‘What I do is some sort of a passage really. I’m not an artist, I’m just a man who creates shoes’ – Manolo Blahnik
I am completely fascinated by documentaries. I think I may have mentioned this before. Hearing stories about peoples lives, to me is the most powerful learning tool in the world. I actively seek out documentaries of fascinating people alive and dead, the more obscure the better. On my flight back From Lagos a few weeks ago I came across a documentary on Manolo Blahnik. Now, the reason why it peaked my interest in the first place, is because I am developing a love and fascination with shoes these days that I cannot understand. Anyways, I decided to watch this documentary and it is totally fascinating. It brought so much life to a thought I have been harbouring recently about this whole idea of creativity. We tend to think creativity expands by adding on, but I actually think it expands by narrowing down. It is therefore the confusion we have around this concept that causes us great disillusionment as millenials because we are constantly trying to do more to be creative, when in actual fact we should be doing less.
As different fashion icons described the raw talent of Manolo, a man who does not respect or even ascertain the idea that he might be an icon, they all mentioned his love of life and knowledge. The creator of the documentary cleverly inserts images of his shoes existing in nature as if to infer that they are actually product of his own interpretation of his environment as opposed to any proper process or effort on his part. The effortlessness of creativity in this case is what caused me the most fascination and joy. It was quite literally beautiful in itself.
Manolo actually designs every single one of his shoes himself. He has no team and does not collaborate with anyone for anything other than inspiration. He still creates each shoe himself first as a sample before sending it off to his factory which he personally spends time in. Taking into account his level of fame and respect as a shoemaker, this is quite literally a shock. For me, I had always imagined that at the peak of success in whatever field I choose to settle in (if I ever do) I would be further and further away from the detail. I now know, that this is completely incorrect. What we are all bringing as our unique gifts to the world around us is our own little piece of creativity. Manolo chose shoes, and he narrowed in on that and created a passion that is his life’s greatest love. What about you?
What is your own creative expression? How are you living it?
Happiness is the joy you feel striving for your potential. #lovethis!!!
— Seun Awolowo (@seunawo_) December 19, 2017
Something that struck me about watching Manolo sketch or even speak about shoes was this confidence and comfort that exuded from him. Evidently, your creative expression is found in a place that is comfortable for you, a place you know and can easily live in.
On this trip to Lagos, my amazing mentor Udo Okonjo invited me to speak on the millennial panel at her ‘inspired women of worth’ conference. She created an amazing atmosphere of vulnerability and so as I mounted the stage to speak, my energy quite literally tripled and I delivered my own perspective on this whole idea of the millennial angst. I am coming to realise that my own creative expression is in my way of communicating my ideas and creating an environment to share them which in turn inspires others to do the same. I also realise that so far in life, everything I have done creatively has been a personal journey to find the perfect way of expressing my internal world. Guys, it truly all comes from within. It was therefore interesting to hear Manolo explain that his mind is quite literally full of his designs and they are all references to what he has seen ,heard ,tasted or smelled in his lifetime. Whatever you do creatively is the same for you. Some of us use words, some use art, some use pastry, some use music- we all USE something!
As I shared on that platform at the IWOW conference, I could have not expected the reaction that I got. I did not prepare anything to say and honestly going forward I never really will. The moment it becomes strife is the moment you kill creativity. Simply let it be. The issue with us as ,millennials is the fear of failure which causes either paralysis or over-analysis. I think it is healthy to live somewhere in between- a free place where you quite frankly just are who you are and bring what you can naturally do. This is definitely not to say there is no room for self-improvement! (For example, I have blogged about what i shared for 11 minutes at the IWOW conference for nearly 3 years! ) Absolutely there always is, but to build a life that LASTS, we have to ensure that we are enjoying it, and doing our own creative best, just as my favourite book in the world instructs.
— Seun Awolowo (@seunawo_) February 18, 2018
So guys, on this beautiful day, packed with opportunities for you to explore yourself- what are you going to do with your own creativity? How are you going to share what is uniquely yours? We are all artists in some way- I think it is time we break the limiting barriers around creativity and start to celebrate the uniqueness of every human being.
My personal belief is that freedom will be the product of that internal journey.