It's our pleasure to introduce Andrew J. Fitt. Apart from his physical challenges he is a creative person to his bones and is determined to leave his mark through his art and writing. As a true Crayon Andrew has many shades and here they are.
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity is the act of transforming something or maybe nothing at all into total otherness that in turn inspires further creation. To create is to exist, to make the unrealistic become part of reality that lives on for as long as it's allowed to be, and serves a purpose to at least one person. This act is what drives me to be a graphic artist and a writer, it means everything to me
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
One person may be more naturally creative than another, they may be able to pull ideas out of the ether. The other may have to struggle to bring their ideas up to the surface and build upon it. No matter which type of person you may be, you do have to work at it, some more than others. I tend to fluctuate between the two at times. Ideas can bombard me for weeks, sometimes months at a time. At other times not one single idea would make a home in my head for a long time to come.
When did you realise that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
I remember always wanting to create art, I'm surrounded by artists on my father's side of the family. Growing up with a disability such as Cerebral Palsy made it seem as if becoming an artist was a laughable goal, a mad dream. I could not even write my own name, drawing and painting were out of the question unless I wanted to be an abstract artist. Then I was introduced to computers, then becoming an artist was very much a possibility. I began teaching myself very basic programs, applying real world techniques to get the desired results I wanted. I moved on to more detailed work as technology developed over time.
As for becoming a writer, I have only recently begun that journey in earnest over the last few months. A friend of mine started a publishing company recently and thought that my life story would make a good book. I've heard this before from various people over the years, but I thought that I still needed to really live first, have some real experience at being myself, before writing about my life. However, when she offered me the opportunity to write, I mulled it over for about half an hour and then decided that it was time.
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 my own critic, I try never to create anything that I wouldn't want to hang on my own wall. If a piece is not going the way I want over a period of time, I'm going to delete it eventually. On occasion, I might walk away from it, take some time away, and come back to it later.
Money is a major factor when it comes to producing art because art is my life, it's how I try to make a living. In an ideal world of my design, I would use my work to pay for whatever I wanted. That is only a dream. I need to eat, drink, enjoy my life, and money is the global form of payment for those things. That is the reality. Over the years I've come to believe that you can, in fact, walk the line between creating art for the love of art, and creating art for a living. You just have to embrace the line.
Do you think your own perception and evaluation of your creative endeavours are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you think the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
I am influenced by many things, music, history, science fiction and by many artists both past and present, Van Gogh, DaVinci, Warhol, Banksy. I don't think of myself as a cultural artist because it tends to put me in a box. It's the same thing as being labelled a disabled artist.
My condition has very little to do with my art. I want to just be known as a great artist. I love all parts of the world, some more than others, I think when you look at my work, you should understand that it's diverse. That's the way I like it.
What do you do when you experience a creative block?
When I had my first major creative block, it was very difficult to deal with. Ideas were gushing out of me for what seemed like forever, I was working freely every day. Then nothing, my brain went completely dry for months. I would try to force ideas, only getting more frustrated and depressed. After doing this for far too long, I just decided to take a break. Every now and then I would sit down, try to come up with an idea and see if something happened. This has become my method of dealing with a creative block when one comes along. However, if you do get into the creative zone, just stay there. Do not take a break unless it's absolutely necessary to do so.
How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
I usually start with a basic idea, look for something on the internet that fits with what is in my head. Then I outline what I want from the image, and work on it for however long it takes to get it the way I want it. I like to explore all the options I can come up with at the time.
Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
I'm an audiophile, so music is on most of the time.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
My art used to be my "raw" in the early days. At the time I could live with the outcome, but I've always wanted to be a great artist, I don't want my handicap to dictate my skill. So over time, I've refined my technique to a more professional look. If I'm going to be an artist, it's going to be on my terms.
What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
I refuse to do "pretty Carribean.art" just to make a dollar. I rather not make money, than do palm trees and flowers that would probably sell well. That type of work has no attraction for me. It's just overly contrived. If that counts as a sacrifice, I'm happy to make it.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
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.
Both. Everyone wants to be accepted for what the do and who they are. I want to be acknowledged as an artist and as a writer by others, I want to be as great as I can be. Now, I know that a lot of people might not like my work, and that's their choice. I am a creative person to my very bones, I love what I do. I believe that even if no one considered me creative, I might be bothered by it at times. But, I would still be me and art would still come out of me no matter if people choose to ignore what I do.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Rejection has stunned me at times, but it also makes me want to conquer the challenge more. I'm given a chance to become more than I was, I get to improve on what I did, so rejection is fuel to continue to drive myself towards greatness.
Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
I would have chosen what I've shown in past exhibitions more carefully because when I look back at the work now, not everything was good enough to be presented publicly. I could have put more into what I created, instead of rushing a piece.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
Whenever that happens, I focus my mind on a piece of art that I did which amazes me, then the doubt disappears.
What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
I was on vacation in Tobago, a friend of mine told me a story about someone nicknamed "Boy Boy Bushead" while were liming. I fell in love with the name, told her that I was going to call a piece that. Eventually, I got around to begin working on it, planning the layout, tracing stuff, etc. Then I began to add my colours, and it looked hideous no matter what I did. I kept at it for a day, then weeks. I wanted it to be perfect, but it was not happening. I'm just about ready to delete it, but I couldn't. So I took a break from it, possibly a good few months.
One day, I made up my mind to tackle BBH a new. I started seeing it differently from before, things that needed to change, be reworked. I knew what needed to be done, it just started working. I went wherever my intuition lead me. Eventually, it was done, just like magic.
Boy Boy Bushead is my most favourite piece of artwork I've ever done. Perfect.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Always do art for the love of art itself. Grow in every aspect of what you do. Explore all things. Dream in all sizes. Always save your work.
What would you most like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for being a great artist. Not just a great disabled artist.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?