What is your main form of creative expression?
Do you work as an artist/creative full-time or do you have a different day job?
My “9-5” is at a small privately owned custom framing shop, where I get to see all types of art every day. I am also in the art program at Kennesaw State, and I am doing some paid photography as well.
How long have you been creating music/books/plays/films/etc.?
I got into photography when I was 17. I started out taking your cliche black and white gothic cemetery photos. I’d like to hope my photography has since evolved (see website. haha). I also wrote a lot of poetry in high school. When I was in middle school, my friends and I used to write our own scripts for the old Disney show “Kids Incorporated” (don’t laugh. … okay, you can laugh. It’s pretty dorky, but it was fun!)
How do you handle the pressures of creativity being your job? Or how do you find time to be creative if you have a separate day job?
I recently started shooting a few weddings. This is not where my expertise lies by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve had trouble being creative in a way that I would like, due to the stresses that come along with events like this, with their time restraints, etc. I imagine I would get better at throwing some creativity in, the more experienced I become. That being said, I’m thinking I would love to shoot some weddings that are not the norm, and more candid. I have learned that photojournalistic and quirky are where my interests lie. My spiritual practice (if you can call it one) has helped me immensely in all life situations, this one included. In the end, I do what I can, try not to stress about it, and know that all is well. As cheesy as that may sound.
Do you engage in any additional creative hobbies? Are there any you’d like to try?
I’ve started to pick up poetry again a little. I also sing. I used to journal and write a lot. I’m slowly bringing that back in too.
Who are some other artists and creatives that inspire you to create?
There are SO many. I really love to look at local artists. In galleries, in coffee shops, on the street. They are just as, if not more, inspiring to me as the big guys. I am in awe of what people come up with: their ideas, their execution, and their materials. I am wowed all the time.
Why do you create?
This is a really hard question for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever really spent much time thinking about it, so thank you, Sara, for making me. I am a person with intense, deep feeling emotions. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Okay, it’s OFTEN overwhelming. Art allows me to get that out. Whether it’s through my photography, singing, writing, or some form of art that’s totally foreign to me. I love the process. I get lost in everything I do artistically. It becomes almost like a meditation for me.
What advice do you have for other creatives?
I never felt like I was an “artist,” when I was younger because I couldn’t draw or paint or sculpt, etc. Being in art classes in college has forced me to explore all sorts of areas I probably never would have before. I absolutely love all of it, whether I totally suck at it or not. I have learned to not compare myself to others. I am where I am. And that’s perfectly okay. I can also get better. Always. And I love that too.
Knowing I lack a lot of the skills that others have in certain areas, I’ve learned to focus much less on that, and more on putting emotion into what I make. One example: Last year I had to make a 3D self-portrait out of cardboard. I knew it wasn’t going to look very much like me, so I concentrated on an idea instead. I based it on a photograph of myself sitting next to water. I pasted lyrics in the water to songs that have been uplifting and transformational for me. On my chest, I painting an unusually large heart (for my ridiculously huge heart) and cut out doors inside of it. When you opened the doors, lyrics would drop out on scrolls of songs that I would cry to. Songs that reminded me of heartbreak and loss. This was very therapeutic for me.
So in a nutshell: Don’t worry about skills or no skills. If you love it, do it. If it calls to you, do it. When you’re not feeling motivated, or you’re sad, or you’re angry, DO IT.
What are you working on right now?
I’m a little scattered (squirrel!) right now. I just had the honor of shooting my friends’ wedding, so I’m going through those photos and crying (happy tears!) I’m back in school, so there will be lots of assignments out of my comfort level, which is always scary and amazing all in one.
And… (Plug!!! haha) I’m currently running a portrait special ONLY FOR MEN specifically for their online dating profiles. I decided to do this because I was using some dating sites myself, and couldn’t believe the number of just awful photos. And I don’t mean ugly. I don’t think anyone is ugly. I think that men are missing out on some great opportunities because their pictures do not represent who they are. Guys, you are not your fish. You are not your beer. You are not your bathroom mirror. And you are not your newly shaven chest. You are so much more.
The biggest compliment I get from people about my portraits is that I capture the true essence of people. This is really my goal as a photographer, and probably why I prefer a photojournalistic approach, and why I do very minimal, if any digital touch-ups of people.
I also wanted to explain why I picked the photo I did for this interview. This photo makes me think about the chaos and drama and sadness, etc, around us and in the world all the time. But we can find beauty and meaning in that. We can also dance in it. We can choose how we’re going to look at it. And how we’re going to navigate through it. This was not an intentional photograph, as I don’t ever set up shots, but the person in the photo actually looks at life in the way, and it comes through in this photograph in such a beautiful way. It was really hard for me to pick one of my favorites, until I went to emotion. Then it was easy.
Where can people find you and your work?
Facebook: Discovering Crystal Art (fine art) and Discovering Crystal Photography (events and portraits)
I’m also on fineartamerican.com
Thanks so much for allowing me to pick your brain, Crystal! Your advice to other creatives to not worry about skills or no skills and to just create is perfect. That’s one of the big themes of my Muse Chronicles trilogy.