Posts Tagged: creativity

Creative Ladies: MariNaomi

marinaomi-headshot

MariNaomi is a writer/artist whose work has been featured in approximately one million places, including The Rumpus. She was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about her work process, her inspirations, and her advice to other creative ladies. You can find MariNaomi all over the internet…on her website, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook. You can also join her mailing list here.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

I make comics. Lately I’ve been spending my days thumb-nailing a young-adult graphic novel and setting up promotions for my next book, Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories, which comes out in the fall with 2D Cloud. I’ve been getting all my ducks in a row with logistics (like scheduling book tours) and odds and ends (like cover artwork, indicia, etc.).

A sneak peek into MariNaomi's next book, Dragon's Breath and Other True Stories

A sneak peek into MariNaomi’s next book, Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

I love photography and singing alone in my car. Comics used to be my just-for-fun hobby, and I kind of miss those days.

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

Really good writing, an innovative piece of artwork, the success of my friends, getting a good review, meeting people who like my comics, meeting my heroes.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

Careful black brushstrokes

A panel from Dragon's Breath and Other True Stories

A panel from Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories


How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

I take frequent breaks to rest my fingers and my brain, usually by checking social media sites, exercising, or wrestling with my dogs and cats. If I don’t, I fear my drawing hand will turn into an arthritic little nub. When I dive truly into The Zone, I stop feeling things like hunger, fatigue and pain. I forget to pee.
I used to snack on my breaks, but I stopped doing that when my metabolism slowed down. Thanks a lot, middle age!
heaven

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

My book, Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22. It’s not perfect, but I put more work into creating, publishing and promoting it than any other thing in my life. I’m also very proud of my next two books, but I don’t want to call them “accomplishments” just yet, as they haven’t seen the light of day.
Artistically, I’m always the most proud of the very last thing I did. It’s a survival tactic that I think many artists have, this delusion. But I would be silly saying the “best thing I ever did” was a review of a book or a cluster of thumbnails. And after I did my next thing, my mind would change and that thing I said before would no longer be the best.

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

I’m not proud of some of my earlier work. A few years ago, I got contacted by the Library of Congress, which somehow got hold of one of my very first self-published zines, from back in the nineties. They wanted to verify some things. I asked if he might quietly dispose of the evidence, but alas, he would not.
But as long as I’m doing creative work and (hopefully) strengthening my talents, I’ve got to accept that I’ll constantly be embarrassed by looking back at the old work. I have a hard time reading Kiss & Tell, for example. Even though I’m proud of it, I’ve grown so much since it came out, as an artist and a storyteller. If I’m lucky, five or ten years down the line I’ll feel the same way about the work I’m doing now.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

My sister is super inspiring. She’s a physical therapist, Bhangra dancer, painter and marathon runner. Also, Yoko Ono. Also also, about a hundred lady cartoonists. Women who make comics are some of my favorite people in the world.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Before I met my husband I’d wake up in the afternoon, do errands and socialize during the day, then get to work once the sun went down, not stopping until the sky started getting light. But Gary changed all that with his morning-time ways. Nowadays I wake up early, but I don’t really get going until after lunchtime. Between 1 and 7 p.m. are my peak hours, although I will work before and after those times.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

I have a menagerie of animals who alternately relax and confound me. Also, wine with dinner is very helpful. And sex. Oh, and drawing comics!

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

Comics:
The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner
The You’ll Never Know trilogy by Carol Tyler
Never Forgets by Yumi Sakugawa
My Dirty Dumb Eyes by Lisa Hanawalt
One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry

Non-comics:
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Valencia by Michelle Tea
Nochita by Dia Felix
Rat Girl by Kristin Hersch

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

Practice a lot. Join a figure drawing class. Read as much as you can—pick apart your favorite stories and think about why they were so good. Pick apart the bad stuff too. Be patient. Understand that getting good takes time, and getting recognized takes even more time. Get involved in your community—meet people who do what you do so you can support each other through happy times and rough times. Don’t dawdle. Get to it.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

I’ve never thought of a motto! But a good rule to live by is avoid professional jealousy, do your best to help others, and be happy for your friends. There’s room enough for everyone in Creativity Land.

