“We've all heard that the unexamined life is not worth living, but consider too that the unlived life is not worth examining.” ― Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
Liba is a multimedia artist. She loves creating colorful imagery, fun jewelry, and creating art that has a purpose and touches humanity. She is self-taught and has been making art her whole life.
Topics Covered: Art
- The process of creation: Inspiration, Motivation, Choice of Expression
- Building the belief muscle
- Creative bursts and lulls
- Growth while doing no art, the inner process of becoming a more skilled artist because of inner evolution
- The feeling of making masterpieces or shit, it’s all perspective
- Art is a way of living as opposed to being a certain type of artist that does one style of art
- “Good and Bad Art”: What does that mean?
- Useful art, working through thoughts about creating clutter or useful items
- Working through inner judgmental dialogues
- Working on not letting the idea of and need for the money destroy creativity
- Empathy, honesty and an eye for details, fearless expression
Social Media Profiles:
Where you can find and get some of Liba's art and designs:
Location: San Diego, CA
Welcome, Liba to the Saltwater High Podcast. Liba, how are you today?
I'm doing really good. How are you, Derek?
I'm awesome. Where are you living these days?
I'm in San Diego, Lemon Grove.
Oh, sweet. I just went to Baja. Well, I just got back yesterday.
Yeah, I saw the pics. It looked like fun.
Yeah, it was good. So, Lemon Grove, where's Lemon Grove exactly?
It's in San Diego, it's kind of inland just by La Mesa. A bunch of little suburbs that won't mean much to people that don't live down here. It's just a suburb.
Yeah, the smoke wasn't too bad yesterday when we drove through.
Yeah. I'm inland enough that it's been pretty good, except for when everything was burning to the ground.
Ohhh! Yeah. So I was trying to think about when the last time I saw you was? Maybe 10 years?
No, longer. Because I moved back here in '05 to take care of my grandma. And I came to Ojai maybe one time since then, but I didn't really see too many people.
I feel like I saw you when you were in town.
I'm pretty sure I did.
I'm pretty bad about time and specifics like that, so I'll believe you.
Yeah, I'm horrible. I was on this trip with basically some childhood friends, right? One of my friends, Joe, he has this incredible memory work, he remembers conversations and incidents from 30 years ago. I'm like, "Dude, I can't remember last week!" I don't know how he does it.
My best friend since kindergarten is named Joanna and I call her Jo. And she's that person. She'll say stuff to me like she knows what I was wearing in kindergarten the first day she saw me.
Oh my goodness.
Which was a man suit.
Wait, wait, wait, what? A man suit?
A little boy's suit because I have 3 older brothers and that's what my mom said I wanted for the first day of kindergarten. So I wore a blue suit with the blue undershirt and I had orange ribbons in my pigtails with fat yarn, actually that fat fuzzy yarn from the 70s.
Yeah. Did you have a tie up?
No, no tie. That's restricting.
Oh, that is so funny. I would love a picture of that if you have one.
I don't. Just in my mind. Maybe I'll draw it someday.
Yeah, there you go. Yeah, speaking of drawing, let's transition to your--I just love the work that you've been doing. I know I've kind of seen your work, flashed by on social for years, but I feel like recently you've been either putting it out more, or I've been noticing it more or maybe a little bit of both.
Well, totally putting it out more. I used to only kind of share things sporadically. And that's probably something a lot of artists go through that don't share their work is it's kind of hard to just put yourself out there and accept whatever people say when you already have your kind of feelings about it. And sometimes I don't want to hear some things, even though I really do, because I like the truth. But, so through COVID, I lost my job, but I'm doing fine right now. Eddie and I both are on unemployment. But what it's given me time to think about is what I'm doing on Earth, what's important. And I draw, that's what I do. I draw, I paint, I've been doing it for as long as I can remember, and it's the one thing that just is pure happiness. I just like to make stuff. And so I'm putting it out there, just banking on it, just really been advertising myself hard, super weird.
Yeah, that's part of the process, right?
Yeah, it's just weird. It's like I feel like it's ego to say, "Look at my stuff", and so I try and avoid things that are, I don't know, making my ego grow in ways that I don't think are healthy. I think it's good to have ego, you want a sense of self, but, you got to weigh out why you do things, what you want from it and so it's weird to put myself out there, but I do have an objective and I want to do art. I want to live off my art, I want to be what I came to do.
Yeah. I think a lot of people and I did this for a while too, I struggled with that sense of, well, basically around marketing. So, first I'll say what I think good marketing is. Good marketing is expressing what you do in a way that other people that are in line with what you're doing find you. So that I think is good marketing. And what bad marketing is is pushing your expression out to people that don't care for it, right?
Oh, yeah. It's such a turnoff.
Yeah. So, I think if you stand in that kind of mentality of you want to reach as many of the right people as you can, then marketing feels good, right? Because you're able to find or make an expression to people that are interested or stoked.
Yeah, totally. And it's interesting, too, because I have a lot of different styles, as you've seen, and I've never been that artist that can tell you this is what I do because I'm not one faceted human and it's fine. I'm totally happy with the artists that have their thing and they do it. I'm totally in support of everybody's expression. I have a lot of things I like to share and I'll share some things and a lot of people are really responsive and I share other things and there's nothing. And so it's an interesting process absorbing what reaches people, what doesn't, and try not to judge myself and the process. And then when people don't respond to it, I think, well, those aren't my people. But I have to come full circle with those thoughts and not weigh what I think about myself because of people's reaction to me and what I make of that.
