If ever there is a lady that you can meet who makes you sit up and listen, Anitra Nottingham would be this lady. I have known Anitra for a few years now. From the very moment I met her, I have admired Anitra’s way of seeing the world and her amazing way of articulating just how it is! As you will read, throughout this Explore & Create Series interview, Anitra shares openly and honestly about her approach to creativity from various perspectives, including being a writer, graphic designer, and educator. She is so honest about her approaches and need for self care that you just can’t help but nod your head as you read this interview (my head nearly feel off as I nodded in empathy to the learnings that occur from those we treasure and those who have perhaps not been so kind to us). I think you will all relate. Enjoy this interview with one amazing creative and inspirational woman.
How would you rate your level of happiness about your creative endeavours at the moment? (1 being sad, 10 being love it/awesome/BEST EVER.)
8. It’s cooking but there’s some things that have been sitting around that need to get out there. Course, if that book deal goes through it will be a 10 ;)
Tell me, who are you clicking on at the moment? Why? Insights?
Great graphic design on Pinterest. Looking and collecting is what feeds the design eye.
American political websites (politico and five thirty eight) because I work in the states, and what’s happening scares me.
Tell me, who are you listening to at the moment? Why? Insights?
Taylor Swift, 1989 - still - and I refuse to be embarrassed about it. (She is a genius and if she were a man her success and her songs would be much more celebrated.) I also love all kinds of podcasts, radio lab, invisibilia and hardcore history are my current favourites.
Tell me, who are you talking to at the moment? Why? Insights?
Jeremy, we are doing a lot of work together at the moment and as a consequence our talking sessions are epic. It’s one long conversation that threads through video, slack, emails and google docs. When I am in San Francisco we literally have to go to different rooms as we are not able to collaborate when we are in the same physical space, we are fully mediated by the machine.
Tell me, who are you are reading at the moment? Why? Insights?
Honestly? nothing academic. My brain is too full. I’m reading Murder in Chelsea, a tacky Tatler-style British crime novel for fun. I’m in a kind of virtual book group with my sister Inger in Canberra and our friend Nick, in London. We send each other the best bits, and our analysis has a lot of emojis in it.
What’s some advice you would offer to someone who is struggling to find their creative spark? or What advice would you give to someone who thinks they aren’t creative?
I never thought I was creative, I am still not sure I am really, what I like to do is solve problems. I really believe I made myself “creative” because it seemed like a fun thing to be. I was jealous of the kids at school who could draw because I couldn’t, and I wanted to be “creative” like they were. At that time my parents and everyone else at school thought creativity = being able to draw. I’d like to say that I started working at and didn’t let not drawing hold me back, but that’s not true either.
What I think I really did was just decide to adopt the identity, and hang around with creative people and make stuff like they did. It took me years to realise drawing actually isn’t necessarily creativity. It took me years more to realise I will never think the stuff I make is good enough. And maybe that’s what being creative is - just making things and thinking they are a bit shit and you could improve them.
So my advice for people who think they aren’t creative is if you want to be, then just start doing the things creative people do. Cultivate it by hanging around with creative people, read, look, study, and just be curious about whatever it is that creativity represents for you.
If you are struggling - bum to seat. Just make something, even if it is crap, you can edit later and make it better.
What’s the best ever quote you have seen in terms of creativity or mindfulness or flow?
“Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.” The late, great, graphic designer, Paul Rand.
You can connect further with Anitra here:
Guest blog posts on Thesis Whisperer:
Derrida, hate, and stupidity, in the practice of thesis writing
My thesis is a cupcake, not a dragon