The Creative Process

Posted in Archives on March 7, 2019

Self-Portrait, 1973. Sepia toned silver gelatin print.

On February 5, I was a guest lecturer to a class of design students at the University of Georgia in Athens, which is my alma mater where I received both a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a Master’s degree in Film. I was asked to speak on the Creative Process. The students had researched me online and had presented me with questions, not all of which I was able to answer. Because the internet presents me as a cookbook author (which many people confuse with “chef” — which I am not), most of their questions referred to food. But I have worked as a photographer and painter and conceptual artist for nearly 50 years, so most of my lecture referenced that work. I have actually never believed that cooking is an art form. (Heresy, I know, to today’s food world.) A craft, yes, with many similar disciplines involved. And, yes, there are some dining experiences that can be truly artful, where there is perfect harmony and balance of textures and flavors and where humanity is reflected in the meal — where the atmosphere is welcoming and the conversation, sparkling. Perfect dining companions can elevate a simple lunch to inspiring heights. The classic elements of the visual arts –color, balance, composition — can certainly make a plate of food more desirable, though, frankly, I wish chefs would put down the tweezers. I have often quoted Martha McCulloch-Williams, who wrote in Dishes and Beverages of the Old South (1913), “Let me make protest against over-elaboration, alike in food and the serving thereof. The very best decoration of food is something good in the plates. This is not saying one should not plan to please the eye no less than the palate.” And, please, don’t put my pork chop or grouper filet on top of the mashed potatoes!

I have spoken before all kinds of groups in the past — hundreds at culinary conferences, dozens at museums and history forums, and small groups of cooking classes. Two of my dearest friends I met when they were my students when I had a teaching assistantship at Georgia (I taught the photography darkroom lab). It was fun to be able to speak about creativity again. The professor required the students to write their reflections on my lecture. All 34 of their responses follow.  I have deleted the students’ last names for privacy.

Alexa

Speaking with John Taylor was a joy and I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to do so. He was inspirational, to say the least, and gave me a really exciting perspective of what life for a real-life creative career can look like. Originally, he wanted to be an architect, and that encouraged me, because I finally heard something other than, “I always knew I was meant to do this.” He also felt like a breath of fresh air because he didn’t seem to take anything too seriously while simultaneously finding beauty in almost everything. He laughed at the idea that “cooking is an art form,” but spends a great deal of time writing about how to do it well. This is the balance of things that I crave.

He made money for a time painting and writing, his favorite hobby is photography, and his “day-job” is being a culinary expert. I’ve never met anyone in real life that made growing up sound so fun. Every day, and month, and season is a new chance for discovery. For me, growing up seems daunting and slow, but his words and experiences sound like something I can get behind. Most people who are into photography as a side-thing take okay photos, but his photos were alluring and dripping with life. I believe this is because he puts so much love into his work.

The thing that I’ll remember most from his talk (other than his tip to join the Peace Corps after graduation, and the different sites to visit in Genoa), because I’m a true romantic through and through, was the way he spoke about his husband. I’ve worried about finding someone to spend my life with, especially in a creative career, but he spoke about his relationship with such ease that I had to reevaluate my behavior and my expectations. “We haven’t had one argument,” he said, “because it is not about being right or wrong. What is more important than your relationship?” He made me want to be a better person.

Maia

John Taylor was such a character! His bubbly and sarcastic personality made our discussion so entertaining! John Taylor’s stories about all the places he’s traveled to really inspired me because I love to travel. Traveling is a big source of my inspiration, and hearing about all the opportunities that he worked hard for that allowed him to do what he loves while traveling was wonderful and inspiring to hear. It fascinated me how many different things he’s amazing at, like his cook books, paintings, and more. Seeing someone do amazing in so many different things really helped me with my creative process because it made me realize I can do more than just one thing I love. I’m always stuck on thinking that I have to complete one project at a time or that the many things I’m interested in need to be done separately and at different times, when really I can focus on more than one creative project at a time and maybe even apply them all to each other.

I have become very interested in photography lately and I really enjoyed seeing the pictures and portraits he’s taken over the years. I love how his work is so different. For example, his wedding pictures he’s taken were so different from anything I’ve ever seen. Instead of the traditional (and sometimes boring) wedding pictures, his were lively, fun, and was shot in a very unique location. This inspires me to think more outside of this functional fixedness box and test my creativity in different ways.

Most importantly, he taught me to simply be positive. His positivity radiated the second he walked into the room. He seems like such a bright spirit and this made me want to be more positive when it comes to what I love and not doubt myself so much.

