Explore and Create Series #4: Annette Wagner

This Explore and Create Series is a super special edition. In amongst my leaping into new and exciting creative adventures I have met this lovely lady, Annette Wagner, or Netti as we so affectionally call her. Netti has a smile that knocks you down from the other side of the room. She oozes grace, care, kindness and a genuine interest in those whom she engages with. As a creative women you can’t just be blown away at her amazing juggling act to maintain her creative practice, be mindful, be healthy, while also being a women, mother, wife, friend, commitee member, and all things else that are thrown up in the air as a part of discovery and exploration in life. Netti share’s her honest and insightful journey into how she stays true to herself and is creative. I so hope you enjoy this story in the series as much as I have in preparing it for you all to read.

Tell us about what you do. Lately I like to say I’m experimenting. Ultimately I am a creative. I currently write for Creative Women’s Circle, I am working on being a real artist and incessantly generating ideas I can’t keep up with! I’ve studied and worked for years, and years, in design, advertising and marketing, both client side and in agencies, in various roles, delivering the same, same, but different stuff and I still do all the important client business stuff, managing dollars, deadlines and distribution. However, the day job is now part time, between loving my family, volunteering as Head of Comms on the board of CWC and focusing on my own projects. I’m a big believer in investing in yourself, focusing on what satiates you, so I’ve been exploring with a burning desire being a better creative. The thing that makes me want to participate in life, is creating things, writing, art, conceptual thinking, experiencing new things and meeting new like-minded people who have different life experiences to share.

Tell us about what you do.


Lately I like to say I’m experimenting. Ultimately I am a creative. I currently write for Creative Women’s Circle, I am working on being a real artist and incessantly generating ideas I can’t keep up with!


I’ve studied and worked for years, and years, in design, advertising and marketing, both client side and in agencies, in various roles, delivering the same, same, but different stuff and I still do all the important client business stuff, managing dollars, deadlines and distribution. However, the day job is now part time, between loving my family, volunteering as Head of Comms on the board of CWC and focusing on my own projects.
I’m a big believer in investing in yourself, focusing on what satiates you, so I’ve been exploring with a burning desire being a better creative. The thing that makes me want to participate in life, is creating things, writing, art, conceptual thinking, experiencing new things and meeting new like-minded people who have different life experiences to share.

What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about conceptual arts, innovative thinking and fearless doers, and there are so many fearless doers I admire. I also love learning. I’ve historically found something new to study every few years. What are you working on at the moment & what led you to your latest project? I’ve got a lot of projects on the go. Its part of my perpetual exploration of finding things that resonate with me. I love painting and screen printing and have a series of ceramic vessel studies, which I aim to develop into a A2 poster series. I’ve written a kids book and have plans for more, between revisiting copy, pushing them to agents, editors and publishers. I’ve been having loads of fun dressing up as my female hero’s in an ‘inspirational women series’ featuring on my Insta feed, a vehicle to explore my own identity. I’m in a really fun Art Club with a small group of the loveliest people. We all take turns in setting a different theme each month, and then we present our projects to each other. It’s like art school projects without the HECS debt. Late last year I develop a series of awards for losers, called Winning Losers. Originally, the Winning Losers awards was a concept that I started exploring as I needed to convince myself first that putting my creativity out there, without fear of failure was possible, and I desperately wanted to demonstrate this to my own children. I love word play around the concept, so like my awards say, its OK to be ‘monumentally mediocre, but stubbornly persistent’, even better to be ‘disappointingly crap, but demonstrate extraordinary perseverance’. Then one day in late June this year I was listening to David Whyte, a poet and philosopher, talk about redefining vulnerabilities and it became clear how I could extend the Winning Losers Project by inviting contributors to share their fails and the lessons they’ve learned, redefining failure as a conversation. Instagram is a great medium for short copy so I created a ‘forum of failure’. While still very new, the insights that have been shared to date have been the most humbling and insightful feedback I’ve ever read. I’m so grateful for everyone’s enthusiasm and support for the project, and have more plans to extend the idea.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about conceptual arts, innovative thinking and fearless doers, and there
are so many fearless doers I admire. I also love learning. I’ve historically found
something new to study every few years.

What are you working on at the moment & what led you to your latest project?


