In a nutshell, what do you do?

I lead a dynamic, creative and experimental Art Foundation course at Colchester Institute helping approximately 70/80 students every year identify what they are passionate about, what the possibilities are and what they are good at in order for them to progress on to a degree course or find employment within the creative industries.

What’s your creative process; how do you get stuff done?

My own personal creative process has become very much about education; the way I design the course and the way I deliver my sessions, in order to engage students and encourage them to test new ideas and gain confidence in what they do.

Everyone works differently. When did you become aware that your creative process is your own?

Since being given the responsibility of a course leader! The Art Foundation course is well established – many creatives that you speak to have completed one at some point – and because of this I am genuinely proud to be in my current position. However, I never want to become complacent. It is so important to make it your own and work hard to keep things alive, energetic and exciting. The sense of responsibility and the focus on doing a ‘good job’ helps to develop a strong creative process that is adaptable and interchangeable – never stand still for too long!

When are you most creative?

I get bored quite easily so changing things up regularly drives me to be creative. There is no specific time in terms of day/night, it’s more to do with feeling motivated by something and the drive to make it happen and make it work, whatever ‘it’ may be.

Can you be creative in a vacuum or do you need outside influences to help?

I definitely need people. I’m inspired on a daily basis by the young people I work with – their interests, the way they think, their perspective, their background, their experiences, their humour! Visiting a new place or seeing an exhibition/going to a gallery will often kick-start something new in my mind that always feeds back into the Foundation course.


Did you seek being creative or did creativity find you?

I grew up in a creative household surrounded by music, objects and art. My parents both studied art so I guess it stems from my childhood. The older I get the more I realise that creativity extends beyond the visual and to be able to think creatively – problem solve, come up with solutions – is something I try hard to instil in my own children regardless of what they want to do when they grow up.

Do you think your background has had an effect on your creativity?

Definitely. We grew up in a very chilled house, we had boundaries and ‘rules’ to live by but we were always encouraged to think independently and try things out – go with what gets us excited about life rather than follow the crowd. I have learnt, from my parents, that encouragement and the sense that you can do anything if you put your mind to it is so important… all the clichés! But when followed with integrity I do believe it pays off.

Have you ever struggled with creativity?

It can be so easy to get stuck in a rut. I find getting out and seeing things, speaking to people, is really helpful. If you focus too much on the fact that you are struggling momentarily with creativity it can turn into a bit of a monster so I make myself carry on with normal life, walk away from it for a while and go back to it in a better frame of mind.


Is there any one person, thought or thing that’s changed the way you think?

I have been inspired by many people for many different reasons in relation to their creativity, their work ethic, their kindness or simply their ability to juggle life and remain happy and in control. Something that always rings through my head is graphic designer/artist Anthony Burrill’s print-turned-saying: ‘Work hard & be nice to people’. I say this to the students all the time because if you can do both of these things you will be okay!

Do you have one piece of advice for anyone starting out as a creative?

Make whatever it is you are doing your own, be fully in control and know your business inside and out. This will enable you to build on your own strengths, work on your weaknesses, and give you the confidence to tell people about the brilliant things you do and deal with any negativity you may face. Because approaching what you do with integrity will motivate you to keep on moving forward.


Do you think creativity has defined you?

This is quite difficult to answer! I would like to think that people think of me as a creative person, however the lines are possibly blurred due to the fact I work in education. I don’t know… I can’t imagine a life where creativity doesn’t come into play. I am also unsure who could.

What would you like to do if you weren’t doing what you do now?

The dream is running a hotel! A very small, very beautiful hotel in an idyllic location. This may stem from the fact that I like people, I like eclectic yet relaxing and comfortable interiors, and I like making people feel welcome. But until that happens, I feel privileged to be doing what I am doing now. And hopefully making a bit of a difference to young people in relation to their own creative process.

T H A N K   Y O U

Find Charlotte Dixon on Instagram.