100 Creatives

Tempe Artist Amy Radcliffe: 100 Creatives

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See also: Phoenix Fashion Designer Cody Nathaniel Johnson: 100 Creatives

Her varied pursuits make Radcliffe all the more compelling. And they go beyond her artistic output.

"It's different daily," the artist says of her routine. "But it's usually some combo of serving at Crepe Bar, reading at Cartel, drawing stuff, writing stuff, rearranging furniture, wandering Maple Ash, then heading to work at A New Leaf, where I work with kids with behavioral health issues and eat Takis."

I came to Phoenix with my big family, a home schooled education, and braces.

I make art because I was made to! I totally believe humans were created to create. If I don't, I'm denying my birthright. The great thing about creativity being in my nature is that it's going to come out, one way or another. I make art because I want to steward my innate creativity well, and do it on purpose.

I'm most productive when it's 3 a.m. and my deadline is in a few hours. I absolutely work best under pressure. Aside from that, I'm productive when I'm stoked about what I'm making. There are plenty of things I make because I was commissioned and am being paid. That's just a part of the trade. But when I get to make something that excites me, I surprise myself with how rapidly I can produce work that I'm proud of.

My inspiration wall is full of random objects. I'll just literally look at my wall right now and list off what I see: a hawk feather I found in the woods, three old photographs (two of family, one of strangers), a paint-by-numbers transparency of a horse, unpainted, a Tempe High School football game ticket stub, a letter pressed print of my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song, a bathroom sign that says "Gentlemen," and a photograph of my mother when she was my age.

I've learned most from surrounding myself with humans that are different from me, that are creating in ways that I am not. People that are laboring for creativity in engineering, pastoring their church, making crêpes, parenting their kids. We rarely grow when we're surrounded by what's familiar and comfortable. I learn most about the world through people's stories that are different from my own. That means I have to stretch myself and push my comfort zones, meet new people and ask them questions. This isn't natural or easy, it has to be a choice, because I will naturally gravitate toward what's comfortable and safe. But it's way important.

Good work should always be intentional. I think the good stuff comes most often when it's created on purpose. What that means to me is putting in the work. Taking time. Caring about every little decision you're making in the process of creation. Sure, cool stuff happens on accident all the time, but I think excellence in any craft always comes from a place of intentionality.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more commitment. I'm blown away by how many creatives there are in my community. There are so many talented folks doing brilliant things. Yet there will always be the "it" cities, where everyone knows that creativity thrives. Where every 20-something seems to be working towards getting to. Don't get me wrong, places like the PSW, San Fran, and Brooklyn are just oozing with creative culture and I love that, but does creative culture have to be limited to just these places? I truly hope not. I love my city, and I want to see it flourish. With as transient as this area is, everyone from snow birds to college students, we need creative people that will do creative things for the benefit of THIS city. Who will commit to seeing this place grow. So make yourselves at home, people.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski