Shari Cumberbatch lives to create Chidrenswear. Young and Vibrant, her sense of style really connects with the kids that she designs for. Forever there's a parent that wants another piece of Shari's work for their little loved ones. We had a bit of a chit-chat with her on her creative drive and process.
1. How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity is the expression of all things we’ve either experienced, fantasized about or dreamt of becoming/creating. I think it also plays an important role in problem-solving in every aspect of my life.
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 a bit of both. I definitely think my creativity is innate as well as a skill that I needed to embrace and explore to be able to grow. Being an only child at home, I found myself observing my surroundings quietly, trying to figure out how different things worked and I think that's when I fell in love with colour. I didn't have any idea yet, but I was always drawn to combinations and colour choices that complemented each other.
3. When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
At school, I needed to decide which subjects I wanted to do for CXC and not knowing what career path I really wanted to take, I decided to try art to see where that would take me. My mother was always fully supportive of me being creative although it wasn’t the conventional path I believe everyone 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’m constantly thinking of how I can improve my work and be different from someone else who may have the same style as me. I try to bring some level of joy, in whatever way, while ensuring that they have something that's special to them. I think it's important to always create a space where people can feel great or have an emotional connection with my work. There's always a particular natural reaction I look for, when it comes to evaluating my work. If it's not good enough, I can always tell by the 'It's nice' or 'that works'...that means we're just not there yet.
Monetary rewards I think are definitely relevant whether we like it or not. Yes, most times it feels like it’s not enough for the creativity, time and effort invested. I don't believe there's the level of respect for creatives, especially not when it comes to valuing time and ideas. There's still the concept that we're doing something that's easy therefore it's safe to assume that we're not deserving of the credit and respect due as artists. I think some of the greatest creatives would be in such a better place financially if they were rewarded based on the value of their work. The appreciation is definitely a concern of mine.
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?
At some point, if not constantly, we're all subconsciously absorbing elements whether good or bad. In some cases I have to consider the forum and the various personalities and be as open as I can to create something for a particular person or purpose. However, when it comes to the "big picture" - my career as a creative - I rely on my faith, my plan and a couple strategic mentors for guidance.
Overall, though, it's hard not to be influenced by our culture. Currently I'm trying to separate what I would like to take from the culture and what I'd want to leave. I believe we're a creative people by nature. You look around and it's evident in everything from the conversations to the graffiti to fashion and carnival to pan. But there are also elements that I encourage myself to leave behind, like being late. My granny always said, "that's good, but take it with a grain of salt!". She also used to ask me if it's real time or Trini time. We're always late and I try my best to be on time once that's within my control.
6. What do you do when you experience a creative block?
Usually I’d switch to doing something else. Let’s say I’m working on a branding project and I’m stuck, I might go try to make a new necklace that’s different from the last until I have some clarity on the direction of the branding project. If that fails, most times I find myself watching movies like Finding Nemo or Rio, Sharktale...the list goes on. Oooh the colours! I love.
7. How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
I try to get to work right away before I forget or begin to question my ideas. If I can’t at that point in time, (which is usually the case) I try to sketch it or jot down notes to remember later on.
8. Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
I won’t say I have any particular rituals, really. The only thing I may say is that I tend to be most creative at random hours in the morning and a lot of times this actually prevents me from sleeping whether I’m working on a project or not. When the ideas come, they don’t stop coming. Most times I find myself just staring at the ceiling especially when the ideas require tools I don’t have at the moment.
9. Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured?
Initially I started off thinking that design needed to be elaborate with loads of detail packed into one space. From then to now, I’ve felt the need to change that concept and recognize that it's just really getting the intended message across. Simple, minimalistic, to the point.
10. What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
I think rest and family time are at war for first place right now.
11. Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
My biggest inspiration has to be my daughter. Knowing that I have to continuously add to her life and be the best example for her encourages me daily, to do my best in all that I do. It's also great having her raw input on colours and forms. If she really doesn't like it or can't see exactly what the idea is (like an animal), she's probably seeing something I'm missing.
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?
As a designer, I think it is necessary to be accepted on some level. Encouragement goes a long way. One of the best feelings I experience is being in a room and people are discussing my work but don't know that I'm the designer. I get to hear the raw truth and appreciation for my craft as well as areas that may require improvement.
13. Has rejection ever affected your creative process?
It has in the past, but currently I’m good with knowing that the constructive is good for growth and the negative builds character. We all can’t have the same views/interests.
14. Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
I wouldn’t change a thing. I love looking back to compare where I was to where I’m at currently. It’s good to see progress, of course!
15. Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
Oh boy! Yes! I think most times I still have my moments of doubt, but I’m continuously pushing through and learning constantly so seeing my growth helps to reassure me that I’m okay.
16. What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
I’m always most proud of my last big piece. That necklace had my heart last week, but the one I did yesterday has just taken over.
17. Have you helped or mentored anyone else? Is there someone that you see (name drop) that you would like to Mentor?
I can’t think of anyone I would say I’ve mentored at the moment but I think I’m blessed to have friends with whom I’m able to share views and we continue to help each other in any way possible.
I’m not sure who I would like to mentor but I’m always willing to chat and help any creative trying to find their place and make their mark. It’s a daily struggle I’m still facing currently but I’m open to sharing with anyone who could benefit from some of my mistakes made along the way.
18. To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Keep those blinkers on. No looking back, straight ahead. Don’t lose focus regardless of distractions.
19. What would you most like to be remembered for?
Hmmm. Sharing light and love. Oh! And for my love of, and use of colour!
20. If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
We want to thank Shari for adding her neonness with the community. You can keep up to date with what she's doing or find out more about her products by following her on Facebook and Instagram @shopshari, @shari18.
Leave a comment or two for her here as well.