We recently connected with Darcie Shively and have shared our conversation below.
Darcie, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Do you wish you had started sooner?
I’ve come to stop seeing myself in terms of a fixed, linear path in life and that has been life changing. I’m an artist, a weaver, a mom, a business owner, and most importantly, I make a lot of time for downtime now. That’s when I feel most creative. Granted, this is on the heels of “paying my dues” for a couple of decades, but that’s ok too. As many kids do, I loved making art as a child, but when college came along I felt like I had to work towards a “real job”. I grew up in a pretty traditional upbringing and didn’t necessarily see a creative path for myself back in the early 90s. I ended up getting an MBA and gravitating to strategic work in advertising for brands like Apple, Volvo and Patagonia. There was a time I looked back and wished I hadn’t given up on art-making so young. But, now I realize there was much creativity to learn from the business world, especially working with companies like Apple. Those experiences not only helped me make a decent living but helped me structure my thinking more than I might have been able to had I gone straight through with art. I was also able to come back to art in a way a child might, which is to explore what I felt like exploring vs what an art school education would have thrust upon me to learn. There’s a lot of freedom in being an outsider in the art world. Apple used to be an outsider and I learned a lot from how Steve Jobs thought about pursuing your own way of being in the world.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
I grew up in a pretty traditional upbringing in PA & SC through grad school but I also had certain family members who were artists and my grandmother & mother were instrumental in tuning me into what was happening at large in the world. I began to do a lot of traveling in my 20s throughout Latin America, Europe and India/Nepal in business school and working afterward. I’m currently an artist who primarily works in tapestry and my husband, who went to CalArts, and I started a tea project called Irreverent Teas. Prior to that, I worked in advertising at agencies like Media Arts Lab in Los Angeles and Arnold in Boston, working with global brands. I was a strategist and liked picking apart a task and figuring out the most elegant way of approaching it.
The skills I learned in being a strategist have really been beneficial to my art. That time in advertising also gave me a lot more confidence in my thinking and life experience to feel I know what I want to be expressing in my art. I’m not so caught up in the times with my art but rather thinking about more timeless ideas.
My art and our tea business have a lot to do with the idea of giving up a sense of control in life. We’ve come to live with so much technology and shared knowledge. I remember the days before mobile devices where there was more uncertainty and serendipity and there was a lot about that I miss. People didn’t need to be so perfect and homogenous back then. My weavings all tend to invite chance into the making of them in terms of design and color combination. Our tea business likes to call out the wellness industry on the often impossible standards we now all try to live up to. My creative pursuits are now more aligned with my personal feelings about myself and the world.
Do you think there is something that non-creatives might struggle to understand about your journey as a creative? Maybe you can shed some light?
Everyone is creative. This is something I lost the understanding of along the way. Probably, it was because I worked in a creative field, but only certain people were allowed to be called “creatives” and contribute to the “creative”. In hindsight, this is ridiculous, limiting and not true to life. For me, being creative is not that different from problem solving. It just has more to do with what problems are being solved and how you go about them. Creativity is painting or graphic design, but it is also how you put together a system that works in a company. It is having an idea and figuring out a way to bring that idea to life.
Are there any books, videos, essays or other resources that have significantly impacted your management and entrepreneurial thinking and philosophy?
I can’t recommend the Waking Up app by Sam Harris enough. I’ve always been pretty self-directed vs reading a lot of business/creative resources, but meditation and mindfulness through that app have been life changing. Mindfulness has created a new level of attention and space in which my creativity has flourished in a way it had not before when I was trying to accomplish something. Mindfulness and meditation help re-orient your approach to letting your creativity have a life of its own vs trying to anticipate and control everything all the time. I don’t feel the stress of whether I’m making the right decisions or “keeping up” anymore. It is more about allowing things to unfold in the manner they should.
- Website: darcieshively.com
- Instagram: irreverent_tea