Welcome to the Step Up Create podcast hosted by artist, business coach and facilitator, Katie Annice Carr, where we’ll be hopefully be inspiring you to live a creative life, whatever form that creativity might take.
So what’s your story with creativity? Here’s mine. In this episode, I dredge up the past and look at how creativity has been a thread through my life. From struggling to get used to secondary school without a mum around, to starting my law career, to international travel with leading business schools and coping with the pandemic with two small kids and a company.
Find our website at www.stepupcreate.com Follow us on Instagram @step_up_create Follow us on Facebook @stepupcreate
Follow my art at www.katieannicecarr.com an on Instagram at @katieannice
Original music written and performed by Jonathan D. Mellor licensed to Step Up Create S.L.
Hello and welcome to the Step Up Create Podcast. This is a podcast for people of all creative persuasions, whether your inspiration comes from designing businesses painting pictures, or watching Netflix. If you’d like to know more about step up create or the Step Up create podcast, please go to www.stepupcreate.com Please follow us and give us a review, it really does make a big difference. Now on with this week’s show.
Hi everybody, and thank you for joining me on my first ever podcast episode. I’m really excited to get this started. And hopefully we’re going to learn and grow or I’m going to learn and grow, whilst I’m doing the podcast so if you’re listening to it thinking oh my god, this could be so much better. Well, hopefully it will be, I believe strongly in learning by doing and not putting things off until you’re absolutely perfect at it, but actually just starting. So that’s what I’m doing I’m just starting here, and hopefully you’re going to enjoy it, And I’d be really interested to hear any ideas that you might have about what would be cool on the podcast, and of course if you would like to come on to the podcast, I would really be interested in hearing from you. So go ahead and contact me my email address is Katie@Stepupcreate.com.
And, well, let’s get on with the first show I recorded this. A few weeks ago I really wanted to get the first episode done, and you can see at the very beginning of sound a little bit uncertain in telling my story, but you’ll see that as I go on it becomes more dynamic and more relaxed so please stick with it or just skip ahead a little bit, and I look forward to hearing your reviews, by the way when I started doing this podcast started recording it. It coincided with a whole load of renovation in the place where I worked in my studio is in a normal building, and unfortunately this renovation started exactly the same time as I’m recording the podcast, so I’ve had to learn how to edit sound out which I know isn’t always the best option, I’ve been recording at night as much as possible, and I do apologise if you hear any kind of drilling in the background I’ve tried to minimise that as much as possible. So one of the challenges that I’ve had to face one of the many challenges I’ve had to face while doing this podcast, I think that I like to live this idea of not being afraid to do something you don’t know how to do, and just, you know, getting on with it and trying it out. So I hope that I can inspire you to take that attitude sometimes as well. So with all of that putting off the inevitable, let’s get on with the first episode.
So for the first episode I would thought that I would somewhat originally share my story a little bit with creativity. And when I do a workshop on creativity what I often start with is a question or what is creativity for you. And this is probably something we’re going to be exploring throughout the whole podcast, but I thought I’d share a little bit what is creativity for me or what has it been so far. So essentially creativity has been pretty much everything. It’s been a Safety Man, it’s been a sea of frustration, and it’s been a way of being relatively successful in business and law. I’ve always painted and drawn, and also sung. And when I was little, my parents would often present me as, this is Katie. She’s not very intellectual, she is creative, and this kind of emphasis on the need to be something other than creative has probably led me to doing for Masters reading 1000s of books and ending up teaching at one of the best business schools in the world, but I’m sure for my parents, I would still be defined as not intellectual. Isn’t it strange how an early label of creative or not creative, can do so much damage. So, I have to be honest creativity has done quite a lot for me when I was 11 my mother became mentally ill. Suddenly, she woke up one day and didn’t remember her name and she didn’t know who any of us were. And I was just thrown into this world of uncertainty. At a time when I was changing schools, and also just coming to the end of my childhood. Luckily, aside from the bullying at the school and the hard side. I also discovered drama. Drama at my school was wonderful. It was led by a lady called Jannet Wignell, and she was a young teacher with a mission to create a space of trust more than trainers as actors, and she was really tough. So if anyone laughed at anyone else in drama. They were kicked out. And it quickly became a refuge for me from what was going on outside this emotional safety net that I really didn’t have anywhere else, this debt to drama led me somewhat unwisely to pursue as a university, rather than my previous much more sensible choice of biology. And I realised pretty quickly that creativity was not leading me towards financially sustainable choices. I reached the end of my degree, and then I decided to study law, then you might think law is not very creative, but I challenge you on that law is all about problem solving, within different frame frameworks, with different levels of information you needed to figure out where the case law might go next, or get the best resolution for your client. So for me it was very creative, it just had a lot of rules, like most things that we do law brought me to Spain via the European Commission in Brussels, and eventually I had to decide whether to go back to the UK or to Belgium, or to stay in Madrid, it was the creativity of Spain that won my heart, it seemed to be a much more human approach to life than I’d experienced in the UK, so I gave up law, and I moved into international marketing and communication initially for law firms and then for business schools. It was my job to find create and tell the stories of the institutions I worked for and their stakeholders. And of course I had to pitch them to journalists and potential clients or collaborators, and I got to travel the world, and I needed to keep in mind with the strategic objectives of the organization’s remembering what the purpose was. So it was always creativity within limits. But there’s wonderful creativity nonetheless. To supplement this creativity within the rules I kept on developing my painting, drawing photography and theatre, not all at the same time,but I never really talked about it, I felt like I was already almost too creative for the places I was working in, and it really wasn’t a great idea to rock the boat by letting colleagues know I actually made things
