The Creative Ecosystem

Bryonys photography

If I were to write my resume today, a traditional employer would undoubtedly furrow his/her brow at me. I’ve jumped (gallivanted?) from job to job, holding titles of Art Director and Stylist and Event Planner and Creative Writer and Market Editor and Whatever I Feel Like Doing Doer. And the traditional part of me – the part of me that is easily influenced by mainstream values – sometimes feels like I’m coming up short. Like I’m too frenzied or too passionate or too “all over the place” or too… much. And then I look back and realize that every position and job title and interest will eventually lead somewhere, and that my dream job is little more than the sum of these parts. In the words of Bryony Shearmur, this is my creative ecosystem.

Bryonys photography

Bryony’s resume would read much like mine (although decidedly more glamorous-sounding). Born in London, she re-located to Los Angeles after years of touring with her band. She then launched a label of wearable art before settling in to pursue portrait photography and later publishing a book (I know, I’m exhausted). And then, she created Silk.

Bryonys photography

More accurately, though, Silk created her. “I feel as if the story of Silk has been in the making my whole life,” she writes. “Each of the chapters and all the experiences I have had are finally tied up in one project and I am creating my perfect creative ecosystem.”

silk travel scarves 3

After shooting a series of jellyfish, she became intrigued with the idea of printing it onto fabric to hang on a wall – a way to re-create the movement each jellyfish exhibits. And with the recent technological advances in digital printing, the newest line of photographic scarves was born. “Silk is a culmination of a decade of exploration,” she writes. “I have been navigating to this point ever since I arrived in Los Angeles.”

silk travel scarves 10

It’s a beautiful realization to find the sum of your parts. To crack open the archives of your life and flip through various phases and jobs and passions – suddenly discovering that who you are today is a byproduct of every snapshot. But I can’t help but think that when we’re in the middle of a snapshot – when the painting is incomplete and the dinner is burning and our image is flawed – it’s hard to see the album. It’s hard to look beyond the photographic evidence of today to see the potential for tomorrow.

silk travel scarves 4

Like Bryony, I want to weave scarves of experience and experiments and exploration. I want to press on, capturing snapshots of imperfection and documenting each photo for posterity in hopes that – someday – my album might make sense.

silk travel scarves 5

And to do that, I have to continue. I have to intentionally explore and fail and try, but I also have to wait for my decade. Because like every good ecosystem, creativity’s bloom is brightest when given room to breathe.

Image Credits: Bryony Shearmur and Kristy Mann

p.s. Just for fun: For more beautiful scarves, scroll through a few of my favorites here.

  • This is so wonderful and inspiring, thank you! I’m in the middle of a major career/life shift, and these were just the words I needed to hear!

  • I love the idea of the “creative ecosystem”! So perfect. Some days I fret that my path is too scattered, and some days it feels just right. Here’s to embracing the whole picture! Thank you.

    • Same here Betsey. Creative ecosystem kind of makes my “career” make sense. I have very unique skill sets, but they do not always manifest in a way that screams a specific job.

  • This is quite the most wonderful, supportive, creative, expressive..all the ives you can think of. Thank you Erin for reminding me and all of your readers that sometimes it is hindsight that we need. It is an amazing experience to connect with so many people who are all following their own creative paths and climbing obstacle after obstacle and coming up even stronger and more focused and more creative than ever. It has been a long time coming for me to find my perfect widget but meeting people like you and hearing your readers comments makes it all so worth while. THANK YOU.. I must add too that Kristy Mann, a dear friend and a wonderful photogrpaher is responsible for some of these images.

    • Oh, thank you for such a heartfelt comment, Bryony – it was such a pleasure to share your story. And I’ve updated the photo credit to reflect the work of Kristy, as well – you two make some beautiful images! :)

  • It’s so heartening to imagine integrating the many different pieces of our creative selves, rather than having to choose just one. Thanks again for sharing your wonderful perspective and beautiful writing, Erin!

