October 09, 2019

Five Questions with JD Beltran: CCA’s Center for Impact Director

We are beyond excited artist, designer, writer, and filmmaker JD Beltran will be one of our amazing speakers at In/Visible Talks 2020. JD’s work has been exhibited worldwide at venues including SFMOMA, the Walker Art Center, the Getty Center, the MIT Media Lab, and the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Her filmwork has received international recognition, and her writing has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and Huffington Post. A long-time member of the San Francisco Arts Commission, JD is also the Founder and Director of the Center for Impact at the California College of the Arts (CCA), an agency that funds and cultivates projects and initiatives for social and environmental impact through art and design.

Ahead of the conference, JD answered our what/where/who questions about her creative life. She’s already inspiring us, and we can’t wait to “Go Beyond” with her in January 2020.

What is your relationship to the creative process?

“Love + hate. I love being creative and having the ability to make and learn how to make stuff, but I hate that there’s not nearly enough time or money to make everything I’d like to make (and still pay the rent).”

How or where do you find inspiration?

“Unexpected juxtapositions in what I see and experience in my day-to-day life. If I’m really stuck, I go to a museum or art gallery; it’s always refreshing and inspiring to see what artists create simply because they’re curious about bringing something they dreamed up into the world. Or I leaf through Lürzer’s Archive—they manage to collect and document the best and brightest ideas from the advertising world.”

What was one of your biggest creative challenges?

“I was commissioned to create a portrait of someone, but they wanted to control the process and the aesthetic. Understandable—but compromising your personal aesthetic and the art you create for a demanding client can be really demoralizing.”

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

“When my 2nd grade teacher introduced me to Mondrian and Leonardo Da Vinci. I wanted to do what they did, but got their identities mixed up.”

Who is one of your heroes and why?

“Filmmaker and inventor Georges Méliès pioneered the use of special effects, popularizing such techniques as substitution splices, multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color. He was also one of the first filmmakers to use storyboards. I love that when the tools he needed to create his vision and aesthetic in film didn’t yet exist, he just went ahead and invented them.”

Bonus Question: What drives you to create?

“Dissatisfaction with the status quo. And sometimes I’m just curious about what something would look/work/be like if I made it.”