Ashley

The second guest speaker chat was my very favorite, even though we had only viewed one other at the time! Hearing about John’s nonstop travels to gorgeous lands where he learned different languages, new cultures, and unfamiliar ingredients was so surreal. The opportunities he was given throughout his lifetime immediately reminded me that anything can happen when you absolutely pour your heart and soul mixed with a lot of determination into the craft you desire to bloom into. Right away when I heard him speak, he radiated that passion and seemed to offer so many words of wisdom that I took away. My favorite of them all was “practice, practice, practice what you love, and do it every single day, then I promise someone will notice you.” This truly encouraged me more than anything, being a young lady who is very soon entering the industry searching for someone to notice her own passion and eagerness to learn. Whether I am writing, styling, marketing, or whatever else pertains to the gifts I am trying to show to the world, John reminded me that one day someone will notice them too as long as I put in 100%. The second message that stood out to me from John’s many, many beautiful words was his ability to remain open, always willing to listen to something new or unique and maybe even change his path. This reminded me to keep an open mind while still setting intentional goals for my future in this industry. There are so many endless facets and routes to take with inspiration and creativity, so remaining open can allow more magic to happen.

Audrey

John was such an inspiring speaker and I loved how he showcased that you don’t necessarily have to choose one creative discipline to focus on and build a career on. Like him, we can be a photographer AND a painter, a writer AND culinary expert. When you’re in college, it can be all too easy to try to find the one thing that you were meant to pursue, so it was a breath of fresh air to hear from someone who has been successful in multiple fields and knows that you don’t have to be stuck in something that you chose at 17 years old for the rest of your life. He definitely proved that I can still have an open mind about what I want to do and what my life will look like after I graduate.

I especially liked hearing about all of the different places that John has lived in and how they influenced the art that he was working on at the time. I have traveled quite a bit for a 20-year-old, and I always feel inspired by the colors and shapes of new country or city. Each place leaves its mark on me and inspires me to create in new and special ways, so seeing how the same place it can inspire individuals in different ways was really cool. The “black and white” city photos were really amazing and something that I probably never would have noticed, so it showed how different artists can learn from each other as well.

Tory

As we reviewed the syllabus during the first week of school, I was surprised to find that we would be hearing from the author of a cookbook as one of our guest speakers. I had never pondered the idea of culinary arts being a form a creative expression. When Taylor mentioned that he did not consider cooking to be an art, I had to disagree. Unique skills and instincts are required to master dishes, just as any other art piece.

I appreciated his statement that “there is room for only one ego in the kitchen, the food.” Taylor emphasized the importance of maintain an awareness of who the audience is, and that we must listen to them, even if we have to create the audience. I found this to be applicable to my intended profession, interior design. As I am creating spaces for clients, I have to be mindful of their personal needs and desires, even if that means disregarding some of my own visions. I have to be willing to accept the criticism that accompanies certain creative choices. While I may feel as though I have found a solution to an issue, I need to be prepared to restart from scratch if it does not meet the expectations of a client.

In the current design industry, the temptation to replicate a concept or environment is constant. With resources such as Instagram and Pinterest, exposure to a variety of ideas is at the touch of our fingertips. Taylor mentioned that every time he makes something, he does his best to honor the original idea. His statement stuck with me as it is so crucial to give credit to the imagination of others.

I enjoyed listening to a speaker that had diverse experiences to share with the class. As he is the author of a cookbook, I thought he brought in other aspects of the creative world that may not have crossed my mind.

Katie

John Taylor was everything I expected and more. He was a guy full of experience and personality, and I absolutely loved getting to listen to him. He was very worried about rambling on and on about his life, but I think that is exactly why I liked him. I really felt like I got a good sense of who he was because he told us about not only his professional life, but he told us about his personal life. I believe that is how you get people more interested because they feel connected in a way. I learned that he has done so many things is his life and still doing the most with his life which I applaud. He told us about his passion for being an artist and photographer and showed the class some of his pieces from throughout the years. Even though he did not necessarily get to my questions, I knew what one of the answers were. I asked if he ate a balance of meat, dairy, vegetables, etc. or if he has eliminated something from his diet? He said during his talk that he eats EVERYTHING, so that answered my question in full. I asked this question because I am vegan, so I wondered if he had a special eating habit. I love how he is inspired by France and Italy for his writing and cooking because those are two of my favorite places. I believe that certain places in Europe would really inspire my creative process in ideas for art and design. He gave us a lot of good advice but the two things I really took from his talk were, “If you can read, you can cook” and “leave yourself open to chance”. I think everyone should listen to that advice. Even though he does not necessarily think that cooking is an art, I think of it as one because the process of making the food colorful and placing the food aesthetically pleasing. I loved getting to listen to him talk and seeing him in person. I really respect what he has done with his life.

Kayla

I thoroughly enjoyed John Taylor coming to speak with us. He is so animated and relatable, but while we had a great time, he also did a great job at answering our questions and teaching us important lessons.

One thing John said particularly resonated with me. He said, “Follow your bliss, but reserve your passion.” He went on to talk about how it is important to save some things that you love doing as your hobbies rather than making all of them into a career. This resonated with me because I often feel like I have my hands in everything. On one hand, this is good because I’m so in love with my life and with everything I do. The trouble with this is that I have to be careful to prevent myself from becoming a jack of all trades and a master of none. I want to have a career and hobbies rather than trying to turn all of my hobbies into a career. When thinking about my future career, I often think: Well, I want to be in fashion, and I also want to teach journaling classes. If I become a girls’ minister, that would also be great. While I’m at it, I really love writing. Maybe I should write a book! John taught me that it’s good to have a focus. It is good to be versatile, but it’s important not to spread yourself too thin. I want to apply this to my final project by not trying to do too many things with the product we are creating. Our product’s main focus is selling lunch boxes and using a portion of the profits to feed homeless people. While there are so many things we could do to help out in the homeless community, we need to keep our focus at the forefront rather than having our hands in every single initiative.