Yeah. You hit it right on the head. Those aren't your people, right.
You don't create art. Your art, from what I can tell, is an expression of who you are and feelings you have and maybe some embodying a certain kind of, I don't know, philosophies of life, let's say, or femininity or womanhood, right?
I love it. You can be my spokesperson. I'm loving all of this.
Yeah. That's what I see when I see your art. And so, obviously, I resonate with it so that's why we're having this conversation. And I know you as a person. Well, yeah, I do, I feel like I know you as a person.
We had lots of great talks in Ojai. I feel like I knew you when I saw you. You're just one of those people where you look at some people's eyeballs and you're like, "Yeah, I know you." You were one of those people for me. And still are.
Thank you. I appreciate that. And I feel the same way for sure. Yeah. So I'd love to talk about this, the process of creation, which you kind of laid out and you laid out 3 pillars, I would call them. So inspiration, motivation, and choice of expression. Do you want to just kind of touch on both or all 3?
Yeah. It's interesting because there's so many different ideas there. But I start with inspiration. Sadness was a big motivator in my younger years, I felt the sadness. I'm a very compassionate person in that I feel the things around me, I feel other people a lot, and I always have even as a child, it was very sometimes tiring because when people get hurt in school by other people, it's very painful. I'd want to cry for people and so that was a very motivating beginning. And that's just like one emotion. But I've painted a lot of paintings that came out of deep sadness that I needed to work out so I could just go on with life and kind of solidify it into something that I could release into the world. And maybe people relate to it and maybe it helps somebody and also it helps me. And then so sometimes it might be that or maybe it's love or maybe it's just a beautiful day outside, or maybe I just am motivated by just wanting to touch textures, work with paint, or whatever tool I'm interested in. So I'm like always starting with the motivation. And then I just kind of like things to become, like a lot of times I look at the blank paper or the canvas and I just kind of start seeing something and I start drawing because I've met a lot of people that think you have a plan and mostly I don't have a plan. A lot of times I do have an idea of where I'm doing or what I want or with the kind of color or vibe I'm going for, but I also like to just be inspired by what comes out. As far as motivation, it's all kind of intertwined with that. But the motivation is, I think, mostly because I need to do it because I'm making it in my head like I make oh, my gosh, maybe a hundredth of what I think about. Like I make paintings in my mind all the time and I'm drawing things and thinking of ideas. And I really as a human, how much can you produce what your brain can think about.
But that's the goal.
Yeah. As you come up with those ideas, are you writing them down?
Some of them, yeah.
Some of them, yeah.
Some are just exercises for my brain, honestly. Like sometimes the creation in my brain is enough. But the ones that are important to me, okay, so you've seen coffee cat, which I'll get back to you, but I'm working on my commissions right now trying to prioritize time, which is a whole another subject. But that coffee cat table that I'm working on, I call him coffee cat clod. And he has a whole story which I will share once I'm finished with them and post that picture. I've been thinking about that coffee cat table for 10 years. I've been carrying that little table around and he's been in my mind. So that was solid and something I've been wanting to make and he lived on. And so obviously I need to make him. And then other ideas come and go. And then I have a bunch jotted down because I have all sorts of avenues I'd like to go with creativity into like producing beddings and linen. And I just have a lot of ideas.
Where do you think, in that kind of creative stack, where do you think imagination lies?
Oh my gosh. Imagination's all of it. Without imagination, it would just be some job. Like digging a hole or something. I don't know how to separate myself from imagination. That's my whole world, my whole life. I just draw and I create things and if you leave me with a bunch of sugar at a table long enough, the sugar might end up on the table and I might be drawing in it. That was maybe me as a teenager more. I try to be a normal human that operates in society in a comfortable way that doesn't weird people out around me too much. Maybe just enough when needed.
It's interesting. I've been taking the Seth Godin course, actually on writing, and part of what I've been looking at is imagination.
Yeah, I know. I love reading your stuff.
Thank you. And I don't know if it's as scientific as I'm finding in some places, but really what is being presented is that imagination is this thing, it's a primary part of the creative process, right? It's this spark that happens before you actually bring something into the world, right?
It's like the birth or before birth even.
It's even before birth. It's before it takes form, I guess you could say.
So it's not tangible.
But it becomes tangible, which is super interesting.
Yeah. And what I'm seeing in my own life, in my own creativity, I feel like I don't spend enough time in that park. I feel like if I were to spend more time in that first step, the imagination step, then the creativity would, I don't know, have more depth or texture. This is just a theory. Maybe it doesn't. Maybe it doesn't even matter.
No, I mean, I think that's super valid, especially if you're seeing that in yourself. Maybe you need to make more space where dreaming is what I'm hearing because I'm a dreamer to the nth degree. Getting solid and having an idea of what time is and how much time has gone by and what time I really need to do things, that's not my strong suit. I mean, I can do it and I'm good at it because I am an orderly person, but I love to dream. I could spend a lot of time in that state more than I think a lot of people are comfortable with.
That's amazing. I love that.
