Meet Nikeisha Joseph, a self-proclaimed fan of the beauty and complexity of people, and she expresses that fascination through her writing, portrait photography and at her day job as a copywriter.
In this episode, we chat it up with Nikeisha about those passions as well as her creative philosophy and her gratitude for the specific Source that brought it all together.
Listen and enjoy. There’s also some light reading. Cover photo by: Julie Charlett
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
I tend to agree with the dictionary, that creativity is inventiveness. But on a deeper level, if I may, creativity is evidence that we as human beings come from a knowledgeable, potent and undeniable Source.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
It's a little of both. I think we all are born with something inside us that pulls us in a particular direction. I’ve always been drawn in the general direction of art. Once I figured that out, I worked to develop it by taking classes, reading, connecting with creatives and lots of YouTube!
When did you realise that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
I can’t say exactly when I discovered my own creativity, but I do know as a child I spent a lot of time, enjoying music and movies that were much older than I was. I was also a huge reader. This all helped my imagination and appreciation for melodies, stories and characterisation.
My mother always allowed my brother and I to express ourselves, and that was all the encouragement we both needed.
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 financial rewards relevant to your own work?
There’s actually a few things that I do. Firstly, I try to rely on what I’ve learnt, so with photography that’s the rules of composition, connection with the subject, that kind of thing. Second, I recall the type of writer/ photographer that I want to become, and see if the work matches that vision. Lastly, I go with what feels right – whatever that means lol.
Regarding others’ work, it’s usually about whether it intrigues me or not – either on a technical or emotional level.
With creatives, there’s always a challenge with requesting the monetary rewards we deserve. Someone may see a single photograph, but I see years of practice and thousands of dollars in equipment that have gone into taking the said photograph. I used to think there is no way that someone will pay that amount for a photo shoot, and then I would undercharge. But that was super unwise and kind of nonsensical.
Money isn’t everything – I’ve done lots of shoots for free – but pricing correctly, shows everyone, including yourself, that you value what you do.
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?
It would be schizophrenic to adhere to everyone’s opinion, but what I would say is that there is merit in listening, as someone else might be able to see something in your work that you can improve on. But in the end, I think it’s important to do what is true to you because that’s how you create your own style and make your mark.
The older I get, the more endearing the culture of Trinidad and Tobago is to me, with all it's colour, complexity and incandescence in it and I have zero problems with it influencing my work.
What do you do when you experience a creative block?
Working in advertising means I don’t get to entertain creative blocks for long – the pace is just too fast. I usually go online for inspiration, or I get quiet. I also work with very talented people who I can run the problem by.
When it comes to having a block for my own projects, I’m working on having that same kind of discipline. More and more I’m seeing that you don’t always have to wait for the muse to come to you… you can go to her as well.
Also, and this might sound odd, but when I eat right, work out and get rest, the ideas tend to flow. I think it’s merely a matter of having my body functioning as optimally as possible so that my mind can comfortably follow suit.
How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
Like most, I write the idea down and that way I retain it in its rawest form. What I’m working on now, is shortening the time between the spark and the completion of the work.
Do you have any special rituals that you do to achieve your creative goals?
I wish I could say that I did because that sounds super cool and creative, but having a routine is something that I would like to work on. Whatever it eventually is, I know that would entail a lot of quiet time.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
Studying Literature has helped me exponentially. People usually think it’s all about reading books, but more than that it’s reading, writing and thinking analytically and learning those skills has made me an almost new person.
What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
Nothing as painful as the question may suggest, but I see a lot of discomfort in the future as I plan to push myself a lot more.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
Even after the most extended bouts of demotivation, I always come back to recommit to passions because I am confident that my purpose is tied to putting my artistic perspective into the world. It’s undeniable and kind of inescapable.
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.
Making the intangible within, tangible without, is more significant than anyone else’s opinion. Way bigger, way more important.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
As a copywriter I face rejection quite often - it stings, but that’s the business. Where necessary, I fight for the idea, and if I can’t, I just cool off and do another option.
Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
I always look back at my work and see the need to change things. I trust that means growth.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
My doubt comes in waves, so I just try to ride it out.
What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
I use to live in an apartment building that was painted bright yellow (yup!), and I would shoot my friends against the wall because I loved the way it looked against their skin. I look back at the work, and there’s a lot I could have done better, but that project did a lot in my developing in the craft of photography as well as creative direction, time management and discipline.
Right now I’m looking forward to adding to my photo interview series, which I love because I get to connect with people through conversation and images.
What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?
Someone I used to work with told me that experience makes you a better writer. And that’s so true, because as a copywriter you write about insurance one minute and evaporated milk the next, so you have to amass experiences to be able to write with relevance and authenticity.
I also really love the quote, ‘Life begins t the end of your comfort zone’ because to complete anything of worth takes sacrifice.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Do the work.
What would you most like to be remembered for?
Telling stories through beautiful words and images.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
Purple. Not because I like the colour per se – but because it’s a combination of red and blue which signifies to my passion and depth.
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