  • Oh Erin. Each post of yours I enthusiastically start a comment to write but end up deleting as I simply can’t express enough or in the right way how much I hear and relate to your words. It’s a real comfort to hear your genuine voice and your journey as a creative. I just wanted you to know how refreshing and influential you are to me.

  • Erin, May I call you by your first name? What a lovely, insightful piece you have created here. For years now I have been following your blog. I thought of it as a kind of curated gallery of all the art and design on the internet. Just to my taste, and from a curator I admire. I have been loving the evolution the blog has taken in the past few months. No longer is it a beautiful curation of some seriously sunning images, but your own thoughtful, and personal debates about life as a creatively minded person that many people can relate to. Bravo! I say.

    • Cara, you are so kind! (And yes, you may certainly call me by my first name!) Thank you for sharing that you’re enjoying the new direction. It’s much easier to simply share the work of others as I did before, but I’m reminding myself that, I, too, need to create. This is a small way of doing that and letting myself become inspired in a more meaningful way. Thank you so much for joining me in that!

  • Wow am I glad that while planning my trip to High Point I clicked on your Style Spotters bio! In this post you have once again captured a moment and feeling I have arrived at as well, and written about it so beautifully.

    Hope we get a chance to chat live later this month. It would be lovely to say hello in person.

  • Sometimes I have a lot to say here, sometimes a little. Today I want to say THANK YOU FOR THESE SCARVES WITH FACES! :) Woah. They make such a statement as skirts. I love them. Thanks for the intro to Bryony’s work. I just checked her Instagram feed and it’s beautiful too.

  • Wonderful & heartfelt. A few weeks back I made a list of all the jobs I have done, starting with my first at the age of 12. While I haven’t counted them, I will say that they spilled to fill two pages! Yes, I have many, many, many more years of life than you; but the one thing in all of the “bouncing” that I know to be solid is trust. We have to trust that everything happens for a reason: lessons to be learned, people to meet, and life to be lived. And, then one day, when you look back and you think you have your “ah-ha” moment…you find yourself in a whole new place, learning, meeting new people and living life. At this age, I have come to understand that the quest is really never-ending and I trust that. You are a remarkable young women – thanks for sharing that with us all.

    • Oh gosh, I love your story, Tanya! Thank you for your refreshing perspective. I hope to be as wise as you someday!

  • This is beautiful. Erin you nailed it on the head of what it means to take the journey of creative exploration further than just a job but to a calling. Well written and so inspiring. Thank you!

  • I love this post! I recently wrote about my own journey through creative endeavours and how recently I’ve come to realize that even though I have no expertise in the field of writing I absolutely love it! I went from being a teacher, to an entrepreneur doing something I did not enjoy, to self-teaching myself how to handprint on fabric & surfaces and opening an online shop to recently realizing I love writing about simple living, design, the handmade life and all things that inspire me and want to share with anyone that will listen.

    I use to worry and think that I was too scattered and unfocused until I saw this quote from Albert Einstein where he used the term “passionately curious”. I immediately thought YES!…I AM PASSIONATELY CURIOUS and that is a good thing. It’s sounds like you are also one of those passionately curious people…and again, that is a good thing!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

  • This post made me SIGH with a sense of relief and my heart swell with a new kind of faith. I’ve always wondered what all of my life experiences could possibly add up to (?!?!?!) and I’m still waiting for ‘my decade’. But this makes me take profound appreciation in being patient with the journey. XO UB

    • Ah, thank you, sweet Bradford. I’m in the same season of thinking and wondering and waiting, and these stories keep me inspired to press on! Hugs to you. :)

  • First time here. So often we feel as though we’ve failed because we don’t fit the mold or go down a traditional path. Creative people create, and if that happens through a variety of channels or mediums so be it. Thank you. Just what I needed to read and I bet this came at a perfect time for many.

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