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Creative Power Episode 1: My Creative Journey

In this first episode of Creative Power, you’ll get to meet me, Camilla Fellas Arnold, as your host. I’ll be setting the scene for the aims of this podcast, the struggles we face as both creatives and “not” creatives alike and I’ll be sharing some of the stories of my own creative journey that has led to the creation of this podcast.

To find out how to work with me visit www.camillafellasarnold.com/creativepower

For episode transcripts visit: https://camillafellasarnold.com/category/podcast/



Welcome to Creative Power, a podcast designed to help you claim the full spectrum of your creative potential. I’m Camilla, Fellas Arnold, and I’m passionate about discussing how we change the face of both the creative industries, and how we interact with creativity itself, so that it nourishes our soul, and helps us express ourselves with alignment, flow and authenticity. Let’s get started.

Welcome to Episode One of Creative Power. I’m your host, Camilla Fellas Arnold, and I’m so excited to be starting this journey with you. I created this podcast to help people step into their creative potential. Because I’ve been there myself feeling lost, feeling unable to get ideas out of my head, feeling like I was never going to find my style, or even be successful. And I’ve definitely allowed other people to dictate my dreams more than once.

But in the last 18 months, I’ve been on this journey of undoing, unlearning, and unravelling myself. And it’s made me very passionate about ensuring that other people don’t have to experience what I did. Because I want to help people unleash their creativity, overcome their fears, claim their deepest desires, I want to help you reach that creative power that seems so unreasonable, but it feels impossible to reach. Well, let me tell you, it is absolutely yours for the taking.

We have been sold the story that we must bleed for our art, that in achieving that coveted title of creative genius, is to walk a path of psychosis, pain and suffering. And if not any of those, at the very least, is to reach starvation, as we’re doomed to walk the path of being not seen, not heard, not appreciated, not valued, and consequently, not paid.

I’m here to tell you and show you a different story.

It’s a story that tells a walking hand in hand with experiencing joy in the creative process, not suffering. It’s a story of being seen, heard, recognised, valued, and crucially, fairly paid for the creativity we bring forth to enrich the world. Because without creativity, this world would be a much poorer place. I want to help you find that flow, find your authentic voice and encourage you to stop holding yourself back. The world needs us more than it knows, the world needs to hear you. Your unique voice, your perspective, so much more than you know.

I’m here with a story about how we can break down the paradigms of what everyone thinks creativity looks like, and address how we can invite it into our lives regardless of whether we perceive ourselves to be creative or not.

For me, creative power is about how we can claim it within ourselves, and also how we can honour it in everyone else because everyone’s interpretation is valid. And if I can help just one person with this podcast, reclaim a dream or regain their flow, then I will consider that a job well done.

Now, I don’t know if I can really follow that hopefully rousing opening. But because it’s the first episode, I think it’s really important to introduce myself. So I’m going to give you a few key points from my creative journey. I’ll try not to make it really long – no one wants to listen to an essay. But hopefully it will paint enough of a picture about who I am.

So I was your typical creative child and did a lot of pretty much everything you can think of that was creative. One thing that does stand out in my mind is I spent an inordinate amount of time designing clothes, drawing clothes. It hasn’t manifested as anything in my adult life or creative practice yet, but you know, there’s still time.

My main love, however, really was stories. I was called the book monster by my mum because I just devoured books and when I wasn’t reading them, I was making my own up. And I’m pretty sure no one ever asked me but I’m pretty sure that if you’d asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said I wanted to be a writer. Cue, creative cock blocking moment of my life number one.

So, you know how kids always say they’re bored? I did this once, we had a family member visiting. And I said, ‘Oh, I’m bored. What do I do?’ So they said, ‘Hey, how about you write me a story?’ Yes, perfect. So off I go, with my little A4 sheets of paper. I went and wrote my story. And I drew the pictures and proudly presented The Princess and The Orb. There they are reading through and I’m on tenterhooks, so excited.

And then they read through it and in that offhand kind of joking way that adults do, but children just can’t quite understand. They said, ‘well, it’s not Lord of the Rings, is it?’ Oh, well, no, I guess it isn’t, is what I should have said. You know, I was eight. What do you expect me to do? I, I’m not going to sit there and write how many thousands of words inside an hour.

