You have a beautiful mind. We love the depths of wisdom you effortlessly reflect and how you constantly shine a bright light through your Art. Can you please share some highlights of how you began your journey as a creative writer?
Yep, absolutely. I expressed an interest in the literary world from a really young age. I got really obsessed with the Goosebumps series by R.L Stein – and spent a lot of nights just getting lost in those books. I remember being in such awe of the writing, wondering how on earth one person’s imagination could fit so many things in. It always made me wonder what it would be like to write something like that.
Then, in the fifth or sixth grade of junior school, I must have been about 10, we were asked to write a poem in class about the Tsunami that hit Indonesia. I didn’t think much of it, but when my teacher read what I had written, she really made a point to tell me how impressed she was. Called my parents to tell them I had a knack for writing, and I think that moment was the catalyst for me diving deeper into it. Lately, I’ve been trying to understand how these things develop within people generally. Do you choose your vocation, or does your vocation ultimately choose you? I guess moments like that made me feel like it chose me.
Then I’d write short stories, poetry, even raps throughout school. In university, I continued the trend and then took on the project of writing a novel, which I’m still doing. Eventually, I started mindoglyphics, and, here were are.
We are grateful to have you onboard this special ISSUE with the theme- The Art of Christmas. Do you celebrate Christmas? What’s your most memorable moment yet, in this holiday season?
I do celebrate Christmas, yes. I’m not sure if there is one, memorable moment. I like looking at it in the wider sense. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, there’s a certain warm feeling that inevitably comes along this time of year. This feeling of connecting, belonging, loving – and of course, eating until there’s no space left in your stomach. To me, I think Christmas is less about moments and more about that feeling.
How was growing up like?
So, I’m from a small Greek island in the meditteranean called Cyprus. Growing up there was like growing up in paradise. There’s sun pretty much the whole year round. Distances are really short, people are really tight knit, and so are families.
I spent a lot of time doing extra curriculars. Things like piano, swimming and football. At the time, they felt like a little more like chore, or an obligation – but the truth is, they really did offer me plenty of avenues to explore – in the mental, physical and creative sense. It cast a wide net and developed me in ways that I think are still important to this day.
As the Editor-in-Chief at UntwineMe USA (featuring Art, Poetry and Photos), can you share more about the awe-inspiring platform, its goals for impact and any other highlights you would like to share. Also what do you consider most fulfilling about your creative journey as a writer and editor?
The platform is part of the UntwineMe network which I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of for a couple of years. I think it’s a wonderful project which aims to spotlight voices within the online community and give them more of a platform to be heard. There are features on each of the UntwineMe pages, live readings which also give our editors the opportunity to read out and express themselves creatively in the process. It’s really part of a node of networks which foster creativity and encourage people to keep doing beautiful things within a space that can sometimes feel daunting.
I think the most fulfilling part of my journey is just that. To express myself creatively, to challenge myself into doing new things that will help me evolve as a writer and a person. Helping others to do the same is another rewarding facet of this journey.
One of your most recent piece read these striking lines:
‘Her own little pocket of paradise…’ I guess some night owls aren’t trying to escape. Maybe they just don’t want to miss a thing.’ Although this is an untitled piece, it’s a beautiful one. Can you share the inspiration behind it?
I was on an island called Nusa Penida in Indonesia a couple of months ago. My girlfriend and I stayed in a tree-house which had a loft at the top, with a net you could lie on to overlook the jungle and the ocean in the distance.
Just seeing her lay there as the sun came up made me think of that final line. Sometimes night owls can attract a bit of a stigma for staying up when everyone else goes to sleep. Like they’re trying to escape the real world. But who knows, sometimes maybe it isn’t about escaping. Maybe it is about soaking in as much beauty as you can.
We noticed that you do not include a title to your works. Is that a personal thing? Like how you flow more?
I want people to just look at that picture without putting a title in their head. The picture is almost the title itself. That being said, for my own reference, I do put a couple of hashtags in the first comment under each picture – the first hashtag tends to be my version of the title even though I don’t really advertise that.
Mindoglyphics acts kind of like a pseudo diary for me, either in the literal or metaphorical sense. So even though what’s written in the text may not directly be related to what I’m going through, it is almost acts like a timestamp. I like to think of each piece as a flashing memory in my head. It reminds me of where I was at the time, physical and mentally. Of course, every piece is also open to interpretation.
Sometimes it’s tough to distil a piece into one or two words so I completely understand that.