And it offers that creativity. And honestly, the reason I haven't been able to put myself out like I have lately is because as sad and desperate as this whole situation has been, and I have total compassion for everybody that is struggling and we struggle, and everybody struggles, but it's given me time to sleep. I mean, I raised my girl, I've been working, working, working like when I was in Ojai, I had no less than 4 jobs. She's an adult now. She's 25 and the best, most wonderful giving human. But I haven't had time to dream. I've just been working for so long and now I actually got to sleep literally physically sleep enough to feel like "Okay, that's enough sleeping" and just the different things. But it's given me room to grow my creativity, which was more available when I was younger because I didn't have as many expectations from the world. And that's a lot of what I've been able to think about is, "Woah, why don't you just do what makes you happy?" I haven't had time to think about that or space, which is why I'm just pushing forward so hard, like the most fire I probably ever had towards getting it out there. And I'm open. I'm open to are people going to buy my art? Do they want a commission? Do they want to check out my Redbubble and see what my stuff can be on? And some people don't like it. I've lost a lot of people on Instagram, which isn't what I'm focused on for popularity. But I read it as a business tool. But a lot of people don't like me sharing my Redbubble and the reproduction of my art. But for me, I'm like, "Oh my gosh. How long are artists supposed to starve?" I have to put myself out there in a way that makes money so I can survive, so I can create more like it's a vicious circle. So I am choosing this reproduction path and I think it looks really cool and I want a bunch of the stuff. And so it's just been this interesting like I've grown a whole new part of myself and broken up some preconceived ideas of what it is to be an artist.
What's the biggest one you've broken?
Being able to reproduce my art like that. I tend to be a purist. I want to make something once and let it go. But it's interesting to try and recreate like I'm doing this piece for you and I am recreating something I did before and making it new. And it's challenging. It's a little more like math because I don't want to lose the essence of what is. So I have to recreate it in a very considerate and accurate, if not more accurate way than when I did it 15 years ago or whatever number of years ago it was. And so I'm growing new parts of myself that I think are useful. And what's wrong with recreation? It's great. I've changed a lot about that. I used to my ego was attached to being seen in a specific way as an artist that I think in the artist community is considered more valid, especially by other artists is keep it pure, keep it classy, and whatever that lingo is. But I just need to define what's true for me and not look at myself through other people's eyes. But just come for me.
Yeah, that's the journey of everyone on the planet, I would say. Not just an artist, right?
Art is everything.
Yeah, absolutely. I totally agree. And you know, surfing is kind of one of the pillars of this podcast, not the only pillar but one of them.
And when I was younger, I didn't realize, I thought surfing is a sport, but it's not. Surfing is an art. You're dancing on the ocean...
Totally. It's magic.
...which is moving energy, right? If that's not art, I don't know what is, right?
That's part of painting, too. It doesn't go the way I want all the time. The paints do different things. And then I'm like, "Oh, I put that on there. But that actually works. Wait go with it, you ride it." You know what I mean? And sometimes I go, most of the time I go way different than I expected. And I totally get surfing. I'm not a surfer because I like just being with no tools because that's just and I grew up in San Diego and the Bay Area, but I'm from down here. Surfer's in my life, my whole life and I've watched a lot of surfing, and Kaylee's dad is or was, I mean, I guess you're always a surfer, but I don't know if he surfed recently. So it's a big part of my life and I totally relate to the ocean. And I'm a water sign. I love my astrology. So I relate to that vibe a lot.
So tell me about building belief muscle. I love this one.
Oh, my gosh. This is like everything we've been talking about, right? Wow, all the stuff we're fed our whole life. All those things that go against believing in yourself. I'm not even going to go through a list because I'm not going to cry on this podcast, but just all the things that bring you down and make you think, "Oh, you're not as good as somebody else." I don't know like I have so much negative thing I could tap into any time like there's so many people out there, why would they look at you? I get like that because I follow artists, I check out another artist, and sometimes I'm like, "Okay, stop looking, just go in and just do your best, do your honest work and be your truth, and that's always enough." But it's like any muscle, like the first time you work out, it's hard. You don't have any muscles built and then you keep doing it. You get a little sore, all of a sudden you're getting a little stronger, that weight feels easier now and now I know how to hold it properly, now I know what path to follow. And it's the same thing with our belief and our thinking and everything is once you follow those paths over and over again, they actually become a muscle, a memory muscle. And so I've just been really working on myself talk and weakening the muscles that are negative. I don't let them repeat themselves in my mind. If I hear it come up, I put that away and fill it with something good about myself. And that's just constantly reminding myself, "You are enough. Why not you?" That kind of stuff, you know?
Yeah. And so when you see a thought like that come up to you, do you kind of stop and take a moment or?
I thought this was a great kind of hack is to make a list of all the great things that you've done in your life or beautiful moments or every time you're feeling down or you're putting yourself down, you get off that list. I think that's a beautiful hack.
That's really good. I mean, I guess I have my mental list and I think that's a good idea. But I usually just, I try not to feed a thought that's not a good thought. So I don't even try and I don't know how to say it because I don't have a visualization I do, I just literally release it as not part of me and shut the door on it. And then I'll say all the things I can think of that make me feel like, "You're creative" or "You enjoy that, so it's the right path for you. And a lot of people appreciate you. You know you have something to say in the world." and just those things.
Absolutely. We all have something. That's a beautiful thing. Even in surfing, you see these other surfers that are pulling airs and super good.
And the reflection is "I'll never be that good."
But then it doesn't matter, right? What matters is how you're embodying your own expression and what I was trying to get out of is that every unique expression have it's value and have beauty in it.
