Scrolling through our Instagram feed we came across the highly stylistic images of Laura Ferreira, so we reached out to her and she was kind enough to share her many shades with us. Do enjoy.
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
I've always had a vivid imagination. I could get lost in my own world quite easily. I remember being 13 (secondary school student) and playing in our garden in a tent that my mind turned into a spaceship. I can't remember the space-adventure story but I know I was in tears at the end. It was that real, and maybe some of those tears came because it was the last time I'd experience something like that. I was forced to grow up in secondary school, and face bullies, death, and depression. It was the end of my childhood. Or maybe not entirely so?
I think it lived on - that ability to see something else, and be somewhere else. It's what survived those horrible years and it comes alive in my photos / paintings. I've actually never thought about it until right now, but as I type this I'm looking up at wall-prints of my work and thinking, yeh, that's somewhere else. I wonder what kind of artist I would have been if life was different, but I'm happy with where I am now. I guess my work wouldn't be the same without a bit of pain.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I believe that the spark was always there, but it's developed through observation and trial & error. People talk about talent and skill, but I think we're all capable of creating wonderful things if we put time into it. Obviously, some people are born with a head start in that category. If your environment supports it, that's an even better bonus.
When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
The first thing I remember wanting to be was an instrumental composer for films. A John Williams type. I'd spend a lot of time in my bedroom, with my little 32 key Casio keyboard, thinking of a scene and writing the music for it (and by writing I mean making it up as I went along and remembering what it was, I have no idea how to read music). My brothers weren't born yet, and my room was still small, so I was about 5 years old. I'd imagine car chases, or a man running down the street. One was made specifically for a slow-motion mafia shooting scene in a restaurant. Quite dramatic and violiny.
Anyways, the point of that story is that it's the first time I remember wanting to be in the Arts. I'd call in my parents and make them listen to my scores. I'd open the windows and put the volume on max, thinking that my music was so good the neighbours would appreciate hearing it. Very sure of myself (never got complaints so little-me assumed they were all fans).
My parents never discouraged art of any kind. My mother painted amazing scenes (her A-level art hung on our walls, it didn't look like any student work I had ever come across). I never felt forced to do anything, other than the time mom made me go to a UWI interview for the Fine Arts degree, and I thought I did a good job at sabotaging it - I got accepted and I still don't know how. I never did the degree. Visual art was my destiny but it's something I had to learn on my own. I work best in a solitary environment trying to figure things out. My family knows this and they're cool with it.
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 don't know how deep I can get with this answer, but, I'm happy with my work when I like looking at it. I'm not the most vocally-astute person who can critique a piece on the spot and talk about the inner workings of the creative mind, but I can say "yeh, I like this one". Colour work, composition, and lighting are the usual elements that draw me into a photo or painting.
I live off of art so I can say that money is relevant to my work. To continue on a productive path I mix things up between painting and photography so I don't start hating one or the other. I've found a balance that keeps my mind sane and my family fed.
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?
In the past, definitely. I needed the words of encouragement. Internet strangers commenting "I love this" was fuel for my creative spirit and ego. Though, the good feeling would only last a day, then I needed to create something else that was better. I didn't have a mentor to teach me things (I personally knew of no established Trinidadian who liked the art style that I liked), so I stumbled along, hoping that what I was doing was as impressive as the last piece. There was a time, in the beginning, when I was almost consumed by the need for approval, by people I didn't even know. That's faded over the years. What took its place is contentment with liking my own work. My husband's opinion is the only other one that matters. My son as well, but he likes everything I do.
What do you do when you experience a creative block?
I switch media. I go back and forth between photography and painting. I think it's easier for me to get sick of photography because I sometimes have to deal with difficult people, whereas the paintings are just me in a room, with my music, and peace. If I'm frustrated by it all I do some gardening or get out the house. If I'm not tired of work but stuck on something, I take a break and look at work that isn't mine that I love and I think, "wow, look at this lady's photo, that's some great colour grading", or , "this guy's painting is incredible, he really nailed the lighting on the face", and that actually powers me up and makes me reassess the block and get over it.
How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
I either sketch the full idea beforehand, or keep working on a piece until I start liking it.
Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
For personal projects I have to feel like the time is right, so sometimes it takes months to begin. When it comes to commissioned work I just start. Definitely more disciplined when it comes to survival.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
It had to change. When I started photography it was so Photoshop-heavy because I knew more about digital work than camera work. I look back at most of my old photo pieces, and smile, but think, woah, this could have been better, why did people like this? I hate being on my computer for long periods so I try to get everything right in-camera so I'm not sucked into the void of retouching. That change made my work better (imo). My paintings have improved because I am better with light and tones, and I can paint exactly what I see, and not see. The photography helps the painting and vice versa because either way I'm staring at faces all day.
What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
The early days, when I was living in a Woodbrook bedroom with my now-husband and toddler, were the days when I felt like sanity and mother-son time were sacrificed. I didn't want a 9 to 5 job, so that I could be there for my son, but then, I had to spend so much time improving my craft that I was always on the computer. In my heart, I just wanted to spend more time with him. I felt guilt and pressure. I felt unworthy to be a mother even though I knew, somewhere amidst the bad feelings, that what I was doing was necessary and would pay off.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
My son is the reason I started any of this in the first place. I've never met a child like him before. Yes, I would do my best for my own, but there's something more to him; a light that I've never seen before. He makes me want to be a better person, in all aspects.
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 think the balance is different for everyone. In the beginning it tipped to the acceptance side, but slowly bowed to loving what I do. I guess it changed with maturity and experience. Caring what other people think makes you want to be better, so it's not all bad - but there needs to be a moment when it takes a backseat. I can't imagine living under that pressure forever.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Generally, a form of rejection would make me feel down, but time morphs it into something great. If someone makes a negative comment online (cause nobody has the balls to do that in person) it rarely upsets me now cause I neutrally think, "hmmm, do they have a point?", and sometimes they do, sometimes they just want to stir things up. Rejection is good. It forces you to grow.
Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
I wouldn't change a thing that I've created. I've learned from everything, and I'm happy on this path.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
I've had the "I am shit" thoughts many times. Probably due to not having breakfast :P The hanger is real.
I get over it. Any negative feeling I have, I know it won't last forever. Actually, I've created some of my favourite pieces when I was climbing out of that awful feeling. I guess it's a blessing to think you're crap now and then.
What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
There's a painting that hangs over my dining room table that I absolutely adore. It has some of the things I love - an interesting face, brilliant colours, and a dread stare. Can you imagine me at some gallery being asked why I love a master artist's piece? "The stare real dread". This is why I don't speak >__>
Photography - that's a hard one. I love so many of my personal pieces. Ones I've done with friends and had full creative freedom.
What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?
Don't take on anyone else. Don't compare yourself to anyone. Blinders on, eyes straight ahead.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Don't take on anyone else. Don't compare yourself to anyone. Blinders on, eyes straight ahead and practise.
What would you most like to be remembered for?
Awesome portraits, great garden, raised a wonderful boy, jokes were always funny, ALWAYS.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
I was nervous about all these artsy questions but thought I did ok, now this. Guys, I'm stumped. Going to stare at my tree and think about it. BRB.
Dang. Alright, I think I'd be some weird crayon that can't make up its mind so every time you go for it it changes colour. If this were a GRRM novel I'd be Crayon the Unsure.