Artist Spotlight

Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd finds magic in the process

Vanessa is a French-Canadian archaeologist and artist living abroad, currently in Beijing, China. Her interests lie at the intersection of ritual, art, and documenting. She believes that art is the source of living an intentional life.

How do you live a creative life? How do you incorporate journaling into that?

I live a creative life in that my eyes are open to the magic within everything that is part of my day. I am a big documenter. As such, I approach everything I do with a creative stance, from the photos I take to the food I make. Journaling is a part of that as much as the rest. I always make time for it because I know how I am if I don’t.

What does your creative space look like? Where do you journal?

My creative space is a luminous studio with a standing desk and lots of drawers full of paper! I am actually moving and am excited to see what my new studio will look like.

Do you have any creative routines?

I don’t have an immutable routine. One thing that is constant though is that I clean up my desk space when I finish each art-making session. This helps with my flow as my space isn’t cluttered and I can approach the next thing I want to make with fresh eyes.

What is art journaling to you?

Art journaling is a process to lay down anything that I am feeling or that I want to explore. It is a space for me to feel what I need to and then to release these feelings into an art spread. It is a gift that I give myself.

What does community do for your art?

Community is essential to my art because so much of what I do emerges from collaborations or discussions shared with other creatives. Community allows me to feel seen and to feel a part of something bigger and supportive.

What is your favourite art journal page that you’ve ever made and why?

It’s of course very difficult to choose just one page. I love this one because it has a lot of what I love: first, my namesake Vanessa Paradis, then bones, heart, eye, and moon – all symbols that I work with a lot. There is iridescence, balance, and that deep black. The only thing missing is a touch of fluorescent red! The screen-printed piece with the eye on the top right is by Cait Sherwood.

What is your biggest barrier to creating? And how do you overcome that hurdle?

My biggest barrier is me thinking I have nothing original to say or to bring to the table. That voice is one that wants me to self-censor and that is the biggest barrier for me in that I need to express myself creatively. I overcome this by ignoring the voice and by reminding myself that everything I make is for myself first. I don’t have to share it if I don’t want to.

Have you ever made something you don’t like? What did you do?

Yes. I cover it up or I glue the two pages together and I move on.

Have you ever been through artist block? How did you return to your work?

I have never gotten artist block, but I have had periods where I don’t feel like creating at all. But these periods have always felt necessary to me. I see them as fallow periods, where things are germinating and slowly emerging. They are also a time to refill my artist well.

How has Get Messy impacted your creativity?

Get Messy is central to my creativity in two main ways. First, it has given me a push to step out of my comfort zone many times over, especially when inviting us to try new things. Second, it has given me a space where it’s possible to share ideas, hold art conversations, and feel part of a community. Both these elements have helped me grow and evolve throughout the years.

✨ Free class for creatives ✨

In How to Start Art Journaling, we’ll walk you through the art of art journaling, including how to start doing (🙌) and make your very first art journal page (even if you’ve never even opened an art journal before).

What journal do you use?

I love handmade journals and Moleskines.

What is your one *must have* supply?

It’s hard to mention only one supply but this would be the Black Uniball Signo Broad.

What do you make when you don’t know what to make?

I make a background or a collage piece.

What is the most important (non-tool) thing to your creative practice?

The most important thing is uninterrupted creative time – be it 5 minutes or an hour.

Who are your favourite Messy artists?

I have so many creatives that inspire me! My favorites are Julia Bethmann, Debbie Bamberger, Elly Mack, Sarah Rondon, Caroline Hiscock and Emily Mulroney.

What’s the best art advice you’ve ever received?

“Push through the ugly”. Every single thing you will make has an ugly phase. Keep going, that is part of the process.

Advice to new art journalers:

Do not get discouraged if it doesn’t look like what you thought it would in your head. the result is less important that the process itself. That is where the magic lies.

Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd

Vanessa is a French-Canadian archaeologist and artist living abroad, currently in Beijing, China. Her interests lie at the intersection of ritual, art, and documenting. She believes that art is the source of living an intentional life.

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