That touches on something too, is a lot of times I like people to draw with me. I love creating with other people because it just feeds that vibe. And sometimes people that don't feel as capable as what they see come out of me will say, "I don't want to draw around you. I feel dumb. I don't feel like I'm good." And for me, I love all sorts of art. I find value in things that other people wouldn't find value in like maybe they were struggling to make something different and that's what they came out with. But I see that as beautiful and I'm inspired by all sorts of artists. We don't all have to have the same skill level. It's just the style with which you do things is your own particular flavor, you know what I mean? And nobody has that.
Yeah. So let's talk about the bursts and the lulls.
The bursts and the lulls.
Oh, lulls. I totally thought you said mold. I was like, "What are we talking about?" Oh, the bursts the lulls. Yeah.
This is such a great topic, right? Getting inspiration and just like going for it and then having no inspiration, right?
Exactly. No inspiration and like no, sometimes I'm just drained. I turned 50 this year, which is neither old nor young in my eyes and I'm sure everybody in their varying ages listening will have different points of view on that. But I feel in the middle, I feel like I've got a lot to do but man, sometimes I'm tired, in a way where I just have to withdraw. And it's kind of like, I definitely have more burst when I was young but what didn't we have more bursts about when we were young? There's a lot of energy to be spent and that's a lot of the reason why we have to build those muscles is so that energy endures through our lifetime. And I've definitely neglected my imagination muscle and belief muscle through the years, putting all my energy into survival and working and being a caterer and cutting hair and doing all the things I've done, which is always service-oriented.
Yeah. It takes a lot of energy because you're around energy.
Yeah. Raising a kid and just life. Watering the plants. So it's like kind of coming to terms with that, being okay with it, because sometimes when I've had these lulls that maybe go on a year or 2 or whatever, I'm like, "I'm not even an artist anymore." And then of course I am. But I go through that where I just like you just kind of lose sight of your essence. And boy, that's what Earth is about, right? Tempting us with all these things that pull us from the core of our reality or who we really are, at least in my eyes. And it's always that lesson to remain true to where we come from. And people can call that all different things. And I'm good with whatever you want to call it. And so it's like just kind of writing those, if that's like surfing, you know what I mean? You can't ride a wave if it's not there. You can sit on the water and float about and still enjoy what you're doing, but you're sure not making any good rides happen, you know? And so it's just kind of like that. Sometimes I just have to be where I am and let nature be what it is and not judge it. But also sometimes you got to push yourself out of those lulls because they can get a little bit repetitive because then you're building that little muscle.
Yeah. Do you have any advice for shaking those off at all?
Sometimes you just have to do it. You can't wait sometimes. For me, I don't like to do without feeling it's right. I'm a very feeling-oriented person and the logical steps, even though I am a thinker and I do like logic, I go with heart over mind unless mind is too overwhelming and I have to ignore my heart because I know what the truth is. But anyways, that's a whole another thing. But it's just when you aren't doing it, you're getting mad at yourself, you're feeling sad, all the things that come with not doing what we need to do, not doing our work in the world. You just have to decide I'm doing it this time. And even if it doesn't feel inspired, even if I'm not enjoying what I'm doing, just starting the process again, I'll be like, "Oh, yeah, this feels good." Like when you don't feel like exercising, but then you get into it and after your sweat breaks and you're breathing better and your brain starts waking up, you're like, "Okay, this is why I do it." So sometimes, you literally just have to do it. And there's no good way to tell somebody to do that because that has to come from within. I wish I had a formula, but there isn't one. That's just a frickin choice in a minute, you know what I mean?
Yeah. Sometimes as much as I love to surf and sometimes there's just like, oh, I get in the car, go down to the beach, it's not that good. The winds on, the tide's not right. And then I actually get in the car and I go down and it's just firing and I have the best session ever.
You just never know. And the mind can create all these excuses, right?
Oh my God.
This and that. It's really not that bad.
I can create excuses why I don't want to go in the other room and wash those 5 dishes that are going to take me 30 seconds. But in our head, we can build it up into the biggest thing in the world. Like a mountain.
So much. Yeah. Have you ever been working on a piece and while you were working on it you knew something about the piece just felt you knew it was going to be good?
Yeah. Oh yeah.
Yeah. So how does that happen?
That's magic, man. That's where the muses come in. So my muses, sometimes there are people like my sister, my ex-sister in law, but always my sister, the mother to my nieces and nephew. She's one of those people like I've known her since I was about 10 or 11, that we could be muses for each other because we vibe together, we want to create together, or maybe it's a certain music like sometimes when I'm painting, I can't change the music if I'm in one of those magic places. So there are ways to create that magic place where the muses can talk to you. And some people might think, "Oh my God! Does she mean there's like a human sitting there talking to her?" And no, not most of the time, but maybe once in a while. But overall, I think it's a vibe. Probably that's why they called it the muses because there's not a word for it, but it exists. There's not a physical manifestation that you can say that's what it is, but it's just that magic place. Like when I was painting the one that I'm facing years off of, that was magic for me.
Yeah, I could feel it.
Yeah. My cat got tortured by somebody and it didn't survive. And I put months of money and vet and a lot into this cat to try and get it to just survive. And I probably made bad choices with care and there's so many things that's where like trying not to regret, but he didn't survive and I was angry and I'm not angry. Sure, I have anger, but I don't live in that space of anger because it kills you. It's a destruction of life is living in anger. And so I couldn't release it. I was so tired of crying about the cat, I was so angry, I wanted to hurt the person, I wanted to find the person. And when I saw that path, it was just even darker because I don't want that either. I don't believe in revenge. I believe the universe will take care of it. And so that painting came out of that. And so sometimes that's where the real magic paintings come from. I had so much to say about it like the cats floating in the light up above, her eyes are shut because she heads going within and grounding. But the reason that the eyeball's in her hand is because she's still watching. So I'm always paying attention. I'm not letting that entity that was dark think that I don't see who they are. But I'm also releasing them for their own journey and their own lessons. And it was just about releasing that anger and knowing that my cat's fine wherever he is. And it was just all of that and just becoming one with Earth and letting go of the anger and the sadness. And that's why the heart on the chest is floating in the water because of all my tears.
