Dispensing with the urge to apologize for making this all about My Process, here goes:
I’ve just finished up a public artwork in Richmond, and finished writing about it, too, so I’m looking forward to re-joining the world beyond this all-consuming project. On my good days I see this as the ‘fallow’ period, when I can absorb, research, reflect, rest and socialize. Other days I see this as my ‘unemployed’ period. What I’m really working on is this idea that ‘working’ is not synonymous with ‘getting paid.’ The weekly blog — I still call this thing a column — provides structure and requires that I get out there and get informed and involved. My journalism career conditioned me to write, on deadline, and regularly. Now it’s become an unconditional part of my creative process.
Why do you do what you do?
A couple of days ago I heard a radio interview in which the guest musician said something to the effect of: “Artists can’t help themselves. They do what they have to do.” I relate to that strongly. I will do just the bare minimum of cooking, cleaning, visiting, caretaking, or travelling to buy myself more time to make. I was the kid in the classroom whose only question about the in-class assignment was, “After we do this can we go to the arts and crafts corner?” The leopard really does not change its spots.
How does your creative process work?
I used to write for a living, then make on my off hours, which sustained me for many years but at some point I knew that when it was financially possible I would have to flip the priorities. I loved the community-building that happens through reporting and writing but I was so creatively spent at the end of the day the best I could do was follow directions by Martha Stewart. I started resenting the fact that I was basically selling all my creative energy. Now I make first, write later. I still need the writing, though, because it leads to more making. That really begins with a compulsion, a need to quell my anxiety. Repetitive, often laborious work is a kind of meditation. With my muscles and motor skills engaged in a pattern of movement or a set of gestures, my brain is free to roam. Often I don’t know at the onset what I’m making but it reveals itself, the way fiction writers often talk about how they will introduce a character then watch that character develop. My making opens up possibilities for new explorations and ideas.
What makes your work/blog unique?
Leanne Prain is another Vancouver-based maker/writer combo and the author of the newly published Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles; Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti (co-authored with Mandy Moore) and Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery. She blogs about crafts (especially textiles) and the people who make them, design, art, urbanism, publishing, and her writing life. She also does public speaking and leads workshops.
Meet Ms. Prain in person at Hot Wet Art City gallery on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m. when she and fellow authors Betsy Greer and Kim Piper Werker tackle “The Intersection of Craft, Creativity, & Activism.”
Linking over to you, Leanne.