Warren Le Platte is the consummate creator. He's a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, cartoonist, writer, and most recently, board game developer. With a quick and ready witty response, Warren's cool demeanour belies the deep reservoir of creativity within him. Here are his 20 Shades.
1. How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Hmmm.... lemme think... so I can try and sound deep and profound...
To me it's the expression of self. We may not all be able to draw or paint, some people express themselves in other ways; writing, music, dance... but it's that expression of your inner self that is creativity.
2. How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I would say the majority of my creativity was developed through training and practice. Having that spark... that idea is one thing, but being able to express fully and successfully, that's where the training and practice comes into play.
3. When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
From as far back as I can remember I've been expressing my creativity... initially through drawing in the backs of all my copybooks and text books in school, much to my mother's frustration. Got into design in secondary school simply as a way to earn a "sure" A'level... I should probably explain. Going into 6th form I had to make a choice between fine art and graphic design, my art teacher asked me which one I wanted to do. I asked him which was the easier one to pass, he said graphic art was the easier one to pass but potentially the harder one to do. Psshhhh, well ok! Sign me up! At that time I was more interested in getting the passes to make my parents happy. I was always encouraged and supported by my mother, but, as with many others, my father wanted a different path for me professionally and did not approve of my subject choice of art for A'levels. However, since then he has come to accept my choice and now complains that he doesn't have enough artwork for his walls.
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 always tell my students that their work should always be to an international standard. In today's global market you can't afford to think that local is the be all and end all. I try to practice what I preach, so I am always checking out various design blogs and websites, checking out and analysing the "competition," as well as checking out global trends. Also I may ask close friends for their thoughts on my work. I respect their opinion very much and they usually challenge me to go further and push past my initial creation ideas.
It's been my experience that it is VERY rare that people will pay what something is really worth. In the world of graphic design, or even art on a whole, most potential clients will always challenge your price and try to beat you down. It's up to you to know your worth and stand up for that worth. We all have financial responsibilities and bills to pay... so yes... in reality monetary "rewards" are relevant to my work. Having said that, I will often do work and display it online for free, or charge much less for design work than I normally would simply because I may take it on as a personal project.
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?
Wee papa... allyuh askin some hard questions here boy!!
As a professional designer you don't have a choice really, you're doing work for a client who is paying for your services so as a result your work will almost always be influenced by the views of others. However, if you're lucky, every few blue moons you may encounter a client who will give you free reign to do what you were trained to do and have very little influence on your creativity, then yuh could flex out and handle yuh business.
The culture that I live in plays a great part in my creative efforts. I love my culture and where i'm from. My secondary school mentioned the idea of a visual language - one specific to Trinidad and Tobago - and since then I have made it one of my personal goals to explore that idea. Just like you can look at a piece of artwork and know that this is from Mexico, or that is West African... I want that for Trinidad and Tobago.
6. What do you do when you experience a creative block?
Besides letting out an exasperated sigh and going to sleep yuh mean?... Leave that project alone for a bit, whatever it is, and do something else. Granted "for a bit" is relative eh... there have been ideas I have had years ago and only now making into a reality. Thankfully these are all personal projects so there wasn't anyone breathing down my neck to get it finished by a deadline. Creative blocks are annoying at the best of times and maddeningly frustrating at the worst, sometimes you just need a creative break; watch a movie/tv series/anime, play a videogame, go for a walk, have a cold Stag... Do whatever yuh need to do to clear yuh mind, then get back to the issue at hand.
7. How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
Hmmm... that depends... It depends on the project at hand. Sometimes that "Spark" is so big it did done blow up de transformer so there is little "leap" from spark to finished product (I believe this is due to having that, or a similar idea, marinating in my subconscious and the lil gremlins living there push it up into my regular consciousness). Other times it involves doing research... looking at what was done... and the exploring how to do it better or at least differently... so the time and distance of that leap can vary from project to project.
8. Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
Special rituals? Yuh mean like taking off meh left shoe and throwing some shadow benni over meh right shoulder while singing rubber baby buggy bumper five times fast? Um... no... psshhhh... why would I need to do that?????
I guess the closest thing to a "ritual" would be music... but even that is varied. Music helps me get into or maintain a certain mindset but I listen to many different things, from Wu Tang to Musiq Soulchild, from Nujabes to Nina Simone. There are even times I'll have a movie or web series playing in the background while I work. But... a Special Ritual I do every single time? I'd have tuh say no.
9. Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
I think my creativity has changed. My design work has become simpler and cleaner (a bit) and I'm finally starting to understand a tiny bit about colour and how it behaves... so my illustrations have become a bit more visually interesting (at least I hope).
10. What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
Deciding not to take a job at TSTT which would have led to a permanent position, but instead going to Hartford Connecticut for about six weeks to take part in an exhibition and teach at a summer camp. Most recently, sleep and a social life... but really... who needs that???
11. Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
Meh mammy!!! She has always been there... supporting and encouraging me in all that I do. I also believe that I was put here on this earth for a specific purpose... as we all were; my purpose is to create and tell stories.
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.
It's certainly nice to be accepted by others but after everything else fades... it's just you and your work, so I think doing what you love to do should be the primary justification. It's been my experience that once you do what you love doing and you are genuine about it, you will be accepted. And who doh like it... daz dey business!
13. Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
It has. I think most designers can relate. Doing work for a client and putting your all into it... then have their "inner designer" manifest and and tell you that what you have just done is not what they wanted or asked for. And even though every fiber of your being knows it's wrong, at the end of the day it's their work and their money... so you change the font to comic sans in rainbow colours; then you go home and take a shower to wash away the shame. Ok maybe that wasn't EXACTLY what happened... but, it was close and instead of a shower... I had some beers. However, there is a level of frustration that you may experience, depending, but you just have to do what you need to.
14. Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
Not really... I am who and where I am today because of everything that came before. However, if someone invents a time machine in my lifetime... I would like to go back and have a conversation with my 15-year-old self.
15. Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
How yuh mean??? I am constantly doubting my talents. But I think that's important. You have doubts and you push through them, in the process becoming better. That's how you improve... well... that and steroids, but i'm not sure anybody has invented creative steroids yet though...
16. What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
I am proud of the Illustrations I did for our Olympians. What started out as a simple challenge to myself turned into much more. Yahoo had commissioned a graphic designer to create illustrations of Olympic events, which they took and used on their homepage. I thought to myself, "hmmm… how would mine turn out if I did something like that.." So I did a few of the events I liked to watch, boxing, wrestling, gymnastics, women's beach volleyball (don't judge me). I posted them on Facebook and the response was good. Then a friend private messaged me and asked a simple question, "where we local people? Trinidad in de Olympics yuh know?" Well I coulda slap mehself... how could I NOT have even thought of that before. Then I started doing illustrations of our athletes... and the response was even better. I was approached by the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (before lifesport eh)... they wanted to present our Olympians with framed prints of my work as gifts. So yeah... that had meh feelin lil special an ting. :D
17. Have you helped or mentored anyone else? Is there someone that you see (name drop) that you would like to Mentor?
Well, I teach/lecture part-time... not sure if you consider that mentoring, but I am often approached for advice or to critique work and I try to be as helpful as I possibly can, just as people helped me when I needed it. Not sure if there is any one person I'd like to mentor... I am still learning as well.
18. To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Do NOT give up... work at your craft! Do research, practice, do WORK! Don't be afraid to fail.... take risks, experiment... DO WORK!
19. What would you most like to be remembered for?
My storytelling... visually and otherwise... and maybe my sense of humour... if I ever find it... hopefully it's in my other pair of pants.
20. If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
Allyuh and these hard questions!!!. I would say probably the inside flap of the crayon box... so grey with lil spots of all the other colours?