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Self-care for Creatives with Nicole Concepcion

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Nicole is a 24-year-old artist based in the Philippines, who recently started the non-profit organization For the Future with her friends, in which she works as Creative Director. Nicole shares with us how she keeps herself grounded, especially when the grind of mixing your craft with your work brings about pressure and potential burnout.

 

They say that habits make a person. With that, what does a normal day in your life look like?

I love mornings! i feel most productive when the sun is up, so on a good day i’ll wake up at around 7 and force myself out of bed. I like taking a bit of time in the morning to relax and reflect, so I’ll grab my earphones and go out for a leisurely bike ride. Getting out of the house first thing in the morning really helps me put my day into perspective.


I make sure to indulge in a bit of self care everyday, I like being able to have a slow moment dedicated to simply taking care of myself. I make time for my skincare routine, and if I’m up to it I’ll put some makeup on. I love playing with colours, so even putting a bit of cream blush on my face can make me feel a lot happier. As a creative person, I see makeup as an extension of art. So It’s nice to be able to take a few minutes of the day and just put some colors on a canvas very familiar to myself.

If you had to pick just one, which part of your day would say is the single most important one? One that you would never ever miss out on?

Going outside!!! I’ve been incredibly lucky to have spent 2020 with my family by the sea, and I’ve been appreciating every moment I get to spend in nature. Being able to step outside and see nature continuing to grow, despite the problems going on in the world, is how I remind myself to stay grounded and look at the bigger picture. I have sometimes felt like nothing existed outside the four walls of my room, so being outside and seeing physical reminders that the world isn’t ending is enough to make me feel hopeful!


Let's talk about your work for 'For The Future.' What's the organization about and how much of your time goes on it as the Creative Director?

For the Future is a non profit organization that aims to protect our environment and to empower people through community development. It’s run by my close knit group of friends who have all known each other for at least 10 years. Now normally when people say working with friends is a bad idea, I’d agree with them, but theres something about our dynamic and our knowledge of each others strengths and weaknesses that make us work well together and have absolute trust in each others decisions.

I’m in charge of planning the creative aspects for our projects and to make sure that our online presence stays true to the FTF voice we’ve worked hard to develop.  Art and storytelling are the core concepts of FTF, so it’s important to be thinking about the best ways to communicate our actions in visual ways that touch on emotions.


Being a social media based organization, we understand the danger of our audience developing a “numbness” or desensitivity to all the news going on. It’s easy to look at numbers on a screen, but it’s also easy to forget that each number represents a human being. 

I think what makes FTF so effective is that we are always trying to create empathy. Whether it be through stories, visuals, or new projects. We are trying to create a human connection to the stories we share on screen.

I imagine that doing art for activism and social work gets pretty taxing, how do you practice self-care, especially when what you're working on gets heavy or overwhelming?

It’s been a very heavy year for the Philippines, and having to think of ways to communicate news effectively but also responsibly and respectfully, can get pretty difficult.

Luckily, our team is full of capable individuals who support one another. We usually come together to discuss how we want to communicate certain issues. 

A lot of us have very different emotional reactions, so taking the time to talk through them as a unit helps us get our feelings in order before we release anything to our audience.

Sometimes you just have to let yourself be angry and let your emotions run their course, then come back to the page with a clear mind.

Do you set aside time each day to make work for yourself -- just experimenting, making stuff not meant to be shared, etc.?

Yes absolutely! I’ve been pretty active on social media this year because I’ve been truly enjoying sharing the things I create with my friends. Social media has been kind of my only outlet to the outside world these last few months, and I’ve started taking it less seriously. I post things because I want to remember what kind of art inspired me during this time.

 

But when I’m not posting things online, I’m pretty much doing the same things daily. I still experiment with clothes and makeup, I create art pieces and film myself playing music. This all still happens beyond the frame of social media. I think something that most people forget about social media is that you’re usually seeing the final output of creative work. I post the things i’m most proud of, but that final output is the result of hundreds of drafts and ideas that I keep to myself IRL.


How important do you think this is to your work for other projects?

It's so important! Every tiny piece i make, every little doodle, every new skill that I start is part of the growth of my artistic style. The things I make in solitude end up resurfacing in the future, because ideas are never thrown away, they are recycled and brought back to the page once they’re ready to be used. 

When you mix craft with work like you do, there's a strong tendency for burnout. Have you experienced this? And what helped you bounce back from it or recover from it?

YES absolutely. To be quite honest I’m in a bit of a rut with my visual art. I still create, but because I’ve been focusing on creating visuals for FTF, I tend to feel uninspired to make art pieces for myself. What I’m trying to establish this year, is a more disciplined approach to art. In the past I’ve treated my creative process as an inspiration based process (meaning I would work whenever I was inspired), but I now know that any craft is about practicing and creating habit forming rituals. I can’t rely on eureka moments forever, or else nothing would ever get done!

What is a value or belief that you would never compromise with regard to your work?

I’m learning to have more confidence towards my voice, everyone has a story to tell and it’s not up to anyone to decide whether or not it is important. I’m trying to be as true to myself as I can, even though i’m still figuring out who that is.

Hi there.

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