I’ve got a lot of projects on the go. Its part of my perpetual exploration of finding things
that resonate with me. I love painting and screen printing and have a series of ceramic
vessel studies, which I aim to develop into a A2 poster series. I’ve written a kids book
and have plans for more, between revisiting copy, pushing them to agents, editors and
publishers. I’ve been having loads of fun dressing up as my female hero’s in an
‘inspirational women series’ featuring on my Insta feed, a vehicle to explore my own
identity. I’m in a really fun Art Club with a small group of the loveliest people. We all take
turns in setting a different theme each month, and then we present our projects to each
other. It’s like art school projects without the HECS debt.


Late last year I develop a series of awards for losers, called Winning Losers. Originally,
the Winning Losers awards was a concept that I started exploring as I needed to
convince myself first that putting my creativity out there, without fear of failure was
possible, and I desperately wanted to demonstrate this to my own children. I love word
play around the concept, so like my awards say, its OK to be ‘monumentally mediocre,
but stubbornly persistent’, even better to be ‘disappointingly crap, but demonstrate
extraordinary perseverance’.


Then one day in late June this year I was listening to David Whyte, a poet and
philosopher, talk about redefining vulnerabilities and it became clear how I could extend
the Winning Losers Project by inviting contributors to share their fails and the lessons
they’ve learned, redefining failure as a conversation. Instagram is a great medium for
short copy so I created a ‘forum of failure’. While still very new, the insights that have
been shared to date have been the most humbling and insightful feedback I’ve ever read.
I’m so grateful for everyone’s enthusiasm and support for the project, and have more
plans to extend the idea.

How do you approach creativity in your life? With curiosity. I can’t remember a time I’ve not been curious. I traveled for 7+ years living around the world and explored different cultures which has been huge in my appreciation for seeing things in a different perspective. I think that’s why I love learning. I love challenging my views. Having children has also expanded my perspective as they share their understanding of the world with me and challenged me to resolve simple problems in new ways. We talk a lot about "being in the moment" or “being" when creating. What does this mean for you? I’m a big dreamer. When I’m not distracted by the daily necessities, I dream a lot. I grew up in the country and long distance car travel, road trips to the city, were heaven. That’s before devices derailed our focus. I seek out similar scenarios I guess that allow my mind to aimlessly wonder around all the to do lists and knowledge filing systems in my head. One of my favorite things is night swimming. Laps in a pool of my thoughts!

How do you approach creativity in your life?

With curiosity. I can’t remember a time I’ve not been curious. I traveled for 7+ years
living around the world and explored different cultures which has been huge in my
appreciation for seeing things in a different perspective. I think that’s why I love learning.
I love challenging my views. Having children has also expanded my perspective as they
share their understanding of the world with me and challenged me to resolve simple
problems in new ways.

We talk a lot about "being in the moment" or “being" when creating. What does
this mean for you?

I’m a big dreamer. When I’m not distracted by the daily necessities, I dream a lot. I grew
up in the country and long distance car travel, road trips to the city, were heaven. That’s
before devices derailed our focus. I seek out similar scenarios I guess that allow my
mind to aimlessly wonder around all the to do lists and knowledge filing systems in my
head. One of my favorite things is night swimming. Laps in a pool of my thoughts!

What defines you in terms of balancing creativity and mindfulness for flow? How
do you do this?

I think I’m most mindful when I am creating. It’s only become blindingly apparent that I
need time to do my creative projects in the last few years. Being creative is the thing
that makes my soul sing, my pace slow and my appreciation for what I have, as
opposed to what I don’t, clear.


To be honest, I think using the word ‘balance’ is dangerous as it implies that you can be
unbalanced, which in the dictionary is emotionally or mentally disturbed. I suffered from
Post Natal Depression and I’ve had a glimpse at disturbed, and it is unbalanced. Is life
and work balance ever really truly balanced? I think that is a man-made concept, an
expectation far too great and unfair to focus on.
My values guide my creativity and mindfulness, and I’m more focused than I ever have
been on just doing the best I can each day, staying true to my values and finding my
own true north.

 

What defines you in terms of balancing creativity and mindfulness for flow? How
do you do this?


I think I’m most mindful when I am creating. It’s only become blindingly apparent that I
need time to do my creative projects in the last few years. Being creative is the thing
that makes my soul sing, my pace slow and my appreciation for what I have, as
opposed to what I don’t, clear.

To be honest, I think using the word ‘balance’ is dangerous as it implies that you can be
unbalanced, which in the dictionary is emotionally or mentally disturbed. I suffered from
Post Natal Depression and I’ve had a glimpse at disturbed, and it is unbalanced. Is life
and work balance ever really truly balanced? I think that is a man-made concept, an
expectation far too great and unfair to focus on.

