The Absolute and Tremendous Thrill of Creating Stuff
Adam Easterling is an ultra-young creative powerhouse living in New York City. Having started his clothing line, Infinity, at 16, he kicked it into high gear as an artist shortly after. He recently had artwork that was featured in Fader Magazine’s 100th edition as a full page ad, which he considers to be the time that he went face-to-face with one if his greatest creative blocks.
Adam: When we are kids, we all color with crayons and take art classes, but I think as we get older, people fade those things out. At one point everybody did the same thing. We all felt like coloring the grass was fun. I wish people would take the freedom to do that more — it feels so good. Expressing emotions and communicating ideas are things that people do anyways. There are other ways to express yourself, other than just tweeting or posting about it, and people forget about that. I want to remind people, in more ways than one.
Like Adam, my senior year of high school was when I began taking myself seriously as an artist. I left cheerleading, began pursuing more creative endeavors and furthered my education at Tribeca Flashpoint Academy with a focus in Design + Visual Communications. Upon graduating college, I interned at an agency in downtown Chicago and was brought on full-time as a Jr. Art Director. Though I was continuously learning about the industry I enjoy and working on a slew of neat projects for well-known clients, I was in a creative rut that seemed to carry on for months. I felt like I wasn’t pumping out anything that I was truly happy with or that felt super innovative.
A: At what point are you going to realize what you have to do to be happy? What are you going to do, to do what it takes to be happy?
Adam and I hopped on the phone and I spoke to him about Curiosity Hour, a billable hour out of the week at my company to be curious and do something exciting for ourselves. With the addition of weekly themes that a colleague and I had brought into being, it established structure to pumping out candid work that was 100% for the pure pleasure of creating in under 60 minutes. What that did, with the positive pressure and excitement, was get me reinspired where new energy bloomed to create. It was the process of creating something entirely for myself, without expectation or judgement, that was super liberating and ultimately helped me get back on track with the creative juices.
Adam spoke about the difference between the periods of bliss you get from creating and the periods of blues when you’re hit by a creative block, and how we fall into the traps of our surrounding pressures.
A: There’s so much pressure to show your work and to get feedback on it. You feel limited to making things that people like, and that’s an extra weight on your mind. You begin to exclude creative ideas that you may have executed otherwise, because you feel like it’s not worth it or that people might not respond to it the same way you do.
Being creative in life is hard. You have to actually put in effort towards it. It’s an exercise for you mind.
I knew how creative I wanted to be, and I knew how long I wasn’t being creative, and that was really difficult. Once I got out of it, I realized that I had to keep finding ways to get inspired like that. I would really focus on what inspires me, what type of things get my mind going in different ways that it wouldn’t normally. And ever since then, I’ve had an easier time getting out of those creative blocks. You have to just let the pressure go.
Find what moves you, and then just play around with it. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, just finish it. There’s so much pressure to do everything perfect and execute very well rather than just executing at all. I think those are one of those pitfalls that people fall into, and that’s where the creative blocks start from.
Nicky: Yeah, something beyond waiting for inspiration and perfectionism. Just the thrill of simply pumping work out. Whatever happens, happens — at least you’re creating stuff.
A: And you can always do it over. That’s the one thing we never think of. It’s just a matter of time and effort. How much do you want to put in? Just getting something done and out, that’s what feels good. And then you can think about how to make it better, if you’re really determined. Or just keep making stuff. But I do think a lot of it is the pressures in how we communicate these days. With just visual imagery and texting/messaging and being online. Whenever you’re sharing your work, there are a lot of subconscious pressures that come with that, in just sharing your work in general. Things being equated to numbers.
Keeping a sketchbook helps a lot. That was one of the things that I didn’t do all the time. There would be days that I would just draw really cool things that I’ve never drawn before and I didn’t feel any need to share that with people necessarily, because I knew that they were just for me. Those are very freeing feelings. I felt a lot smarter, a lot more creative because I was just writing down things that maybe even I thought people wouldn’t think I would come up with.
It gives a lot of perspective to what you think creative is when you’re coming up with so many ideas and you get into the habit of it. That’s what feels really good. You kind of wonder, ‘how was I in a creative block for so long rather than making all this stuff?’ You appreciate it all much more that way.
Adam spoke about his travels around the world and the importance of connecting and how far just being nice to people can take you. When in different countries or cities, Adam would search hashtags on Instagram, and look for streetwear/fashion bloggers and photographers and ask them where the best local places were to go. I’ve never thought of using Instagram as a tool in this way — can’t wait to try this out next time I’m traveling!
A: Connecting with people overtime has been one of my best resources. It’s surprising how much can happen that you would never expect. Working with a group is so much more effective than working as an individual. Rather than trying to perfect everything as one, working as a team extends the horizons a little bit quicker.
I think networking is something that people need to focus on more as creatives. Reaching out to people and not being afraid to show your work — you never know who’s going to see it and like it. Just doing it for you and sharing it with the world, that’s more important than not doing it.