What are your greatest creative or productive challenges and how do you overcome them?
Whilst my greatest challenges used to be things I could control, like procrastination and lack of focus, these days, since the birth of daughter, I find my greatest challenges have changed significantly.
I now have to contend with a very real lack of time and trying to get things done even when I’m physically and mentally exhausted. It can be really hard to be creative when you’re basically a walking zombie. To be honest I’m still trying to work out how to overcome these new challenges, but some things that have helped, are learning to say no to people/projects that don’t fit my big picture goals, planning and knowing exactly what my top priority is whenever free time does comes up and working out what my strengths are and where possible delegating things that I’m not the best at.
Who or what are your greatest influences in business/creativity?
My background is in film production, so I’d have to say my greatest creative influences tend to come from film makers such as David Lynch and Pedro Almodóvar and whilst this use to greatly influence my video making, I couldn’t tell you what place this has in my business life. Probably none, other than I’m a little peculiar and so are my ideas!
In terms of business, I tend to be drawn to people who put soul into their work. I’m a big fan of fellow coach Christine Kane for this reason, and probably because she is a creative with a music background. The big business mogul types don’t really do much for me to be honest.
Is there a vision/project you haven't been able to realise yet due to things like time, money, technology etc.
There are so many! If I had a penny for every unrealised, yet amazing idea… All joking aside though, there is a project that’s whirring around in my head at the moment that I’m just itching to implement.
Having been on maternity leave for the best part of the last year though (and about to go on maternity leave again in about 2 months), the barrier on this occasion is financial; and of course there is never enough time.
You use and recommend Vision Boarding a lot. Can you briefly explain what this is and how it can help you in business?
Glad you asked. I do indeed love vision boarding!
So I know many people may be familiar with the idea of sticking pretty pictures to a board and using it like a kind of wish list to the universe, but this is not the way I work with vision boards. To me creating a vision board is more of an intuitive process that taps into your subconscious and draws out your innermost desires, your values as a person and the vision you have for your life (even if you aren’t consciously aware of what that is). I know it all sounds a bit airy-fairy, but I’ve seen amazing things happen and great insights gained through the vision boarding process that I teach.
How it’s helped me in my own business is that, with very little effort, I was able to gain real clarity about my branding and what I wanted my business to stand for and create in the world. I now use my vision board as a visual reminder about what the business stands for and why I do what I do, and in addition to that it is great way for me to keep track of my business goals.
In my personal life, my vision board is actually bringing to fruition a long held desire to move to Italy… just a few years ago this seemed like an impossible dream.
I’m not sure exactly why vision boards are so powerful, but I guess it comes down to getting to the heart of your desires (much deeper than the “I want to be rich and drive a Porsche” kind of stuff) and having a constant visual marker that keeps you focused on the stuff that matters.
You recently produced the 5-Day Business Cleanse Challenge. What do you think is the most common cause of inefficiency in creativity/productivity/business?
For creatives it’s got to be having too many ideas and not getting focused enough to take the necessary action.
I would say that entrepreneurs are creative by definition, and so they run into very similar problems too. For myself as a creative and a business owner, this is definitely my biggest hurdle and it drives me insane. Do you know that in the last week alone I’ve had about 3 multi-million pound ideas?!
It’s so tempting to pursue multiple projects and ideas at once, but that really is a recipe for going nowhere fast. The thing is even when you know that, you can’t just stop the ideas from coming and so it really does take intense focus and the ability to anchor yourself to your ‘why’ or your bigger purpose to see one thing through to completion and not get carried away with something that doesn’t fit in with where you’re really trying to go.
What are your favourite online/digital creative tools (e.g. software, apps, etc.)?
I have to admit that I’m just terrible at graphic design and so Canva has been my saving grace for all manner of design projects. Other than that I love Adobe Spark for throwing together quick promotional videos on my phone or laptop, and Trello for project management and editorial/content scheduling.
What do you love most about what you do? What do you dislike about it?
I adore working with people, watching them grow and transform and getting to know all about them.
When you work with a great client, you can come away from coaching session feeling so energised and inspired that you feel like you should be paying them! Also it’s a role where I’m constantly learning and that is very satisfying for me.
To be honest the only thing I don’t really like about it is that the day-to-day running of the business (or any business) can get a bit boring and monotonous for me, especially when it comes to tasks like bookkeeping, tax returns and admin. Even though I can outsource those things, I still like to know what’s going on and ensure that I know how to do everything in my business myself as well.
Oh and something I’ve really gone off recently is social media, which is a massive part of my marketing so that’s not ideal.
What advice would you give to someone who was unsure about how to create or what to create, or was unsure about certain aspects of setting up their own business?
My advice would be to get really, really clear on who you’re serving or who your customer is before even creating anything. The more you know what your audience needs, the more likely it is that your service or product will be a success. I know it can be tempting to go into a new project with all guns blazing and think that you’ll be able to wing it on creative genius alone, but there is a lot to be said for proper planning and having a strategy in place.
The other thing I would say is seek support. There are some amazing communities out there for business owners and creatives and the majority of people are really friendly and helpful. Even though I work alone for most of what I do, I have a whole bunch of other business owners in all different fields that I turn to for help and support regularly.
The power of community and expanding your network cannot be overstated and can open up so many new opportunities to you that wouldn't be available if were always a lone ranger.
Do you have any quotes or a motto that you live your life by or think about often?
The two phrases that keeping me going when the going gets tough are: “This too shall pass” and “This or something better”.
My favourite books are strangely all kids books from my childhood, such as The Moomintrolls by Tove Janson and the Deptford Mice series by Robin Jarvis. Perhaps this is because I never read much fiction anymore and only tend to read to learn.
