Seon Thompson, describes himself as a multi-disciplinary artist. He is also a teacher. He utilizes design, fine art, photography and animation to create. We first came upon his work through a poignantly patriotic t-shirt print. Then the poignant artwork that has been used to promote HIVE 2014. We had to get to know him. Here goes :)
1. How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity for me is the driving force of a people. It allows us to constantly evolve and change the way we experience life. I cannot perceive myself not being creative. It is a part of me, whether it is to design a poster or figuring out an innovative way of stopping that leak in the toilet.
2. How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I think my creativity is 50% innate and 50% developed over time. My father is a carpenter and really skillful with his hands so I inherited some of that. I also worked hard at taking this skill to another level by constant practice and learning from others.
3. When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
In secondary school, form 3 to be exact, I had to make a decision as to which subjects I wanted to choose. I can remember someone telling me that I should think about that one thing I can do for hours and not feel weary and that would be the thing that I should pursue as a career. There and then I realized that that was art. I had the support of my parents and some friends but generally I did not get the support I expected.
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 am really critical of my work so the standard by which I evaluate my work is very high. I usually peruse several design sites and view some of their campaigns and analyze how it was formulated. I use this as a way of keeping my work at a high level. I enjoy visually representing my ideas through various creative medium, with the final intention of fostering meaningful dialogue. If it eventually materializes into financial returns then that is a welcomed plus. All of my personal projects are initially birthed out of the need to share my point of view on a particular issue.
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?
Steve Jobs once said "people don't know what they want until you show it to them". I strongly believe that this is true, so most of my concepts don't follow the predictable norm people are accustomed to. My work is constantly fed by the culture I live in, to the extent that I feel that I am creating an alternative visual archive of our cultural reality.
6. What do you do when you experience a creative block?
Usually when I experience a creative block I try to step back from the work and focus on something else. Ideas would eventually spark again at an unexpected time and place.
7. How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
The ratio of “Sparks” to actual productions is a bit imbalanced because of the issue of time. When I get an idea for a design for instance, I would try to start it as soon a possible before the "Creative Vibes" run out. Sometimes I can complete an entire design campaign in one sitting - once I am focused.
8. Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
I like to challenge myself so I would sometimes attempt a great task in a short space of time to push myself to produce good work. As a result of this I was able to refine my ability to think creatively on my feet.
9. Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
I generally started off as a fine artist, creating impressionist paintings and drawings. But my style simplified throughout the years to a more minimalist direction. This has been a direct result of my growing interest in graphic design and illustration.
10. What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
I would have to say money for sure, because in Trinidad clients don't appreciate good work and as a result they don't pay appropriately. I have countless stories of people wanting quality work but not willing to pay for it. In spite of this I still have the passion to create.
11. Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
My faith in God and the realization that I have a unique talent has been the driving force behind my passion. I have been chastised a lot in the past for choosing this career path but I would usually take these negative comments and use it as fuel to push me forward.
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.
Everyone wants validation from their contemporaries some time in their life, but this does not define my work and my passion to create. I generally would create out of the simple need to express my thoughts. Sometimes these ideas would develop into larger campaigns that would be appropriated by the public, but even if they didn't, I would have accomplished my goal.
13. Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Rejection actually had a positive impact on my creative process. I remember dealing with rejection from primary school straight through to University. My way of dealing with it was transforming these experiences into visual representations of my feelings. I remember my final year project at UWI was surrounding the topic of perseverance and how I was able to rise above adversities.
14. Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
If I had to change anything from the past I would change my creative process a bit. I usually would have an idea and just run with it without doing sufficient research and planning, and as a result, I would end up with unfortunate cost overruns.
15. Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
There were several times when I doubted my talent and thought that I should have chosen an alternate career path. My remedy for the doubt was to become inspired again and produce new work. This approach helped me to see my skill form a fresh and new perspective. After a while I would be back on my feet.
16. What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
I am really proud of the "50 Proud" campaign because of the cultural impact it had on the viewers. The concept came out of my patriotic curiosity to learn more about the men and women who contributed to the development of Trinidad and Tobago. The minimalist illustrations were created and uploaded to facebook every week and it eventually gathered a following of persons who were interested in guessing the name of the icons. The designs were eventually made into posters in honor of our nation's 50th anniversary as an Independent Nation. The project is still evolving as I am in the process of creating an Icons game/app and other relevant merchandise (T-shirts, copybooks etc.).
17. Have you helped or mentored anyone else? Is there someone that you see (name drop) that you would like to Mentor?
As a teacher I have mentored several students who went on the follow their artistic dreams. These students were not aware of their true creative potential so my role was to open their eyes and get them to work towards their destiny.
18. To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Learn as much as possible. Practice and experiment with different forms of art and develop a style of your own. Art is about having fun with your self-expression.
19. What would you most like to be remembered for?
Graphic Design (especially branding), Illustration and Fine Art (Painting, Drawing, sculpting).