November 07, 2018

Five Questions with Carissa Potter: Artist and Author

At July’s “Feeling Things Deeply” salon, we asked Carissa Potter how she would like to be introduced: illustrator, artist, designer, or author. She chose “creative.” That pretty much sums up who she is and how she lives every day. We’ve since also learned she loves serving people (her first job was serving coffee), she “really really” loves sumi ink and big brushes, and she loves the color blue for how it makes her feel “small and humble”.

Carissa is a founder of the Oakland-based small printmaking workshop People I’ve Loved, and the author and illustrator of two books, I Like You, I Love You, and It’s Ok to Feel Things Deeply. She has worked with the ICA in Boston, SFMOMA, Anthropologie, and The Body Shop, and was an artist in residence at Facebook.

As we look forward to having her on the panel at January’s 2019 In/Visible Talks (they’ll be discussing “Instinct, Luck, and Preparation: Finding Your Moment”), Carissa gave us a few more insights into her creative process.

What is your relationship to the creative process?

“If I define it as the act of mixing seemingly unrelated ideas together, I do that all day long. I think we all do. I believe that most things we do are creative, like making lunch or choosing what way to get to work in the morning. We just don’t have access to the same materials as everyone else, so their creativity seems magical. But from my point of view, whatever creative thing I do is within my personal realm of possibility.”

How or where to you find inspiration?

“Everywhere. Depends on the day. Sometimes it will just hit me. I will get excited about something, and I will feel a surge of energy. Other days I have to fight it out of me. Most of the time it has to do with some sort of problem, something that is upsetting me or a person close to me. Worry is a big one. Whatever I find my mind going back to and circling, I try to take note of and go there to unpack it.”

What was one of your biggest creative challenges?

“Getting out of bed. Feeling worth it. Keeping the faith that all of this life has meaning while still remaining critical.”

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

“Since I kinda think that creativity is a big part of problem-solving, I am not sure how to answer this. I think that my mother always wanted to be an artist, so that is a big part of why I think I do what I do. If she was a dentist, I think I would clean teeth.”

What drives you to create?

“I think about this all the time. I don’t know. I think there is something chemically rewarding to think of something and then see it come to life. I think that I like to make my and others’ lives better.”

BONUS ROUND: What’s on your desk?