Wow, that's even more beautiful than I felt it was.
Yours is a super light version. So it's going to be a surprise. I don't want to show you.
Yeah. This is great that we're talking about this. I want you to feel full liberation.
I do. I've actually been real about where I've taken it, but I've been thinking about you, I perused all your photos, I thought about your life, your wife, your cat, the ocean, the pictures you take. I mean, dude, I've been researching you like a psycho just so I could get this painting right.
Yeah, good. I just didn't want you, first of all, I don't want you to relive.
No, that's gone.
That was the inspiration. I wanted that to be the inspiration.
Yeah. And I get what you see and I heard everything you said. You said woman cat and I focused a lot on the water still because you are water guy, for sure. I'm really happy with where it's going and I've been feeling good, but I definitely go through those self-judgment moments where I'm like, "Whoa, this is far from where that one was". I'm like, "No, Derek loves your process, loves your art. He's going to be cool." But it's a lot of self conversation I don't do when I create for myself. So it's an interesting process but I want this process because I think commissions are great. They asked me to do things I didn't see, which is what I love. Like when people tell me about my art, I like them to tell me what they see instead of me tell them what it is, because sometimes they see stuff I'm like, "Oh wow! Totally. I love that. Yeah, that's mountains. Okay." And so I like the openness of art to be interpreted, even though I have something to say. You don't have to hear that. I want you to hear what you want.
Absolutely. And what you feel, right?
Yeah, exactly. Because that's what art is, right? It's a moment for us to join in something that resonates so that we feel part of one with other people. So we feel seen, understood, heard, inspired.
I don't want people, sure, yeah I like people to see my skill like who doesn't? But that's not what my motivation is. I don't want to be out there just so you tell me, "Oh you did a good job." I want to be what art's here for. I want to touch humanity, I want to do my part even if my part is abstract.
Yeah, absolutely. So you asked the question or you posed a question, what does it mean, good or bad art?
Yeah, so that has to do with the self-talk.
Yeah, yeah. I remember reading Motorcycle the Art of--
Yeah, I know. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Yeah. I remember reading that and his description of beauty in that book and how there's an intrinsic beauty that goes beyond all definition, right? I think something along those lines, I remember.
And so I'm wondering if art is also like that. Is it more individualistic where a person is seeming like they do most of their life through a certain lens, right? And that lens either leans towards a feeling of good or a feeling of bad.
Something like that. I don't know what counts for that.
I mean, like so I get angry with people commenting and saying somebody's art is good or bad. I think, for me, what I consider art when I look at my own is do I want to experience this again? And if I do, for me, that's good art is you want to keep experiencing it. But I don't even like defining it simply as good and bad because I don't even really like those words because everything shades of grey for me. I don't think that you can define things that way or people can. I don't like to. So there's that broad conversation of good and bad art. And then there's the interior conversation of good and bad art. I try not to think anything I make is bad and sometimes I don't even like some of the stuff I post, I don't like. And then it gets the most likes. And I'm like, "Really? It's so ugly." And it's just because maybe I didn't flow the way I wanted to, I didn't have as much control, but maybe other people like that and they're happy I let go more. But I definitely I sometimes want to be grittier. I have a very clean approach to colors.
And so that's a struggle. But I guess I don't want good and bad art. I don't want to be defined that way. But I understand that there are people that have a skill that's been worked on in their lifetime and they deserve appreciation for it. Like I can do realism. It is more like math in my brain and not like dance. So the part of creativity that I like is more like dance, but math can be creative. And so people really like when I do realism because when I do something, I try and do the best I can at it. But it's not as much fun for me. And I really like my abstract. That's the most fun. But that doesn't resonate with as broad of a group of people. Not everybody likes abstract art, but man, I'm trying now. I'm getting so far from my point.
Oh, that' good. Yeah, there's no good and bad. There's--ah, I don't even know how to say it. I mean because you know, I've been painting also for a long time and sometimes I'll paint something and it just feels good. I know. And other times it just doesn't feel good. But yeah, I don't know there's something about what feeling is in, in that moment. I remember I painted this piece where I got in a fight with my partner. And I went and I painted this really dark piece and it's really powerful.
I want to see it.
It's like it's just colors and the circle and there's black on it and I never use black. And that piece, I put it away even.
Yeah. I don't like to look at some of mine later even though other people love it.
Yeah. So it's such a--I don't know, it's such a mysterious process.
Yeah. That's why I don't like the good and bad because like see how much that meant to you to go through that and maybe you don't even like looking at it, but it's like I hate for someone to be shut down and then they lose it because art is so important. Oh my gosh, I don't know what I would have done with all my years and emotions and feelings of awkwardness. If anybody's empathic, they know those feelings of feeling so much that it's just hard to process a world. I like being at home, I like being with my animals, my momma. But school, boy, that's a lot of people, a lot of people lying to you through their teeth, just all that stuff, and so art was a great outlet for just getting all those feelings out. I don't know. I mean, I think other people probably get that from sports. I'm a physical person, but not really organized sports person because that involves being around more people. And I love what I do.
