It's our pleasure to introduce Choreographer, Performing Artist, Educator and Designer Jamie Philbert.
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
My creativity is my holy space. It's the air in my lungs. It is the composite of love and spirituality for me. If I could not be my creative self, I do not think I could be counted amongst the living. My gifts are not just for me but for all who are open to receiving it as a blessing. It has transformed me and I have seen its abilities to transform others.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I believe that all my gifts are innate however over the years I have chosen to cultivate facets of my creativity.
When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
I began writing poetry, plays and prose when I was 6 or 7. I began acting when I was 11, studying dance when I was 12 and designing at 23. My parents encouraged my creativity, happiness and education. Although he expressed his pride for me, My father would have preferred that I became a doctor or lawyer. Through my creativity, I conjure defense and healing. I remember receiving many gifts to encourage creativity like a keyboard, typewriter etc. I've always known that I wanted to be a creative.
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'm a pretty tough critic when it comes to my work and I generally do my best to appreciate the art of others. If I can't appreciate what another artist is saying I won't engage. It takes a lot to be an artist and everybody has different standards and values. I am most attracted to work that derives from a consciousness of divine source or spirit. Monetary reward is necessary for me to survive in a capitalist world or to be able to produce my art on a certain level however my creativity acts as currency in many spaces. I will always do my art and upon action of my art, I expect a equitable exchange of energy. Most times that energy is in the form of monetary reward. My creativity is my business so monetary reward is absolutely relevant and necessary.
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?
I absolutely feel that my own perception and evaluation of my creative work are influenced by the views of others. To paraphrase Erykah Badu, I'm an artist so I'm sensitive about mine. Art is personal and so is creation so when we choose to share it the views from outside inevitably effects whether direct or indirect. I also keep in mind that these outside perspectives lend to inspiration. The culture in Trinidad allows me time, daily inspiration, space and raw materials to create. I am still exploring funding opportunities for artist.
What do you do when you experience a creative block?
When I experience a creative block, I stop and do something else (creative) or sit still or sleep. It really depends on if there is a deadline or the nature for the deliverables of the project.
How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
For me, its a direct line from idea to creation. I will usually go: thought, write it down, talk about it, do it.
Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
There aren't any rituals I can think of right now. I really just do it. The process in itself is ritual.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
My creativity has always been more mature than I. I feel like I'm finally catching up. Stylistically, it's development has been articulated by traumatic and joyful life experiences and the way I've come to understand humanity, community and the world.
What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
My greatest sacrifice has been my pride. Being an artist teaches me humility. Deep humility that could only come from unending sacrifices for the thing you not only love but keeps you alive.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
Not many people know this about me but I used to be suicidal up until age 16. That was the last time I covered myself in that kind of fear. What should have killed me within hours, did not. I found it quite powerful and miraculous and as a result dedicated my life to living, loving and being creative. I planned to live this way without ceasing. I realized my life had purpose and the Most High was not trying to hear my early exit. I also happen to have an amazing support system/counsel of friends. One that would carry me to the finish line if necessary and I have the memory of my parents, dedicated and working hard so I could have more. So my clock doesn't have a quitting time. :)
12. 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 visibility is important and acceptance is nice but it's not important. I do what I want creatively and I've never waited on anyone to render permission. I don't think anyone should need permission for creativity. It's a birthright.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Yes! Rejection usually inspires more creativity to get over the rejection and because there's usually 5 million other things that I should be doing. So whatever grief I may be experiencing filters right into or out of the art.
Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
I think my past work expresses where I was, what I knew and how I can be better so there isn't anything I would change. Now ask me that right after a performance or showing and I might have a different response .
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
Oh gosh. I feel like I have doubts sometimes about the power of talents. Although I am fully aware of my power, there are times when I have to really step out of myself and view my work differently because I am in competition with myself therefore extremely hard on me. When I experience doubt, my friends are usually the voice of reason and if they're not available I usually shake it off and keep it pushing. My friends remind me of my greatness religiously.
What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
I am most proud of me. I am my greatest work in progress and I am an evolving masterpiece.
What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?
I have the most amazing mentors so I've received countless gems. Best advice would be: nothing is permanent and ask for what you want.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Follow your heart, feed your mind, forgive your body and find your spirit.
What would you most like to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered for the way I love.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
I would be a lily moon black magic marker sitting all up in the crayon box. Lol.