by Jesse Hoth | photos by Scottee Giles –
According to new research by neuroscientists, creativity uses your entire brain – the “default network” or “imagination network” allows us to discover meaning within our experiences, understand stories and other perspectives, and reflect on the emotions of both ourselves and others. The many facets that contribute to the creative process range from mindfulness to mind wandering, intuition to reason, and solitude to collaboration. Here are five local innovators who have made a business out of their creative endeavors.
Pam is the owner of Pammiecakes Bakery, creating artful cake, cupcake, and other bakery designs that look too good to eat. “I’ve always loved being in the kitchen,” explains Pam. “Cooking and baking are things I really enjoy – my mother and both my grandmothers would teach my sister and I family recipes that I cherish, and still use in my cakes and desserts today.”
The first project Pam ever created was a Disney-inspired Up cake, designed to be Ellie’s adventure book from the movie. “I made it for a group of our friends and all of our children,” she explains. “I will never forget the looks on their faces of surprise and enjoyment. They all encouraged me to start Pammiecakes.” Pam gets inspired by the local scenery and fresh produce, as well as other talented creators. “They’re a big inspiration! So are my customers – I love getting a message from someone saying how much they enjoyed their order.
“My creative process definitely includes a lot of homework and planning, different research for styles and techniques,” says Pam. “I constantly have to remind myself that I am still learning, and that not every project is perfect.” When in the zone, she tries to slow down and watch it all come together. “You can’t rush a cake!”
“Don’t be afraid of the hard work,” adds Pam. “There are no shortcuts! And don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Sarah is a visual artist and member of the W̱SÁNEĆ nation from Tseycum, who creates large-scale artworks like murals and exhibition pieces, along with smaller paintings, prints and handmade painted drums. “I’m influenced by the beauty of the land, sea and sky in which my ancestors have stewarded since time immemorial,” explains Sarah. “My art often depicts stories and teachings of W̱SÁNEĆ culture, mixed with aspects of things and beings that I admire.”
“My favourite piece currently lives in Beckwith Park,” says Sarah. “I painted a mural that honours the surrounding ecosystems.” She included a frog, newt and snake in the design because she loves to show creatures that aren’t often in the spotlight. “I love honouring the underdogs.” While Sarah didn’t set out to create her own unique painting style, she says it’s like having a fingerprint. “It’s really humbling when folks tell me that they saw a design and immediately knew it was mine. Being creative is medicine – not only for me, but for those who view it.”
“I create to represent W̱SÁNEĆ people on our own lands,” explains Sarah. “Art is an obvious sign that we are still here, and that our culture is beautiful.” Sarah is currently working on several new projects, including a commission for an exhibition that is centred around the symbiotic relationship between mycelium and the forest.
Her advice to budding creatives? “Just keep going. You may not know what you want to do, but if you keep following the things you love, you’ll end up where you need to be.”
Tara is a floral designer and owner of Petals n Buds florist shop in Brentwood Bay. “My creative self evolved over time, and I didn’t know I could be good at it until I tried,” explains Tara. “My philosophy is that everyone has the ability to create something beautiful – we need to find our voice, and for me floral design is an outlet for something that can’t be confined to words.”
“I always create first, what I call, a nest,” Tara explains, of her creative process. “Within a nest, all things come together: flowers are threaded in between natural branches of variegated oregonia, huckleberry, sword fern, and maybe some twisted corkscrew willow to give it a frame. Every arrangement is new; every combination needs something a little different to make it stand out. I feel very grateful to be in a position to help people express themselves through flowers. I never take this for granted.”
“My favourite things I’ve made are the most whimsical pieces, where flowers just seem to fall in the right spot, and over the life of the arrangement the flowers open and change the shape of the design. Someone once described like a cloud as it changed against a clear blue sky. I liked that image.”
Tara’s advice: “Many of us have been taught what the end result must look like, but few of us have been given the materials and encouraged to explore without judgment. So, find some materials, seek out the support you need to get started and try.”
Michelle is the owner of HeyRona Designs, where she creates knitwear, handmade clothing and accessories for babies and toddlers. She started by drafting her own unique pattern for a T-shirt, then slowly added bibs, bloomers, paperbag skirts, peplum tops, knotbows (soft hairties) and scrunchies (for adults too!). She then added knitted toques in a coordinating yarn to complement the bright, fun patterns of the T-shirts.
“Knitting is a skill that my Nanna taught me when I was young,” explains Michelle. She still owns an infinity scarf that all three generations knit – her Nanna, her mum, and herself. “I really enjoy using my hands and creativity to make and design practical items for everyday use,” says Michelle. “Inheriting needles is a great way to grow your stash of tools and even yarn. It took a few years before I really felt I had reached the level where it was time to invest in some beautiful needles of my own, and even splurge on both luxury yarns and purchasing patterns.”
For Michelle, being in the zone means that everything else falls away and there are no whisperings of self-doubt or lack of confidence. “I honestly feel that I have to create. I get a bit antsy and restless if I haven’t made anything in a while. I believe that all creators put their energy into their work. I hope that my love of knitting and the joy it brings me transcends to the person who wears the finished product.”
Lynette La Fontaine
Lynette is a Two-Spirit Otipemisiwak artist who grew up in a creative family. Their mom is a professional artist, and would often sew, paint and make clothing. “I have always been creative, after I had my two kids, I put my creativity to sleep,” explains Lynette. Feeling that something was missing, they pursued beadwork and eventually a mentorship with a master Métis beader. Lynette also learned other Métis artforms such as whitefish scales, hair tufting, porcupine quillwork, hide tanning and moccasin making. “Building relationships for informal and formal mentorships has substantially helped me on my creative journey and is crucial for learning, maintaining, and passing on culturally significant art forms.”
For Lynette, the creative process starts by dreaming, researching, and creating a design. “Being in the zone often means I have a nice flow, and time feels irrelevant,” says Lynette. “I believe in the agency of my work and let it guide me as I create.”
“The land and ancestors inspire me,” explains Lynette. “Métis people are known as the Flower Beadwork People – we bead and embellish nearly everything! Our close connection to the plants, animals, water and land gives endless inspiration. Our cultural identity is expressed through wearable beadwork and other artforms, which connote familial stories, spiritual gifts and protection. Spending time with community, being on the land and near water, ceremony, dreams, ancestor pieces and the plants endlessly fill my creative cup.”
“We believe our work has spirit,” adds Lynette. “I want to embody love, connection, inspiration, humility, and legacy for future generations.”