Poet and creative coach Mark McGuinness brings you inspiration and practical guidance for your creative career or business, and interviews leading artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and other outstanding creators. Take part in the weekly Creative Challenge for your own personal development (there are prizes as well).
How I Created, Funded and Launched My New Podcast (while the World Was in Meltdown)
Welcome to Episode 10 of the Creative Disruption season of The 21st Century Creative, where we are hearing stories of creatives around the world who came up with a creative response to the challenges of the pandemic.
It’s been my most ambitious season yet, with creatives from 5 continents and probably the closest I’ll ever get to releasing a concept album, because all the interviews have had a common thread - how creators around the world were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
And each interview tells the story of how one creative, or team of creatives, rose to the challenge by doing something new and different, that opened up new possibilities for their future.
I focused on the arts and creative industries that experienced some of the biggest disruption, such as theatre, music, art, film and TV production.
I also had stories from some creative fields that didn’t necessarily get so much media coverage, but which were also severely affected, such as personal development, experiential marketing, street photography and tattoo art.
And one thread that runs through every single interview this season, is the extraordinary, creativity, courage and resilience shown by my guests, in creating new types of artwork, new products, new services and even entirely new companies, in the face of a global crisis.
And finally, today, I am going to close the loop by sharing my own story of my journey through the pandemic.
So there’s a bit of a different format for this episode, in the first part, I’m going to tell the story of my pandemic, and how it affected our company, The 21st Century Creative. I’ll talk about the challenges I faced, the discoveries I made and the lessons I’ve learned.
Then in the second part, Joanna Penn, who you have previously met as a guest on The 21st Century Creative, has kindly interviewed me about the inspiration behind my poetry podcast, A Mouthful of Air, and how I conceived, funded, launched and produced it against the backdrop of the pandemic.
Mark McGuinness with 'Elegy for Moss', co-created with Sheena Devitt
After 6 seasons of The 21st Century Creative, it’s quite possible that you already have a pretty good idea of who I am. But on this show, I’m mostly talking in my role as a coach for creatives, so you may not be as familiar with my poetry.
It’s also possible that this is the first episode of The 21st Century Creative you’ve come across, in which case an introduction is definitely in order.
So my name is Mark McGuinness and I’m an award-winning poet from the West Country of England, which Anglo-Saxon historians and Thomas Hardy fans know as Wessex. I currently live in Bristol, which is the big city compared to where I grew up, in rural Devon.
My mother is from Devon and my father is Scottish and his family goes back to Ireland, so there’s a mixture of Saxon and Celt in my ancestry and my cultural inheritance.
I'm also the host of A Mouthful of Air, which was recently selected as one of the 9 Best Podcasts for Poetry Lovers, by Podcast Review, published by The Los Angeles Review of Books.
The photos on this page are of ‘Elegy for Moss’, a concrete poem I co-created with the artist and sculptor Sheena Devitt, and exhibited at The Lettering Arts Trust; I tell the story of this collaboration in the first part of today's episode.
Outside of poetry, I've spent the last 25 years as a coach for creatives, which led to me writing several books for creatives, contributing to two international best sellers published by 99U, and hosting this podcast, The 21st Century Creative, since 2017.
'Elegy for Moss' by Sheena Devitt and Mark McGuinness
My interviewer: Joanna Penn
From Tattoos to NFTs with Ichi Hatano
Welcome to Episode 9 of the Creative Disruption season of The 21st Century Creative, where we are hearing stories of creatives around the world who came up with a creative response to the challenges of the pandemic.
This week we are off to Tokyo, to meet Ichi Hatano, a wonderful artist whose work has deep roots in the traditional arts of Japan.
When his busy tattoo studio was closed by Covid restrictions, he turned to digital art and exhibited his work at CrypTOKYO, Japan’s very first NFT art show, which attracted national press and television coverage.
In this interview Ichi tells me about his journey as an artist and the new creative and commercial opportunities he is discovering in the world of digital art.