I see a theme here. I see a theme.
I do. But, I think a lot of artists are probably hermits on some level. Maybe that's a projection, I don't know. But I do know that I do love people but I also I could be alone for quite a bit of time, and that's okay, too. I need a dog and a cat and I like animals a lot. Oh, my gosh. Dogs. I love dogs. I know your cat boy, and I'm a cat girl. I always have one cat, but I usually have multiple dogs.
Nice. So what about creating clutter versus useful items? I love this topic.
Okay, so yeah. So this caused a lot of my slowing down in making art probably in my later 20s and early 30s, which was also the time I was raising a young child. But I draw and I draw and I draw and right now, I have a closet just stuffed to the brim up above because I've kept everything like my drawings from when I was 6, 7 years old. Sometimes I've been posting some of those where I dig back through. I have it stored in comforter bags that your new comforter comes in, those plastic. So I have a bunch of those with journals and sketching, little ripped up molding pieces of paper and it's just craziness. I really need to organize that. But that's the clutter. I make all this stuff and if it doesn't go anywhere and I don't even know how to get it out all into the world and like, what am I doing with my art? Humans take up so much space, which is all that we do. And I'm guilty. I try and be a good human, but we're guilty of our humanness, all of us. So that's why I have work towards like that's why I want to paint the coffee table. I want my art in the world, but I'd like it to be useful. And it's just a simple idea. It's not like super deep, but it's just more consciousness about like, yeah, I love to create, but I wanted to have purpose. So project down the line, this is one of my many lists of projects, I have a couple cabinet doors that are primed. Were probably ready to be hung somewhere and so the hangers are on it. And so like I just saw it and I know it's a jewelry hanger because it has a knob on it. Now you can hang a scarf on the knob, I'm going to put some hooks or maybe some antique doorknobs. I don't know. But I want to paint a cool painting on the background and then you can have the super decorative, beautiful jewelry hanger. So you have art, but it has a purpose.
I love that. Beautiful art.
And upcycling and using like, probably when I was tripping when I was a teenager, I came up with the idea that we should literally make nothing new in the world except for maybe underwear and some basic things, but that there's so much stuff in the world. If we would just use everything that's here, I don't think we need to keep making stuff.
It's such a crazy concept but it's just along the same lines as I said the core of just my footprint on the world. I'm conscious of it. I care a lot about like I really researched your shop, which I didn't really know about until I started following your podcast. But just the fact that you guys use hemp and were innovators in the industry of caring about the ocean, especially since we all use the ocean all the time.
It makes sense to think about it. And I applaud that you did and did something about it. But it's just, we can't fix everything. I'm not going to make every hurt go away. But every day I try and do better than worse. So if I'm washing my cup, wash 1 more cup. And if we all did that in the whole world, if we all just did a little bit more, instead of those of us that do more making up for those of us that do nothing or do less, that would just change everything. We just all need to do, I mean, I'm totally getting on my soapbox right now.
Oh, that's good.
But that's what the clutter thought leads to, is like being appreciative of the gift of this world.
Yeah. There's one big shift and you mentioned it quickly. I just want to point at it and I think it's a really important point is that you said you tried to be a better human, a little bit better each day, right?
And I think that's a great goal. And there's Jordan Peterson, I don't know if you've seen some of his work, but he said something which I loved. We live in such a world of comparison, especially because of social media and Instagram. And everybody's comparing everything, how they look, what they drive, where they live. And one of his big shifts was, the only thing you should be comparing yourself to is the person that you used to be. If you just turn that comparative comments to yourself and say, "Well, who was I last week and who was I last year and who was I 10 years ago?" And if you're a better person, right, if you're better in different ways, then you're on the right track.
Once some people they hear, they're like, "There's no way you're doing better every day." And no, I'm not. Some days I have crappy days, some days I have a shitty outlook, some days I say things to people I wish I hadn't because I'm mad at myself or I'm tired or whatever. But, I try and that's always my goal and I always get back up on that horse. And I've been like that since I was a kid. If I see a caterpillar stuck on the hot pavement, yeah, I'm going to pick it up and put it on the closest plant or just the little things but it's just showing love instead of hate and just trying to make things better instead of worse. It's so simple. It's just math.
I love that.
Math of actions.
Speaking of math, let's talk about the idea of the need for money that destroyed your creativity. This is a great question.