Sydney

John Martin Taylor is many many things and being a culinary artist is surprisingly not the most important thing to him. He enjoys his work, yes. But he does not consider culinary art as actual artistry. John Taylor is not only a chef, but he is a photographer, an artist and a writer as well. In class, he seemed multitudes more passionate about his artwork rather than his cooking which supplies him with his monetary assets. From him I learned that a job, no matter how well it may be, is not the most important thing in life. If your job doesn’t feed your soul, then there is something that you must do to fix that. John Taylor highly encouraged us to follow our passions wherever that may take us. His talents serve him well in the culinary industry, but his soul is the soul of an artist. I can apply this knowledge to my creative process by following my intuition and creative mind no matter what. John Taylor donated a sum of his published cook books to schools to be used by students, classes and libraries alike. He said that they will get more use in the hands of education than they ever would in his own.

Meagan

Something I think we can all agree on is John’s passion for what he does and the life he has created. This motivated me because as a student and even when I enter the career world, I am going to faced with many doubts, trials, and bridges that need to be crossed, but if I keep my head focused and keep dreaming then I will push through it. Even throughout his career in the culinary arts, he has always had a passion for photography and painting. You could tell by the way he lit up talking about some of his different works.

One thing that John had said that really stood out to me was, “Have two passions – reserve one for a hobby and let the other be your career.” I have yet to experience having to make this decision choosing between a career and a passion, but I can still appreciate what he was meaning. I can see how this would be evident in my life though. I really enjoy sewing, my sister and I love to have DIY project days and I can make the sewing projects a side-gig while I further my career in Fashion Merchandising.

Abbie

One thing that I found most interesting about John Taylor was his past and how it affected him throughout his life. His parents were both scientists and he grew up in [a small town in South Carolina]. He described his parents as being the “weird scientists”, and that they had a huge impact on his outlook and his life. He talked about his parents with such admiration, and said that they were very accepting of him being gay. I also found his mom to be inspiring as a woman who juggle …  having kids, being a wife, and always having an elaborate dinner cooked. Taylor described her as being able to do it all.

Although Taylor is known best for his cooking, his favorite thing he did was his art. The photos that he showed us that I found most interesting was the photos he took while he was in school here in Athens. He said that his friends who were his models would take their clothes off for just about anything, so they were easy to shoot for his photos. Taylor stated to us that individuals become more creative after hard times, and there is so much truth from this statement. Going through difficulties often times make the best stories, and bring out inspiration in people that wasn’t there before.

Taylor spent [part] of his career writing … for a French magazine. In fact, Taylor spent the [beginning] of his career writing in French. Something that I found interesting about Taylor was that he had only written in French, except for his thesis. One of the statements that Taylor made that I found ironic was that Taylor doesn’t think of cooking as an art form, and doesn’t think that cooking is considered artistry.

 

Kinsey

 

John Martin Taylor was an incredible guest speaker, and I was so inspired by his life story and everything he has accomplished. I have always wanted to live abroad, but it makes me  nervous because I do not fluidly know a second language, or even how to go about packing up your life and moving across the world. He explained how he did it, and it gave me comfort in seriously considering moving abroad one day to pursue some of my bigger dreams. His personality was so fun and he had so much life advice and stories from his youth to offer and share with the class. One of my favorite things from his talk, was his personal photos and projects he shared with the class. It was really interesting being able to see his photos from his time in Athens, and being able to see what inspires him. I also really enjoyed hearing about his career path, and all the different opportunities he was able to participate in. As I prepare to go into the workplace, I am still very unsure about the career path I want to take. It was reassuring to hear that one day his career path just took a 180, and suddenly he was working with something completely different, but was still able to be successful in his field. My favorite thing that John said during his talk was when he suggested reserving one of your hobbies to just be a hobby, and to not turn it into a career. I think this is great advice because if it is something you truly love, you do not want to get burnt out on it by making it a business. This is some advice I will take will me and remember when I am looking for my career path.

Madison

John was a very interesting guy to listen to. I really loved how passionate he was about everything he did, not just his culinary work. He definitely has a gift in creativity as he pursued journalism, photography, film, and then culinary arts. It inspired me to find what my passions and hobbies are and explore all of them rather than just sticking with one subject. I also loved that he got a large portion of his education and talent here at the University of Georgia; it gives me hope and courage in pursuing my career in fashion after I graduate since he was able to be so successful.

What I feel I can most take away from his discussion is being able to explore all of my passions to inspire me to tackle creative issues from more than one perspective. He is able to be creative through journalism, pictures, film, as well as his food. So, this means I can show my creativity through art, pictures, writing, as well as my future career in fashion. Being able to approach issues from all of these different angles due to my hobbies will help me to be successful in the workforce.

