Here is the first post of my series about creative process. I grew up in the most uncreative family, and I realised quite early I was a creative person, but had no-one to relate to or ask questions to about anything to do with it. My parents didn't even enjoy listening to music or watching movies like most people do. It was too noisy, to stupid, too whatever... The only thing that was ok was very famous impressionist artists, and maybe sometimes the Beatles. I was also an only child, and ended up drawing, writing and playing music as a very lonely and isolating activity. This brought a lot of questions in my mind, I was starving for the longest time for answers from other creative people, something where I could feel a sense of somewhere I belong (somehow), and where it's okay to talk about things. So that's what this series is going to be about: asking my creative friends and acquaintances what they do, how they do it, and how they feel about it. Enjoy!
When I first met Arash, he was this 16 year old young man, on an online forum, who shared a passion for Björk and some online acquaintances with me. At the time I was a young psychology student, obsessed with personalities, and what other people were about (still am). He was a person like I had never met before. He was so honest about his talent, saying he knew he had great ideas and he would make amazing things. I remember him making music at the time, going to an art school, offering constructive critique about other people's art and sharing of life situations... He knew what he was about: creating something that would challenge people, and show who he was and what he liked. Over the years, I got to know the man he had become: strong, honest, vulnerable, lush-haired, philosophical, feminist, art nouveau sensitive, challenging, beautiful. Arash designs clothing and currently lives in Berlin. Here are his answers to my 10 questions:
1 - How do you usually describe what you do?
How I describe it depends on how the subject of conversation has been brought up. I tend to talk more about the contents and intention of my work, rather than what it looks like. I describe the process from idea to creation and why I do it.
2 - How and why did you start creating?
I always created. It's how I see the world and how my brain functions. It's the only thing that makes sense to me. I sing, I paint, I danced, I copy and figure out how things are done, I tend to say that consuming without producing is like eating without exercising.
Creating is good practice in maintaining what is yours and keep it alive. It's like the solar wind at the core of our sun, keeping the size of the sun suspended against the collapse from it's own gravity. I'm suspended between creating and consumption just like that.
I regurgitate certain ideas until I have to get them out to move on. Then I start my investigative process in figuring out why this idea appeals to me, by doing research, drawing parallels to other disciplines and different eras of civilization, to see where in human culture these ideas fit in, and why they're here. I like for what I make to serve a purpose, that's why I decided to design I think.
3 - Could you describe the steps of your creative process?
When it comes to designing clothing the process is just finally taking shape for me. I always collect images, and i'm inspired by terminology and concepts from science and other disciplines and areas, and try to find a way to fit it with what I make. Then I sketch. I sketch until I get bored or get stuck. And then I drape. What I drape never ends up looking like what I sketched from the beginning. I go back and forth, and try to marry the two parts, the sketched designs and the draped ones, and let them borrow each other's strengths and eliminate each other's weaknesses. Then I flatten out my draped shapes, draw a pattern from those pieces, clean up details, make a new toile, make fit adjustments to those, clean up pattern again, and not until now can I cut and sew the final garment.
4 - Do you believe that what you do comes from yourself, or do you believe you are the vessel of another "something" that expresses itself through you?
I'm the sum of my parts. what I do is a product of that. It's a chain reaction.
5- Do you have habits concerning time, objects, location, when you are creating?
This is a good question. I know for a fact that identifying these things is crucial in order to shape your process to stay productive and efficient. Inspiration is not something that "comes" to you, but it is the state you are in when you've found balance. You have to constantly question yourself to stay honest about what you make. If you are not honest, you will lose the will to create, as the outcome wont actually be important to you. The trick to being honest, is to look in to yourself, figure out exactly what it is you want to say, and WHY, and let that shape the way you create and what you make in the end.
The expectations of others will have a tendency to shape your work, into something they can understand immediately, but impressing others and satisfying them is not the long term solution to feel meaning and keep up the motivation to do something. People are very preoccupied with the attributes of their outcome, i.e. caring more about being something, rather than doing something. People want to become pop stars cause it's cool, not necessarily because they like to perform in front of people. You need to focus on what your day will look like, and what you fill it with. With that said, I want my day to be filled with the calm of being immersed in handwork. I love the feeling when your brain thinks in the same speed your hands are working.
I finally have a studio, where I can allow myself to do these things. Before, I was constantly in battle with myself, as I never had the space assigned for work, I could also never leave work. And for me, it is important to treat what I do as a job, and not as a hobby. I already do think about what I make 24 hours a day, but the guilt of not working on it has disappeared during the times i'm not in the studio. I keep a notepad with me at all times, and I am practicing not over sharing my ideas before I make them, to keep me away from a false sense of accomplishment. I also have big problems with dreaming too big. an important part in having things made is to shape them after your context, with the means available to you. You can't furnish a room without walls. Design is solving a problem, and the problem is your limitations. What you do is bring the conditions of your limitations, and find what they allow, when they meet.
6 - Does the "finished product" usually look like what you had imagined, or do you usually end up with something different than what you had in mind?
It never looks exactly the way I had imagined, but that also means I've been successful in leaving space for chance and for my limitations to act as an input. If I had only come out with what I first imagined, the process would have been either too simple, and not created friction with my limitations, and thus not been a challenge. I believe challenging yourself is essential to come up with something unique. the conditions under which you create are a unique part of your situation and will help you generate an outcome which is more personal and honest, and unique.
7 - How do you decide that a piece is finished?
either when I'm sick of it, or when I can't imagine a better way for it to look or behave. when I see it say what I initially wanted it to say, it's purpose is fulfilled. I don't get too caught up in what the outcome actually looks like, as long as it feels the way I imagined. I like to keep my initial idea as essential and fluid as possible, to stay open for whatever comes out the other end.
8 - How important is it for you to share your creation with others? how do you impact / interact with their comments, criticism, opinions?
sharing my creation is crucial for me when it comes to fashion. I see fashion as a language, and you need two people to create a language. Design is also a way to offer reflection on our shared reality, and to create it together. Most of the times I have big narratives to what I make, but in the end, what matters is the object and how it affects other people. If I was happy keeping it to myself I wouldn't feel the need to make it. I would feel perfectly happy just thinking about it.
So far I've only found, that what people critique me for are the most personal aspects of what I make, and should not be eliminated. I believe continuity will make people and even myself understand these diffuse complexities in the future. I have to be careful not to cater too much to peoples expectations, or else it will start to look like other things that already exist. Fashion is in dire need of some bad taste.
9 - What is your relationship with your past creations?
I am proud of my past creations, flaws and all. They reflect frame by frame, my journey through figuring out how to communicate, and tune in what I make with other people, so it can exist in reality together with others, and not in a vacuum inside myself. If I can convince people in the future to believe in anything I do, I've reached a very luxurious place, but I don't believe it is necessary for me to feel content with what I make.
10 - What is the easiest and the most difficult part of creating for you?
The easiest part of creating for me is to build a story, and to shape the concept. the most difficult part is to stay focused on one idea, and develop it to it's greatest potential. I like to dream big, and often end up frustrating myself and thus losing steam, but I've just started to figure out, that the greatest creative is not necessarily the one with the grandest visions, but the one who knows how to combine their ideas with a strategy and work plan, which allows it to be born. Strategy is key, and that takes methodical, cold analytical discipline, and a great understanding and sensitivity to what you make should function as. Keep the nerve, and give it a possible way of existing.