Navigating Culture, Comparison and Creativity: A Conversation with Culture Trip

From left to right: Jillian Anthony, Maribel Falcón,  LouLou Ghelickhani ,  Dmitry Shishkin  and  Moyo Oyelola

From left to right: Jillian Anthony, Maribel Falcón, LouLou Ghelickhani, Dmitry Shishkin and Moyo Oyelola

It’s a great time to be creative. With increased access brought by online and mobile tools, the possibilities to explore talent, share stories and unique points of view, are at a new peak. Providing not only access, but visibility, these new tools also allow creative content to be viewed, interpreted, mixed and remixed, directly influencing culture at a scale that might have been unimaginable few years ago. There’s power to it—this scale and influence allows creatives to actively be a part of shaping their cultural surroundings. 

On March 11, in partnership with Culture Trip, #BBATX explored the impact of creatives as cultural producers in an intimate panel discussion, featuring Chief Content Officer at Culture Trip Dmitry Shishkin and Culture Trip Editor Jillian Anthony, singer-songwriter LouLou Ghelickhani (of Thievery Corporation and Night Glitter), creative producer Moyo Oyelola and artist Maribel Falcón of Colectiva Cósmica

here are some insights from the conversation:

On navigating Internet use and the influence of online comparison on creative work:

“Comparison, for me, can kill creativity, if people get a little sidetracked and start focusing on that. You lose a little bit of your uniqueness in that way. But I’ve been touring for about 19 years now and social media, especially in the past four years, has allowed me to connect with such incredible people from all over the world. So I choose to use it as a tool and really focus that the communication is for art and music, and I try to separate for my personal well being and my personal life.” — LouLou Ghelickhani

“I think it’s important to use the Internet in a wise way. Because there’s no boundaries, we can kind of get lost in things that aren’t very productive to what we want to work on or what our goals in life are. In terms of digital access, I use the Internet to stay informed on day to day occurrences. As difficult as it is to digest on a daily basis, I think that what happens politically drives me.” — Maribel Falcón

On leveraging digital access within your practice as a creative or an artist:

“I think that using social media to reach mass amounts of people is very useful—especially if you have a message, especially if you have a cause, especially if it is something specific that people can learn about or be more informed about.” — Maribel Falcón

“For the work we do at Culture Trip, digital access is everything and makes makes us the company we are. We work with writers, photographers, videographers from around the world. We tell stories from local places, and with digital access, we are able to find local people to tell those stories.” — Jillian Anthony

On producing culture for oneself and one’s community via the Internet:

“I’m making music, and I’m putting it out there for a global reaction. It’s not just for my neighbor in my small town—it’s a bigger message and I focus on that. That’s what’s amazing about these platforms. You can push it beyond your backyard.” — LouLou Ghelickhani

“So, I live in a city [Austin, Texas] that is 4% Black. I’ve been here for 23 years. When I’m looking for a successful—or just another Black person—that’s creative and multimedia-driven just to mentor me or even just to have coffee with, it’s hard when you live here. But being able to have digital access to people because you’re in NYC or you just so happen to be at a conference and you’re able to reach out to them, it kind of helps. That’s one of the great tools, being able to slide into the DMs and say “Hey I see that you’re here, and I would love to grab coffee with you.” It lowers the barrier sometimes.” — Moyo Oyelola

“In terms of consumption, you have to be careful online, because other people's cultures are not just there for you to consume. Like Instagram pages that are focused on Mexico or a Mexican aesthetic do not exist for business owners to just go in and steal from.” — Maribel Falcón

“[Because of the Internet, we know that] a young person living in Jakarta, a young person living in Mexico City or beyond the Russian Arctic Circle actually have much more in common than we think and that is extremely extremely gratifying.” — Dmitry Shishkin

On using the Internet to reach out to other artists and creatives:

“If you are inspired by this artist, and you look at their images everyday, what about just reaching out, writing a message and talking about your feelings?” — LouLou Ghelickhani

“Just because someone has an Instagram handle doesn't mean they're accessible 24 hours a day. I think sometimes we think that because someone posts a lot that they have the capacity to build a relationship with you… Sometimes people reach out and you're not in the physical space to meet up with them or it isn't the right time, and that's okay.” — Maribel Falcón

On the pitfalls of digital culture:

“I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about who people are from their Instagram… You don’t know anybody until you talk to them in real life.” — Maribel Falcón

“Instagram sometimes is just like the Tinder of art. It's really weird. People are just swiping and liking. Sometimes I'll see a name that liked a poster and I'm like, ‘I hope they reach out again, because I really like them.’ And then they're gone. — Dmitry Shishkin

On blocking culture vultures and creating wholeheartedly:

“You know there's no limit to creation so it's like you literally have to expand your mind to understand that there's no reason to steal from anybody else. If you were creative enough you could create something way better. And I think our culture because it's so fast and capitalism is just like money, money, money that it’s just easier to steal from people. But it's such a waste of our human talent. We're on this earth for a very limited time. Be the best that it. Create from your mind, from your heart, from your spirit. You don't have to steal it.” — Maribel Falcón

“Don't try to be somebody else. Don't think you're going to start some blog and you're gonna be making thousands of dollars the next day. Just let the work exist.” — Moyo Oyelola

“It's so easy to be inspired. It's so easy to create that mood board of all these highlights and these great visual pieces, but you have to turn that into something real. Figure out how to filter what's good and what's your voice within your work. Like what am I really actually saying? Because that's another part, too—it's easy to create something visual that's beautiful but at the end of the day, what are you really saying?” — Moyo Oyelola

Would you like to attend future panels like this? Keep up with #bossbabesATX on Instagram, sign up for our email newsletter and poke around our current events calendar.

This blog post was compiled and edited by A’nysha Fortenberry.