So I kept it a bit of a secret, as I got more and more on the strategic side of work, I decided to go and do an MBA, not a common choice for someone with a drama degree who paints I can tell you here despite what you might think I discovered other forms of creativity. Creativity and teamwork in finance in business plans in solving operational problems, or the creativity that many of you live on a daily basis, and a curious thing happened. The higher that I got in the organisations I worked for the more I was using all the creative skills, I’d learned all those years ago in drama. So, when I was managing a team of five professionals in Costa Rica, I use the leadership skills I developed when I wrote and directed a musical theatre play with 50 unpaid actors, when I was visiting clients in Delhi or Nairobi. I applied the flexibility I’ve learned through improvisation. When I was asked to present last minute, a conference in Tunis, I use my communication skills and above all this ability to turn negative nerves into positive energy which came directly from theatre. I could give you so many examples of how it’s been useful. So one evening on a business trip to Dubai in 2014, which I’ll talk about a bit more in a later episode. While drinking an extremely overpriced glass of Chardonnay, I realised it was time for me to really start to honour what theatre and the arts had given to me professionally and personally, and start to help others to harness their power. I scribbled my vision in a notebook that I still got here and started to think about creating this business idea called Step Up create. I eventually left my job, it took me a while, I’ll admit to get the gumption up to leave the job but I eventually did it. And I remember very clearly how that first unsalaried Day felt a certain friend of mine new Mac with nothing and everything to do, and starting a business is a massive creative project, it reminded me of directing a play. I tried to take a strategic approach to going into loan. What did I need to improve, what extra training did I need. And after some thought I realised two things would really help me. One, getting more teaching experience, and to training as a coach. I’d started teaching undergraduates in social leadership and communication in 2013. It was another big creative challenge at the beginning, I love designing the course and bring it to life in the classroom. And I really felt I could do more. So when I left my real job. I was free to develop my skill as a teacher, I took on any teaching job I was offered, and that I thought I could do a reasonable job on, I packed in hundreds of hours of teaching anything from career development business strategy implementation storytelling and design thinking. I was constantly prototyping new courses, and on a steep learning curve, but enjoying the creativity, nonetheless, but more or less the same time I started training as a coach, and then a transdisciplinary art therapist and Gestalt therapist, so this has been seven years of training in in kind of self reflection and understanding others in order to support them through transformation. And in this self reflective part of the journey. I started to understand that creativity is also about how you manage yourself and your life challenges. The choice to be reactive and just kind of ignore your opportunity to play your role or to take control of your narrative, or to actually create just do something that’s a little bit different, a little bit more intentional. And this was when I started to realise also that having one foot in the arts and the other in business my whole life was actually something that could be useful and valuable to others. So I started to bring the power of expressive arts to business, focusing on the areas of creativity, communication and leadership. And through that, there’s grander vision that I have of humanising business and society so I feel like if we are able to have more people associated or creating or experiencing the Expressive Arts, then automatically almost society and business will become more human, we can’t really create without connecting with our inherent humanity. So, this is kind of the overarching really big thing. Also, business is nothing more than groups of individuals. So become more and more interested in how can help individuals to live creative lives. This true freer, more purposeful version of themselves. Of course, I don’t want to make out that creativity has been this kind of panacea for me as a mother of two young boys in a business dealing with maternity leave the pandemic and carving out time for myself it’s been tough. I’ve often felt like my life choices of becoming a mother was severely limiting both my creative and business potential and kind of dreamed of when I might get some of that back for a long time I had January 2020 as the start of the business proper. What I mean by this is actually really trying designing launching programmes proactively getting new clients, rather than sort of using just the contacts already had which has gone pretty well for me because I had a lot of contacts but really I wanted to do something a lot more structured maybe use some of the information or the ways of working that I learned in my MBA. So 20 January 2020 That was when my youngest son Max would start nursery and we have no plans to have any more. And now I could see this ocean of possibility before me. No more interruptions, where it was really impossible to create or to do business. And so, in December, 2019 I rented a space close to my home, where I could offer individual coaching sessions and small workshops and I happily started getting it ready to go.
