Art, in all its varied forms, is oftentimes the key to deciphering, celebrating, and coping with the world we live in. Beautiful lyrics, for example, can heal and inspire us, while a colorful, abstract painting has the power to transport us into a new realm, allowing us to view things from a different perspective. And just as we celebrate the art that makes us feel so deeply and motivates us to live boldly, authentically, and without fear, we should also celebrate the talented artists behind those masterpieces.
So together with adidas Originals, whose new female-championed line, Arkyn, celebrates boundary-pushing females driving change across all creative industries, we set out to do just that. At the most recent #TLKS panel (the brand’s global platform uniting creators to discuss culture and individuality), we listened to three über-accomplished ladies speak about their motivations, creative processes, and paths to becoming multidisciplined artists. From electrifying singer-songwriter Kelela to visual artist, photographer, and fashion designer Ana Kraš to pop producer and photographer Syv de Blare, these fearless ladies are the real ones to watch in 2018. Scroll down to read about their journeys — from their triumphs to their morning routines (or lack thereof) — below.
Not all instances of self-expression are celebrated. How did you find the courage to share your art with the world?
Kelela: "I used to conflate courage with fearlessness — for instance, being courageous [means] having no fear — but I’ve learned courage is actually operating around fear or even through it. So having that fear, feeling scared, and still doing it anyway. That’s one of the ways I think I was able to channel courage, by just thinking about it differently."
Syv de Blare: "To me, courage is something that’s cyclical. The fear is actually healing. Birthing [something] creates that fear of transparency and being naked in front of the world, but I think in the end, what motivates me is that healing and the ability to have conversations with fellow women and the community who feel celebrated in my words or artwork."
Ana Kraš: "It takes courage to exist and just be a part of the world, because sometimes it doesn’t really feel so comfortable. I think as long as you’re doing the most natural thing for you, you [don’t need] much extra courage. For instance, I’m not a performer; I’ve never been on stage, and if I had to do something like that, I’d never have the courage because it’s not me. So what I did was become me. There will always be self-doubt and insecurities, but as long as [what you’re doing] is genuine and you aren't forcing it, you'll overcome it."
How do you stay motivated when you have feelings of self-doubt?
K: "It’s interesting, because when I reference my childhood, oftentimes that’s one of the ways I can break through [self-doubt] or motivate myself: remembering the effortlessness with which I approached things as a child. We can all reference something wondrous and personal in our childhood that can help us remember [that confidence] is not outside of us but already a part of who we are. It’s more of an uncovering."
AK: "I think the most talented people I know often have this [habit of] self-sabotage, where they overthink their ideas to a place where they just go nuts. It’s very difficult not to do that, but my way of dealing from an early age was to force myself not to put [too much] importance into what I’m doing — to just do it for myself. I can’t draw on nice pieces of paper because I’m like, This paper is so precious, I’m going to ruin it, so I trick myself into creating things by not putting too much importance [into] it."
SDB: "It’s about activating instead of self-paralyzing with moments of insecurity."
What do you feel is the most effective way to connect with your audience? Online or IRL?
SDB: "I think the celebration from your immediate community is important, and that will anchor you and align you. A wider digital audience might be people you don’t know, so there’s a certain anonymity, but I still believe having your audience being community-based and IRL is what [artists] should build from. Otherwise, it’s not organic and almost fraudulent in a way. There are moments when I do share something [on Instagram], and I actually feel more isolated, so I think my happy place or where I feel the safest is sharing through my music and my craft."
K: "I’m online every day, but when it comes to sharing my everyday experience, I’m not inclined, I guess, is the bottom line. On one hand, I want to be in the practice of being present: not needing to take my phone out to let everyone know that I’m experiencing this thing. Then there’s the other side of it, where it’s nice to share, and it helps me communicate and connect with my audience. So I feel like I’m in a constant battle. I find I usually lean too much on the side of IRL, so I’m trying to make an effort of being more fluid [with] how I share."
AK: "I’m an obsessive photographer, so Instagram is the only thing I use, and I really like it, but the amount of photos and things that I see in one day just being on Instagram is more than I would see in a year when I was forming myself. It’s such a great thing and such a dark thing at the same time."
Tell us about your creative process. How do you bring your ideas to life?
SDB: "I’m really keen on the first phase [of the creative process], which is collecting, researching, trying to find things. Because I have a photography background, I work visually, so I’ll be at art shows or watching four movies a day — just really immersing myself to find imagery that can actually represent my inner realm. From there, [I decide] how I’m going to articulate the idea, whether it’s musically or in photography."
K: "I’m a nerd, so I kind of approach everything really cerebrally, academically. When I hadn’t done anything musically in a while, I would question, How do you go from no song to the start of a song? And the advice I was given was to just go and jam. It’s probably the biggest jump anyone can take as a performer, just improvising. It’s hard to describe that moment [of creation], but it requires a willingness to not know what’s about to happen and, more than anything, to be like, I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m really uncomfortable, but I’m just about to do this thing, and it might suck."
Do you try to shut out cultural influences when you create to make your art feel authentic?
K: "I think that’s a construct — the notion that you can shut out culture. Even somebody who goes upstate to be in a cabin for a week is still scrolling, and they’re still a part of the world. It’s more about [cultivating] an environment you like creating in than being able to achieve full shut out. If you’re an artist, you live in the world, and you’re just synthesizing a bunch of things that you’ve seen. There’s nothing new under the sun, and that’s a really important place to start from because it forces humility. It makes you start from a place of just wanting to be a contribution to a pool of knowledge and work that everyone has been throwing into."
SDB: "[As an artist,] there's this feeling of free falling or taking a blind jump when you’re re-articulating ideas that have already been there, but doing that is what makes an artist strong and successful."
K: "That is what an artist is: You’re putting things together in your head, they manifest in the world, and we can look at them. But really it's the mind that's constantly constructing and putting things together."
How do you get in the right headspace to create? Do you have a morning ritual?
K: "I think it’s important to care for yourself before you have to be outwardly facing. You can’t do a great job of interacting with the world and being patient with people if you [don’t] give yourself enough time. I find that my day is very different if I just wake up and go straight into being outwardly focused."
AK: "I don’t really have routines. I don’t drink coffee; I don’t have things I regularly do in the morning other than brush my teeth and wash my face. I do try to be by myself without having to give too much [to others] immediately, though. I find in the morning you have to center yourself before anything you do, even it’s just a banal task."
SDB: "I lucid dream, so I need a second to internalize what I’ve just put myself through for a bit and write it down. After, I’ll call my family. My mom is still in Montreal and my sister is in Europe, so I need that grounding female energy that I grew up with. Then I’m ready to start my day."