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Feature No. 06:

MACLIN BILSKI

Occupation: Artist + General Creative
Birthplace: Fairview, OH
Current Location: Westlake, OH
Instagram: @maclin

What do you mean by a ‘general creative’?

I love to challenge myself with all sorts of mediums. So, if there’s something out there that I want to make, or I have an idea of something, or if there’s someone that needs help bringing something to life… I can do that.

What does being an American maker mean to you?

It means being industrious and innovative. But it’s also about having the liberty to go and source any product, material or resources that you might need under your own willpower.

Being an American maker means, when someone comes up and asks me something, I know that I might have the ability to help them. It’s limitless. It feels like I have no ceiling to what I could possibly create. And, I know that all of the things I need to bring it together are available.

You said you only started painting a few years ago. Did you always know you wanted to be creative? Or, were there other experiences that helped lead you to this point?

I started really young. I was 11 or 12 years old when I was introduced to a camera by a neighbor. I instantly fell in love with taking pictures and making stop-motion videos. After that, I just never put the camera down—I always had a camera, I was always shooting something. Then, I had good friends who were really interested in making videos, and so, I became their camera guy and editor. And, we ended up keeping that going through high school and into college.

In college, I stepped away from the creative stuff for a little bit to explore some of my other interests. I started in the business school, then switched to computer science, and ultimately followed my passion for natural sciences and graduated with a degree in botany. But during my junior year—I finished all my classes early so I had a bit of free time on my hands—I decided to start doing photography and video again. From there, I just found myself diving deeper and deeper into the arts and film. So, after school, I took a job as a photographer but ended up hating it. I knew I could do it all for myself, and I really liked the freelance idea and working on my own terms and schedule. So, I quit the job. I moved home from Denver, and I just became the most creative possible person I could be.

What is your daily routine to help keep you motivated, inspired, and on track for your goals and your career?

The way I see it is, ‘every day the sun shines, a songbird sings.’ The birds aren’t chirping when it’s raining out, right? But they’re birds; they’re ruled by their environment… We’re humans. We have to make our own sunshine everyday in order to sing.

But, what makes me wake up and do that? I guess—

I read that one book, Artists’ Habits, which just talks about other artists’ schedules. But ultimately what they did was just put time in their day to be creative; they made time for it.

I always reserve a part of my day that’s just for me. I run my own business, but there are also two other companies that I’m a part of, and so I often find myself trying to work my creative time in with phone calls, meetings—parts of my job that are more business oriented. So, I definitely make sure that I allow myself at least 2-3 hours of just ‘me time,’ which typically involves going to the beach or some form of nature for 20-30 minutes. And, in that time—which is a meditative time—I come up with something. And, whether that’s related to my dreams or just something I want to say or focus on, I try to put that idea into motion for the remainder of that 2-3 hour time period.

Take us through your creative process, and why does no one else do/design like you?

I compulsively create—like I don’t have a choice—I just do it. I carry around a notepad so in case I have to write something down or draw, I can do it—I literally invented a notebook so that I could do that. I don’t like to say that I don’t have a choice, but it’s what I feel is my song; I make things. If I see something that’s bad, or if there’s something that I find to be inconsistent with the way that I like to live my life... I fix it, I change it, I innovate on it. So, for me, that extends outside of art but the art is just a natural expression of mine. It’s something that my body just does.

But what makes me uniquely me? I call it capacity of thought but I guess you could call it the ‘ability to think expansively.’ I’m really able to drill down deep into a specific concept or theme. My concept is to always be working around the idea. You can never pinpoint an idea because, as soon as you describe something, you’re describing what it’s not. So, I always try to work around the totem of an idea—in order to paint a picture of all of the things it’s not—so that in it’s reflection, you’re seeing the image of what is.

But, I can’t really speak on how my creative process compares to someone else’s because we all come across the same epiphanies… The information all boils down to the same things; it’s called wisdom.

What are you going to take away from this time in your life? What does a life well-lived mean to you?

I guess I’ll define the beginning of this period in my life as 2018. I committed to the art journey in 2017 but the commitment didn’t sink in until a year later.

But to summarize it briefly—
Passionate work that you love requires sacrifice of that which you don’t. You have to let go of so many things in order to set yourself free. Sometimes you don’t want to let go of things because they’re safe and comfortable…You’re made in the image of, ‘you were that person that went to this school, that took this job, to do this thing.’ But I had to renounce all of everyone else’s projections in order to build my own design.

And, a life well-lived. I guess, it means…that I did what I said I was going to do—based on what I wanted to do—and brought my loved ones along with me, in order to help them do what they wanted to do.

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