In the first part of the show, I look back at the interviews in the CREATIVE DISRUPTION season and identify a key factor that made creative reinvention easier for some creators than others – and what you and I can learn from their example.
Ichi Hatano has worked as a tattoo artist since 1998 and also produces Suiboku-ga, a type of traditional ink wash painting.
In late 2019 just before the pandemic hit, Ichi was employing 3 more tattooists plus a full time studio manager, and they were fully booked 6 days a week, with the majority of their business coming from overseas tourists, who wanted a very special souvenir of their trip to Japan.
Then along came the pandemic, and the restrictions meant that not only was his tattoo studio closed for many months, but foreign tourists were barred from entering the country.
So Ichi’s business shrank from 6 days a week to only 1 or 2 clients a month. Which meant he had a lot of time on his hands, and he came up with 3 very different creative projects in response to his changed circumstances.
The first one was a beautiful book of his Suibokuga paintings, called Ichi Hatano’s Dragons, which he crowdfunded on Kickstarter.
The second project is an ongoing DIY renovation project at a traditional house in the Japanese countryside, which he plans to turn into a gallery.
And the third was his entry into the world of Crypto Art and NFTs.
Ichi took part in CrypTOKYO, Japan’s very first in-person NFT art show, exhibiting and selling his digital artwork alongside notable Japanese artists and international icons including Beeple, and Maxim from The Prodigy.
It’s a fascinating conversation where a centuries-old artistic tradition meets the latest trends in the 21st century creative economy.
You can learn more about Ichi’s art – including his digital art and his book at his website, IchiHatano.com and his Instagram @ichi_hatano
Ichi Hatano interview transcript
MARK: Ichi, how did you become an artist?
ICHI: I didn’t have any official art training. I left school at 15 because it was difficult being a group environment. I like studying by myself. I was drawing a lot, and studying art by myself.
MARK: What artist inspired you the most?
ICHI: I like Ukiyo-e artists from the late Edo period, which is the 19th century. Ukiyo-e are Japanese woodblock prints. My favorite artists are Keisai Eisen, Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, this kind of era artist.
MARK: I think a lot of listeners will know Hokusai’s ‘Wave off Kanagawa’.
ICHI: Yeah. Exactly.
MARK: That’s maybe a really, really famous image. But there’s an awful lot of other Ukiyo-e images and artists.
Why did you become a tattoo artist?
ICHI: It’s hard to say why you like something. If you like it, you like it!
MARK: That’s true.
ICHI: I got my first tattoo at 20 years old.
MARK: Oh, really?
Using Lockdown to Launch a Dream Project with Nicky Mondellini
Welcome to Episode 8 of the Creative Disruption season of The 21st Century Creative, where we are hearing stories of creatives around the world who came up with a creative response to the challenges of the pandemic.
Have you ever had the idea for a creative project that you’ve never quite got round to starting?
That’s the situation actor and voiceover artist Nicky Mondellini was in back in 2019. She dreamed of making a podcast to share her knowledge, meet interesting new people and create opportunities. But there never quite seemed enough time.
Then along came the Coronavirus and her upcoming movie project was cancelled, and she found herself with more time on her hands than anticipated.
Nicky decided it was now or never – and in this interview she tells the story of what happened when she decided to go for it.
In the first part of the show, I look back over the CREATIVE DISRUPTION season interviews, and identify 4 main paths creatives took through the pandemic. Listen to identify which one you took, and the questions I have to help you make the most of your situation.
Nicky Mondellini is an actor who had an early start in show business, since childhood she was attracted to the magic of the stage and later, she continued her path by working in television and film as well as the theatre.
Alongside her acting career, she developed a voiceover business. Having grown up in Mexico City with an Italian father and a British mother has made her equally proficient in Spanish, English and Italian, as well as different accents.
Specialising in commercials for the Hispanic market, she has been the voice of major brands such as Ford, Google Pixel, Fiat Alfa-Romeo, Texas Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Ikea.