My values guide my creativity and mindfulness, and I’m more focused than I ever have
been on just doing the best I can each day, staying true to my values and finding my
own true north.

What’s the biggest challenge you find in approaching your creative endeavors?

I want to say time, but I’ve actually stopped watching TV, so have found the time. I
totally make time for catching up on TV, Netflix, etc., but I have been ruthless in
selection, we’ve that luxury now of watching what we want, when we want, so I binge
on my shows when I can’t focus on my work or need to loose myself in distraction.
I think my biggest challenge is courage. Courage to put my projects out into the world.
Courage to one day make them my full time project. Courage to believe in myself,
wholeheartedly, 100%.
 

How do you find your zen?

My zen happens in lots of different ways, in many small moments of reflection and
sneaky snippets of meditation. I love being by water, the ocean and sound of the
perpetual waves. In a country landscape with gum trees, or in a forest with its damp
dirty leaves. Looking at a clear blue sky and the sun blinding my sight. When I watch
and listen to my children, especially as they share their excitement when they achieve
something new on their own. When I get lost painting the perfect line. Sleeping, I’m a
huge fan of sleeping, and a quick afternoon nap is bliss, rare, but bliss.

When you experience flow, what is the impact on your productivity? Tell us about this. When I have a period of time with few distractions, and I’ve a task prepared, I guess I experience flow, and the satisfaction is in its outcome. Setting up for a screen printing session, or a painting session, or writing. When I focus on a singular task is my most productive period. Mind you, getting to that singular task often takes a lot of coordination, so I appreciate the emersion and opportunity to focus even more.   Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing creative/mindful work? That’s hard. Many. I had one art lecturer who questioned me intensely as to why I decided to pursue Graphic Design instead of Art. He was the first to really challenge my choice, for reasons not apparent to me then, possibly more so now. I’ve never forgotten his insightful challenge. A short list of very, very dear friends who I have known since secondary and have maintained similar values to my own. They have always, always been encouraging, supportive and proud of my creative endeavors and they still remain the first people I go to to share my projects with. Recently, my fellow CWC board members/colleagues have all been an overwhelming and varied source of inspiration. Influencing me to expand and grow further again. Each of them from very different creative roles, are strong, supportive women. I never imagined my network to be so solid, and I’m so grateful for where I am now.   How would you rate your level of happiness about your creative endeavors at the moment? (1 being sad, 10 being love it/awesome/BEST EVER.) As it’s human nature to never say 10, after years of working in market research, I won’t say 10! I think I’m only just beginning in my creative endeavors again, the more I do and explore, the happier I’m becoming, so there is enormous potential. Currently, I’m 7 and aiming for 12!  

When you experience flow, what is the impact on your productivity? Tell us about
this.

When I have a period of time with few distractions, and I’ve a task prepared, I guess I
experience flow, and the satisfaction is in its outcome. Setting up for a screen printing
session, or a painting session, or writing. When I focus on a singular task is my most
productive period. Mind you, getting to that singular task often takes a lot of
coordination, so I appreciate the emersion and opportunity to focus even more.
 

Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and
doing creative/mindful work?

That’s hard. Many.

I had one art lecturer who questioned me intensely as to why I decided to pursue
Graphic Design instead of Art. He was the first to really challenge my choice, for
reasons not apparent to me then, possibly more so now. I’ve never forgotten his
insightful challenge.

A short list of very, very dear friends who I have known since secondary and have
maintained similar values to my own. They have always, always been encouraging,
supportive and proud of my creative endeavors and they still remain the first people I
go to to share my projects with.

Recently, my fellow CWC board members/colleagues have all been an overwhelming
and varied source of inspiration. Influencing me to expand and grow further again. Each
of them from very different creative roles, are strong, supportive women. I never
imagined my network to be so solid, and I’m so grateful for where I am now.
 

How would you rate your level of happiness about your creative endeavors at the
moment? (1 being sad, 10 being love it/awesome/BEST EVER.)

As it’s human nature to never say 10, after years of working in market research, I won’t
say 10!

I think I’m only just beginning in my creative endeavors again, the more I do and explore,
the happier I’m becoming, so there is enormous potential.

Currently, I’m 7 and aiming for 12!

 


You can continue to be inspired by Netti by engaging with her at:

Website: www.truenorthstudio.com.au
Instagram: @netti_wagner and @winning_losers_project
Twitter: @NettiWags
Facebook: Annette Wagner