Creative Ladies: Laryssa Wirstiuk

LaryssaWirstiuk

Laryssa Wirstiuk is the author of The Prescribed Burn, which I wrote about on HelloGiggles way back in 2012. I really enjoyed her book, so I was super-excited that Laryssa agreed to answer my nosy Creative Ladies questions. You can find Laryssa on her website and on Twitter @ryssiebee.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

I have two primary jobs: I’m a college-level writing instructor and a marketing professional. I teach creative writing and digital media at Rutgers University. In addition, I work for a small pharmaceutical marketing agency in Manhattan. When I’m not doing either of these jobs, I tutor privately, edit manuscripts, and write articles/reviews. I don’t really have a normal working day because every day is so different; the best part is that I have a lot of control over the hours I spend working!

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

My main hobby is creative writing. I enjoy writing short stories, poems, and plays. When I don’t feel like writing, I practice yoga, experiment with vegan cooking, and play with my dog Charlotte Moo. In addition, I like to read books and magazines.

Laryssa's adorable dog Charlotte

Laryssa’s adorable dog Charlotte

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

My students definitely inspire me. I’m so charged by their positive attitudes and their hopeful outlook on the world. I’m also inspired by my belief that I’m only guaranteed this present moment; with this attitude, I try to fill the present with as much joy and creative energy as possible.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

Color, simplicity, depth.

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

To be creative, I definitely need quiet and some time to myself. On days when I’m rushing from task to task or surrounded by lots of people, I feel like my head is crowded with noise, and I struggle with being creative. I sometimes need to spend an entire day alone to decompress. Though I wouldn’t describe myself as shy or reserved, I’m definitely an introvert and use alone time to recharge my creative batteries.

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my book The Prescribed Burn, which I published through my publishing company Painted Egg Press in December 2012. The Prescribed Burn evolved from being my graduate school thesis, which I started in the fall of 2007, into a complete short story collection. In May 2012, I used Kickstarter to raise $5,500, which covered the costs of printing the book. In the fall of 2013, my book won honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Self-Published Book Awards, in the Mainstream/Literary Fiction category: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-exclusives/april-14/21st-annual-writers-digest-self-published-book-awards-winners.

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

When I was in graduate school, I started an online magazine called Too Shy to Stop. I recruited young writers from all over the country to submit articles related to arts and culture and hired both a designer and a programmer to build the site. I loved running Too Shy to Stop, but it involved a lot of work; I was basically running an online magazine by myself! I ran out of energy and time, and I couldn’t figure out how to monetize the project. I consider Too Shy to Stop to be one of my biggest failures. What I learned from it is that I’m passionate and energetic, but digital publishing is a tricky industry that often requires more luck than strategy.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

My Creative Lady role model is my friend and current boss Madeleine Beckman. She’s a published poet, journalist, fiction writer, and overall awesome person. I see her about three times per week, and I can talk to her about anything from the latest New York Times book reviews to fashion to the men we’re currently crushing on. I consider her to be one of my mentors, and she’s given me a lot of invaluable advice about building my career.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I love waking up early, especially on the weekends, because everything is so quiet, but I’m definitely most creative at night, right before I go to sleep. I sometimes need a whole day to mentally prepare myself for writing. I can’t just wake up and write.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

To relax, I practice yoga and “japa mala” meditation, which is a type of meditation that uses “japa mala” beads or Hindu prayer beads. I also love reading vegan cooking blogs. I’m addicted to pinning vegan recipes on Pinterest.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene: The ultimate guide to understanding what attracts one person to another and how you can make that knowledge work for you.
Bluets by Maggie Nelson: A genre-bending study of the color blue.
The Stranger Manual by Catie Rosemurgy: One of the most unusual and awesome poetry collections I’ve ever read, The Stranger Manual follows a fictional character named Miss Peach.
The Meat and Spirit Plan by Selah Saterstrom: Another genre-bending book, this is an amazing coming-of-age story.
Proofs and Theories by Louise Gluck: For anyone who loves poetry and language, by a Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

I can’t say it enough: believe in yourself. No one will believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself first. You have to be your own best cheerleader and advocate. You have to “fake it until you make it” with the blind faith that what you’re doing every day is moving you forward, closer to your goals.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

Trust the process.