Hannah

John Taylor spoke so many words of wisdom that really stood out to me and inspired my creativity. He began talking about how he got into his career in culinary arts when he was also passionate in studio art, photography, journalism, and designing homes. He said, “I have two rules. 1. Follow your bliss. 2. Reserve one of your passions as a hobby.” This was good to hear because I am very passionate about a lot of different things but not all of them need to become a job or a source of income for me, I need to reserve some of my passions as hobbies and do them genuinely just for fun.

One piece of advice he reiterated many times was the idea of just doing. If you want to be a writer, he said, “Write write write. Every day. Tell the truth and what you are trying to do will evolve.” I often have so many ideas but cannot bring them to fruition. John encouraged to continuously do, and eventually the ideas will develop into what you want. Also, on the topic of writing John said, “If you can write, you can do anything because you can present yourself to others however you would like.” One thing I have always wanted to become better at is writing because I really do think it can open so many doors. You can specialize in any subject area but if you cannot write about it, you cannot share it with others.

Lastly, a reoccurring theme I heard from John was the idea of hope. He mentioned that, “Art is all to do with hope, memory, and sensuality.” Another takeaway quote he gave was, “Always leave yourself open to chance, because you never know what will happen.” Overall, John Taylor being talented in so many different areas made me want to sharpen skills in different areas as well. His “creative spirit” and his travels intrigued me, and I hope that I will live a life as interesting as his.

 

Sydney

 

John Taylor’s meaningful advice struck me in a different light that I have not yet considered. His first and most important advice he gave us was to “follow your bliss and reserve one’s passion as a hobby.” Having heard that, I thought about how I am currently balancing my passion for business and my hobby for the arts. I later discovered that my balance is off-track. I am focusing too much on trying to incorporate my hobby into m future career, instead of reserving it as an escape from life.

 

Taylor has led a life of leaving his destiny up to chance, for which I admire. However, I prioritized a life alongside a schedule and tasks that need to be completed in order to gain success. His story about the evolution of his career showed me that sometimes leaving yourself open to chance could very well bring success. Taylor also emphasized the importance of if you want to achieve anything in life, you have to work for it. I also believe in this statement, from past experience. For instance, I got denied from the University of Georgia as a senior in high school. I became very discouraged and began settling for my previous college. One day, something switched and I began working harder, not only in my studies but in my self-confidence. I then was accepted into Georgia the following semester. From that point on, I have promised myself to never lose hope of a dram, and that anything is achievable if you work for it.

John Taylor opened my eyes to a career that can bring happiness. He had to go through several obstacles with jobs that did not suit him, in order to find his true calling. I never believed in a career to bring that much happiness to one’s life, until he spoke to the class. I am forever thankful for this experience and will be using his advice in my day-to-day life.

Sarah

Initially, I thought of John Taylor as just a cook and cookbook author. Upon his visit, I realized how much more he has done in his life. When he began to introduce himself, I immediately was able to connect with his sort of career path he had. Wanting to be an architect but not having that pan out, I experienced a similar situation wanting to be a doctor and finding myself in a world of sports. He said his mantra was, follow your bliss, which I could tell he truly tried to live by throughout his whole presentation.

Another mantra Taylor said he tries to live by is to reserve one of your passions as a hobby, not a career. This seemed very logical when he said it, but I had never thought of that before. While I want to love whatever job I have in the future, I do not want something that I love so much to be ruined by stress or other negative factors within the career to deter me from what I love. Going off of this another thing I learned was one of the most important skills I can have is the ability to listen. Whether it is listening to those I respect or listening to future employees, this will inevitably help me to become a better leader in any kind of situation.

The next step for me is to internalize the information I was able to take away from the presentation. Even though my creative process I will most likely be going through after this class is not the typical artistic one, I will need to be able to come up with new ideas for sporting events. Sports events are suffering from declining numbers of fans attending games since it is easier and cheaper to watch at home. Listening to coworkers, people that tweet sports teams, and supervisors will help me to get a cohesive idea of what fans are looking for when attending. Another thing for me to keep in mind is keeping my personal love for sport separate from any work I may be doing for a team or organization. Working for a sport I may not know as much about can help preserve the love for the ones I enjoy and know ample about.

Moranel

Listening to John Taylor speak was like listening to a fun uncle give advice. One of his pieces of advice really stuck with me – you may never know where your career may take you but grab each opportunity and use it to its fullest. This resonated with me because I think it is hard not knowing what is going to happen next career wise. It helps to see successful and happy people whose life led them to make the right decisions when a new opportunity arose, even if those opportunities weren’t exactly what they wanted. John Taylor’s relationship with his work – culinary research and history – and his passion – photography and painting – is something I think can inspire and benefit every student. He mentioned that it is important to save one thing you really love doing as a hobby and not to pursue it as a career. I took this piece of advice dear to heart because it is hard for me sometimes to save parts of what I love and pursue them in my spare time rather than drag them into my education. I think that I am able to continue to love what I love and keep it separate from what I consider work by working these ideas out through my sketchbook.