And what I heard. I know, it wasn’t what you said, but what I heard was, well, if you can’t write anything as good as Lord of the Rings, why bother trying? So in that moment, my dream to be a writer just withered and died.

So if I couldn’t do that, then what was I going to do? Instead, I carried on with all my other arty things. And then creative cock blocking moment number two landed at about the age of 12. So we’d been asked at school to draw a milestone moment or memory from our lives, and I’m born on Halloween. So I decided to do a drawing of one of my fancy dress birthday parties. And I presented it to the teacher, you can probably guess where this is going. And I don’t know exactly the words that he used or the phrase because it’s probably just too traumatic. But words to the effect of start again, because it’s not very good.

So now I can’t draw. I couldn’t write. I was told I can’t write. And now I can’t draw. What do I do now?

Well, I did have a backup plan. Because my dad had got me a website domain. At home, what I was doing is, I was using Microsoft Publisher to try and make my own website. And I was also using Jasc PaintShop Pro to make like blinkies, and blends and things. And, yeah, I really have no words for this phase of my life. But I was doing that in my spare time and liking it.

So when my teacher said, I can draw, I thought, well, I can still make things on the computer and design stuff, right. I wasn’t sure if it was really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. But I liked doing it for now. So I’ll just carry on, because everything else creative seemed to be off limits. The only problem was at school graphic design wasn’t very fun. It was all like isometric drawings and things. It wasn’t creative, it was more structured and rigid and just I didn’t like it. So when I got stuck doing it from a GCSE, I wasn’t very happy. But equally, there was nothing I could do about it, because I did try to get onto a different course. So I tried to make the best of it.

And it wasn’t until we had to do a piece of coursework that we could choose the project ourselves that I really came alive. I decided to make a children’s magazine. And it just lit me up. Because I realised, oh, I’m good at this. And it was as close to books and stories as possible without me actually writing them myself. So for me, it seemed like the next best thing. I just followed that trail. Because I didn’t really know what else to do. I didn’t want to be a scientist. I’d thought briefly about being a vet for about five minutes until I realised that it had to put animals to sleep. Suddenly, I thought not going to be a vet either. I wasn’t interested in anything else. But because I seemed fairly good at graphic design, I just followed it.

I went to college to do graphic design and also picked up photography there. Because I was in my spare time in my free time a budding photographer. My dad had got me my first little point and shoot camera which was so basic, it’s unbelievable. Literally had the on/off button, fixed lens shutter release, saved the pictures as bitmaps on the computer, but I loved it. So I thought, great, I’ll just do that alongside, the graphic design and just see where it went, just have some fun, follow joy.

And those two years spent doing those subjects in college was just amazing. I came in the top 10, nationally twice for my AS and A level photography. I got an award for working in art. And yeah, I was really happy, creatively fulfilled. And so I thought, well, I’m quite far down this road now. And I’m not quite sure what else to do. So I’m going to go continue at university.

I went and applied for graphic design. But the course that I applied for had three subjects on rotation. And I remember going into the interview, and they actually asked me if I wanted to switch my application to photography, because the portfolio I turned up with had a little bit of graphic design work. It was probably about 80% photography. I said, No, that’s fine, because it’s on rotation anyway, so I’ll just switch later down the road, six months down the road. I started doing graphic design photography, and this thing that I had no idea what it was until I showed up called design for publishing.

Graphic design. It it just didn’t set me alight. At university – photography, we were stuck in the studio, which really didn’t suit me, the flashes made me feel ill because it was so hot in there. I’m much more of an outdoors, natural light kind of photographer.

So then that left me with this other subject called design for publishing. But when I found out was it was focused on typography and print design, the light bulbs went off in my head when I finally realised when the penny dropped, as it were, that this was how I could stay close to stories and books. If I couldn’t write them, well, I could at least design the books.

You think at this point that I found something that keeps me close to books, that it’s going to be a breeze. But it wasn’t unfortunately. My BA Honours was not as easy as it could have been, it was very stressful for me. Because what happened was, we were encouraged to aim to move to London after the degree and get a job in a big design house, aim to win D&AD pencil awards, yellow pencils.

And truth is, I don’t do what I’m told at the best of times.

So the minute they told me, that’s what I was meant to do, I thought no, not interested. But equally, it wasn’t my dream anyway, because I would much rather be either freelance or have my own design house.