Creative Ladies: Anne Leigh Parrish

Anne Leigh Parrish, 1

Anne Leigh Parrish is the author of Our Love Could Light the World, as well as many other things. I appreciate that she took time out of her busy schedule to answer my nosy questions about process, inspiration, and book recommendations. You can find Anne on her website, her Facebook page, and on Twitter @AnneLParrish.

Thanks again, Anne! If you’d like to be interviewed for Creative Ladies, just send me an email at welcometoladyville@gmail.com.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

Writing has been my main gig for almost twenty-four years – that’s how long it’s been since I stopped working outside of the home in any capacity, a privilege made possible by my very hard-working husband. Of course, into that mix came two children who are now grown and much more on their own. I juggled child care and writing for quite a while. And then my daughter was diagnosed with a tricky chronic condition that required careful monitoring several times a day. A typical day starts for me around 7:30 a.m. My husband and I both work at home. We read the paper, he walks the dogs, and we repair to our respective offices. At that point, it’s a matter of producing new material or editing old material; promoting myself through Twitter – I have over 10,000 followers now – Facebook, Google + groups, and so on. I usually knock off around 3 to 3:30, though my husband keeps it most days until 5:00. He’s a lawyer, and his time is a lot less flexible than mine. Evenings, I’m willing to admit, are spent in front of the television.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

You know, I don’t have a whole lot, to tell you the truth. Sometimes I can be moved to take an enthusiastic interest in my garden, or in a new recipe, or an art exhibit. I do spend a fair amount of time reading, particularly on my Kindle, which I adore. I’m one of those people who reads a book for a while, then puts it down, starts another book, puts that one down, and returns to the first book. Having a Kindle spares me a tower of books on every table in my house, although there are still plenty of books in every room.

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

Life, how people overcome adversity, how they make peace with what cannot be changed. Anything beautiful inspires me, particularly flowers, but also manmade things – my home is full of original art I’ve picked up here and there. I’ve gotten more interested in glass – fused glass, in particular, and the way it catches the light. I suppose that’s a function of living at latitude 47! Seattle is very far north, and our winters are dark.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

I try to emphasize elegance, beauty, and balance.

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

So often it begins with a scene, two people in a state of conflict or misunderstanding, some sort of strife, real or imagined. From there, everything I write tends to grow organically. I don’t outline. And yes, I stare into space a lot, and play a lot of online solitaire. Then there comes a point of pulling out all the underlying themes and movements in a piece and making sure they’re in sync – or knowing, to my own satisfaction – why they’re not.

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’d have to say the novel I just finished writing, What Is Found, What Is Lost. It was very hard to write, a lot of details to keep track of, since it spans the lives of four generations of women in one family. And after what I thought I had one solid version, I restructured it completely. I’m happy with it now. I hope my readers will be, too.

Anne's desk, which belonged to her grandfather and her father before she inherited it.

Anne’s desk, which belonged to her grandfather and her father before she inherited it.

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

Being overeager. I began as a short story writer – and wrote only stories until about 2012. Anyway, the mistake I made was to submit everything I wrote, from the very beginning. This, obviously, led to a huge amount of disappointment, because those early stories weren’t nearly good enough to get published. I was dogged, though, and kept on sending out everything I finished, even as I jumped into another story. The one good thing to that particular madness was that I was able to develop a relationship with a number of editors who took the time to respond to my submissions personally. I learned a lot from their insights.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

I’d have to say Alice Munro. She had no formal education as a writer, in that she didn’t earn the beloved MFA degree (nor did I); she wove writing into the rest of her life, which was largely domestic and consumed with raising children; she took huge literary risks and stretched the reader’s expectations. She was fearless in what she wrote. Unapologetic about her focus on women and women’s lives.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I do well right after breakfast. That tends to be a very creative time of day for me. Right after dinner I can be pretty focused, too. I guess I need to have my batteries fully charged in order to be brilliant, or what passes for brilliance in my case.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

I watch a lot of shows on Home and Garden network; anything that has to do with history; old movies. Lots of television, in other words.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

Well, since I just mentioned her, anything by Alice Munro. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolfe. Tiger Moon by Penelope Lively. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

Know, at the outset, that writing is hard work and don’t expect it to come easily. Focus on the craft first, and later on what you really want to say. If you don’t hone the skill, the message, however fine and essential, gets lost. Also, I’d say don’t worry too much about what other people say – unless they’re talking specifically about craft. Don’t let people make you feel bad about specific artistic choices you make – they’re your choices, after all. As long as you consciously making them, and not just following a habit, or something you’ve learned to do.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

When life shoves you around, shove it back.