John Taylor’s journey from his undergrad to his professional life gave me some great insight onto how to overcome obstacles that might come after college. His transition from working multiple odd jobs and doing freelance work to working for a magazine in Paris was really an interesting story to hear. It showed me that if you put yourself and your talents out there, someone will appreciate you and hire you for your skills even when you aren’t expecting it. John Taylor’s talk was one that really resonated with me and gave me valuable advice on staying positive and not giving up when it comes to the job search after college.

Riley

I learned many aspects of the creative process from John Taylor. Not only was I shocked by his story, I found it inspirational. He talked about how he has always been creative, and that art in some shape has always been his passion. I was impressed to learn that he was a photographer and a painter, as well as a chef and writer. I was also shocked to hear that he did not believe that food is an art form. However, once I learned that he has such a deep connection to the arts, and roots in many different fields, it makes sense that after photography and painting, he would not find cooking to be an art. I was also surprised to hear that he takes old and traditional recipes and compares them all. He uses careful consideration and repetition of recreating these meals to perfect them.

John Taylor also opened up my eyes to the creative process. Hearing that he has always just thought of himself as creative and artistic in general, and not in one field in particular is inspiring. It made me realize that as long as I am being creative, there are endless outlets for my creativity.

I am also inspired by and jealous of how John Taylor has travelled the world. Having lived in Bulgaria, Italy, France, New York, Charleston, and many more places. I think that it is amazing that he has used his art to send him on the journey of a lifetime, many times. I would love to do this one day and am truly glad that we got to speak and learn with John Taylor.

Claudia

I thought that John Taylor was one of the most interesting speakers that I have ever heard speak. I found his road to who is he today very inspirational and entertaining. I found his openness about all topics refreshing and he seemed to really take each question asked and spend time on each answer. Throughout the class, I wrote down life lessons that he has learned throughout his life and bits of personal advice that he had for us. Some of my favorite pieces of guidance that he gave us were to learn a foreign language. He said that since he learned French (or Italian (I can’t remember)), it was one of the greatest aspect that opened many doors for him. Two mantras that he gave us to live by were: follow your bliss and reserve one of your passions as a hobby. I had never thought about saving one of my hobbies as strictly a hobby since I had always heard to use your passions to create a job. Now, after listening to John speak I understand that saving one of hobbies is important so that you are able to step away from your job and come home to a passion. If you are doing your hobby every since day, you might become bored or tired of it. Saving it will allow you to be able to step away if you are feeling worn out over it. One last piece of advice that John gave the class was to listen. I had previously taken a leadership class and this was a common theme throughout the course. I believe that it is one of the most important aspects of leadership and teamwork. Overall, I thought that John was a wonderful speaker with many great stories to tell. I think that he has great words of advice that we should all take to heart and implement into our everyday lives.

 

Lauren

 

John taught me a lot about the creative process. Firstly, I learned his true passion lies not within his career of cooking, but within his hobbies. He enjoys paining and photography over writing books and cooking. He makes a point to inform us to make sure to save one of your passions for a hobby. Sometimes when you turn a hobby into a career, you can lose that passion when it becomes your work. For example, he complained how cooking was a true passion of his but doing it all day for a job ends up being very tiring on the body. So, this physical strain contributed to his dwindling original passion for cooking.

Secondly, I was very surprised he did not share knowledge on only cooking, but really delved into his work in painting and photography. I think this shows how, as a creative person going through my creative processes, I should not limit myself to only one avenue of inspiration un-afraid to peruse other passions. For example, if I need to be taking photos for our final project, but lack inspiration for scenery, I could take a walk outside and sketch some nature for inspiration. Also, the drawing could help spark that inspiration for the photography. So, it is important to have cross-functional passions that can intertwine through both careers and passions in life.

Birdie 

John Martin Taylor was an extremely interesting person to talk to. Hey taught us about how through his 70 years of life he has had phases that were dictated by his passions for photography, painting, writing, gardening and noticing the little things in life.

He urged for us to follow our bliss while also reserving our passions as hobbies instead of forcing it to become our careers. I felt that this advice is really something that we don’t hear much of. We typically are told to “follow your dreams,” and such, but I respected what he said and meant by being able to recognize the thing that brings us joy in the world, and work with it to have it continue to bring us joy in life and not have it turn into work. He was able to practice this by taking his love for cooking, and pairing it with something that he never was great at, but enjoyed cultivating: writing.

I loved hearing about his past work with his friends here in Athens (also the fact that he was, and still is, so close to the B-52’s is just so rad). It really made me think about how I will look back on the work I’ve made in my time here in Athens, and appreciate the time I took taking pictures of my friends and my surroundings. I also liked seeing the evolution and natural ebb and flow of the subjects he chose to capture with a camera, paint and ink.

In class we constantly talk about the design process and the exact stages of the process. I feel like that was just made to have concrete linear steps for students to be able to follow. John really stressed that the creative process is not something that can be defined into and step-by-step outline. He wanted us to combine abstract random ideas to solve problems. We need to look for gaps for new ideas, or to redesign old ways into new and better ones. Which is what I’m doing for our final group project, with the lunch box redesign. I wanted to take something that comes in so many different shapes and sizes but that have the exact same function—to hold food—to mean so much more.