I didn’t like being told what to do, then I certainly didn’t want to be told what to do in my working life either. So because I didn’t want to follow the plan, I was kind of written off as someone who wouldn’t play ball that I wasn’t going to get very far in my career. And I became very, very unhappy, I almost quit. The fun and joy just got sucked out of design creativity, I dropped my hobby of photography. And all I did was just work on the coursework to get through the years.

The only thing that was positive was a project that we did, because we had student awards that we were allowed to enter. And I did one for the International Society of Typographic Designers. And I created a book called The Story of a Garden. And it was a story that I wrote, it was the first thing that I’d written in years about the garden that my family had grown up in. And then I typographically illustrated it and handbound it.

With it I passed the student assessment, one of two in my year and became a member of the International Society of Typographic Designers. And I look back at that piece of work and it still is one of my favourite pieces I’ve ever done. I think that’s because it is so meaningful that I poured everything into it. And it was created in a time when I felt creatively stuck, burnt out. And it was the one thing that was bringing me joy.

So that project gave me enough of a boost and combined with the fact that I didn’t quite know what to do next. I decided to stay on for another year and do a Masters in Communication Design. And that really opened up creativity for me because it was less rigid, less focused on rules and perfection, and it was more about like clarity of concept, clear communication. It was a very intense year, but I did really enjoy it. And in that year, I was also shortlisted for the Royal Society of the Arts Student Design Awards. So it was, it was a special year, it was really good.

After that, I became a freelancer. I’d been working with a book company designing some books. But I found that I was really unprepared for being a freelancer, you know, trying to build a portfolio, get my name known, try to win work, it was just a dog-eat-dog world.

And I was very lucky to get this regular client doing book design, there picked up a few other projects and few other regular clients. And it all seemed to eventually be going well, I was getting some consistent work coming in.

And then of course, it wasn’t, it all went pear shaped. Because I priced up per project for a long-term client. And they came back offering me a flat fee, there was over 75% lower than my original quote. And, you know, I got the usual spiel of you know, it’s good exposure, it’s a great project, you’ll get some great connections, it’ll lead to more work? And then there was the threat of well, okay, we won’t give you any more work if you say no.

You know, I was not long out of university. I was young, I didn’t have that many regular clients. So it was a scary time. You know, I was intimidated. But I said, no, I walked away. And they never gave me another job. But it was a really proud moment for me, because I held my ground. I said, you know what? I’m not backing down on this. I know what I’m worth. And 75% less than my original quote is unacceptable.

Now, I’m sure there’s a lot of other creatives out there listening to this thinking, yeah, I hear you. I know this, I had people drive down with prices before. And I just knew that I couldn’t set this precedent with this client of cheap work with ever-growing and unending scope. And because I’d done it before, and it just doesn’t end well.

So at that point, I was very disillusioned with books and said, I’m not doing anymore. I tried lots of other different things, design wise, trying to find myself lots of different styles and mediums. And I even flirted with the idea of building my own range of designs from products, which people loved, but it didn’t really go anywhere. So I just started to fall out of love with design entirely. I just didn’t think that I could make it work.

Instead, I thought, I’ll turn to photography, because I love that. So I started doing a little bit pet portraiture, and then I had this brainwave of doing weddings. And I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea, because I haven’t quite introverted and the idea of going to a wedding and directing, you know, over 100 people trying to strike up a rapport. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I did it. And I was actually really good at it. And it was going really well.

My photography career was starting to really grow. And then I had a panic attack at a wedding. And it all changed. I was two hours away from home. I was stuck in a field, middle of nowhere, I had no phone signal, and I’m having this panic attack. Now honestly, I can’t even remember how I got through the day. Looking back at the photos, I ended up outsourcing them because I couldn’t even face editing the photos. And it felt really unfair to have that burden that worry of – could I have another panic attack – on me and put that on my couples as well.

I wound down the business, finished all the weddings that I had left, didn’t book anymore. And then I went back to freelance design because I didn’t know what else to do. I just had no idea. So I was doing like, you know, social media graphics for people.

