Leighton Starr

Leighton is a Fashion Illustrator, passionate about his craft, though he wasn’t encouraged to pursue that path, he persists. He took some time to share his thoughts with us.

How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?

Creativity to me is a combination of communicative forms. Each creative uses these forms in a different way that is unique to their view. Creativity means a unique way of communicating my opinion to the world or even to yourself.

How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?

I definitely think it's a 50/50 scenario. Creative thinking is never something I've forced. Execution of ideas are continually developing, and you learn as you go along.

I don’t “go to work” which is not a very traditional concept

When did you realise that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?

It's been a little over two years as a fashion Illustrator. It wasn't a very widely encouraged move by my family, mainly because I work from home so I don't "go to work" which is not a very traditional concept to them... also I think they don't understand what I do entirely.

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?

I evaluate my work based on the ease, the flow and the execution of the idea, whereas with other people's work it's more about the appeal. I think creativity, in general, is very hard to put a price tag on. To me, the price being asked for/offered is more of an incentive to release some of the emotional attachment a creative cultivates while working on a project/piece/idea. As a full-time fashion Illustrator, financial rewards are only as relevant as the bills I have to pay.

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?

My perception and evaluation of my work is pretty unwavering, but can positively be encouraged into directions that are more relevant to the viewpoint of other people. The culture I live in plays a minimal role in my creativity, being able to remove myself from the current situation and expand my view is vital to me.


Does your creative work come easily or do you struggle with your ideas? What obstacles (if any) do you experience when you are creating? If you do face obstacles, how do you get past them?

My creative work flows pretty easily. Regarding obstacles it's usually me, overthinking something for hours on end. The only way I've ever dealt with it is by stepping away, doing normal human things for a while and come back to it. Usually, that works. If not the idea probably wasn't right to start with.

Is there something that you do to put yourself into a creative state of mind? If so, what? How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?

Well, these "Sparks" are usually pretty random, but my sketchbook is almost always with me. The process goes from a spark to sketchbook and if I feel like it's any good I carry on with the idea as a final Illustration.

I’ve been really ambitious about fashion Illustrations for most of my life

Was the way you express your creativity now always your ambition? If so, when did you know for sure?

I've always been drawing, on everything, in every class (you can ask my past teachers) since I was about seven years old. So I've been really ambitious about fashion Illustrations for most of my life, but I never really thought about doing it full time locally until early 2016.

What has been the most significant sacrifice that you have made for your craft?

A constant standard income.

You don’t have to be from a specific background to succeed as a creative

Which creative people do you admire? Why?

I really admire the veteran creatives, especially when they take the time to share their experiences and mistakes, and give advice and guidance and mentor even when they don't need to.

Meiling has definitely been the epitome of the veteran creative to me. I also really admire the young working creatives. International yes, but more so locally. Showing that you don't have to be from a specific background to succeed as a creative.

Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?

I have 4 reasons I haven't quit and keep going

1. I love what I do

2. My mentor, friends and of course family.

3. Fear of wasting my creativity .

4. I love working with new people and ideas.

Doing what you love should be enough to justify your work

Do you believe that it is essential to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.

I definitely think doing what you love should be enough to justify your work, however, having any resemblance to commercial success requires the acceptance of an audience. This doesn't mean doing everything your audience wants just for approval, but being accepted only helps in that instance. It should definitely be a secondary motive and should never dictate or censor an artist or their creativity.

I got rejected a ton

Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.

Most of my experiences in my field have been experiences of rejection. I wouldn't say it influenced my creativity as much as it affected my drive to create at a certain point. When I was starting out, I got rejected a ton, and it really made me wonder if it was worth it to continue along this career path. As the rejection piled on, I developed my central outlook on a lot of things in life "if it ain't for me, leave it be". Now when I get rejected, I'm like "....ok, on to the next one."

My remedy is really just trusting my process

Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?

I doubt my talent to an unhealthy extent when working on something new. My remedy is really just trusting my process and grabbing a pencil even if I have no clear direction or inspiration.

What piece of work are you most proud? Why?

I'm always the proudest of the next piece I'm going to be working on because it's my eagerness to create new pieces and work with new people that keep me going.

What is your ultimate creative goal and how attainable do you think it is?

My creative goal is honestly looking back and seeing what my work was and how it warped and morphed into what it'll be in ten, maybe twenty years. Which is very attainable...if not inevitable.


What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?

Find your niche. Without that piece of advice, I'd probably be spreading myself outrageously thin, and I'm thin enough.

To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you give them?

Well, I am a young creative emerging in my field, but I'd say start with what you have. You don't need all the expensive markers and specialised papers to be good at what you do, and that's the key.

For what would you like to be most remembered?

I really want to be remembered for the success story I'm still writing. Believe it's going to be one great memoir.

If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?

Bright Black.

We thank Leighton for sharing with us, follow him on Facebook and Instagram @leighton_starr_illustrations.

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A Creative Professional with over twenty years experience. Which he gained during his time spent at a few of Trinidad’s top advertising agencies. Then functioning as the Regional Creative head of the Caribbean’s largest retailer. Contributing to the development of the group’s regional marketing strategy. Forming the regional Design Strategy. Conceptualisation and execution of all creative, marketing and advertising communication for the group’s brands. With oversight of regional and local creative teams and creative processes. He continues to sharpen his creative edge. A passionate, twenty-four hour creative junky. Admirer of sexy typefaces, lover of words and aspiring life long learner. He is also the founder of A BigBox Of Crayons. An online and offline community for creative thinkers + makers in Trinidad & Tobago.