My guest today is Susanna Reay, a fine artist, creativity teacher and consultant. Susanna currently lives in South Oxfordshire but has travelled and lived extensively abroad. She started her career as a textile designer but more recently has moved into sculptural and mixed media art for the home and garden. She is also working on creativity consultations for workplaces.
What you will learn in this episode:
- Susanna’s creative projects
- The benefits of creating without technology
- Tips for generating and keeping track of ideas
- How to overcome being overwhelmed with too many ideas and getting yourself unstuck when the ideas aren’t flowing
- Susanna’s favourite creative tools and resources
Susanna’s current projects
For the last 30 days Susanna has been working on creative clinic posts to inspire others to keep their creativity going. It’s a combination of tasks she’s doing and giving people challenges and inspiration for getting unstuck creatively. When all these posts get put together she hopes to create a short book.
Susanna will also take those same elements into workplaces for teambuilding days. This will help people use creativity in the workplace to look for new solutions to problems. As a lot of creative people do, Susanna balances that business and workplace side with her other side as a fine artist.
Having always enjoyed art and sculpture, and with textile design as a background, Susanna has discovered a new medium combining the two. It’s called Powertex and she is using it to create a form of kinetic sculptural art. She is making large flowers out of fabric but the fabric solidifies so it can be put out in the garden. The flowers are then put on wooden and metal poles so they sway in the wind.
Susanna likes this medium because it helps her immerse herself in the joy of creation. So much of modern life is based on technology, but by doing something messy and different you have to turn the phone and computer off so there are no distractions. Powertex is a wet medium which does not combine well with modern technology. This allows you space to just create.
Susanna has lots of tips to generate ideas. She suggests surrounding yourself with creative people and gaining insight from other people’s perspectives. She also advises, “Just start! Don’t worry about getting things perfect. The hardest thing is getting going and you’ve got to train yourself creatively to keep going.”
She says the best pieces are the ones that she doesn’t pre-think too much. She might have a feeling to work towards but no fixed thing in mind. Happy accidents are quite common in art.
To keep track of ideas Susanna uses a combination of an A3 sketchbook, a phone and a camera. She uses the app EverNote which is very useful because it syncs with the main computer.
She also creates mood boards, but her tip is to take a photograph of the mood board and upload it into the computer. After moving and travelling so much, Susanna favours digital archiving systems.
Idea overwhelm and finding inspiration
To overcome having too many ideas, Susanna suggests being accountable to a group of like-minded people. It’s a good way of staying on track and it’s a safe environment. She also says scheduling time for creativity is good but she doesn’t always stick to the schedule.
To get inspiration flowing again, she says the worst thing you can do is sit and stare at your project that isn’t moving. Susanna’s advice is to move away from the desk, go out, move and do something else. Take the pressure off by getting outside and going for a walk, for example.
Creativity tools and resources
The person who is inspiring Susanna the most at the moment is the Art Historian Esther De Charon De Saint Germain . She works with wonderfully weird women in a mastermind course that offers accountability and challenge.