In our fifth Episode—coming February 26th—we will have special guest and Baltimore artist, Alaina “lainface” Dorsey. Founder of Creative Ether, LLC, Dorsey brings her dope #BlackGirlMagic through her diverse and playful illustrations. Her style is imaginative, vibrant, and expressive. And she gives homage to the human form in all of its diverse beauty. You can see some of her work at TheSAND gallery, in East Baltimore.
And we are so honored to welcome her to #ForCollardGirls.
How do you define creativity?
Mostly just making shit. I don’t have any super esoteric definition for it. Creativity is the manifestation of ideas influenced by our experiences.
Who or what inspired you to create?
It’s a lot of things really. At the heart of it is always going to be the compulsion to tell stories, but to go deeper than that, it’s been kind of engraved into me to pay the most attention to what’s missing in any given situation. To make sense of that, let’s use media as a prime example: I grew up consuming the stories of heterosexual cisgender White men. They were and still are the center of attention and most other stories are deemed “unrelatable” or controversial. The idea that someone’s identity is controversial is wild as all fuck to me. Humanity poses so much variety but since White men have the most stake in our media, they can’t be bothered to tell anyone else’s stories but their own. They insist on specific images that satisfy them: namely, skinny, fragile, pale women with big tits and straight hair. How fucking drab.
The reality of diverse human experiences and looks inspire me to create. I accentuate cheekbones, I draw thick lips, I throw fat on women, I make women with small tits, I draw dudes with long hair and finely chiseled faces. I write stories about Black and Asian mixed families, lesbians trying to make music and transpeople just wanting to skateboard and find love. Our species just has too much to offer to be limited to the same lame ass White faces and bodies.
To be simple though, I’m also inspired by entertainment art in the forms of American comics and cartoons, anime and manga (good shit aside from Dragon Ball Z and the same 5 shonen shows that niggas love), video games and most recently film. My top favorites that inspire the most are: Saga, Scott Pilgrim, Kill La Kill, FLCL, Devilman: Crybaby, Lilo & Stitch, Finding Nemo, Steven Universe, Street Fighter, Final Fantasy series, Pokemon, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Moonlight, Creed and so many more.
What are you focused on creating now?
Right now I’m focused on blogging, screenwriting, illustration and visual development (visdev). I run a weekly personal development blog about connecting with and growing your purpose that updates on Tuesdays and Fridays. I’m gearing up to self-publish a series of booklets within the next 6-8 weeks that’s called “Honest AF Essays.” It’s a working title. It’s a collection of old blog posts and journal-like entries. I might also bring a sex-positive coloring book I published last year back into circulation in a few months. I’m plotting the timing on that out. It’s called “A Little Nasty Ass Book.” I also blog about super geeky anime shit for rising Black anime and manga company Noir Caesar.
I’m in the middle of a personal challenge called “Six GETSU.” I will write one short film screenplay each month for 3 months and then spend 3 months working on a feature length film screenplay. The goal is to produce a visdev portfolio for each film idea and complete one illustration per week. I didn’t have much luck with the visdev portfolio last month, but I did finish my first script “Failure Rate”! Currently, I’m in the midst of brainstorming the story structure for my second script “Tea” and will start writing February 13.
(Visual development is used for ideating concepts for films, typically animated ones. It involves creating the look and feel of the film and can include pre-production work such as character designs, prop design, environment design and even title cards/logos.)
If events count towards creating, I’m gearing up to relaunch “Body Count Workshop,” drawing sessions with diverse models at Impact Hub near the end of March. I’m also starting as a writing facilitator with local author and speaker Melony Hill’s “Writing For My Sanity Workshop” on Tuesday, March 6 and will be facilitating every first Tuesday. That’s also at Impact Hub.
It’s in my nature to be involved in a lot, so I’m also focused on creating enough energy and organization in my life to get all this shit done with excellence!
What challenges you about the creative process?
Fear and lack of completion.
It’s scary as all fuck, especially when it comes to visual art. The truth is that I’m VERY insecure about my ability to draw. I don’t sit around telling niggas that I knew I would be an artist when I picked up whatever random shit at whatever random baby ass age. I didn’t have a solid enough support system when I was a kid and given that I was already very shy, oozing with low self-esteem and a regular target for bullying or being completely ignored, I had to start building my art self from the ground up when I was 21. I get very unsure and frustrated very easily with where I’m going with my skills and end up relying too heavily on what others do better than me. I’ve taken long breaks from drawing just because the pressure and the fear become too much and I just start to associate creating visual art with pain and unhappiness. I’m still working through this shit.
The mural I painted is the most painful piece I’ve made in my life because I was so worried about making something big ass fuck and wrong. I think even more than that, I hated the idea that I would pour so much into something and it would just be ignored, that it wouldn’t inspire any type of emotion or thought in viewers. That shit fucking hurts and constantly haunts me. So yea. It’s just shit I’m working through as these feelings are my major hurdles towards finishing pieces.
I’m relatively confident about my writing skills and words just kinda flow out of me. I can handle critiques well and can easily shake-off some criticism that I don’t find to be useful. The major hurdle for writing that I share with art is getting shit DONE! I’ve been sitting on story ideas since I was 13. 13!! Getting into screenwriting this past December has been a major breakthrough for me completing stories.
Also, caring about likes too much. The need for validation is always lurking and that bitch gets in the way more than she needs to. Still working through it though.
What have you learned about yourself through the creative process?
The greatest thing I’ve learned is that I am nothing without creating. I can’t imagine going further in my life without telling stories and learning how to do it well.
I spent so much of my younger years trying to appease the world around me and it left me numb and disoriented. The creative process has taught me more and more about giving a damn about myself more than any other living being could.
It also taught me that I’m capable of making some really dope shit that I can’t imagine. I’m the vehicle for whatever these compulsions are and whatever my skill level is at the time churns out what it needs to. I honestly have no idea what I’m drawing or writing half the time: it’s just a feeling that I’m executing and I get to be surprised or disappointed with the results. It’s all experimentation and learning.
Overall, I’ve learned that this is the closest I’ll get to reproducing since I’m not interested in making an actual baby.
What word of encouragement would you give to others who are just beginning learning about creativity?
Kill the “Starving Artist” myth. Cut that bitch up, burn it and throw it into the wind. If you want to be a professional creator and make a living off of your shit, you need to think like an entrepreneur and educate yourself as much as possible and experiment with producing and selling your work and services. I’m so tired of creators crying broke and just thinking that learning how to draw well is gonna make all your dreams come true. No, nigga. Get educated on your industry and how the business works. Build relationships and influence. Artists and writers pat themselves on the back for being so unique and different compared to society but let themselves believe they need to be broke for it. Kill that shit.
Money aside, embrace experimentation, always study and practice different art forms that inspire you and make sure you’re producing something for yourself. The self-doubt doesn’t go away and it doesn’t get easier: it grows and changes with you. You just get better at dismantling the okie doke. I recommend reading and working through the book The Artist’s Way to fortify your spirit, no matter your craft.
What has the creative process taught you about God(s)/Creator(s)/Or Higher Being(s)?
It has taught me that I am my own god. I am a vehicle to what I am becoming.