I believe that discipline is worth more than inspiration
Name, Age, Location, Professional Title, Employer
My name is Maj Askew, I’m 30, and live in the greater Seattle area. I am a gallery artist and illustrator, working mostly in painting. I also freelance as a photo retoucher and media producer.
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?
I try to expose myself to as many new ideas and stories as I possibly can, though reading books and comics, playing games, and listening to podcasts and lectures. During my week, I religiously set aside a block of time to read, listen to music, and run simultaneously. I find that the combination of intellectual, emotional, and physical stimulus really works for me, and I get some of my most fulfilling cognitive work done during those hours. Often a combination of phrases, visuals, or feelings with combine to spark a new idea within me.
Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
I believe that discipline is worth more than inspiration. It is my single greatest regret that I will not have enough hours in my life to experience everything I’d like. The most we can do is prioritize.
What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
Morning to mid-day. I love getting up early to a quiet world, the whole day stretched out in front of me, fresh and full of promise.
What are your creative goals for the future?
Every time I have the opportunity to tour classical art galleries, or view performative art, I am so moved by the scale and frozen power of tableau. Although I have long tried to incorporate many classical, iconographic elements into my own work, I have long been wanting to produce a large piece inspired by these arresting visuals. Currently, I am in the process of teaching myself acrylics. As an end goal, I would like to incorporate an acrylic underpainting into my oil painting process, which I’ve just begun to do. I find that this may cater to the strengths of both mediums, while also allowing me greater speed as I start to approach more and larger work. I believe that there will come a time in my life when there is space and call for me to produce the work I’ve been mulling over for some years now, and I hope only that my skills and methods are up to the task when it does.
Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
Oh, my, but my studio is full of them! I have a real habit of starting a painting, and then getting invited to a show and focusing on that deadline instead. Or, starting a “small” project while already working on something larger, and then having more than I can immediately finish. For me, it’s very easy to think of things I’d like to do, but less easy to finish each one in turn before moving onto the next idea — another example of the value of discipline over inspiration.
What scares you?
What does success mean to you?
Why do you create?
There is great cathartic pleasure in being able to express my personal ideas and experiences in a visual format. I often use a particular metaphor for the act of painting, which has its roots in a passage written by Mervyn Peake: I see myself folding my ideas into paper ships, then sending them off downstream. I enjoy knowing my little navy will scatter, and land where they may. Occasionally one may be unfolded, its message read, and understood. Maybe they sink before anyone should see them floating by. But, it’s sailing them that I enjoy most.
Anything else you want to add?
Drink good wine, move your body, and eat breakfast for as many meals as possible.