John answered my question about being influenced by the environment that he grew up in as a gay man in a conservative town. He answered with, “our creative selves are cultivated when we combine our inner and outer stimuli.”

I really loved his photos of the black and white alleys and light he took from that village in Italy. He told us that he left himself open to chance, and that’s exactly how I feel about life and how I need to take on new and exciting chances. I am always so calculated and worrying when I just need to relax my mind, open up, and let life happen to me.

Lastly, he stressed that we need to work and work and work and work and to tell the truth. If we do that, we can’t not be happy and successful. I will bring this into my creative process from now on.

Kate

Seeing a University of Georgia alumni talk about the different iterations of their life and career is a great validation for a college student who is confused about their career pathway. Taylor originally wanted to be an architect but ended up receiving a degree in journalism from the Grady college. While in school he found his love for photography and painting. He followed this love across the world and into many different career paths; working for himself and creating a name for himself.

One of the things that stuck out most from his time here was one of the quotes he lives by, “Follow your bliss!” Hearing someone talk about life in terms of loving what you do is refreshing. Most people talk about how you need to work extra hard and follow a strict career path, not too much about how to keep yourself happy and engaged in your own life. His love for Europe also resonated with me. Taylor spoke about how his knowledge of French furthered his photography career and his life in Europe. I’ve been taking French for two years and hope to use it in a similar fashion.

Taylor spoke fondly about how Athens’ comradery influenced his college experience. I hope to find that same inspiration from this city. His entire interview with our class was inspiring and furthered my love for Athens and the creatives living here.

Hailey

 

From our discussion with the artist, John Taylor, I have learned that experiences abroad will spark inspiration and help one become more open to doing what they love creatively. I personally love to travel, and so I really enjoyed hearing about John Taylor’s life because he has spent time in countries such as France, Italy, and [China]. I was inspired by his knowledge he gained from having the opportunity to live and work in these amazing countries. I believe he is a trailblazer by being one of the first artists to publicly present his art with male nudity. He also made shrimp and grits a well known dish throughout the South….

I related to Jon Taylor because as a student, I do not know exactly what I want to study or what field I will want to pursue in the future. I came into the class thinking that Taylor was strictly a culinary chef; however, he immediately told us that he was much more …. Although he loves cooking, he stumbled onto other jobs in the art fields where he pursued his love for art, painting, and photography. Learning about this artist’s life experiences helped with my creative process because I learned that I don’t have to know exactly what I want to pursue. It made me more optimistic and feel the need to explore and be more open-minded in the future.

 

Amy

John Taylor was a dynamic personality and speaker. I enjoyed having him come to class in person. Taylor’s background in photography and art gave him an interesting background, especially in relation to his work around food. Taylor said he did not think of food itself as artwork, but rather artistry from food can come from specific pairings and also in crafting a dining experience. He said that his favorite quote was by a friend of his, speaking to the “ego” of food, that there is only room for one ego in the kitchen and it should be the ingredients. He doesn’t think that celebrity chefs or having a particular cooking style is important, as much as it is to be respectful to the ingredients when cooking…. He recommends always eating fresh and local ingredients.

Taylor’s career as a magazine cuisine editor, and leading him in developing his cookbooks, was a trajectory formed by life’s circumstances and not initially a pursuit of passion. He suggests leaving yourself open to chance and honing a skill. In his practicality, Taylor shared that he believes that success will come your way if you learn a foreign language, learn to write, and learn to present yourself, as well as work every day and always tell the truth.

Taylor became known for his writings about food because he did research into the history of the ingredients, including the societal traditions of cooking. Taylor briefly reminisced on various travels and the experiences he had with food. I appreciated his respect for cultural backgrounds, their significance on cooking, and the respect of ingredients in their most natural state. I learned that everyone should learn to make pesto the proper way with pestle and mortar, that when in Bulgaria to eat the tomatoes because they are the best on earth, and that Roman Pajata was the most usual, but also the most delicious dish to be experienced.

Alison

I really enjoyed listening to John speak on his passions. John was extremely lively and incredibly easy to listen to due to his excitement for what he does. I think the most interesting aspect of his lecture was his journey itself and how he pursued his passion through different careers. I think the whole class expected from the background information for John to discuss his love of cooking, but in reality he was most excited to speak on his artwork and photography. I think we can all take this into consideration when pursuing our career choices: we do not need to start in our dream job to be able to be successful in what we love. I think that his working in other industries gave him other ways to use his creativity in a new way, helping him to develop his skills in his photography and art. We can take these other outlets and learn from them to get the most experience out of life.

Emma

While researching to learn about John, one thing that stood out to me was his dedication to integrity. Keeping the sourcing of his grits completely natural and non gmo is very commendable because it lets me know that he puts his values over convenience or money. This ultimately leads to creating a product with greater quality and value and this is something his customers recognize and support. It lets me know that I am on the right path by putting my purpose and beliefs at the forefront of my brand.

Amanda

Last week, I had the pleasure of getting to listen to John Taylor tell the class about his life and his success. I learned that life is not nearly as planned out as it seems it will be in college, or even high school. As I learned about the life of Mr. Taylor, I learned that he is much more than an accomplished [cookbook author].

