Artist Kriston Banfield using acrylics, graphite, ink, water colour, emulsion, spray paint and charcoal produces arresting vivid works on paper, canvas and walls that tells a story and conveys a message.
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity to me is that intrinsic ability to do or see something differently. It's important as hell to me, it's like a signature that's born out of... Me (you). It's impossible to be the same, they're similarities but that creativity/ness is what sets people and the thing they do/produce apart from those doing similar things.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
For sure it's innate. A lot of times I find myself doing something in a painting that surprises me, 'cause God knows it wasn't intentional, and I know well yeah, I gotta try this again. At the same time the more I work the more I sharpen my skill but I don't think creativity has anything to do with skill and vice versa. They're two elements to be developed but having one doesn't necessarily mean you have the other.
When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
For as long as I can remember I've been expressing my creativity. I think as a child I was always drawing or sketching something on some piece of paper... which then made its way to my copy and textbooks. Around that time I was lucky to have found others like myself and in a way, I sort of learned to communicate my ideas differently. It wasn't until my 6th form years at QRC did I begin to really take what I was doing seriously and well now, that's the route I'm walking in my life.
I've always been supported and encouraged by my mom in my expression, she pushed me a lot back then and does even more now. Every time we speak she asks me if I'm doing more painting or if I'm wasting time and it's something I cherish.
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?
Personally I just ensure that I'm being honest in the work I produce. I try to make sure I always do something I may not be comfortable with, sometimes its the tiniest thing but that's needed for creativity, at least I think so. You have to have some kind of integrity in your art. You have to have those periods of introspection where you ask yourself, " Is this really my best here?".
Yea sure monetary value can be put to creativity but the real question is how many people in Trinidad and Tobago are willing to pay for it in earnest? They're people out there doing amazing things but have to make do with doubles money.
I wouldn't say its relevant to the work itself, but there is value and value has a cost.
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 think I just follow my personal code but I also understand that art is communication and it's not only my own voice in this discussion, that being said constructive criticism is always welcomed to help with my growth.
I mean of course the culture I live in has shaped the way my work has started and continued to develop, but I think even more so the experiences I've had outside of what I've known has added a bit more to my work, for example, Haiti has been and still is a source of raw inspiration for me. There's a lot of mixing of cultures and ideas in my work process yet I think the base would always be that of Trinbago.
What do you do when you experience a creative block?
The best way for me to cure a block is to just head out to the bush/river/beach and simply vibes. It's kind of like using nature to cleanse the gunk and grime that builds up from the day to day living. When even that doesn't work, sometimes I simply wait while leaving myself open and observant to whatever inspiration may come. I wouldn't lie though, it's frustrating to have this "great" idea in your head and when it's time to put it down you start questioning and doubting so you pause, then stop... it can become a nasty cycle. I try my best not to force it or else I feel like the work starts to become something else.
How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
Some "sparks" go from spark to canvas and I work it out right on there, taking moments to reconsider and change a few things. Other "sparks" can sit in my sketchbooks for a really long time before I even consider trying to work on them, I think it really depends on how I feel about the idea at the time... or in general.
Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
Not really, the closest thing to that would be just finding a good vibe before I get down to work. Painting can be really draining for me so it's always good for me to start with a boost, and if I can't find it, well, the work still has to get done.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
Oh, yea DEFINITELY! Stylistically my work has reached what I'd call the toddler phase. I'm experimenting more with different techniques and ideas. A lot of times I'd say to myself, "This is the way you'd usually do this, so let's not." And in that moment of stepping outside my norm, I saw my work has begun to look and feel differently. Going into gross detail about my changes would be unfair of me, it's really up to the viewer to see them without me guiding and hinting towards it.
What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
I don't think I've really made any sacrifices for my work yet.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
Not to sound cheesy here but I simply don't think it's possible for me to quit. It's a weird and alien to me, the idea of not creating anything. Frankly, I don't think it's possible for me to just "ups" and quit "jus so jus so".
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 don't think we should have to live for anyone's acceptance nor should we always have to justify our work. For me personally, I understand that regardless a good work is a good work (I don't always know how it's qualified but we'll leave that for now). Once you're focused on doing good work you shouldn't have to worry about anyone or anything else.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Yeah, it has, not in the sense that it makes me break down in a pool of emotions but more that it just makes me say OK, I need to work harder, I need my work (and myself) to grow and evolve. I don't let it compromise who I am and what my work is, I'm not gonna change my painting style to look more like someone else's because it's more accepted. I refuse to lose myself in that way.
Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
No. Earlier I said my work had now reached the toddler phase and I strongly believe that. Looking back (and honestly, there isn't much to see) I think every step was a step forward and every piece was a testament to growth. I just started, I'm more interested in the works to be done rather than looking back at things already finished.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
All. The. Time. This goes hand in hand with finding myself in a creative rut and it's usually the same conversation I have with myself. Instead of worrying if the piece would be "good enough" or if I'm good enough, I just do it. After that I can say OK, this didn't work so I'd leave that as a study or OK it did work, and see what I learned from it. Doubt is too easy a distraction.
What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
Right now it's a piece called 'Many Have Traveled', It's a pretty big work that I've yet to show but I'm really proud of it. It was a labour of.... something and took me months to complete. During the process it somewhat acted like a door, opening my mind to a whole new set of concepts that I think I was only able to think about because of what I was doing. I love when that happens when a single piece turns out to be a catalyst for something more.
What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?
Have integrity in all that you do. That's it.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
You mean to someone like myself?
Experiment, explore ideas, challenge yourself and just focus on growing and becoming better. As emerging creatives we have to have some integrity in what we're doing, that's most important to me. Just do honest work and it'll show.
What would you most like to be remembered for?
For making serious and meaningful contributions to our (used loosely) culture.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
Element of the sky Blue.