Ceola Belix is in her words "a writer, a blogger, a social media nerd and all round junkie, a communications professional and a collector and wearer of beautiful things...more or less." One thing is certain, you know when she's in a room.
1. How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
I think creativity is, quite simply, the manifestation of your thoughts and feelings in some tangible, experiential way. For me it means I get to put pen to paper, or fingers to screen to make that happen. I've been blessed with an exceedingly active mind, and sometimes the only way to quiet it down is to engage in a lot of what I consider creative expression.
2. How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I think over the last few years I've cultivated more skills where creativity is concerned. However, with that 'skill' has come a lot of control. Working in the media has taught me to be more guarded than I'd like to be, but sometimes finding ways to say what you'd like to say without actually being able to say it is a flex of the creative muscle in its own way. As an adolescent and teenager I was far more liberated...so I'd like to believe I have a lot of currently underutilised innate creative ability.
3. When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
Words have always been my best friends. I can't remember a time in my life that I wasn't making up stories. I had a wild imagination as a child...honestly, I still do. My parents encouraged me to read, read, read...then write, write, write. But when I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in the arts (at the time I believe it was photography), naturally they balked at the idea. I think my mom still not-so-secretly wants me to be a lawyer.
4. What is your standard for evaluating your own creative work and the works of other people? Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are monetary rewards relevant to your own work?
I can't adequately describe the standard in words. Honestly it depends entirely on how it makes me feel. Sometimes I read a piece of prose, or listen to some lyrics and my pores raise. I see a photo and I'm moved to tears. I know something has truly impressed me when it stays with me, and comes back to me ever so often in a random moment. That said...I rarely ever love my own work.
I think we are slowly starting to assign the monetary value that we should to creative work, and that's come around in large part by creatives putting their collective feet down and saying no pay, no work. So it's getting there...but we aren't there yet. I personally have had to force myself to be more demanding where getting paid for my work is concerned. Some things I continue to do out of sheer love and wanting to see whatever I'm writing about progress. But I've been getting better at ensuring I get paid for my skill set.
5. Do you think your own perception and evaluation of your creative endeavors are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you think the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
It always feels good to hear people praise my work, especially people I respect and consider my mentors in a way. Like I said earlier, I have a real hate-love relationship with my own work but I'm trying very hard to get over that. It gets easier when you have people reaching out to you constantly to work for them or with them on projects.
I think, funny enough, that when I was younger, and even now that I'm older and wiser, the desire to challenge the status quo of 'accepted culture' here in Trinidad and Tobago has really informed my creative efforts. Dressing differently, speaking differently, writing differently, communicating things differently in general. Where our creative culture is concerned though, of course it's a fantastic incubator, because you find so many wonderful like-minded individuals who give you that pore-raising experience I described earlier.
6. What do you do when you experience a creative block?
I talk to myself. A lot. Real question and answer business too.
7. How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
I've found that my creative actions tend to revolve around one line...or one idea...maybe one article of clothing. Once I begin to fixate on that one thing I realise it's time to start building around it. I'm in constant pursuit of that seed, or spark as you put it, and then focus solely on creating a story around it.
8. Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
Rituals...nothing hard and fast. I like to write in bed, and I realised I write best to certain kinds of music - Lana Del Rey being a main one. Not too sure why...
9. Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
I was a dark, dark teen. I think I was more focused on negatives than positives, like I am now. I was much more verbose...my sentences would run on for lines and lines. I guess it reflected how I thought then. Now I'm all about the punch line, and I'm considerably less abstract. I'm all about getting the message across as concisely as I can.
10. What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
Time and energy I think. Because of what I do, I have to be out...a lot. More than I would normally be, I think, if I didn't do what I do.
11. Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
I feel like I've found a really great group of friends in the media and blogger community. Seeing them excel and push makes me want to do it too. Also... people are always so grateful for the information I share that I almost feel like it's my obligation to continue. Our local artists, artisans, designers, makers, etc need people out there talking about them as much as possible. Lack of awareness shouldn't be the reason our local creative industries fail to prosper.
12. Do you believe that it is important to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.
I think you just have to do you. That's the thing about creativity isn't it?... it's so subjective and so completely your own that you really can't allow other people to discourage you. Encourage, sure. It's always fantastic when people accept you. Being a part of a community has really driven me, like I mentioned before, but I think we just happened to find each other along the way. We were all doing what we wanted to do because we loved it well before we realised we would find these kindred spirits in each other.
13. Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
That's broad. Rejection in love? Professionally? Academically? I have a very very real fear of rejection. It influences almost every fibre in my being. I live my life in a way to avoid rejection so I guess yes, it has affected my creative process. Not always positively though.
14. Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
Nope... there's this new quote I carry around with me now, and I might be paraphrasing slightly - "God long ago drew a circle in the sand where you are standing right now. You were never not coming here."
I apply that to every facet of my life including my creative endeavours.
15. Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
I doubt myself constantly. But I also tell myself constantly that I am amazing. Haha. There really is a constant back and forth happening in my head. I pore over work, I re-write pieces two, three times sometimes, trying to find the version I like the best. There are also a few key people I can call on to help me refocus my energy, and who make me feel like I can do this.
16. What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
When I wrote for Newsday back before I left for University, I did a story on Solange Shaw Gopaul's jewellery line Soul Eye Designs. My story made it on to the cover of the Sunday supplement, I think. That was the story that started my love affair with feature writing. The feeling of being able to share someone's story...someone who would otherwise not have that voice, or that reach. I cannot remember now what I wrote, and I'm sure it wasn't the most amazing piece of work I've ever produced, but it's very very special to me.
17. Have you helped or mentored anyone else? Is there someone that you see (name drop) that you would like to Mentor?
I try to help people as much as I can. I like when people approach me seriously for advice on how to manage a career in the media, or digital, or communications in general. One person who stands out, mostly because he approached me out of the blue is Aaron Fingal of Livin' Local fame :) It's not even mentoring so much as just sharing what advice I can, given my relatively limited experience.
18. To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Do your own work. Work for other people...sure, because you have to live at the end of the day...but make sure you create your own work. Most of the jobs I've gotten have been based more on things I did 'on the side' than my actual previous employment. Start a blog, or a very engaging social media profile. Be open... that locked profile thing is nonsense if you want people to notice and appreciate you. Share as much as you can and be yourself. People appreciate honesty and transparency.
19. What would you most like to be remembered for?
For my tweets, and for making all our local designers household names.
20. If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
Out of the Orange