20 April 2010

Arts & Upstarts: Elspeth Duncan, Happy Hippy Productions

Photo of Elspeth Duncan by Kris Alcantara
Multimedia Artist, Filmmaker, Writer, Musician

PHOTO by Kris Alcantara

Elspeth Duncan
formerly Happy Hippy Productions
Sole proprietor of a multimedia company creating artistic works and interactive experiences to uplift, inspire, shift perspectives, and raise awareness on issues of humanitarian importance.
Started: 1999

What type of business do you run and why did you decide to start it?

I am in the business of uplifting, inspiring, shifting perspectives and raising awareness in self and in others through a range of creative media: writing, photography, video art, filmmaking, and conceptual interactive installation art.

Working in advertising for nine years as a writer, I saw the influence that creativity has over the masses. It felt wasteful to use this power to convince others to buy meaningless products. I left the job so that I could invest creative energy in the healing and positive transformation of humanity.

Photo of Finger Labyrinth installation by Elspeth Duncan
 OLD HOUSE INSTALLATION: Finger Labyrinth by Elspeth Duncan

Core themes in my work are love, healing, spirituality, self discovery, environment, personal/Universal interconnectedness and humanitarianism. In addition to solo work (e.g., exhibitions, art pieces, and the creation of concept-driven experiential events and products), I also collaborate with other musicians, filmmakers, and artists, work with environmental and social activists, and conduct video training workshops and filmmaking projects for youth in schools and communities. The latter have largely been commissioned and funded by Trinidadian and international organizations such as the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS, and the British Council. These projects aim to educate and raise awareness in youth around issues such as HIV/AIDS, stigma, crime and man’s relationship with the natural world.

FILM: INVISIBLE: Children Living with HIV/AIDS by Elspeth Duncan/Happy Hippy Productions,
for the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition for the Convention on the Rights of the Child

I see myself as an ongoing art piece, constantly evolving — both through my own efforts and as a result of "Divine influence." Over the past few months I've been transitioning, moving away from my former company name (Happy Hippy Productions) to a new name and presence, which will still incorporate multimedia practices but with more of a focus on the yoga of everyday life.

How do you balance your business with your own art practice?

If I define "business" as what I create for clients and the processes involved and "personal art practice" as what I do creatively for myself in spare time, then increasingly I am finding less of a division between the two. As cliché as it may sound, "following my heart" and being true to what I'm genuinely moved to do has led me to the point that what I create freely for myself is coming more into alignment with what I am being led to do for, and with, others. I would add that daily Kundalini Yoga has contributed largely to areas of my life coming more into balance over the past decade.

Photo of Infinite CD Cover by Elspeth Duncan
 PHOTO: Infinite CD Cover by Elspeth Duncan

What has been the biggest challenge in running your business, and what has been the greatest outcome?

So far being a "businesswoman" has been my greatest challenge. Creativity is my forte, but making business plans, writing proposals and working with finances are areas in which I'm not naturally as confident.

A common perception is that creative people aren't good business people. Whereas, I used to have a subtle fear of "business," now I choose to believe and ultimately demonstrate that creative people are great business people because we know how to be really creative with the business. It's an ongoing learning process and I would love a good teacher (or teachers).

Photo of Elspeth Duncan, Dream Tree Planting
 PHOTO: Elspeth Duncan Planting the Dream Tree
(part of interactive journey of Dream Tree Window Lamp process)

The greatest outcome has been the paying off of persistence at "heart work." I never felt like giving up, despite some of the challenges that come with not having "a real job" (as some people put it). It is fulfilling to be able to move, touch and inspire others — and to experience the same in return.

Over the years my body of work has built me a reputation for being "the one" to deal with sensitive, often intimate issues and deliver powerful messages in simple, unique and emotive ways.

In what ways are your artistic vision and entrepreneurial spirit connected?

For me, creative energy is a tool for healing and transformation of self and others. This is the connection.

Elspeth Duncan
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...