Creative Ladies: Ruby McNally

A picture of Ruby's bookshelf because she says she's "not ready" for her grandma to find out about her career. Understandable.

A picture of Ruby’s bookshelf because she’s “not ready” for her grandma to find out about her career. Understandable.

I’ve had the pleasure of featuring tons of Creative Ladies in this series…YA authors, poets, photographers, musicians, illustrators, and more. But one profession I haven’t yet featured? Erotic romance author. Until now, that is! I’m really happy to share this interview with Ruby McNally, the author of Crash (which you can buy right here on Amazon). Ruby talked to me about writing on the subway, complicated female characters, and the dangers of looking at adoptable dogs online (been there). You can find Ruby on her Tumblr and on Twitter @Ruby_McNally.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

Writing is my main gig–erotic romance, to be specific, which still feels a little odd to write out in full. I mean, I write extremely graphic sex scenes, for money. I still haven’t told my mother.

It didn’t start out that way. I was always a huge reader as a kid–like, I’m talking five, six books on the go at the same time–but until a couple of years ago I hadn’t read a single romance novel. I was a huge snot about it. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but I wanted to write Serious Literature or whatever, never mind that I was absolutely happiest typing away at hundreds of thousands of words of fanfiction that always included extended kissing scenes. Anyway, I more or less gave up on that dream in high school when I realized how tough it is to make a go of being an author (with some unsubtle help from my guidance counselor–good job getting me to go to college, Mrs. Caputo.) I got a sensible degree and a sensible job, and I stopped plotting out narrative arcs. I wrote a lot of fanfiction. Still, I always sort of assumed that if I ever did publish a book, it wouldn’t have nipples on its cover, you know?

But then E.L. James happened. Suddenly erotica was everywhere, and it was making money. My friend sent me a romance novel in the mail with a note saying, I bet we could do better. I don’t even remember what book it was. It was about a Navy SEAL, which doesn’t exactly narrow it down, but it was short, and it was bad. The sex was boring, the plot was dumb, the characters were vapid. And it was a book. A real, published book. And I thought, Hey, maybe I can do this.

I’ve since read much, much better romance novels. Like, hugely, intimidatingly good, that knocked me right off my high horse. But I’m always thankful I read that crappy one first. It gave me an artificially inflated sense of self-confidence that got me through the first draft of CRASH, got me to a publishing house, and got me writing the LIGHTS AND SIRENS series. And here I am, getting paid to write extremely graphic sex scenes in my spare time. Hi, Mom.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

I like to keep a running tally of professions it would be hard to write a romance novel about. Aging dive-bar cover-band guitarist. Woman butcher. Prostitute without a heart of gold. And then I decide how I would write them. The answer in this particular situation, obviously, is a polyamorous threesome.

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

Movies, tv shows, people on the subway. My lapsed Catholic guilt. The scene in West Wing where President Bartlet shouts in Latin in the church. The other scene in West Wing where President Bartlet takes down Jenna Jacobs. The episode of Buffy where Buffy’s mother dies. The entirety of The Wire. I watch a lot of TV, clearly.

my trusty West Wing box set

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

“Okay, now kiss.”

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

Hm. I mean, I spend a lot of time on Tumblr looking at moody pictures of barns? I procrastinate, I walk around my apartment. I browse adoptable dogs online. I write best on the subway, actually. Any moving vehicle does it, but I’m on the subway the most. What I really need is a car and someone to drive me around in circles while I sit in the passenger’s seat and write. Something about the movement tricks my brain into focusing.
always have plants
What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

The whole LIGHTS AND SIRENS series, really. It’s a trio of books about emergency service workers in the Berkshires. The first book, CRASH, is out from Samhain Publishing on March 4. It’s about two EMTs, a widower and a girl who’s the head of her Shameless-style brood of siblings. There’s a Greek diner I wish existed in real life, plus a crumbling triple decker and a Craftsman with cabbage rose wallpaper. There’s a dog named Atlas and a lot of family ties. There’s sex too, obviously, although not in the back of an ambulance. I thought that might be a little crass. Most importantly, there’s a happy ending.

