Jason has been a visual artist for over twenty years. He started his artistic journey while at primary school, he continued his passion through the secondary level and into university. Jason was also fortunate to be guided by Makembe Kunle and LeRoy Clarke. We were able to spend time with Jason in his studio as he worked. Below is the result of our visit.
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity [to me] is the manifestation of the energy in all things and everything. Even in destruction and destructive scenes, creativity is at work. That may be hard for some to fathom but let us take a critical look at a cataclysmic volcanic eruption. Such "destructive" power, the molten rock obliterates everything in its path. Then, sometime after, the ashes fall, and the lava cools, the destroyed area becomes an extremely fertile spot of ground. Creativity is the manifestation of existence itself.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
A large percentage of my creative ability is innate. I came to this planet with a predisposition for the arts. However, I developed technical proficiency in my craft over the years, and I continue to grow.
When did you realise that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
From a very early age, I enjoyed expressing myself creatively. As far back as I can remember, I relished in taking things apart and putting things together with a creative curiosity. I understand that by the time I was 16 months old that I was able to hold a pen correctly. Unquestionably, my creative expression has been encouraged by others especially my parents. It's probably one of the reasons why I chose them.
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?
Financial remuneration for creative work is extremely relevant as we live in a system of monetary exchanges and if one intends to make a sustainable career from art, one needs to be financially compensated.
However, I must note that it is extremely challenging to attach a monetary figure to creative work. Let us look at history, at the artists of the period of Impressionism and Post Impressionism in European art history. These artists were significantly underappreciated by the "art enthusiasts" of that time. They lived meagerly and found great difficulty in getting their work sold. They sold work for next to nothing. Currently, the work of these artists is worth millions. So, allow me to ask, "What was, what is and what should be the criteria for evaluating creative work relative to financial compensation?".
Pondering this issue has been enigmatic for me. I have observed, and I'm sure, that those of you who spend time reflecting on such things, will notice that artists who are more recognised and well-known than other artists, in particular, circles. Can successfully sell their work for substantially much more than those who are not well known in those said circles.
Notwithstanding the fact that some of these well-recognised artists simply put, are not as skilled as some who are not as well-known. Certainly, there are fundamental components that can contribute to the evaluating of creative work. Size of work, cost of materials used, time spent on projects, the level of technical application and intricacies utilised to produce the work are some of the primary means by which one can derive a monetary value. That's the criteria I use to evaluate my work, but I'm also influenced by the way a piece makes me feel - my emotional connection to the piece of work. To some extent, I also use others' responses to the work as well.
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?
Yes to some extent as mentioned above. The perception and evaluation of others do influence the perception of my work. Whether one is consciously aware of it or not, one's environment, one's space and one's culture do influence one profoundly. Living in this multicultural society of Trinidad and Tobago, my creative work has been hugely affected by the many festivals (both secular and religious) and the diverse spirituality observed here has informed me and my work. Carnival, Hosea, Divali, the Gayelle, Emancipation, Parang, Hinduism, Christianity, Rastafarianism, Orisha the culture of the indigenous people, even Zen Buddhism all have coloured my perception of creativity. These influences are echoed in my multilayered and colourful compositions.
What do you do when you experience a creative block?
Thankfully l have not had much experience with that. Although, I can remember one time that it did happen. It was tumultuous, to say the least. I overcame it with prayer, meditation and a fierce determination to do what l love. Additionally, I immersed myself into the beauty of nature. I frequently visited the rivers and oceans and did a lot of swimming.
How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
I just do it.
"Prayer and meditation are intrinsic and fundamental components of my creative process."
Do you have any special rituals that you do to achieve your creative goals?
Yes, I Pour cool water on the earth to announce the commencement of work. Prayer and meditation are intrinsic and fundamental components of my creative process. I may prayerfully light a candle which I often use as a calibrator of time spent on the work. I may sometimes burn incense, and I always work in white clothing.
Stylistically, has your creativity changed as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
Certainly, it has changed as I have matured. In secondary school, I would paint landscapes, flowers, fruits and portraits using a very photographic like approach. When I met master artist Makemba Kunle and the Studio 66 art support community, I became aware of a new world of colour and creative expression. Additionally, new philosophical and esoteric concepts became a part of my process, causing my work to evolve.
What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
Time has been my greatest sacrifice.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
My spirituality has helped. The support that I have received and continued to receive from family, friends, colleagues and my teachers in the field have all played a significant role in helping me to persevere. And of course, the support of my clients.
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.
Yes and No. Being accepted by others is important; however, the love for what I do is paramount, and it takes precedence over the importance of being affirmed.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Yes, it has. I have found that rejection has proven to be a useful tool in encouraging me to persevere and do more.
Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
Not really. However, there is one project that I can remember, a sculpture that I did while studying Visual Art at the U.W.I. - St. Augustine - that I would make changes to if given a chance. Mainly because of the technical proficiency that I have developed over the years. If I had the opportunity, I would integrate the knowledge that I have now to change aspects of that piece.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
No, I have never doubted my talent.
What piece of work are you most proud? Why?
It is hard to have a favourite as I have done so many pieces. However, I am particularly proud of my current body of work - a series entitled 'The Ancestors Who Sit at God's Feet - a body of paintings and sculptures.
What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?
I've learnt from some of the best - Master artist Makemba Kunle would say, "Don't be afraid - go brave!" and Master artist Leroy Clarke would say, "Let your work be your prayers". Those two statements sum up the best advice that I have received.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
To any and all emerging artists, I would echo the same sentiments above, and additionally, I would say - "Create free from fear and full of love".
For what would you like to be most remembered?
I sing; I draw; I paint, I sculpt, I love. I would like to be most remembered for my efforts to bring light, love and most importantly healing to the global situation through my creative work.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
Maybe, Lightning Florescent White or perhaps Lemon Yellow or maybe Jungle Green or maybe Oceanic Blue or maybe the Blackest Black - just to name a few as it was difficult to say but I enjoyed thinking about it.
A big thank you to Jason for allowing us into his space and for sharing his process with us. We throughly enjoyed it and learned a few things as well. To reach out to Jason drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org