I had quite a lot of work in February, 2020, and I held the inauguration of the space on the fourth of March 20 2010 days later, Spain went into full lockdown. I didn’t open the shutter again until May 22, and even then I couldn’t really go there to work for me, like many others lockdown was a turning point I had a three year old son and an eight month old son, and I suddenly became like a 1950s mother. In the first weeks I did nothing more than looking after the kids and this was certainly not what I thought motherhood would be like for me
Early on a friend of mine Mary suggested that I put some videos out on how to draw and paint since many people were in need of some kind of creative energy and ways to entertain themselves and their kids, and I didn’t really have the technical equipment to do this properly, but I had recently paid the full Vimeo account subscription for business, and I knew it wasn’t really going to be using that anymore. So I thought it would be worth to try. So for a few days I put up some boundaries, or snuck out at nap time and went down to draw and paint on video, and it gave me a purpose and something for me to do, though the videos aren’t great, they are still on Vimeo if you’re interested, as locked down time dragged on. And for a long time in Spain, we were only allowed to go out to buy food, and you really couldn’t just go out and buy a packet of biscuits and wander around for an hour because they were, they were handing out, fines, quite liberally. So I stopped doing the videos after a while, but I continued doing the painting and drawing, both with your friends, my oldest son who was then three, and without him. When I could. And what became really clear in the midst of pandemia depression was that the days that I found a moment to create were better for me. Something was lighter. I felt like there was hope that I would be able to get back on my feet. And it was creativity within limits. Again, I developed through this law and business communication that idea of creativity within limits, the attitude that okay this is the situation. So what’s possible from here. That is so so difficult to find, when you’re feeling a little bit depressed and down, and it was painting and drawing that sort of got me out of that mindset of everything shared into a what’s possible from here situation. So, when the nurseries finally opened in June 2020 Yeah, we were lucky in that aspect here in Spain. I suddenly had my space back and this was both literally and metaphorically, you know I was back in my real space, and I couldn’t really have any clients in it, because of all the limitations we didn’t really know what we were doing back in, in June 2020 And so I had to think about was I going to keep this space that was mine, or was I going to get rid of it and save myself some money. I decided to hang on to it because I basically love it because I created this space that I love that is wonderful for doing individual sessions for even online training for everything, but I also realised that not only was it good for that it was also good as an art studio. And I’d never have permitted myself to have an art studio. Had it not been for for COVID and for this situation. So, throughout lockdown I’d been both inspired and frustrated by artists friends of mine who were also sharing their work, and somehow I always saw their work as better, deeper more artistic than my own. So I decided to invent an art project for myself as an art therapist, I knew that I could in some way heal or at least give some meaning to my lockdown journey through producing art over the first three weeks back without children during the day, I created at six collagraph prints of a cup of coffee, representing what became my few seconds a day that were truly mine where I could sit that coffee without interruption in my ugly mug. If you’re interested, you can see this on my artists website and the website is www dot Katie Annice carr.com This project basically confirmed to me the power of art in it, I could see my journey through lockdown. And the 86 days I was away from my home, I was sort of lost my identity in one way or another, and there were lots of ups and downs in that as I’m sure that all of you remember from your own journey through lockdown. And I pretty much created this reality before lockdown that I was pretty happy with and suddenly I was thrown into another one so the, the work of art is interesting in that when I look at it all together and it’s quite difficult to look at all together. You can see that journey that that dark darkness in then eventually coming out into some light. Anyway, After creating this I was feeling buoyant and also because I was feeling integral kind of true to myself. I was telling people that arts can be powerful. And then I was also using the power on myself, so my 43rd birthday, I bought myself a massive easel, as a present that can hold canvases up to two metres, and a whole load of paint and paint brushes in Spain, there’s a concept of outdoor rogalla which is a present for yourself which I’ve adopted. It’s great because it means that you just get yourself a birthday present, and it’s not gonna be the wrong thing, it’s just going to be perfect and it’s a good excuse to buy yourself something so this was my outer regular from 2020. And I also discovered acrylic inks in this, just as a side I know that most of you are not artists, but if you’re ever interested in doing any kind of painting, get yourself some acrylic inks, they are so much fun and so colourful.
So just a quick aside there. Anyway, I started to paint with these acrylic inks, and what came out was a collection of paintings that I eventually called colour riots, basically an explosion of colour and shapes and kind of a middle finger up to the pandemic and the grey of missing springtime, I felt a huge amount of support on Facebook from friends and family, basically, and by August I decided to come out as an artist, I kept creating daily, and I had my website ready by the beginning of September, started moving things forward on Instagram, and kept working hard and developing my art and they still do this every day, although for the past few weeks I’ve been trying to get this podcast up so I haven’t been painting as much, so I know that part of leading my creative life is about creating art. I spent so many years creating the odd painting or collage but not thinking it was possible to do much more. And undervaluing how important it was for me to do much more. The parentheses of the pandemia basically opened up and gave me a chance to re examine what I was doing, and to make space for this as something as important to me as going to the gym, which I’m going to do in a minute. So, my creative choice is to include making art in my life, it’s to go to the theatre when I can to perform improv theatre when possible, to love good stories on Netflix, or in fiction, and to embrace creativity in business, but we’re all different, we all have different ways of leading our creative lives. What’s your way of leading your creative life? What’s your creative persuasion?
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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