The second book in the series, SINGE, is going through its third round of edits at Samhain right now. It’s about two firefighters, and it takes place over the course of one summer as a string of arsons are sweeping through Great Barrington. The Greek diner from CRASH has a cameo, which is how you know I love it. And finally, I just started working on the last book, BANG. It’s about–wait for it–two cops.

I wrote the series because I was trying to write the kind of romance novel I’d want to read. Like, a romance novel about real people, where no one’s a millionaire or a celebrity or devastatingly beautiful. CRASH’s heroine didn’t go to college, SINGE’s can be real bossy and insecure. BANG’s is a divorced mother with a four-year-old and stretch marks. Also, it was really important to me that if I was going to do a series about emergency service workers, both the hero and heroine would be in the profession. So often romance novels have just the dude with the sexy job title–he’s a SEAL or a cop or a rock star or what have you. Masculine, action-packed professions. I wanted to write a novel where both the hero and the heroine had the same job. And not only that, I wanted to show the more pedestrian, realistic sides of those jobs. Not that the work emergency service personnel does is ever pedestrian, but the Berkshires aren’t exactly the South Bronx in the 70s, you know? There are a string of arsons in SINGE, but it’s such an aberration it alarms the whole community. There’s a shooting in BANG, but it’s the first one in ten years. That kind of thing.

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

I actually think a nice thing about coming from a fandom/fanfiction background is that, really quickly, you get used to the idea that the minute you put yourself out there in the universe, it’s inevitable that not everybody’s going to like what you do. Not everybody’s gonna see canon the same way you do. Not everybody’s gonna like how you describe things. It’s really liberating to figure that out as early as possible.

A thing I’ve already bumped up against a little bit is that the heroine of CRASH, Taryn, is not everybody’s cup of tea. She’s brash, she’s brutally honest, she’s had a tough go and she’s not always so nice about it, and she changes her mind a lot. Basically, she’s a human person. Like I said, I wanted to write the kind of books that I wanted to read, and I really like the idea of a difficult, complicated, pain-in-the-ass lady in love–but I guess it’s kind of inevitable that some readers were just going to find her, well, a pain in the ass.
Now, leaving aside the discussion of why we in romance (and also, like, in life) are so hard on our lady characters–which I think is a hugely important discussion, and one I absolutely want to have pretty much all the time–it’s kind of like, what can you do? All I could do was keep writing fanfic the way I wrote fanfic. And all I can do is keep writing books I’d want to read.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

Oh man, Rainbow Rowell, 110%. I’d like to grow up to be her. My editor, Christa Desir, who is a freakin’ champion in all kinds of ways. Our Lady Beyonce.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I am a lunchtime person, actually. I write on my lunch break. It’s gotten to the point where I’m considering one of those little keyboard vacuums to take care of crumbs.

Lucky pigs from Ruby's grandma

Lucky pigs from Ruby’s grandma


Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

Imagine what I’d do with my millions if my books ever went the way of E.L. James. Mostly, though, I watch the Food Network. I can’t cook, but I find it mind-numbingly soothing to watch others do it. Not coincidentally, the characters in SINGE find it soothing, too.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

On Writing, by Stephen King (true story: I deleted 4,000 adverbs from the first draft of CRASH. FOUR. THOUSAND. ADVERBS.). All Sabrina Ward Harrison’s books. Richard Siken’s Crush and Marty McConnell’s wine for a shotgun.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

Procrastinating by looking at adoptable dogs online is a slippery slope. Next you’re looking at your no-pets lease provision for loopholes and googling Life Hacks for secretly owning a pet.

But most importantly: don’t give up on your childhood dream just because you had a crappy career advisor in high school. There are always, always roundabout ways to achieve your passion.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

No matter what the question, the answer is always more coffee.

Creative Ladies: Kally Malcom

kally_bybrian

As much as I love featuring writers on Creative Ladies, I also really love to feature visual artists who work in a medium that’s totally unfamilar to me. I’m really stoked to feature photographer Kally Malcom today! You can check out her work on her website, kallymalcom.com. She took the time to talk to me about her process, her inspirations, and the restorative power of naps.

