The METAMORPHOSIS Series is all about my journey meeting creative block, more commonly known as burnout. Exactly one year and one day ago today, I had my first solo art show called From Stars to Plastic. I had originally intended creating a show around the idea of censorship, however when the first collage came out not exactly to my liking, I completely shifted directions. I looked around at my environment – Hollywood – and saw celebrity obsession, rampant consumerism, and of course the rise in plastic surgery inspired by social media and celebrity influencers. I then decided to pursue the evolvement of Hollywood celebrity, and From Stars to Plastic was born.
That series took everything out of me, giving all of my creative power to that of Cult Celebrity seemed to seep into my psyche. I also now have a permanent kink in my back I feel everyday from all of the tedious collaging, all to make sure Kim K’s curves were even (WHY). For months after this show, for the life of me, I could not create a piece of art. Not a simple analog collage, not even a sketch. Why was this happening? What the hell would I do now? This kind of block is an artist’s worst, most terrifying enemy. I put all this work into getting my art out there, now that it was starting to gain some momentum, the well of inspiration ran dry.
This block didn’t just affect my creative work, it affected every aspect of my life. My relationships, physical, mental and emotional well-being. I was disconnected. I could no longer relate to people if my creativity was turned off, I felt I had nothing left to give. It put me in one of the darkest, lowest places. It truly didn’t look like there was any way out from there, and that’s when I hit rock bottom. I realized something needed to change by way of a rude, but very necessary wake-up call.
After the wake-up call I started to take better care of myself. I sought support. I asked for help. I started reading The Artists Way by Julia Cameron and I did the Morning Pages exercise everyday (still do). I learned invaluable lessons from all of these, and honestly it may be a major factor in why I’m able to write this today. One of the biggest lessons that I came to understand, however, is that not everyone will want to be on this journey with you. At my show, I was surrounded by support, however after the fact I couldn’t help but think of where it fell short, where I fell short. It was that part, the feeling of lack, I needed to address and work through if I ever wanted to make again. This was my block.
So much of our Western society is all about “light and love.” Considering our society having never been more inflamed or divided, there appears to be something missing in the whole “light and love” thing. And well, it’s darkness. There’s an inherent darkness in life and in ourselves that the longer we deny, the more out of control it becomes. This darkness unaddressed manifests as illness, addiction, or as our good friend creative block. The simplest way of effectively dealing with this darkness is listening to it. All it wants is to be heard. When I did this, I learned to face my demons, my fears, and begin to work with them.
I remember having a conversation with a confidante where I lamented my lack of creative flow. She assured me that what I’m going through is a process, a hard one, and once I start creating again it would be so very different, and come from a place of such pure honesty and truth, it would be undeniable. That in itself will resonate with others and create success. I chose to believe her, it made enough sense anyway.
I do have one confession to make about my creative block. I may not have been able to collage like I did before – but I suddenly found myself with a camera in hand. For months I played around with this camera, a simple point and shoot but I managed to learn how to control the settings, experimented taking photos around the neighborhood and even styled some simple photo shoots. This evolved into more extravagant photo missions. With these beautiful images, I needed to know how to edit them, so I finally started to learn Photoshop and Lightroom. I had been complaining of not making art and before I knew it I had acquired and handful more skills. Tiny acts of nurturing my creativity seemed to multiply on their own.
Suddenly, with these new capabilities and blunt realizations, I started to feel the green sprouts of inspiration all over my being. I started to see the possibilities of all these different mediums interconnecting and how switching back and forth between them works for me, and stimulates my brain. There’s something about action, rather than fantasy, that true imagination feeds on. I started to use images I took, mixed them with found images, tweaked them around on Photoshop – and suddenly, one by one, little digital and analog collages came into existence. By the time there were eight, I noticed a cohesive little story of how each piece of art related to my breakdown + creative block + breakthrough, and ultimate Metamorphosis.
I’m now much more conscious of the subject matter I put in my work, and my intentions for making it have evolved as well. Projects I have lines up now are in a stylistic direction I never would have predicted, but it makes perfect sense. Instead of focusing on how to please everybody with my art, I learned I needed to embrace the opposite: how can I serve a specific community, with specific tastes, with art? Ironically, the answer to this was simply to create art as true to myself as I could.
If any artists out there struggling with creative block can come away with anything from my experience, I hope it’s this: whatever you do, don’t stop moving. Switch it up. If what you’re doing now isn’t serving you, have the courage to change it. If photography isn’t working, try dance. If acting isn’t working, try directing. Give yourself a chance to get out of yourself and switch your perspective. There is no reason to keep trying to jam a square peg in a round hole. It will require a bit of faith when it feels like you aren’t progressing, or when you’re a novice, as that’s when the true transformation occurs. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your fears. Unlike butterflies, we have the opportunity to go through many a metamorphoses of our minds. There is beauty and limitless potential in a fresh start or a new skill, do not fear it, embrace it, if deep down that’s what you know you have to do. The result: works so true to yourself, others can’t help but resonate.
Have you experienced or overcome Creative Block/Burnout? What worked for you? Let us know in the comments!