He began by telling the class about his lifelong goal, which was to be an architect. He never ended up studying architecture though, he ended up doing mostly art and writing, which is when he gave us an amazing piece of advice: realize your passions and reserve one of them as a hobby. He kept his work as work, and he saved architecture as a hobby for himself. After that, he followed with advice on how to make art and work on a deadline. He told the class that we have to turn our abstract and random thoughts into a solution. Humans become curious after seeing a problem, so all of our thoughts will reflect that and help us solve the problem.

The best part I took from his interaction with the class was when he said, “If you want to create, create every day, and tell the truth,”  Which is where I see the importance in our design journals. Our persistence in designing and creating will only make our minds stronger.

It’s funny how interviews work, I thought the interview with Mr. Taylor would be mostly about his career with food and cooking, however he told us about how that was one of his passions but his passion for art and creativity really shone through. He said he doesn’t see food as art, he just cooks. He gave all of his papers and books away, because he is moving [overseas] for his husband’s job, which to me was the most important lesson: stay passionate, but remember the important things. He puts his family first and is learning how to continue creating in his changing circumstances.

Taylor

I was surprised to hear about all of John Taylor’s successes in the field of creativity; most of the class’s questions (including my own) were about his cooking career, when in reality, his life has been full of much more than writing cookbooks. What I found most interesting what the fact that he doesn’t consider preparing food [an art form]. When I think of going out to a nice restaurant, presentation is very, very important. If the presentation of the dish isn’t appealing, the guest might send it back or just not eat it. Perhaps it’s because he focuses on the taste of the dish, rather than the eye appeal. I also realized, though, that different people have different ideas of what “creativity” is…. Every single person is different and has different ideas on what is and what is not “creativity.” In my opinion, though, I do feel like art and creativity surrounds us, even at times when we think it’s not present.

His drawings and photographs he should us allowed me to get a glimpse of who he was. His photograph of [his] invasive plant [series] he showed us totally resonated with me, but in a completely different way than it did for him. For example, I’m from Savannah, which is where he took the picture of the invasive plant that is “all over the porch when you walk outside,” as he described, and he pieced them together in the shape of a crab. I loved it because crabs are (I would say) a symbol for Savannah because we’re on the coast and the river is filled with blue crabs and the summer months are filled with boats crabbing on the water. John, though, didn’t even mention this. Instead, he’s reminded of …cancer.. All of this being said, one piece of artwork, food, photography, etc. could “work” or resonate with the viewer in a completely different way than the artist–and I think that’s when creativity is at its peak.

Carole

John Taylor was the first speaker to come and speak to the class in person, so I definitely learned the most from him. I really enjoyed his upbeat and fun attitude, and it was easy to tell how passionate he is about being creative. First of all, I was so impressed at how cultured he is. He seemed to know so much about other cultures whether it’s the deep south, New York, or a small region of Italy. Everywhere he travels he seems to really immerse himself into the culture, and take in everything there is to learn.

One important thing I learned from John was to keep the integrity of what you are creating. He said if he’s cooking mayonnaise then he will make traditional mayonnaise. He’s not going to add different ingredients and still try to call it mayonnaise because that wouldn’t be right. Another thing I learned from John was to learn a foreign language. He said every single [door that has opened for him] was because he knew how to speak a foreign language. He also taught us to be persistent. He said, if you are doing something and it’s working, keep doing it. Even if no one notices, continue to keep working and someone will eventually catch on. The last piece of advice that stuck out to me is, to keep your hobbies and your work separate.

John Taylor was a great guest speaker, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him.

Ansleigh

Out of all of the guest speakers we have had thus far in the semester, I have enjoyed John’s presentation of his works and doings over the years the most. It was really interesting to sit and listen to all of his accomplishments, whether it be his cooking and recipes or designs that he has created. One of the main takeaways he gave us was to listen. He said that if you listen to everything going on and listen to what all is happening in the world around us, that we will be more successful than if we did not listen. Also, knowing when to stop is important. I feel as if knowing when to stop can be beneficial in both everyday life as well as the culinary field, too….

I was really surprised at how successful he was in the industry after being so scattered at the beginning. It amazes me how one can have absolutely no idea where they are going or what they are going to do, but then miraculously everything just falls into place and life takes you places you had never even dreamed of going. I have found that I am hearing that a lot the more and more I listen to people speak about their past and upbringing.

As do I today, Taylor had a connection with his grandma. We are connected in different ways, but I loved how he said she influenced his life in such a drastic way. Ever since I was a little girl, my Nana and I have been inseparable. I feel as if we all have someone who has impacted our lives in a positive way.

And just as Taylor loves Athens, Georgia because of its community, small-town feel, and the artsy town that it is, so do I. Athens is one-of-a-kind and filled with so many unique places, people, and things and that is what makes it so great.

