the ways I do this include my social media creativity challenges (#inspireoctober is underway right now - join in!), art journaling, sketching, trying exercises from a how-to book or blog, or just playing with art supplies.

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While these efforts don't directly lead to the products that I end up making to sell, they do get my brain firing in different ways and I start to make new connections. I find the more time I take to play with seemingly unrelated forms of creativity, the more I'm rewarded with good ideas. For example, I just finished a series of linoblock prints that I printed over collaged tissue paper and a map. The idea popped into my head in vivid detail when I was meditating, but that wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been regularly exercising my creative muscles. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

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There are a lot of people using the human heart in their artwork - I've seen prints, paintings, and jewellery, among other things - but I haven't seen anyone else making papier mache sculptures of them.  (If you know of someone who is, please let me know where to find them!) I'm also taking the human body subject further by making eyeballs and brains. I think where I really stand out is that I try to make the form look anatomical but I decorate the surface with collage in such a way that they look like pieces of art, rather than actual body parts. In terms of linoblock printmaking, I've always been  interested in playing with the background. I print on maps, and on collaged backgrounds, and find that it adds a new layer of depth and makes the images more suited to my personal style. 

What am I working on now?

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I just finished a painting to put on an invitation for my 30th birthday party, and before that I made a card for my boyfriend for our anniversary. The idea "I should make a pop up card" came into my head one day so I figured out how to do it and made one. I think I'm at my best when I want to make something I've never made before and have to figure out how to do it. I'm working on a new batch of heart sculptures, and just finished a new series of linoblock prints with collage. I'm trying to create a new logo for my site and was going to figure out how to do it in illustrator when I decided it would be more true to myself to do it with lino and have it look a little messy and imperfect. The trouble is, it's too messy and imperfect, to the point where it's not readable, so I'm rethinking that strategy.

Why do I do what I do?

I have always loved making things. I get the biggest high from getting an idea and trying to figure out how to make it a reality. I want to create things that influence people's experience of their world. Things that make them see in new ways. And I want to help other people learn to make things as well - that's where I get my second biggest high, is helping other people see their own potential to create something that wasn't there before.