In 2017 she received the Voice Arts Award for Outstanding Spanish Language Narration by the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences. The Society also nominated her for awards in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
At the beginning of 2020 she had been cast in a film and was looking forward to starting shooting in February. Then the pandemic arrived and the project evaporated, as well as all the other acting opportunities she had been lining up.
It was a frightening time and a part of her was very tempted to play it safe. But in today’s interview, Nicky told me how she came to treat the pandemic as an opportunity to lean into her voiceover work, raise her game and attract new clients.
So she invested in her professional development, ignoring the voice at the back of her mind telling her not to spend any money she didn’t have to.
This led to the launch of her Spanish language podcast La Pizarra, which features interviews with experienced professionals in the entertainment business on both sides of the camera.
Creating the podcast has given Nicky another outlet for her creative talent, and is paying off by raising her profile, growing her network and creating opportunities for her career.
Listen to Nicky’s interview for an inspiring story of having the courage to set aside firefighting and anxiety, and commit to a project that is creatively fulfilling and strategically smart.
You can learn more about Nicky’s work as an actor and voiceover artist at www.nickymondellini.com
And you can find her podcast La Pizzara at www.lapizarrapodcast.com
Nicky Mondellini interview transcript
MARK: Nicky, how did you get started on your creative path?
NICKY: I got started at a very young age. I was 11 years old when I did my first musical. So I’ve been in the business for quite a while. I don’t exactly like to say, ‘Oh, yeah, over 35 years in the business,’ because then they’ll think I’m much older than what I am.
Taking Deep Work Online with Laura Davis
Welcome to Episode 7 of the Creative Disruption season of The 21st Century Creative, where we are hearing stories of creatives around the world who came up with a creative response to the challenges of the pandemic.
Today we’re focusing on a creative sector that is close to my heart, which was massively disrupted but didn’t get quite the level of coverage that others did. And that’s the field of personal development and learning.
And I’m delighted to welcome a guest, Laura Davis, who is something of a legend in the field of therapy and healing.
Laura's latest book is The Burning Light of Two Stars, a really powerful memoir about her relationship with her mother, how that was disrupted by Laura’s writings and how they took steps to make peace with one another.
In the first part of the show, I argue that all arts are performing arts – even if it’s just you sitting alone in your office or studio. So we need to show up accordingly!
Photo by Jace Ritchey
Laura Davis is an author and teacher who writes books that change people’s lives.
Her first book, The Courage to Heal, which she co-authored with the poet Ellen Bass, came out in the eighties and it was the first book to give survivors of sexual abuse a pathway to the healing process.
Laura’s books have been translated into 11 languages and sold millions of copies. She is also a very experienced teacher who has been helping other writers find their voice and tell their stories at classes and retreats for many years.
And when the pandemic struck in 2020 she had to cancel all her retreats for the year, leaving her with the question: what next?
The obvious answer was virtual teaching. But Laura had always resisted this idea – she thought it was fine for teaching information or skills-based learning. But for the kind of deep personal transformation she facilitates, she’d always said it just wouldn’t be the same.
In this interview you’ll hear how she challenged her own beliefs and stepped out of her comfort zone to take her work online. So if you do any kind of teaching or coaching or facilitation, this interview is essential listening.
Laura also talks about her new memoir, The Burning Light of Two Stars: A Mother-Daughter Story the story of her embattled relationship with her mother, the rift in their relationship after the publication of The Courage to Heal, and the dramatic and surprising collision course they ended up on at the end of her mother’s life.
Before I spoke to Laura I read The Burning Light of Two Stars and I found it compelling reading, on several levels. I said to her, there are some books you read and others you experience, and this is definitely one of the latter! It’s an extraordinary account of love in the face of abuse and pain, and also demonstrates great artistic skill in the storytelling.
You can read the opening chapters of The Burning Light of Two Stars here.
And you can find out more about the book and where to buy it here.
Laura is now back to teaching in-person retreats again, as well as online classes – you can learn about all of thes at her website LauraDavis.net – including a transformative writing retreat in Tuscany.