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

I teach photography at a small liberal arts college in Ashland, WI. I’m also an artist, and I’m typically busy in the studio when I’m not in the classroom. My normal working day is some combination of teaching and mentoring students, making images, researching, sourcing things for images, and looking for exhibition/publication opportunities.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

I’m one of those lucky people who has fun with my day job, but I have hobbies as well. I knit—though only rectangles (scarves). Typically, I hang out with my dog, read, look at other people’s photography, and spend time with friends. This area of Wisconsin has a surprising number of artists, writers and other creatives, so I get plenty of opportunities to attend events that highlight the work of others.

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

Interests and inspirations are abundant, and therefore a bit illusive. I’m inspired by memory and experience, by music and literature, and by the fascinating lives of other people.
I recently realized I’m deeply affected by place. I’ve moved around quite a bit as an adult. Looking back at the images I’ve made over the years I notice distinctive shifts in style and content depending on where I lived, and my general sense of satisfaction while living there.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

Flash and substance.

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

Staring into space: yes. My process is multifaceted, not pretty to look at or describe, and shifts from project to project. Some artists work intuitively, and just see what they want to make, make it, and analyze it later. I am not typically one of those artists. My work is usually pre-visualized, intensely researched, and thoroughly planned. In the end, it is a coin toss if the image or series will shape up the way I envisioned, but they start with a concept and a plan.
When I’m working in the field I tend to shoot heaps and heaps of images…just in case. In these types of projects, I often cannot reshoot, so a focus on quality and quantity happens in equal measure. This work feels more visceral and unpredictable than studio work. When I’m working on one of my still life images in the studio, the process is typically slower and more considered. The objects I use are often suspended or otherwise manipulated, so that always requires some theatrics (and fishing line). Generally, these images are much more fussy and certainly more technical. I like both methods of creating and feel like I need both in my practice.

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

Earlier this year I was selected to present my images at a regional conference for my professional organization. All through school I attended these conferences and gleaned information and inspiration from the image-makers who presented their work. Being chosen to be a person at the podium was a tremendous honor and an opportunity to share my work and process with students, educators and other artists.

One of the photographs from Kally's Pictograph series, titled "Little Jimmies," made in 2013.

One of the photographs from Kally’s Pictograph series, titled “Little Jimmies,” made in 2013.

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

I’m a visual artist . . . I have small failures all the time. Make, fail, edit, and reshoot. Repeat if necessary.
Frankly, I’ve been turned down for exhibitions and other opportunities, which always hurts the ego. Every creative person who puts his or her work out into the world will experience failure from time to time. I do my best to learn from these disappointments and move on. The critique of “no thank you” from a gallery or juror can be an opportunity to edit, clarify, or stand by what I make.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

My mother.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

In terms of executing my ideas, I suppose I’m a late-morning to 10:00 p.m. creative person.
This answer has shifted over the years. In my twenties I was firmly in the “night owl” camp, and relied on the mixture of exhaustion and inappropriate levels of caffeine for creative fuel. The time between lying down and falling asleep each night is still a prime time for generating ideas and reflecting on works in progress, but I no longer work into the wee hours. I keep pen and paper close by to jot down my thoughts and wait for a more lucid time to clarify my ideas.

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

Meeting pals for coffee and conversation is always relaxing. Also, napping isn’t just for toddlers—I enjoy a good mid-afternoon snooze on Saturdays. Generally, my relaxation activities are not especially noteworthy or interesting. I dink around on the Internet, catch up on social media things, or binge-watch Netflix.

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

Here is my list. It feels a little surface and random, but these are the books that I’ve found important.
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. All we need to know about life, human capacity and human failure can be found in that book. It is perfect. I’m not sure it will guide our creativity, but it’s my favorite novel.
Want to be inspired by a gutsy writer who had way more to lose by telling his truth than we do by telling ours? Read the text of Frederick Douglass’s speech “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro”. You can read it here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2927t.html
Authors:
Kurt Vonnegut and Sylvia Plath really knock my socks off.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

Make things. Spend the time you need to perfect your ideas and your craft. Be a self-editor, and find a circle of people you trust to critique your work. Offer your critique of their work. Get the education you need to do what you want to do. Pay attention to history, current events and the condition of others. Outward awareness and the ability to connect (at least intellectually) to the experiences of others will help you understand yourself and how you can contribute creatively or otherwise.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

I don’t really have a motto. I could find one, but that seems like cheating.