So, okay. So most of my life, I've had an off and on negative attitude about the acquisition of money for a variety of reasons that I don't want to get into specifically. But, just things were raised around or things we watch in our society, in our neighborhood, whatever. But I've had a very negative attitude about the acquisition of wealth and what it does to people and how meaningless it is and how people ignore the important things like caring about one another for that goal. And so I have sort of a negative relationship towards money, which I'm currently working on shifting. But the reality is money is a tool of this world. I have to pay my rent, I have to live somewhere. And so it's a reality and it's a reality I have developed a slightly better attitude toward. But when I feel like I need to make money, I need to make money, it's hard to be creative because that sort of thinking is definitely not in the same room as creativity. They live in different places. And so it's that. Making a loving relationship towards the idea of making money, but for what I can do in the world, like if I could make enough money, I can create art. If I can create enough art, I can give back more. You know what I mean? Like if I'm spending all my energy barely surviving and not doing anything I love, that's just a life spent doing what. So I'm trying to work on that attitude about money. And a lot of people would say, "Are you going to go to art school are you going to do art for a living?" And I'd always say, "No, no". Because it was such a valuable tool. I was afraid of it being tainted like it wouldn't hold its beauty for me anymore, I'd lose my creativity. I used to think I could lose my creativity, I don't believe that anymore. It would be like losing my eye color. I don't think that that's actually an option but when I was younger, I did, especially with the lulls and getting used to what it is to be a creative person and to sometimes feel super motivated and to sometimes have nothing to say. And you get so much of that feedback like, "Wow, if I could draw like you, I would just do that." And I was like, "Okay, so can you show me the door to that money bag that's waiting for me to just do that?" But, I have to create that instead of being bitter about there not being a clear path for how to make it as an artist. I mean, yeah, I could have gone to school, but then there was also I like my art to stay pure. Like so Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera would have conversations about her art, from what I've read from biographies and other people's words about them. And she would ask him a lot, "What does this look like? Is this right?" And he would say to her, "You know what it looks like. Draw what you know." And I repeat that conversation to myself so much because I do get hung up on proportions and is it perfect and those sort of things. But sometimes it gets in the way of creativity.
Yeah. There must be a fine line between this, like so the pure creative expression versus trying to do what you originally imagined or do what culturally you feel is right.
I mean, people live in the same way, right? They live the life that was handed to them versus the life that they want to live.
Whatever that means, right? Whatever that means for them. And so I think art is the same way. And money is an interesting topic. I kind of see this energy, right, it's an exchange of energy.
And I felt loved through it. My friends that have purchased pieces from me, that money translates to love because I know I have limited money and I have to choose what I spend it on. And when I choose, it's because I want that thing. And so I know nobody's just throwing their money at me to be nice, you know what I mean? Even though it's mostly my friends still buying my stuff. But I appreciate it so much and it has built up my sense of self-worth and then that might sound bad, but you know what I mean? It's a good reflection making me feel like the choices I'm making and that what I'm doing is valid. And that's part of my issue with money is I don't want that part of me tied up in that. But I am shifting my view like you said. It's definitely a work in progress and I feel like my view has kept me not "successful", even though I believe I'm successful as a human. But, I don't measure success by money. I measure it as your internal growth, how you approach the world, the type of person you are. But some people don't see things that way. But it's just I think that's kept me also hindered because some of my stubborn views, some of my wounded point of views, they don't help me. And so I'm the only one that can change that. Like nobody's ever going to pay for what you suffered from interacting with them. You're not going to get even with anyone by ruining your own life.
I love that.
So somewhere, you have to just choose and that's what I'm working on.
Yeah, we all are, hopefully.
Like being patient. It's not an overnight thing. It takes time for a ripple to travel. If you have a ripple in one part of the ocean traveling, it's going to take a long time to get way out there. We're just all little ripples.
Absolutely. I mean, Wave Tribe is been that for me. This is 13 years. And I feel like the ripple is finally starting to get some rhythm. We were really early in the eco kind of boat and pushing a concept that really surfers didn't care much about. 2007, 2008, nobody. Now it's kind of hip, right?
So that's what happens with good ideas, right. People are not ready for good ideas when they first come out because they don't even recognize it.
So that's been an interesting journey on my part. And many times I've wanted to give up and I've almost given up, very close to giving up.
Exactly. And that's like the lulls, right?
Because that's what I go through when it's not really happening. I'm like, "Why am I doing this? Maybe I'm wasting my energy."
Right. Yeah. And then the money doesn't come, and then it's hard to pay the bills. And there's that other part of it that is it's a really interesting reflection of how the market, whether the market is buying art or they're buying surf products. The market is they're voting with their dollars.
It's an instant metric to how the world is engaging either with your story or your product, but also with your communication, right. And this is where I think and I've seen, I've been watching what you're doing on Instagram. And I know it's hard for you, but it's vital because...
Yeah, it is. Everyday.
...you have to be discovered, right? You have to be discoverable.
Because we're all of us are shouting from small corners of the internet or from small corners of our lives. Or not shouting, but we're singing and shouting...
I'm kind of shouting.
..and laughing and crying and we're kind of doing all of it.
And that in itself is a skill, right?
It has been a learning curve, you know what I mean? Even looking at my little Redbubble revs and now I'm having fun I go into Procreate, I create some backgrounds, I'm cutting things out. I'm entertaining myself, I'm making it a creative process. But it's so weird to advertise myself. I've never done this. I'm kind of anti-this person. It's weird to put my voice out at this level. But then why was I given the voice?
Exactly. I think it's the maturity of your being is what's happening. You're stepping into who you are and the expression of that.
I appreciate that.
I mean, really, that's the way I'm seeing it.
One of the freedoms of aging, even though there's definitely like I sure do like the way I looked when I was younger, even though I still like myself now. And I like that my body could do all sorts of things. And I just have a good night's sleep and bounce up in the morning. And there's a lot of stuff that worked a lot better but the freedom that comes from the wisdom of just walking the planet and hopefully learning things, it's a nice release. And that's part of aging as a woman in this world. I don't care anymore. If you don't like what I have to say, if you don't like that I put that woman having her crotch right open on the painting or whatever, some people might find it whatever and I don't mean in any specific way. I just paint what I feel, I paint what is, I don't need to hide specific things because society doesn't like it, and I don't care anymore. I used to care, I used to feel uncomfortable because of my compassionate nature I feel people's reactions. And sometimes it's hard to hold onto myself as I ride the wave of the reaction. But I don't care anymore. I got nothing to lose.
