Saturday, July 4, 2009

Interview: Getting Graphic with Terri Dennis—The Pop Art Diva of Creative, Spirited Living

You know her whether or not you’ve met. Her name is Terri Dennis, aka: Pop Art Diva, The Martini Diva, The Normal Challenged Artist and The Diva of Tiny Foods among her many blog identities, further noted and linked at the bottom of this article.

How do you know her? You see her creative, spirited artwork in my mastheads every time you visit Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights or my astrology blog,
The Radical Virgo. You’ve seen her in Eileen Williams’ Feisty Boomer Boutique designs, one of which was posted when Eileen won the Hot Flashbacks Spring Comment Contest.

When Terri’s wearing her design-for-others hat (as opposed to being
The Brat in the Hat on one of her other blogs), Terri offers professional graphic design, including logos, mastheads, animation, illustration, cartooning, branding, and copy writing through her graphic design and marketing service, Graphica Studios. That’s where she “gets graphic” with you.

Terri is truly one of the most creative individuals I have ever met, and creativity is one of the hallmarks of spirited living. She also has a sense of humor that won’t quit—one of the other must-haves for a spirited life. As The Martini Diva, Terri teaches us how to enjoy spirits of another kind in a responsible, but delicious and bubbly way.

Terri, today I hope you can share a bit with us about your creativity and creative process--also, how we can benefit from it.

First question, from your perspective, how is humor part of “spirited living?” You are an expert at it.

Terri: Frankly, a sense of humor is a necessity for living any kind of a happy life, especially these days. A sense of humor can save you from sinking into depression, it can make you laugh at things you could be crying at, it makes others laugh - spreading positive energy. Humor makes you an easier person to be around, people like a sense of humor if it's kind-spirited.

I tend to point most of my humor at myself--poking fun at me instead of others. I use humor to tease others out of bad moods and I infuse humor into all of my art products. I just see the "funny" in life even when life is being difficult.

Joyce: In one of the classic books on creativity, Higher Creativity by Willis Harmon and Howard Rheingold, the authors talk about the importance of play in catalyzing creativity. I’d love to hear your perspective on that, because you surely do help us eat, drink, and be merry on your martini and food blogs—and show us how to have a good time on all of them.

Terri: Play? Play is absolutely the most important element in any creative endeavor! A sense of playfulness, a childlike quality is as essential to an artist as the brush they paint with or the canvas they paint on. Play encourages creativity! Play doesn't put any pressure or demands on the creative process and pressure, demands and expectations are natural enemies to being creative.

I have always made sure I reserve some time in my professional life for play--I will play at new mediums and new art styles, I give myself "play days" where I do something creative for fun and not money. The other day I started a hand-painted furniture project for my home--the only objective here is to make myself happy with my new piece of furniture!

As a professional artist, I can tend to approach what I do artistically from a "will it sell" viewpoint and this can lead towards a stagnant style and art that is no longer vibrant and exciting. Play is the tool that keeps me fresh, excited and engaged in all my projects.

Joyce: Any personal thoughts on how our readers can keep their creative juices flowing?

Well, play, of course! Also, I always keep something nearby where I can make quick notes about new ideas or designs or thoughts. I get ideas in the strangest places, at the strangest times and if I don't write it down, I lose it. These days I use my Smartphone and either make a quick voice note or even text myself with a thought or idea!

I also believe that you need "downtime." Take a day, take a few hours, take a week--whatever--and read a book, watch a movie, take a walk, go to a gallery or museum. Get away and blow the cobwebs out every so often! A rested mind and body are much more open and helpful to the creativity flow.

I've recently started doodling again! I've been so involved in computer graphics that I kind of ignored my old school friends of a number two pencil and sketchpad! There's something about calling it doodling that releases the tension of having to "get it right" and it's amazing what you'll end up doodling out of your unconscious mind.

Joyce: One of your other specialties is nostalgia, particularly for baby boomers. How do you think that plays into the concept on Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights about learning from the past as guidance for the future? Most adults past 40 just love “the good old days,” and we love them more the longer we live.

Terri: What's the old saying, "Those who don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them?" I love nostalgia and I love the look of "retro" but I'm not mired in the past. I don't think old or new is either good or bad--it's just different.

What I enjoy most, and enjoy writing most about on The Pop Art Diva Blog, is remembering things like family vacations, childhood events and the good memories they invoke about my family that others might relate too in their trips down Memory Lane--like the old home perms--now there's fodder for funny!

Everything comes back into style eventually - and each generation thinks it was their idea, LOL! I could have done without the reintroduction of platform shoes though!

Joyce: When I’ve used your services as a graphic artist, I have been amazed at the synergy between my original vision, your artistic take on it, and the final product—which has ended up better than I imagined every time. How do you do that—capture and convey others’ spirit—in doing their branding?

Terri: Well, a lot of that is experience blended with education and knowledge. But asking your client questions is vital to getting a feel for who they are, what they want their brand to be. Then it's my job to guide them towards a visual that best represents what their brand is. Many clients aren't even sure what their brand is or should be and this is where my expertise helps define the final product.

A little "intuition" and sensitivity is pretty helpful too--get to know your client and you'll get a lot of information about their business plan that they might not even be aware of!

It's also my job to make sure I develop a logo and brand visuals that are designed with an eye to final usage and for company growth. Many people are thinking very shortsighted--thinking they might only need a logo for a web masthead or a communications package. But a company can surprise you and grow and expand in directions you never planned for and this is something I keep in mind when trying to meet their current needs--I want to make sure the graphics can grow with their company. This is where the questions can really help define how I approach their designs.

Joyce: When we truly live a spirited life, we give our unique gifts back to society or the collective. How are you doing that now, and where are you headed with your contributions in the future?

Terri: One of my favorite things in the days I did fine art shows--was interacting with young people interested in art or becoming an artist. You can tell the emerging artists, even in the littlest children! They are the ones actually looking at your work, they want to touch and they want to talk to the artist. I always took extra time to talk to these young people and still do today.

I love sharing what I do with future artists--I taught art to children some years ago and loved it - kids don't have preconceived ideas and they are so open to their own creativity. It's a relationship that has a great give and take because I gain a lot just being around these totally open little people!

Joyce: Thank you for being a great friend to Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights and to me, personally. I feel your essence is a big part of this blog through your artwork and frequent comments. It’s been great to be able to share more of the wealth of your talents and fun spirit with our Cool Insighters!


For more background on Terri Dennis, aka: Pop Art Diva, read her
online bio.

The POP ART DIVA Blog - Pop Culture of Yesterday v. Today
The BRAT in the HAT - Rantings from a Grumpy Old Woman
The MARTINI DIVA - Free Martini Recipes, Tips and Tricks
The DIVA of TINY FOODS - Appetizer recipes and great tips for foodies
The NORMAL CHALLENGED ARTIST - Artist's resource blog
Life is Like Art- My newest artwork and art projects
The ROAD to DIVA - Visit Divaville to empower the DIVA in you

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