And one of the people I was working with asked me to help her with a book. Could I design the book she was working on? Well, yes, I can. I’ve got all this experience that I’ve not told anyone about. But the conversation kind of grew arms and legs and before I knew it, I’d agreed to help her publish the book. And then I was the one publishing the book and all of a sudden out of nowhere. I started my own publishing house book publishing and design services as a business was kind of born. And I came back, back full circle to books.

Honestly, I thought that was where my creative journey was going to end that I was going to build up this business, and help people bring books into the world. But it turns out the universe and COVID had other plans for me.

Basically, my dad rang me telling me that Cyprus where he was living was going into lockdown. And he didn’t know what to do with his time. And we talked it through and he said, oh, well, maybe I’ll try writing the book that I’d started however, many years ago. And I just thought to myself, I’m sure there’s other people who don’t know what to do? And in that moment, an idea was born.

I set up a manuscript in a month challenge to help people get their books written. And I didn’t have an audience. So I had to build it up from zero. And I ran this challenge in May 2020, with 35 people, supporting them writing their stories. And it kind of grew from there.

I carried on helping these, not all of the people, some actually did finish writing their books during the challenge, which was amazing. But I carried on supporting some of the others. And I started to realise that it wasn’t just book production and publishing that people wanted my help with. They wanted help with the planning and writing to which is kind of ironic, since I didn’t think of myself as a writer anymore. But I tried my best.

And I started to find that I was limited by my own experience of writing, or limited experience of writing. So I didn’t know quite what to do, until someone said, well, why don’t you train to be a coach, because that would bridge the gap. I wasn’t sure at first thing, oh, I can’t be a coach. But I somehow came around to the idea and took up a qualification with the Institute of Leadership and Management.

Honestly, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. I began training for it in January this year, 2021. And it’s been a massive personal transformation for me. And I’m a pretty good coach, which is nice!

So I spent the year working on breaking through my fears, limiting beliefs, resistance, healing wounds, of all kinds. And I found that creativity came up time and time again. So I started to look at everything that was holding me back from stepping into my creative potential, because my creative practice had just disappeared. I don’t know the last time that I had actually created something for myself without trying to get paid for it or without the intention of it making money.

So I also found that as I was coaching people, I was bringing my knowledge, experience and creativity, to working with those clients to support them. And that all of those things together kind of ignited my personal creative practice. And I started to really embrace my creativity as much as I was helping them embrace their creativity.

And I realised that actually think it wasn’t a realisation. It was an admission, more than anything that I didn’t just want to be a writing coach, that I actually wanted to work with creatives across any and all disciplines. And more than that, I wanted to work with people who were creating something extraordinary, whether that was a new approach, or even a new creative way of using their modalities. My interests lie holistically in creativity and innovation, not just a particular creative medium, or specific creative goal.

I think it’s also important to note that, or remind people that creativity isn’t just about picking up a pencil and drawing, it can be anything, creativity, is just a part of life is part of a fabric of our lives. Also, I believe that everyone has the potential to be creative, even if they don’t think so.

Through this podcast, I want to bring together everything I’ve learned and am still learning about creativity and share it with you so that together we can find more joy and value in the creative process. Because as I said earlier, the world without creativity is a much poorer place.

In terms of where I am now, I think of myself as a multi-disciplinary creative. I’ve recently become a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, because I’m becoming very passionate, and an advocate for creativity, and the creative industries. I plan to use my unique position as a creative as a former freelancer and no creativity facilitator and coach to actually help make a change and advocate for change to give voice to those struggles we face as creators.

And through this podcast, I hope to teach others how to step into their creative potential, how to find the creativity and voice that they perhaps didn’t know they had and learn to embrace the joy of creating to see that it doesn’t have to be a struggle, that we don’t have to bleed for art, or be poor and devalued. Creativity can enrich our lives in so many ways, when we embrace it. And I hope that you can do just that by listening to this creative power podcast.

So that’s it for this very first episode. You know a little bit more about me the creative journey I’ve been on. And I’ve  given you a bit of an overview of what this podcast is about.

I know first episodes can be a bit weird, sometimes a little bit boring. I hope it wasn’t too bad. But I do hope that you will subscribe and stick around to listen to a few more episodes because I’ve got some great topics lined up to talk about.

Thank you for listening to Episode One of Creative Power. See you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to Creative Power today. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends and consider leaving a review. To find out more ways you can connect or work with me, please visit www.camillafellasarnold.com/creativepower

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