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Motivation is the key to creative success; Interview with South African embroidery artist Danielle Clough @fiance_knowles

For Danielle Clough (@fiance_knowles), motivation is the most important element to excel and succeed in your art. Inspiration on the other hand, is an exhausted word that primarily puts a great deal of pressure on artists worldwide. Her straightforwardness when she told me about her scepticisim to the word inspiration was incredibly refreshing. It makes so much sense. We are expected to be inspired all the time and when we’re not, we feel stressed and pressured to dig for that inspiration. But where, and how? 


“Motivation emerges when your brain puts one thing together with another in an explosion of excitement” motivation is the key to creative success

For Danielle it’s about finding the right energy. For example, when she walks down the streets in her hometown Capetown, she can see bizarre compositions of colour and texture that sparks off her mind. Especially if there is a challenge of medium, she will feel highly stimulated and in a positive energy flow. The urge to create is born and she feels motivated to come home and try to recreate her impression in her own style. “That energy is what gives birth to motivation. And it’s motivation that will push you to create and improve your work”, she says. 

It all comes back to what’s the essential in your creativity. Instead of looking outwards and comapring ourselves with other creators, look inside. Look into your own being and what work that you find fulfilling. By being true to yourself in your creations, you will find your motivation is the key to creative successown voice. “You’ve got to enjoy what you do, especially with something as time consuming as embroidery. It has to serve something within you”. When she said this it reminded me of something that Ian Edwards said in a previous interview. “You’re not only creating art, you’re creating your life“. 

Finding your own voice will create a bulletproof against negative energy

This insight is perhaps even more important within a niche like embroidery that is traditionally based on patterns. “You can feel very upset that people have copied your work. But you must also understand that is a medium that has long been based on
copying”, Danielle points out. It’s a sensitive topic to talk about as people might feel stepped on their toes. But she urges that we must open a conversation about this issue. Because there aren’t set rules for the embroidery art, as you can see in other fine art mediums such as painting and sculpture. We’re in a strange new space and it’s up to us to figure out how to navigate through it.

Embroidery has grown tremendously in popularity in the past two years. It’s incredible to see the influx of motivation from more people to create something with their hands. This increase in popularity, will inevitably contribute to the need to reassess the value of embroidery as a fine art and not just a craft. Danielle suggests there might be a division of interest between those who wish to keep it as a healing craft and those who want to reach the heights of fine art recognition. This doesn’t mean one should be valued less, it’s just a natural transition that we’ve also seen occurring in for example the music industry over the past decades. 

How to navigate in this new space of Art on Social media?

Motivation is the key to creative success Danielle Clough The art space is changing with the exponential growth of Social Media. Artists are now in direct contact with their buyers and audience, which makes traditional galleries “an odd old middle man”, as Danielle says. Danielle launched her Instagram account in the late 2016 and only 3 months later she quit her job and became a full-time embroiderer. Since then she has worked with large brands and organisations such as Gucci, Adobe, Netflix and the UN. All of which found her through the social media app.

It gives motivation to know that companies are out there looking for you. You just have to make sure you continuously put out your work. After the algorithm changes in the recent months, many creatives have felt the blow. “It’s as if there are roadworks in front of my shop”, visualises Danielle and the feeling is “heartbreaking”. But there is really only one way to move forward: Continue to create, share your work and don’t let the engagement with your posts define your value.

Find out more

This was only a small part of the insights from our discussion. So take out your work in progress, your headphones and get creative while listening to this enriching episode. If you find it valuable, don’t hesitate to share it with friends and family. With soon 10,000 downloads on the Charles and Elin podcast in just a few months, we feel more motivated than ever to continue to deliver high quality content. If you would like to contribute to the sustainability of the show we invite you to our Patreon page.

To find out more about Danielle please visit her webpage: www.danielleclough.com





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