Vanessa Hudig’s job is teaching people how to be more creative—whether she’s teaching art to secondary school kids or helping teachers innovate. Throughout her own (on-going) education, creative expression has been the dominant theme. She started writing songs as a child growing up in Rotterdam and then studied vocal jazz at the Conservatorium as a young adult. She later attended art school at the prestigious Rietveld Academy where her pieces frequently combined visual art and music. She began to incorporate more and more writing into her art. And after taking a writing class in New York, she was hooked. She came back to Amsterdam and signed up for her first workshop with director, Sarah Carriger. She’s currently a member of our Master Class.
Q: Are there any insights from your work in the visual arts that also apply to writing and vice versa?
A: I believe that the nature of creativity, any kind of creativity, whether it’s expressed through music, visual arts or writing, has a common source. Within every medium people try to find a way of expressing hyper-personal experiences, points of view, and to communicate these with the rest of the world. This is a process that is often, so to say, a bumpy ride. It requires hard work, a lot of focus. But I think that in all these media trying to find your own voice is the most important goal. In visual art a lot of the discussion is around reinventing the medium (‘art is dead’). I think visual artists like writers could be less concerned with producing something ‘world-shocking’. I don’t have to invent a whole new language, but a personal style. On the other hand, we are living in a time in which artists are looking for hybrid forms of art, and I do like to think about a hybrid form of writing. I often write around a strong image, and I’d love to experiment with mixes of music, visual art and writing.
Q: What’s it like writing in English as a second language?
A: Writing in English for me is a puzzle. I love all the synonyms and spend a lot of time trying to figure out what word would fit best. My musical background helps me listen to words for their sound and not just for their meaning. I am aware that maybe I make mistakes and that sometimes the meaning doesn’t fit or the word is not quite right but I think that can also give an interesting effect—not to have the language completely under control; sometimes it dashes off like a pack of wild dogs.
Q: You’ve gradually moved more towards writing poetry—what appeals to you about the poetic form over fiction?
A: What I like about poetry is its connection to music and the freedom it gives me to work with space and the visual aspects of the words. I also like the intensity and the compactness.
Q: You signed up for your first workshop over four years ago—what keeps you coming back?
A: The workshops are for me a way to live a full life combining two jobs and raising kids with art. Painting needs so much more space literally. I always try to explain that the workshops are so appealing to me because they provide a thin golden thread through my busy day. While shopping, cooking or cycling through town, I am concerned about what I want to write. I think about how the characters are, what will happen to them, instead of worrying about the everyday ‘dreadmill’. It gives a certain meaning to everything; I look at situations from the point of view of: is this something I could use in a poem or story?