In terms of business, I don’t really have a favourite and am constantly consuming new material, but I have found the E-Myth Revisited by Michael. E. Gerber incredibly useful and insightful and I highly recommend it to all small business owners.
Could you briefly describe your creative process?
My creative process starts with finding a purpose that’s fuelled by passion.
I’m searching for different energies that are influencing my life at the moment, and that’s what I'm painting on my masks. Once I’ve identified that energy, it opens the door to the subconscious mind, and there’s the seed of an idea, the untold story I wish to bring up to the surface.
Then, I begin designing, and decide which colours and symbols I’m going to use that are related to the story I want to tell with my masks.
Who or what have been your greatest influences in your life in regard to creativity?
I’ve always been fascinated with masks, especially with the Venetian carnival masks. They conceal and reveal at the same time.
The more we want to hide, the more we expose ourselves.
When I understood that art was a way of self-expression, and through my art I could quiet my racing mind, I started working with two great forces, beauty and pain. I believe these two go hand in hand.
When you let the struggle inspire you, it turns your pain into beauty, darkness into light, and fear into freedom.
What are your greatest artistic challenges and how do you overcome them?
My greatest artistic challenge is fear of growing. My art is already carrying a deep subject, and I know I still haven’t reached the bottom of it yet, so there may be even deeper things that have to come up to the surface. The only way to overcome this is to keep pushing myself and stretch my boundaries, so my true self can shine through my art eventually.
I keep reminding myself that there is no right or wrong way in art.
Art is life; it’s an unstoppable process, just like growing.
My other big challenge is also related to growing. Many times we don’t want to step out of our comfort zone because everything is predictable and calm there. As an artist, I must step out because my mind is filled with so many questions that this usually results in insomnia if I don’t start dealing with them soon. To get rid of this restlessness, I have to dive into the unknown where I can start discovering and experimenting with new colours, shapes, and materials.
Your work deals with mental illness. Can you tell us a bit more about the ways in which art and mental illness are related and how you work to fight against the stigma of mental illness, particularly in relation to masks?
I like to compare the connection between mental illness and art to the Hindu god, Shiva (the god of destruction and creation). I believe art is a form of therapy where I’m working with destructive forces such as depression, anxiety, and much more so that I can create something new that over-shines the darkness.
My art is a message to those who can relate and to those who are judging mentally ill individuals.
The stigma that surrounds mental illness is strong, and judgment usually comes from people who lack knowledge about this topic.
If we think about Shiva again, destruction doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I destroy darkness with my art and bring the light to the surface. I try to destroy ignorance and stigmatisation of mental illness with enlightening people. If someone cannot accept that mental illness is real just because it’s invisible, I ask them to look at my masks. That invisible force, those destructive thoughts created them and made them physically real.
How would you describe your development as an artist (e.g. finding your own voice, seeking new opportunities, developing working relationships, etc.)?
I’m always open to search for new learning opportunities. I’m a seeker, and I can find inspiration almost everywhere and in every situation. I’m not only a mask maker, but a dancer, actress, writer, and former therapist too. I’ve gained experiences through these fields, and it helped me to find my own unique voice.
I consider myself an introvert, but I’m pushing my boundaries and try to work in more extroverted fields as well, such as being a broadcaster and have my own talk show where I can connect with other creative, like-minded people.
Is there a vision/project you haven't been able to realise yet due to thing like time, money, technology etc.?
Due to lack of time, I have to put aside a project for now. I would like to make an art book and showcase my work. Most of my masks have already been sold, so I will have to remake them for the photoshoot which is time-consuming, but once they are done, I can organise an exhibition too. It’s also possible that in the close future I will move to LA where I will find new inspiration, new vibes, and new ways in art, so there will be many projects I want to work on, or maybe even collaborate with other artists.
What do you love most about what you do? What do you dislike about it?
When working on a piece of art, I love the feeling of freedom. I stop existing in the present, and I end up being in a magical fantasy world where there are no rules, only colours, and pure feelings.
I never really liked reality, so I created my own little special world where I could refill my soul with sunshine.
I love to bring my masks to life. It’s wonderful to see how those white plaster of Paris faces begin to breathe when I start painting and shaping them. They are the mirror of my soul.
There are not many things I dislike about what I do. However, it’s disappointing when I get a vivid vision in my mind but I can’t execute the idea. Sometimes, I’m also impatient and I feel frustrated when I need to work on the details for long hours, but it’s always worth it.
No pain, no gain, right?
What advice would you give to someone who was unsure about how to or what to create?
My advice would be to forget about time. Don’t just live in the present. Search for stories, unanswered questions, and feelings from your past. See what energies your past can unleash. You don’t have to always find an answer to all of your questions. If you make your art there is your answer to the question. It’s a mirror of your soul.
Also, try to work at different times of the day. You will notice how different the morning vibes are comparing to the night vibes. For example, I love to stay up late and work on my art until early morning. The world is so quiet at that time, and I can hear the inspirational voices in my head much clearer. I feel a stronger connection to nature, and there is some sort of warm peace in the atmosphere at that time.
Do you have any quotes or a motto that you live your life by or think about often?
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” by Nietzsche.
I love this quote, and I can see this as a good way to describe artists’ lives. Those who are trying to stand out and follow their own dreams are often being criticised by people who don’t understand their true nature, and that’s why they consider these artists to be insane or sometimes even dangerous.
I love reading philosophy books. My two favourite philosophers are Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer.
I am also fascinated with Japanese culture, and the “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden will always have a special place in my heart.
Another one is "Veronika Decides to Die" by Paulo Coelho. It's a wonderful story of a vulnerable young woman who fights her inner demons and becomes a real warrior. It’s a story of hope, and that’s exactly the same message I want to send to the world.