Laura Davis interview transcript
MARK: Laura, you’ve been a columnist, a talk show host, a radio news reporter, and now a bestselling author and teacher. Is there a common thread in all of these different roles?
LAURA: Yes, there is. On my website, I have a little tagline. It says, ‘Healing words that change lives.’ I really do see that as the umbrella for everything that I’ve done. For instance, I’ve spent the last 25 years as a writing teacher in many, many different kinds of settings, but for me,
Helping Musicians Through Lockdown with Charlotte Abroms
Welcome to Episode 6 of the Creative Disruption season of The 21st Century Creative, where we are hearing stories of creatives around the world who came up with a creative response to the challenges of the pandemic.
Today we are off to Australia in the company of Charlotte Abroms, a music manager based in Melbourne with a roster of successful clients and many years’ experience in the industry.
Music was one of the creative sectors that was hardest hit by the pandemic, with gigs and tours cancelled around the world, and artists cut off from their connection with fans as well as their income. In today’s interview Charlotte talks about the devastating impact of the virus and restrictions on the music industry.
But she’s an incredibly upbeat and resourceful person, so she also talks about the silver lining she discovered, when she had a lot of extra time on her hands, and used it to find new ways to support musicians as people as well as in their career.
In the intro to the show I talk about the video talk ‘Forget the Career Ladder, Start Creating Assets’, that I gave to Robert Vlach’s community at Freelancing.eu, and which you can watch for free on YouTube.
I also introduce some new projects from former guests on the podcast:
Christina Patterson’s beautiful, funny and wise family memoir, Outside, the Sky Is Blue.
Maria Bovin de Labbe’s debut album, SKIN.
Jarie Bolander’s new guide to email marketing, Story-Driven Outreach.
Photo by Ben McNamara
Charlotte Abroms is a music manager based in Melbourne, Australia, who when the pandemic struck, had years of experience to draw on, to help her and her musicians see it through.
As a manager, Charlotte guides the careers of artists such as Ainslie Wills and Haarlo, and producers Jonathan Steer and John Castle.
She is a recent recipient of Australian accolades the Lighthouse Award, the Fast Track Fellowship and the Outstanding Woman in Music Award. Charlotte comes from a background as a freelance digital strategist in creative agencies, working in some of Australia’s most highly regarded agencies.
In 2010 she co-founded the music blog Large Noises, a website dedicated to filming live bands in various locations around Melbourne. For the blog, Charlotte helped scout, film and edit over 50 local and international bands. Some of the videos went viral, with millions of plays, and were picked up by BBC radio and other media outlets around the world.
She became a campaign manager for music startup soundhalo, working on campaigns in London for Atoms for Peace (Thom Yorke, Nigel Goodrich, Flea), alt-j and Muse.
Driven by passion, belief and commitment, Charlotte has evolved a voluntary role in the music community into a full-time professional artist management and consultancy role.
Charlotte focuses on creativity, building international teams of likeminded people, creative strategy and finding innovative ways for music to connect to audiences.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Charlotte was about to book tickets for a major European tour. Instead, she found herself enduring one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world in Melbourne.
I was inspired to reach out to Charlotte when I read articles about her creative response to the pandemic on several fronts – helping musicians create virtual gigs and sell tickets, organising a fundraiser to help people in the music industry, and creating a new mentoring service for musicians as well as younger music managers.
I was really struck by the fact that, faced with such an overwhelmingly difficult situation, Charlotte responded by looking outward – to her musicians, her peers and the wider industry,
Staying Creative as a Parent (Even in a Pandemic) with Kay Lock Kolp
Welcome to Episode 5 of the CREATIVE DISRUPTION season of The 21st Century Creative, where we are hearing stories of creatives around the world who came up with a creative response to the challenges of the pandemic.
Today we are going to look at one of the biggest challenge for many people during lockdown, whether or not they were creatives, and that is: parenting.
