On the 8th of November 2020, in her lovely apartment in London, we spoke with Chikae about her creative journey.
A Skilled Photographer Turned Painter on Her Path to Learning Human Design
I first met Chikae a few years back and have witnessed her brave career and personal development breakthroughs in recent years. She began her journey as a florist. With her ability to juggle multiple talents along with her exceptional taste in visual arts, she began taking the photographs for her business so that she could curate the aesthetics in her vision. This in turn led to a curiosity in pursuing photography further. In true Chikae fashion, following her heart after doing photography for a few years, she courageously changed course to pursue her childhood passion for painting & illustrating as her new career. One of her recent commissions was illustrating a menu based storyline for the BBC’s Great British Menu. She is excellent in whatever she chooses to do, and yet never stops bravely exploring new possibilities. Chikae is working on an “experience guide” similar to a travel guide to help people curate experiences on their travels, as well as painting and training to become a qualified Human Design reader and coach. But perhaps that could be a topic for a future interview all by itself. Today, let’s focus on her deep connection with creativity and its power on mental health.
When we first met you were a florist and a photographer. Tell me about the change from that career to becoming a painter.
I have always been someone that beats to the drum of my own heart. I love learning and growing through life and don’t like hanging around for something that no longer makes me happy. This to me is a huge part of self-care and knowing your worth and I really want to be an example for others especially for the younger generation so that they can lean into unconventional methods and know that they can truly follow whatever lights them up inside. Especially for those like me who find social norms and preconceived notions very difficult to follow. Even at this time I am training to become a Human Design reader so that I can help others live their best self. I love trial and error, therefore my job description will always be shifting and changing. I was a florist, then a photographer, a painter (always since I was a kid), but I have always also loved helping and guiding others in a way that is specific to them so I will always be doing that alongside anything that I do. I would love for people to steer away from this conditioned idea that you must pick one thing and stick to it. For some this works really well but for some it doesn’t and I’d love to pave the way for people to understand that it’s ok and actually really wonderful and healthy to do this.
I am someone that really loves the aesthetics of things, even down to the way I plate my food at home. I adore creating beautiful spaces and environments not just for myself but for people and also the idea and importance of self-expression. This is why I wanted to lean more into painting and art to explore this further.
What are the inspiration sources for your art creation?
My surroundings, people I encounter, fairy tales, books, movies, my own imagination, thoughts, the senses, the tangible, the intangible, the seen and unseen, the known and unknown, experiences and cultural background. There is no limit and it changes minute by minute. The seasons, the environment I am in and the people I am surrounded by all have an impact on what I do. Everything I do has meaning and depth. It all comes from layering who I am as a person and bridging the gaps of past, present and future, as well as bridging the gap between mind, body and spirit and expressing growth of self.
You love using your imagination and care a lot about how you can help the younger generations as well as adults in their pursuit of self-care and authenticity, can you see yourself creating a children’s book one day to share this with the world?
I have always loved the idea of illustrating / writing a children’s book because it can hold so many truths about the world that can sometimes be hard to say out loud or directly to children, but can give them valuable lessons in life. The creativity that goes into a children’s book is so fascinating to me. The way it is so easily understood in the simplest of writings, yet is so profound in its life lessons that even adults learn something on a different level. This process interests me because it really takes into account how to take a really complex topic of let’s say death, growing up, how babies are made, and simplify but not disrespect or downplay the intelligence and receptiveness of a child. Plus illustration-wise you can really take your imagination to the next level, something that as adults we all forget and we can re-learn from children. To not feel judgment. To create whatever our imagination brings to life. Children have such a vibrancy and confidence in them that dissipates over time and I would love to reignite that in all of us, because it is never lost, it has just been misplaced and forgotten. Children can be a source for some of our greatest re-learnings in life and they deserve the best possible start in life and that is what I would love to achieve.
Adding onto this – this is also one of the reasons why I am becoming a Human Design reader as I would love for parents to see the potential their children have early on to give them the best possible start in life.
As someone who has battled with mental health, depression and anxiety, how does creating art help you go through that?
Part of my purpose in life is to ride the waves and live through the darkest and brightest of times so that I can impart wisdom unto others to try and help them through it. Art and creativity is so unapologetic. It allows me to remind myself of that and create from the heart and soul to expel the darkest shadows. This is particularly important when it feels like we have nowhere to go or no one to turn to or speak to, which sadly is the case for so many. Art and creativity in general can be a great outlet for people battling any sort of mental health, anxiety or stress. I must stress however to never force creativity, because this will create even more tension and resistance. Allow it to flow by not pressuring yourself into it and it will just be an extension of you.
I want to change the stereotypical narrative that artists are starving or can only create from a place of severe depression or sorrow. Whilst this is not untrue and can often birth some of our best work, I love what Brianna Wiest says on this: “what artists also don’t tell you is that crisis is not necessary to function”
Creativity and imagination is such an important part of life as it provides beauty to the world and especially this year I think we have needed beauty more than ever with so many people suffering from depression, mental health and anxiety disorders. As someone that has battled all of it and more, I have managed to overcome each bout because I have trained my mind over time, (through art and creativity and following the paths that I truly love and make me happy) to understand that when I hit a “rock bottom” that it means I am about to learn a huge life lesson that will propel me forwards and change my life for the better in every way possible. This is not easy to do and will be a lifelong occurrence. Therefore my recommendation is to really lean on people, and love everyone and everything around you in every aspect of the word. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and if you can’t do it directly, do something for yourself without pressure or forcing yourself to “self-care” because this will give you resistance and make you fall deeper and harder. Connection with others is key. I cannot stress that enough. Find a tribe of other creatives through instagram, or in person or online and just lean on them and share. Some of my closest friends I have met through my creative businesses (like you Shiyi!) and what is amazing is that I now have a community of people who are not only like-minded but share their grief and pain in ways that I had never imagined I would ever be brave enough to do in the public eye. Art can help you overcome this fear and that is why it is so profound.
Watch this space! I will soon be a Human Design reader and will be taking on clients to give them their specific chart readings and help them decondition from whatever critical inner voice they may have and hopefully help people find their way in life, just how it helped me overcome depression and find my way and purpose.
Everyone’s journey towards self improvement and career path is unique, sometimes we just can’t see what has been blocking us from a breakthrough. Searching and trying different things is one way around it. All in all, the mountain is you.