The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Emily Comfort: Emily Comfort, 25. Graphic designer - looking for the right Employer :)
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
EC: Going to museums is one of my favorite ways to stay inspired. I have gotten into the habit of bringing my journal with me and writing down quick notes to go back and dive deeper into when I have a moment. Shout out to Wikipedia!
The exhibits I've seen this past year have included many of the names and movements I learned about in school, but now I have a better appreciation and desire to learn more about them. For example, we saw the Moholy-Nagy exhibit at the Guggenheim this summer - I'm really attracted to a lot of his work, and seeing how much he produced in his lifetime was truly inspiring. You can tell that he was constantly experimenting and creating - every single day.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
EC: A year ago I definitely did. It took quitting my job and having a huge amount of free time and space to find my way back to a headspace I hadn't been in since I was probably 19 or 20. Making things because I want to or sometimes need to - and not considering questions like "is this the best experience for the user?" Being able to say "I like this thing that I made and I really don't care what anyone else thinks" is really liberating and cathartic.
I'm on the job hunt again now, and I feel better prepared to strike that balance. I now understand that personal creative time is a higher priority for me than the ways I used to spend my non-working hours. And I can already tell I will be more motivated and creative with client work when I make the time for personal work.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
EC: I am a morning person. That's when I have the most physical and mental energy. When I'm in an office environment I like being one of the first ones in - when it's quiet and calm, and I can make my to-do list for the day before anyone else tries to do that for me.
When I'm unemployed and working on personal projects (like now) the same is still pretty much true. My husband is a night person, so the morning is usually when I have some alone time to start the day centered and figure out my goals, and then start working on them.
I will sometimes work late into the night, but I always hit a point where I know I'll be more productive if I go to bed and recharge until morning, even if it's just for a couple hours.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
EC: In the near future I'd like to have the opportunity to work on projects where I can blend design with the collage techniques I've been experimenting with. Things like album artwork, book design and videos. I want to *love* my job someday.
I know that most people don't love their jobs, and that someday that could be a reality that I just have to face. But I feel like life is too short for me to give into that quite yet. I owe it to myself to at least try find that place where I can make the kind of work that both fulfills me and provides me with the means to live comfortably.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
EC: Right now I'm working on some self-authored projects to add to my portfolio that will better reflect the kind of employment I want to get.
One of those projects I'm just finishing up is some album artwork for my friends' band. The hard work I see them putting into their craft is incredibly inspiring in itself, plus I love the music they're making. They didn't ask me to do this project though, I was just inspired to give this kind of project a shot, so I did.
I start by "sketching" several different compositions - arranging pieces just based on what feels good, letting my intuition lead my hand. Then I take a quick photo on my phone to remember that composition and move onto a new one with some of the same pieces. Once I've picked out some compositions that I really like, I'll recreate them, set up a real camera on a tripod and get some higher quality photos.
I know that in theory I could be making the same things on the computer and not spend all those hours slowly cutting paper out by hand, holding my breath while I carefully balance paper on other pieces of paper - but that's not the way for me to make my best work. I make much better work and enjoy it more when I can hold the pieces I've cut out and rearrange them until they look right. I've learned that I shouldn't let myself go to the computer until I have composed and photographed the piece. Then I can open up the digital file and just manipulate things like colors and scale.
TCU: What scares you?
EC: Starting a project that is for someone other than myself. I always go through a wave of self-doubt that can be really difficult to climb out of. I have to keep reminding myself that I make better work when I'm not so worried, and I have to guide myself back to a headspace of having fun with it to make work that I'm proud of.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
EC: Success means happiness to me. When applied to client-work it means the client is pleased with the end product. When applied to my personal work, it means I feel happy.
TCU: Anything else you want to add?
EC: There's something about collaging that keeps fascinating me and makes me excited to sit down and do it. When I start a project I literally have no idea what the end product will look like. Sometimes I do sit down with some kind of vision or mood that I want to capture that day, but in the end it's more like a conversation with myself that plays out on the table, and it starts to feel like I'm working in a world of subconscious and self-discovery. I can start to see themes pop up, I can see that there are certain kinds of images I'm usually drawn to and some that I will completely dismiss, only to have that totally change a week later.
My work is constantly evolving and, in my opinion, getting better. I'm really excited about the three-dimensional work I've started doing, and I have plans to keep pushing this idea further that I'm looking forward seeing come to fruition over the next few months.
If you want to learn more about Emily and her work, head on over to www.emilycomfort.com.