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Gabriel Gabriel Garble on Creativity as Stress Relief

Most studies will highlight someone’s boss as their primary source of stress in the workplace. Curiously, having another adult telling you what to do and giving you little punishments if you don’t do it how they like has a habit of increasing the levels of adrenaline and cortisol in the body.

One of the benefits of operating independently in the arts is the ability to self-manage. You can choose where you work, when you work, and how you work. In theory.

“There is a steadiness that is implied with a profession, but creativity requires irregularity to stay creative, I think,” says animation director and illustrator Gabriel Gabriel Garble.

“Creativity requires time, which is usually not factored in the quotidian expectations of a profession. When I am not allowed the time to research and experiment for jobs that have more specific expectations, the time for that would have to come out of somewhere else, which, as a non-time magician myself, usually spells some type of disaster. Trying to make up for unaccounted time accounts for all the stresses in a creative profession (for me!), in all cases (thus far!).”

Creative freedom is another oft-touted benefit to this line of work. However, according to Gabriel, there are industry forces which may curtail this; namely the pressure to produce work which is more serious is nature. This phenomenon is deeply linked to social class and privilege.

“Many artists (myself included) start out making serious work because they want to be taken seriously by others and be validated by people in higher circles in order to make a living for themselves; which by the way can also be applied to every link of the chain: gallerists curating serious work to appease financiers; financiers buying serious work to appear informed; the non-artist public using that as a measure for quality…it is one massive circle jerk. The art world can be such a drab sometimes because canons keep getting reproduced in this way. Whilst there is nothing wrong with producing works that are more serious in nature – in fact I think serious works are very much needed and some ideas benefit from being communicated through a serious tone – serious tends to be the default, and as someone who works to mirror culture, most of life is not very serious at all.”

It’s no surprise that these twin menaces of unfactored time and constant pressure for seriousness can perpetuate stress, and it’s important to check in with yourself from time to time. Gabriel remembers hearing the advice “when you show up but don’t want to be there, it shows…it’s when you can tell your passion has taken a backseat that you need to check in with yourself and reassess the situation. ”

But creativity can also be the answer, and a different outlook on your work can go a long way to facilitating a more carefree mindset. “Remove any expectation of an end-goal…Not knowing where it’s going to take you. Like a game of exquisite corpse!”

Anthropo-cat is true testament to this advice, and was created during a difficult time for them. The artwork shows a stressed cat with a back that is so arched that clouds form around it like a hill, and atop that hill sits “a wise meditating tick guru oracle.”

“I was feeling very stressed and burned out, so I thought to draw what I was feeling in the moment but in the stupidest way possible…The artwork is a reminder to not take life too seriously when I am preoccupied with my silly human stresses. I couldn’t stop laughing when I looked at the first sketch of this artwork (which was a very good sign!), and now I never fail to smile whenever I look at it. I have a look at it every morning, chuckle, and then I am ready for the day. It’s like a visual mantra!”

If you’re feeling the stress of independent creative life, or just life in general, then hopefully Anthropo-cat can bring about a smile. “The cat can be me, or it can be you. I want to be more like that curled up sunny cat in the top-left, or be as cool as that tick.”

See more of Gabriel's work here.


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