Brand Strategist and Graphic Designer by day. Brand Strategist and Graphic Designer by night. Damion St. Bernard chats it up with contributing crayon, Nikeisha Joseph, about creativity, discipline and how life, like basketball, is about taking the long shot.
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity is intelligence having fun, creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye… creativity is a God-given gift. Being able to solve a problem or shape something of value. I have always wanted on some level to express things inside me.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I think creativity is both innate and something you hone over time. As a child, I was always curious about how things work and how they could be made better. I think that desire and curiosity, plus the drive to go on a journey of discovery, are what determines your growth as a creative.
When did you realise that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
From childhood, I have always wanted on some level to express things inside me and I feel like we were designed to learn and share. Can you imagine having all that creative expression inside you and living on earth all by yourself? Nah! As for encouraged, not so much, I was actually on a totally different and successful career path for some time before choosing this one, and so it was not easily received by people close to me.
As a basketball fan, you’re well aware that the long three-point shot is all about taking chances. Would you say leaving that security was one of the biggest chances you took in your career?
I guess in one sense you can say that there is always a risk in making these life-changing choices, but just like that ‘long shot’ you can plan and prepare for it. You can put yourself in a great position to succeed and when that moment comes and you ‘score’ the risks all become worth it.
What is your standard for evaluating your creative work and the works of other people? Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are financial rewards relevant to your projects?
A huge evaluation tool for me is the client's success; whether the thing we set out to accomplish has been accomplished in the best way possible, given all the varying factors.
Money, financial rewards are very important, they help me to eat and pay bills, I also don't see an issue with being paid in accordance with your level. Proverbs 22:29 “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”
Do you think your perception and evaluation of your creative endeavours are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you believe the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
I think as long as I am working for a client, their opinion matters and it is, in fact, critical in the creative process. However, nothing should leave my desk unless I am happy with it. I try to think globally, not just what can work in a local market, but how would it stand up if tested internationally? Our culture is rich and full of goodness and so it's great to display it professionally and with care.
What do you do when you experience a creative block?
My view on creative blocks is that when or if I experience them I think to myself, "I must be doing something that I shouldn't be doing", so a change of venue, music, activity, maybe it's not the time to be focused on that project or maybe I'm being distracted by something else. No situation is the same so the solution can be equally as dynamic. I think Michael Jordan said it best, “Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
How did you make the move from being a graphic designer solely, to now also being a Brand Strategist as well?
I think knowing yourself, exploring new interests, not limiting yourself by other people’s definition of who they say you are was my start. I was never satisfied with just the short-term part of a client’s development. I wanted to help in more ways. I delved into it, studied and worked to become better; discipline was and will always be key. I believe to do something right the planning is critical and shouldn't be rushed.
How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce
Sparks always happen for me, I'm always thinking, always looking, always planning, it doesn't turn off. That gift has to be managed and not allowed to run wild, it has a purpose and not just reckless application. My process is slow in a lot of cases, I take the time to evaluate something before jumping into production mode. I believe to do something right the planning is critical and shouldn't be rushed. Also never discount the value of a team, don’t be afraid that the right idea may not come from you.
Do you have any special rituals that you do to achieve your creative goals?
No, it doesn't work like that for me.
Stylistically, has your creativity changed as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
Yes, I have slowed down, I listen more and talk less. Before I was quick to share ideas and express what I thought was my creative brain. As time passed I am a lot more picky about whom and what I share when. My effort is 100 times greater but it is less seen, less wild, more potent and accurate.
What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
I have made a lot of sacrifices, can't place a ‘greatest’ one and in some respect, they all were equally important at their relevant times. I have had to walk away from opportunities that would have compromised my integrity. I am so fixed in principle now, making those kinds of choices no longer cause me to flinch.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
My wife has always been a tremendous support. She sees the things most can't or won't, like the effort it takes and the times that get really trying. She is always there to be that help.
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 am not an island, so I think it's important in the name of collaboration to see others and to be seen, as creative. I love what I do and I love when I am inspired to do ‘self-projects’ but even in doing work just for my satisfaction, it's great when I can share and others can appreciate it as well.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Hold things lightly. If my work was rejected there must have been a reason. Let's figure that reason out. Jordan said, "I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed."
With so many references to Michael Jordan, you’re obviously a fan. What do you admire most about him?
What I liked most about MJ was his application to his craft. He was clearly gifted but he built his game on fundamentals and study of the game. He put character ahead of gifting in the same sense, as I would approach my craft. He became a student of basketball and in that he became the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time). There may have been more naturally talented ballers than Jordan but we won’t know because they didn’t outwork him. That principle hard like big stone. If you had to pick gifting or character to build a future which would you choose?
Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
I'm always thinking how could something have been done better. I sometimes revisit projects in my spare time to see what would I do now given how I have grown. I think it’s a good practice.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
I don't have doubt anymore but I do feel that nervous anticipation at the beginning of every new venture. I think it's a great feeling. It’s like Biggie Smalls said, “Approach every project like it’s your first.”
You most definitely have an articulate and mature point of view as a creative. What would you say was your greatest teacher?
Greatest? The Bible. I think the One who created you is the best one to ask why He did.
What piece of work are you most proud? Why?
I do a lot of stuff for charity, things I won't talk about but they make me happy because they allow me to touch lives in a positive way that has nothing to do with profit or self-gain.
What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?
"Don't let anything leave your desk until you are happy with it" – D Yelloz
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
I don't know, I guess it would depend on who the creative was but my general rule is ‘be disciplined’.
For what would you like to be most remembered?
I don't really concern myself with that question. Maybe sometime in the future, I will have something.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
If I were a crayon I would be ‘a fresh perspective’.