Katherine

John Taylor [lecture] was awesome. Once again he left the class with many good tips and things to think about as we enter the next stage in life. His desire to share his life and what he has learned in life was very refreshing. What he stands for is not from where he was born and raised. From hearing about his life and what he does was very rewarding. He believes in going out of his comfort zone and finding what interests you, while not always putting other people’s feelings in front of your own. His creativity with how he comes up with recipes encouraged me in the kitchen and in life to be different. Through giving back in various ways he has become known as a very generous guy. He takes his successes within what he’s passionate about and hopes that his successes can help others around him. He made it clear to the class to never be afraid to try different things even if those different things lead in failure you will still learn things throughout the process. The story about when he opened his store was very warming to me because I have always had interest in owning my own store, and hearing him discuss chasing your dreams made me stop and think about giving it a try even if in the end it were to be a bust. As long as you are confident in yourself and your choices you will do well and make an impact within the world we live in. You have one life to live and you must give it your best or you will be filled with regret. When you have your life all planned out it will never actually end that way, instead live each day with a open plan and know that life can change in a split second. Give your best to every opportunity you are given, and in the end maybe you will live a life like John Taylor!

Mackinlee

John Taylor is best known around the world for his stone ground grits … and southern cooking. He has authored four cookbooks where he shares more about his culinary knowledge and credits himself for [helping popularize] shrimp and grits…. John Taylor also talked to us about his various work with photography, painting male nudes or dogs, and writing for  food magazines. Taylor advised us to always reserve one passion as a hobby and in his case, it was his passion for architecture. He told us how he took pictures of architecture in a medieval city and how it helped to show the local people the art of their city in a new way. This fact was very inspiring to me to hear how he came in to a new environment and through his photography was able to convey a new viewpoint of the local city in a new light. It just really gives evidence that creativity and art our so vital to our culture and how we understand the world around us.

Overall, one of my big takeaways from our discussion with John Taylor was learning more about how it’s okay to try new things. In John Taylor’s case moving to [a foreign country] or painting male nudes. He taught us that as long as you are confident in your beliefs and creative work that nothing else matters. Our discussion with John Taylor has inspired me to take immediate action on a desire even if I am afraid and not wait to take action because it might be too late. John Taylor taught us all how to be confident and comfortable taking risky chances like painting male nudes or moving across the country, learning about his life are artwork was very inspiring and I look forward to recognizing his work and influence in the future.

Brighton

From John Taylor’s time in our class, I really feel that he put major emphasis on the importance of travel. Traveling to see the world. Traveling to find inspiration. Just traveling to enhance your repertoire of personal creativity. I learned from him that the creative process stems from an unlimited amount of inspirations. You just have to go find it.

I am choosing to apply this to my own creative process and my projects by taking in the world around me. I may not have the resources where I am in my life right now to travel the world and draw inspiration from it, but I have a world of inspiration right here in Athens, Georgia. I so often tend to rely on my own mind to do the creative thinking, when I am really surrounded by it every day.

Another thing I learned from John is to try relying on my senses more for creativity. He seemed to reference this pretty often when referring to his cooking!

 

Sara

Through John Taylor’s discussion with us, I gleaned that as an artist you do not need to be limited to a single field. In fact, having a broad range of capabilities seems to help expand an artist’s creativity as they can apply what they learn in one field to many other fields. In this way, creativity is universal. Even if someone cannot apply what they learn in one artistic realm directly to another realm, they can still become better at being creative and expand their mindset, incorporating many elements and traits from one realm to another.

This extensive indirect and direct application of artistic skills is also good news for artists in that if they develop a distaste or boredom with their current occupation and make the decision to relocate their talents to another field, they don’t have to start over. Instead of their pervious occupation functioning as a waste of time which brought them no closer to their current goal, artists draw upon their past experiences and the creative power that they have previously developed. Starting the creative process really seems to be the most challenging aspect for any art form, but thankfully once it is developed over time, that skill applies to any form of art.

The information above will be useful to me as I learn to apply my knowledge from the individual various art forms that I have experience with to each other, building upon them without thinking that I have to start over for every field.

Lora

I absolutely loved having John as a guest speaker. Just from a personal standpoint, I loved being able to connect with him over his time spent in Bulgaria. I also thoroughly enjoyed him sharing his black and white photos of Genoa and the meaning he ascribed to them in relation to the city itself. That was fascinating. Aside from that, I really loved how openly and honestly he spoke. His story really is a reflection of his advice, “always leave yourself open to chance.” His life definitely didn’t go the direction he had planned, but he was flexible and followed his instincts. Hearing about his life gives me a little assurance for when I’m feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going. It’s all going to work out as long as I stay true to myself and follow my gut.

As someone who writes a blog and is interested in writing in the future, I liked hearing some of his writing-specific advice. He said to write everyday, which is common advice, but followed it by saying that your style and ability “will evolve and come out of you.” It can be really hard to find a voice and this has definitely been in the back of my mind, pushing me.

Some of his other advice that I found really helpful was to read your writing out loud to make sure it actually sounds like you, especially when you are writing for someone else. Lastly, a big piece of advice that is pertinent to anyone who blogs, or really anyone who is creating/marketing any kind of product is “be aware of your audience. You may have to create it.” He was speaking about his stone-ground grits here, but it definitely applies to a multitude of areas. I think this advice will stick with me and help me a lot in the future.

 

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