Thursday, September 12, 2013

CREATIVE PROCESS: Growing through inspiration of other creatives

INSPIRATION OF OTHERS. I'm ever so grateful to the presence of other people living out their CREATIVITY! One way to expand ourselves and our imaginations is seeing how other artists process their ideas.  (art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for a world filled with people celebrating their visions and collaborating together to create paintings, books, poems, sculptures, dances, and theatrical productions. On Tuesday, September 10, 2013, my Chiboogamoo and I ventured to Horizon Theatre in Little Five Points, Atlanta, Georgia, to take a "sneak peek" at the upcoming production, "Third Country." The result left me with new ideas for approaching my collaboration with Jenifer Hilburn and the book-child they we are developing together with boundless joy and unconditional love.

During the two hours spent at the Horizon Theatre sneak peek, I gained new appreciation for the collaboration that a theatrical production requires among various creative people with different skills. Lisa Adler, the co-artistic producer and director, introduced us to the play's writer, the twin set-designers, the costume designer, set builder, actors, and interns (the sound and lights people were mentioned but did not attend the sneak peek).

Particularly interesting to me as an illustrator exploring ways to develop animal characters for an environmental conservation story was the "working" notebook maintained by the costume designer. She held up her metal binder notebook and flipping through it explained how each character in the play got his/her own section. She began developing the look of a character by cutting out images from magazines that sported the clothes she envisioned each one wearing. In addition to these images, she kept personal information about the actors (weight, height, phone number, shoe size). 

INTRODUCING A CHARACTER. Please meet Akwatika, a diamondback terrapin. I will be following the costume designer's example and be developing a notebook with sections for each character.  Akwatika will get her own section with information about her habitat and diet, as well as her personality traits. Apparently diamondback turtles are shy and secretive! (art by Hallelujah Truth)
Well, dear readers! I had an epiphany! That's what our animal characters need! They need a chance to grow and breathe. My question as a self-taught artist has always been how to grow a creative idea from A-Z. With the story, The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia, I evolved a slow process for making illustrations, at first trying to internalize a feeling without relying on many outside resources. This was the "intuitive" part of my process and important to establishing my authentic style. 

However, the process was lengthy and finally too grueling to continue.  Imagine my joy, when over time, I grew to rely on Sandy Voegeli's photos of Bahamian marine and terrestrial life, as well as images of Bahamian hutias from the Internet. At the same time, I don't feel like I really got to "know" the characters in Maria's journey. So...

Now, that I have experience of The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia under my belt, I have been given an additional way to cultivate creative ideas from the costume designer of "Third Country." I will deepen my knowledge of our characters by developing a notebook with the characters' images and "back stories." 
AKWATIKA (art by Hallelujah Truth)

In addition to the costume designer's working notebook, I also took away the multi-media aspect of a creative production. Although a book is not a dramatic production, its story certainly unfolds like one. All senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and even taste should be evoked. 

That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what you think about my epiphany. Or better yet, share one of your own epiphanies!


  1. I like this idea. Have fun developing his (her?)persona.

    1. Thank you Cecelia! Akwatika is female. What I learned from the last book project was that the animal characters didn't have enough development. While The Misadventures of Maria the Hutia is a great teaching for environmental conservation, the book may not be one that children feel really excited about reading out of the classroom. We want to develop characters like Akwatika so that all of us can identify with something in them.

  2. What a great idea to use for developing a character. Will you be doing it on your computer of a physical notebook. Looking forward to seeing more of the book and it's ideas.

    1. Great question Darlene! I need a physical notebook. Some times having all of the images tucked away on a computer is tiring. I need the tactile feel and a visual chaos of images surrounding me in order to integrate an idea.