Magic Is In The Doing: An Interview With Domenica More Gordon
I am super excited to share this interview with talented creative Domenica More Gordon in my series on Magic is in the doing, about taking a creative idea and making it real.
Domenica is such an inspiration working across different artistic fields including illustration and watercolour, felt animal sculptures and her recent venture, a stop motion film for the BBC about her wonderful dog Archie from her books of the same name
Dominica’s creativity and honesty make you open your heart and see you can be good at more than one thing and how embracing our creativity is also about embracing our vulnerability.
Over to the beautiful Domenica.
How many years of practicing art did it take to make dogs such an intrinsic part of your art? Was there a special feeling that happened when you first drew Archie?
I had been struggling with trying to write a children’s book since my own children were born. It began with a strong like/dislike to what I was seeing on the bookshelves, further fuelled by memories of my own childhood. So I suppose a sort of unconscious process of sorting and choice was sparked and then turbocharged by the intensity of emotion having children released in me. It was at this time that I gave up working in magazines and began to concentrate on my art. I had no idea if I would be successful, but I trusted the strength of my feelings. Dogs seem to me to be pure emotional transmitters and that appeals to me enormously.
What is the importance of getting your work out there and being seen? I’d love to know your thoughts on platforms such as Instagram, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Amazon and all the opportunities for creatives.
There is a great strength to be had from positive and generous feedback from strangers. That is a huge part of why I enjoy Instagram so much. It gives me confidence that I am on the right track and a sort of startled delight that people like what I do. It never tires. At the same time, I think it is important not to go after coverage just for itself. Let it come to you. Grow slowly. If I like an image I put it out there, if I am undecided I don’t …I wait until it feels right. Take pleasure in the process and it grows by itself. If you allow likes etc. to be the driving force behind your choices, you lose your own compass. I am married to a writer and for us the emergence of all the internet platforms is a boon. It is a golden time for storytellers and makers. We can appeal directly to people without having to go through a gallery or an agent (though agents can be very useful at the right moment).
Whether you are illustrating the beautiful Archie series what is your secret to putting so much emotion into your work?
I look for an idea, and it can be a tiny thing that sparks it, like the way someone sits or walks, or seeing a bird on a twig or a certain shape or colour but it has to give me a flare of excitement, no matter how small or fleeting. I have learned to take note of these moments. I then try and feel the feeling behind that flare before I put pencil to paper, then I just let it flow with as little judgement as I can. Often I have to leave what I have done and come back to it before I can ‘see’ it with clear eyes. Then I start to ink it in and add colour. I know it is finished when a right feeling suddenly clicks, and there it is. Until then I never know if it will be any good. I’m getting better at trusting the process.
I believe for creatives so much of our magic comes actually playing around with our creativity or taking an action step forward. What ‘magic in the doing’ have you have learnt about showing up for yourself and your creativity every day?
I agree with that strongly. It is only in the doing that you find out what it is you are and what it is that you are telling yourself. It starts a conversation with yourself which does not include any other voice but yours. That is both exciting and scary. It is the most rewarding journey I can think of. After a bit, you will find that you are also talking with an unseen group of others who are the following the same path and that is a joy.
Image Credit: Bible of British Taste
Image Credit: Bible of British Taste
It appears to be a bonus growing up with artistic parents but I am sure there are all sorts of comparisons that can block you as well. What did you have to let go of to find your style?
My father was a brilliant watercolour painter and my mother a wonderful artist who hid her light under a bushel. They both influenced me. They showed me about focus, about dedication, about process and just doing… and about getting out from under that bushel.
It made me feel two opposing things at once: ‘If they can do it, so can I’… and at the same time, ‘I will never be as good as they are.’
It took me a long time to find my ‘voice’ as opposed to a version of theirs, especially my father’s… I never thought I’d be good enough… I still struggle with that sometimes…I think that’s a very female tendency.
You are a great believer in following your curiosity, can you share with us your number one way that people can start to understand their inner vision or style?
Follow the feeling. If you are excited by something, pay attention. That feeling is your compass and belongs to nobody else but you.
How do you keep saying Yes to your creativity and what do you do when fear strikes?
If you do what brings you joy and satisfaction, regardless of the self-defeating spanners which you and others will throw in your path you will find that you have begun a totally fulfilling journey which in my view is pretty unbeatable.
Huge thanks to Domenica for sharing her wisdom.
Creativity, love, and light,