Melanie Sklarz inspires individuals and groups to tap into their creativity for personal and professional success, whether it’s a painting, a marketing plan, or being everyday creative. As a marketing and design strategist, she brings a breadth of creative and communications expertise to clients looking to develop and strengthen their brand. A former educator and curator, she developed and led innovative programs for museums, most recently in Washington, DC. Also an informative speaker, Melanie has facilitated workshops for creative women entrepreneurs, presented a parent workshop on raising creative kids, sat on a panel discussing women in blogging and taught college students how to find their tribe online by building their brand. She is also a mixed media artist specializing in collage. Her art has been exhibited at the FAVA Gallery in Oberlin, OH, the Dialogue Gallery in Buffalo, NY and The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, VA.
Carrie: How did you discover your love of the arts?
I had a very imaginative childhood. Play was very important. I can remember making art and creating a gallery in our back porch with a friend one summer. Although it wasn’t until my parents took me to the Cleveland Museum of Art for the first time when I was 12 or 13 years old that I truly discovered my love of the arts. Also at that time, I had an art teacher who opened my eyes to art more than any other art teacher had. From that point on, I knew I wanted to work in the arts and be a curator.
Carrie: What motivated your creation of Dose of Creativity? Can you describe your project to readers?
For the last nine years, Dose of Creativity has been a labor of love. I started it as a way for me to record my burgeoning creative process and to inspire people to be more creative in their everyday lives. I had just left living in Washington, DC and working as a museum educator and curator. I returned to my hometown of Cleveland to re-invent myself and rediscover my creativity. While the idea to start a blog had been one I was thinking about, the name came quite serendipitously. I was attending an event for creative women entrepreneurs where the speaker commented that business needed a dose of the feminine. It hit me. What most people needed – myself included – was a dose of creativity.
The tagline of my site is: Live your creativity. One dose at a time.
The site provides inspiration for incorporating creativity into all aspects of your life. You don’t have to be an artist to be creative and you don’t have to wait to be inspired to create. The purpose is for creativity to become an inherent part of your life and celebrated and embraced.
Carrie: What kinds of projects/activities do you have going on with Dose of Creativity at the moment?
This year has been somewhat of rebirth for the site. Before that it was laying dormant while I had it redesigned and I went back to school and took on a full time position in marketing. I was laid off from that position last summer and so have had a lot of time to think about what I want for the future of the site.
Stay tuned because I am planning a FREE Creative Cures workbook, an e-course on Finding Your Creative Meaning and a collection of essays based on my popular Creativity is…series, and of course lots more inspiration to live your creativity. One dose at a time.
Carrie: What is one thing you really want people/creatives to take away from your blog?
Your creativity is always changing and evolving. What I’ve discovered is that there is also no singular way of ‘being creative.’ It’s an individual journey we all need to take. I’ve had my own journey much like you’ve had yours. We can take inspiration from them but shouldn’t feel like we need to copy other people to be successful. I know my path is an evolving one, but after the transformation I’ve had I also know it couldn’t have been done without tapping into my inner creative.
Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop a creative project from idea to product?
Since I am an introvert, my creative process involves A LOT of internal musings. It usually starts with me being in a quiet place, which could be in nature, bed or even the shower. These are places where I do my best thinking. Once I get the initial idea to create, I usually run with it from there.
For instance, if I am designing something, it usually starts with an idea. Then I try to tie a theme or process to it. I am very big on connections and am always thinking about how things relate to one another.
Carrie: How does your life experience and emotional state feed into your art?
Like the creative process, failure is a part of life. It’s at that stage where we learn the most about ourselves and our resiliency. The path to finding my true creative self led me down some dead ends. There were consulting projects that ended abruptly or ones that turned into nothing. With each failure, I learned more of what I didn’t want in my life and continued to strip it away. I felt the more I failed the more I grew.
Carrie: What do you do when you feel creatively stuck?
A creative block is not a block but rather just part of the incubation phase of the creative process. Being creatively stuck or blocked is just a natural progression of creativity. While most people look at their block as paralyzing, I learned to see mine as uncomfortable. Now, I am able to acknowledge that feeling, let it go and wait for my next creative idea to appear. Sometimes I wait longer for others. But, I am always confident it will arrive eventually.
Carrie: What’s your advice to people scared to start making the art they wistfully think about?
Earlier this year I started using the phrase creativity anew to describe this. Losing my job forced me into a sudden creative shift where I became more inspired to expand Dose of Creativity. But creativity anew can happen at any time and it should. Often we are waiting for the right time to start but there is no right time and you shouldn’t wait for a catastrophic shift to create what you’ve always wanted. It just takes an intentional mindset to achieve. Anytime is a good time to start cultivating that mindset toward your own creativity.
Carrie: What has been one hurdle you’ve overcome as a creative and how did you navigate that problem?
The burnout I experienced during my first career was a real tipping point. It was at this time that I started questioning and exploring what creativity is and what it meant for my life. I’d spent my life nurturing everyone else’s creativity or studying artists – I had no idea what it meant to be creative. Like I mentioned before, I decided to start fresh and reinvent myself in a new place and a new field. I also allowed myself time to explore and learn along the way. In the end, I realized how necessary incorporating creativity into my daily life was. Now, everything is a creative opportunity if it means improvising a recipe or trying a new color combination in my wardrobe or snapping an image of an interesting scene.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
Diving back into Dose of Creativity, I’ve been thinking about ways to take what I do from online to in-person. In the past, I’ve led workshops for parents on how to raise creative kids, facilitated group discussions for creative women entrepreneurs and co-led a daylong retreat for women dreaming big and creating change in their lives. But now, I really want to focus on inspiring people to start to learn to be creative and for them to acknowledge that everyone is creative, including them.
Earlier this year, I had this idea to bring these types of people together over dessert to create a project to do just that. I invited friends I knew who wanted to be creative but either because of their jobs or beliefs had never seen themselves as creative. I introduced a few painting projects for them to try. It was a fun way to connect with the inner creative. I’d like to see these creative circles grow to other communities.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Creativity is connecting ideas to make something new that inspires us to be better, whether it is spiritually, personally or professionally.
“A creative block is not a block but rather just part of the incubation phase of the creative process.” (Click to Tweet)
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Have you tried embracing and accepting your creative block as a natural part of creative process? How has that aided your creativity? I want to know! Tell me about it in the comments below.
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Oh this was a joy to read!! Melanie I love how you view everyone as Creative, and your tag line says it all. 🙂
Also, your wisdom about creative blocks spoke deeply to me. I’m learning to see them as turning points in my own path, problems to solve, not just impenetrable walls to surrender to. Enjoyed reading this!
Hi Mandy, Thanks so much for reading and sharing your takeaways from the interview. I also really appreciate Melanie’s perspective about block being a normal piece of the creative process. It’s a refreshing perspective for all of us.