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Creativity Grounded in Less

Over the years, my creative practice has evolved past what I could have imagined when I began my career in the early 2000s. The most significant shift has taken my practice beyond filmmaking and writing, which was a key focus for the majority of my professional life. 

Accidentally, many of the artistic and creative habits I have developed through filmmaking and writing I use in my current multidisciplinary practice my work has expanded towards. One of the core habits of my creative practice is the implementation of creativity grounded in less, which I instigated with low-budget filmmaking. My film budgets were often microscopic, but I still had a high production value through props, costumes and locations. Instead of buying, I would use all I could for free and re-use what my family and friends already had. 

This approach cut down on my budgeting costs and was also environmentally forward-thinking; the business has only now started shifting focus towards re-using props, costumes, and locations. Most importantly, I wasn’t adding any more clutter to the circulation, indirectly developing long-term sustainability practices.  Even when I built sets for one of my short films (The Man with The Spying Glass), all the materials used were borrowed and returned at the end of the shoot. Of course, a lot of my decisions were dictated by budget restrictions. However, from that, what might have seemed a limitation at first, I discovered I enjoyed working within my means, being locations or resources, as it challenged my creativity. I take great pleasure in knowing almost intimately the locations I use in my scripts or stories. Having a sentimental attachment to the props or clothing I have used in my production has also become part of my creative practice and the stories I’m telling.

At first, I didn’t know my approach to filmmaking was cutting down on pollution in the industry, which historically has been pretty wasteful and recourse-intense. However, the more I grew as an artist and the larger my understanding of the environmental impact creative industries have on the climate, I began looking at my artistic choices from a broader perspective. I realised that those decisions driven by finances informed my artistic values, pushing me to look for creative solutions outside of the box. 

Creativity grounded in less doesn’t mean smaller ideas but ideas that incorporate what already is in circulation, which the creator has access to without buying additional items to make the artwork. It might sound limiting for some people, or they might feel that this approach takes away their freedom of choice. But for me, it’s freeing as I focus more on context and respect my artistic values in the process. 

Creativity grounded in less has allowed my work to become more authentic without adding more glamour to already saturated, glamourised content. Applying creativity grounded in less takes the pressure off the need for work to look spick and span while pretending to be something other than what it is.  

For instance, I stopped using colour correction in my films and videos. I want to emphasise the natural beauty of the stories I’m telling and encourage the audience to engage on a deeper level beyond what the images portray, which nowadays can be easily manipulated in any direction. I aim to offer the audience the opportunity to immerse themselves in the story instead of being overwhelmed by the perfection of visual stimulations. 

My current multidisciplinary project, Winter Garden, only uses resources I already have or what I can thrift or reclaim. This project is still in the making, and I do not feel deprived of choices, nor do I think I’m limiting my creativity. I feel I’m giving my creativity space to go off the beaten track and take me places I wouldn’t necessarily go if I kept throwing money at my creative problems.

As I already said, only some artists and creators will find freedom in less, and the necessity of their medium will require purchasing new materials, objects, etc. You do you, and you follow your creative instincts and artistic values. 

As for myself, I feel strongly connected to Mother Earth, and this connection is essential to me, my mental health and my creative self. I realise that single-use new items I buy add to global warming, and I don’t want my artwork to be part of the problem. My creativity is strongly intertwined with Gaia and focuses on environmental art, emphasising long-term sustainability and financial stability, reflected in the connectivity between people and their immediate environment.

If humans build houses using reclaimed materials, why not make art using salvaged and rescued materials, work with less waste, focus less on unrealistic and often toxic production values (across all mediums) and swap short-term thinking for long-term sustainability embedded in creative processes?  

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