|Caylee Grey is a South African artist living in Germany whose creative adventure began as a way for her to get messy, ditch perfectionism, stay accountable, and consistently create art. A self-taught artist, Caylee believes in making a whole bunch of really average art in order to get to the good stuff. She’s honored to lead a community of incredible humans passionate about cultivating their art practice. She is also the author behind Get Messy Art. We asked her a few questions about her creative process.
Quarto Creates: How did you first become interested in art?
Caylee Grey: Back in 2014, we had just moved countries, and it was literally illegal for me to work. I was excited about having a year that I could do everything I dreamed of. Except that I hadn't really dreamed of anything. I had no dreams, no plan, no desires. I had been living a life of passivity - which was easy, but not fulfilling.
When I felt myself slipping back into a depression (even though I was living in my dream country!) I knew I had to make small steps. I knew I had to make something. I wanted to be an artist. The biggest challenge? I wasn’t creating art.
I’d sit down to create and stop, stumped by the “what” and the “how” of making art. I’d focus on my vision of the perfect result and lose the love of the process.
My art journaling adventure began as a way for me to get messy, ditch perfectionism, stay accountable and consistently create art.
But, magically, it transformed into something so much more than that too.
Together with another human who wanted to be an artist but wasn't making art, we began sharing just two art journaling spreads per week on our blogs. We called it "Get Messy".
After just a week of being accountable to my art journaling journey via blogging, Get Messy had grown to three. Together, we were sharing our triumphs and struggles, learning from each other and creating. So. By the end of the year, we had a tribe of almost 50 artists, and I was hosting blog hops complete with art journal prompts to inspire our family. There were so many people on the waitlist that it was like fate had sashayed onto my path and painted a great, big, “Do this, dummy” sign there.
So, I did.
Today, I’m honoured to lead a tribe of incredible humans passionate about cultivating their art practice. My work is intertwined with my own creative practice, but that's why there's so much heart in both.
QC: What is your advice for those who want to try it but aren’t sure where to start?
CG: Make it easy. Find the easy. Once you have that figured out, you're sorted. Ask yourself how you can make it easy and then follow that path.
You don't have to be a lonely human who lives in an attic and spends all your time painting masterpieces in order to be an artist. If you make art - no matter how "small" or "ugly" or "pointless" it is, you're an artist. Find pockets of time throughout your day to create rather than look for hours of free time. Use only your favourite supplies and don't try to learn to love anything. Turn the page or tear it out or give up halfway if that's what you feel like.
Surround yourself with people who get it. Learn from the mistakes of others. Allow others to celebrate all creative wins and allow them to throw confetti at you.
Be excited about the little things.
Allow yourself to create for your own delight.
QC: Where do you look for inspiration?
CG: The art that I make embraces imperfection and looks that way too. I make a whole lot of mediocre art because - for me - it's about the process of spilling. As such, I need to narrow my focus and not copy others' art. I get shiny object syndrome and often will remove Instagram from my phone so that I keep looking inward. Rather than learning techniques, I like to learn someone else's heart and put that into my heart. I love reading about what art means to others, and their lessons.
I'm inspired by true connection. There is so much beauty in a safe space for vulnerability.
Sometimes all I need is the courage to create, and for that, I talk to creative friends. I also like looking at past journals to see evidence that I am brave.
QC: What is the biggest challenge you face while working on a craft project?
CG: Perfectionism. I still have to remind myself that perfection is not the way, it's just in the way of making art that looks like my heart.
QC: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from creating?
CG: The mess is where the magic happens.
Learn more about Caylee's work on her website, getmessyart.com and on Instagram @getmessyartjournal and @cayleegrey.