I think I wouldn't say you don't care, I'd say you shifted your caring from an external care of criticism to an internal care for your own expression.
Yeah, totally. That's really good.
So you actually care more.
Yeah, maybe I do. Maybe the true meaning of the word caring, right?
Yeah. Yeah, I love that.
I love that too. Thank you. See, that's a nice reflection. I like those reflections. That's why it's important to surround yourself with your people.
Absolutely. Oh my goodness. So important. And get rid of the ones that aren't serving you.
The bubble bursters, Derek. The bubble bursters.
Yeah. Let them go away.
Oh, my gosh. Just shut it, bubble bursters.
So the last question you have, which I love, is about fearless expression and you say empathy, honesty, and the eye for details. So this is I want to know more about what you mean there.
So I guess that's, sorry to interrupt you.
No, no, no.
The kind of the core of if I had to define myself, what kind of artist am I. I'm abstract, I'm surreal, sometimes I'm realism, you know what I mean? I'm whenever I feel like being because I can, we all can. It's about just saying what I want to say and not censoring it. Not thinking, "Ohh, are people going to like looking at that? Ohh, is that too ugly?" I'll see what's wrong in my stuff, but sometimes I like it, sometimes that is what makes it right. And it's just, yeah just that. I mean, kind of trailing off of what we were talking about, too, is just not letting the conversation get away of what you need to say as a person, what I need to say as a person. And yeah, just being bold. So if I have a big idea, do that big idea. Like in woodshop in 8th grade, I wanted to make this cutting board out of walnut for my mom. And then the teacher told us, come up with your idea, blah, blah, blah. So I did. I had a vision, just a circular walnut board, pretty big. And then he told me I need to bring money because walnut was expensive. I said, okay, so I got the money and brought that in. And then he told me it wasn't going to hold, he was so negative. Instead of teaching me how to make it work, he's like, it's not going to hold because it's going to break. And I don't know. But it's that whole thing of I just stuck with my idea, made it. My mom has it to this day, you know what I mean? This is whatever I was 14 years old, but it's just that kind of thing of just that fear and just express yourself and do your vision, go for it and don't second guess it, even though other people might not see it, that doesn't matter. Just keep going for what you're thinking. I don't know if that summed up.
That's amazing. Absolutely. I couldn't think of better advice to give to anyone, including myself. Fearless expression is such a...
The judgment gets in the way. As soon as you judge it, you shut it down. Just anyone that really speaks up, if they let everybody that said something negative shut their voice down, there wouldn't be all this beauty and all the change and everything we need.
Yeah. Hmm, wonderful. I love it so much. So let's tell everyone where they can find you if they want to check out your art and I'll link everything up in the show notes, for sure.
I know, because my names are a little bit weird, but I wasn't willing to compromise the name. This is what I'm talking about. So on Facebook, I'm Liba Sosna. There's 2 accounts, one is public and it has my profile's one of my paintings. L-I-B-A-S-O-S-N-A. I know you'll have it written out there. My Instagram is libartationillustration and that's a long one, but it just expressed everything I wanted to say. I like illustration. That's one of my dreams is maybe doing kids' books. That's been my dream since I was a small child, like kindergarten age. And then libartation, because I like to libart everything. It's the process of what I do to things, libartation. And then I'm at Redbubble, and that is libartation. And the link is in my Instagram in the bio, because Instagram does not allow you to share links, as you know, on the actual posts. And then on Facebook, I share it in all different posts and it is part of my bio also. So if you want to go to Redbubble and want my stuff printed on a mug, apron, shower curtain, bathmat, some clothes.
Oh nope, not quite underwear. Baby underwear.
No underwear? Ahhh!
I don't have control, man. I would love to. So what Redbubble is for people that don't know, the artists upload their art and then Redbubble produces the image. So I upload it and then I make decisions about how it looks. So I go in there and I edit everything. It can be a single image, I can make a pattern, I do whatever color background and I make it the size I want and I choose which items it's available on. I put it on everything that it fits it's on if I've uploaded the size correctly. Because why not? If you want it, buy it. And I get a small percentage, basically, because I'm not doing any of the shipping, I don't do any of the mailing. They take care of it. So it's kind of like a song. My song gets played and I get a royalty. So that's what it is. I plan on also doing Society6 and looking for other sites that do the same thing. But a lot of people don't know what Redbubble is. And so, yeah, if you hit my link and then go to Explore designs, don't go to Shop products because it'll take you to other people unless you want to see other people. But if you go to Explore designs tab below my name, on the right, that's where you can see everything I've uploaded.
Yeah. That's a big plug but Redbubble is new.
Everyone, go check it out.
Everybody go check out Derek's stuff. Wave Tribe. I actually got the brown shirt with the little rainbow shark on the front.
Oh, you did?
I got a really big one because, well I'm at home all the time so it's basically t-shirt legging type of life.
Oh, I love that.
You have some fun stuff. I want a bunch of things.
Good. Well, thank you so much for this. This has been a wonderful hour of exploration of art and I've really enjoyed reconnecting with you. We can do live someday and have a beer, coffee, or whatever.
For sure. And we'll connect over the painting when it's done. I don't know if we'll do a meet-up or something like that.
Yeah. Take all the time you need, obviously. Let the muse drive you or inspire you.
Well, it's all I'm working on right now. I've got a goal.
So yeah. Thanks again, Liba.
Thank you. It was so, so great.