Kay Lock Kolp is a coach and podcaster with many years experience of helping parents to be better parents, and also to take better care of themselves.
In today’s interview Kay shares her practical wisdom on how to stay creative as a parent (and yes that title does have a double meaning) even during lockdown and the other stresses and strains of the pandemic.
In the intro to the show I introduce Mami McGuinness, my wife and also my business partner here at The 21st Century Creative. We talk about her work as a writer and coach, and she has a special message for the Japanese speakers in the audience.
Kay Lock Kolp
Kay Lock Kolp is a coach, podcaster, artist and author, with many years’ experience of helping creatives navigate the competing demands of parenting and work.
She lives in Massachusetts, USA, with her husband, sons, and the family‘s twelve-and-a-half-year-old pet chicken. Via her coaching and her podcast, Practical Intuition with Kay, she offers support for ‘grown-ups and our inner lives’.
So it was already in my mind to invite Kay onto The 21st Century Creative, to answer questions on the theme of How to Stay Creative as a Parent. And then the pandemic struck, and many of us were plunged into lockdown and involuntary homeschooling, and it suddenly felt like all the reasons I had to invite Kay onto the show had multiplied and become even more urgent!
So I reached out to her and asked if she’d be up for doing the interview about parenting for creatives, with a special emphasis on the acute and increasingly chronic challenges of the pandemic. I’m delighted to say she accepted.
In the course of this interview she talks about her own experience of art and parenting, and about what she learned from homeschooling her children long before the pandemic arrived.
She also shares insights based on her work helping parents who face hard choices about where to put their time and attention on a daily basis.
And if you’re in a situation where the children are currently taking priority over your creative career, then you may be interested to hear Kay’s ideas about how to keep your creative flame alive, even if it’s not on a full-time basis.
Kay tackles the practical challenges of lockdown parenting and homeschooling, as well as psychological insights around self-care, permission, and what she calls ‘the inner life of parents’.
Throughout the interview you’ll hear Kay’s upbeat and resilient spirit, in the face of her own health challenges as well as parenting in general and the pandemic in particular. The attitude that prompted one of Kay’s clients to say that she helps people ‘knock the bricks off their wings and truly fly’.
More about Kay at her website: kaylockkolp.com.
Kay Lock Kolp interview transcript
MARK: Kay, how did you get started on your creative path?
KAY: Wow. I think I've been on this creative path since I was small. It is winter time right now as we're recording, and some of my favorite memories of winter time are when you could go out and there would be a brook, for example, or a creek, or a pond, or something, and just at the edges, there would be these frozen bits of water, and you could press down on them and they would make these cool crackling noises. I always felt like I was in a dance with them. And I think that is really where it started for me.
In my childhood,
Intelligent, relaxing, informative and valuable
Mark McGuiness is a treasure and a great conversationalist. His conversations make me want to stop everything I’m doing and do one thing only: listen to his warm, welcoming voice and the fascinating guests he brings on his show. Each episode teaches me something of value as someone who earns my living through creative expression. I love the mix of guests he brings on and the riches he provides in terms of creative inspiration, business advice, and how to live a quality, balanced, successful-on-our-own-terms life. If you haven’t listen to Mark’s brilliant podcast before, you’ll get hooked, just like I did.
My favorite podcast about creativity
Every single episode of this podcast contains at least one life-changing insight. Mark invites the most fascinating, wise, and interesting guests, inspiring them to share lessons that have the potential to truly help creators in any field. He's also an excellent listener and interviewer, balancing his own experiences and knowledge beautifully with that of his guests. In short: this podcast is a tremendous contribution to artistry and to artists around the world.
Entertaining, insightful and actionable! 🔥
Whether you’re well established as someone who can translate creative energy into the impact you want to have on the world, or just getting started as a catalyst for change - this is a must-listen podcast for you! Mark does an incredible job leading conversations that cover a huge breadth of topics related to the ins and outs of building a thriving enterprise and creative life you can be proud of - from leaders who’ve actually walked the path. Highly recommend listening and subscribing!