We see you as a brain box of inspiration in the creative industry and beyond. We also love how most of your views align with our brand’s vision and mission. On commercial success for writers, you shared some insights on balancing between personal writings and paying attention to the market. Please share more on this, and any quick tips for creatives who want to do their Art full time.
For me, the key is to firstly assess what your goals are going to be. Do you create as a means of artistic expression, or are you more focused on extracting financial benefit? There’s nothing wrong with any of those, of course – and they aren’t mutually exclusive – but understanding where you lean is important.
Taking writing as an example: If you write exactly what you want to write with no regard for a target audience, you might narrow your appeal. If you write what you think people will eat up without paying much attention or regard to what you want, you might end up hating the process – and it’ll seem like just another job you need to get through, which defeats the purpose in my opinion.
It’s important to strike a balance between the two. Keeping an ear to the ground, paying attention to the trends of the market and how people respond to your different posts (if you’re on social media for example), and then going from there. Commercial success is important because it’ll open more doors for you to explore yourself creatively, but if you abandon authenticity in that pursuit, then maybe your interest in creating and the quality of your art for that matter might wane.
It’s ultimately about paying attention, collecting the data and being entrepreneurial in that sense, but also maintaining authenticity – because I think that’s one of the key reasons for success in writing. Authenticity translates across all art form.
Do you feel creatives in developed countries are at advantage than those in developing countries?
That’s a very interesting question, and I think there are a couple of facets to it. Obviously, if we take writing as an example, creatives in developed countries will likely have more access to literary agents, publishers and vessels which can push their work into the mainstream. There’s also arguably a linguistic advantage due to English being spoken more prominently in these countries. Maybe an argument to also be made for access to a more robust form of education from the get go.
That being said, I think the internet has definitely made this gap smaller. The fact that people can access books, information and even connect with other people, has definitely made things more even in the wider sense. There’s obviously still plenty of room for improvement, but things like this take time – and it feels like we’re on the right track at least.
As creatives, we understand the high tendencies of getting stressed out even while pursuing our passion. There are days when even depression may creep in or just that inexplicable feeling of overwhelmingness. Do you have any relatable experience to this? If so, how are you able to manage and thrive beyond phases like this? Any quick tips on ‘Mental Health for Creatives.’
My view is that it’s completely normal, although the extent may differ from individual to individual. The way I try to combat it is by building good habits and looking for guaranteed wins during my day. Exercise is a big one for me, because no matter how tough my day has been, I always feel like I’ve achieved something if I manage to exercise. Even things as seemingly miniscule as making your bed in the morning can put your subconscious in the right mind-set. The mind-set of, ‘I take care of myself’ / ‘I can trust myself’. Then that can snowball into bigger things. So, understanding that everything creates a feedback loop can allow you to make positive changes which eventually lead you to where you want to be.
Leaning on community is also important. On Instagram, there is a really tight knit community for creatives. Initiatives like yours (Mental Health for creatives) allow people to get support where they otherwise wouldn’t have had some, get more insight into what other people are going through and understanding that they aren’t alone in feeling the way they do.
Then finally, I also think that people should be a little bit easier of themselves. If I feel like I can’t write, maybe I’ll edit. Maybe I’ll read, or even take some time off – recovery is just as important as the work itself. There’s a quote I always ring back to, it’s from House of Cards, the series. It goes something like ‘There’s only one way to devour a whale… One bite at a time’. So trust the process, stay the course, try to force your own luck and things will eventually fall into place.
When writer’s block comes about, I think the key is to take a step back. Staring at your laptop and trying to come up with something isn’t the way to approach it. Doing other activities like going for walks, going for exercise, allowing your mind to rest (even though subconsciously you’re still looking for the answer) is important – because the answer will eventually come at a time when you least expect it. I do some of my best thinking right before I go to bed for example. What has also helped me, and is something I have often found challenging in my own writing, is not being afraid to delete things and go back to square one. You may sometimes write yourself into a corner, which may cause writer’s block in the first place. So taking a step back and deleting things that might not work could maybe open up new routes and new avenues for you to explore.
Balancing work time and rest time is a struggle for many Creatives. Please share a few tips on how you try to balance work time, rest time and family time?
It’s really important to understand that work, rest and family time are all equally crucial parts of a cohesive effort to making you the best version of yourself. Because losing yourself in work is not a sustainable long term strategy. So, I like to split my week. Monday until Friday are days for getting into the nitty gritty of work, developing my mind, taking care of my body, eating healthy. Weekends are for relaxing and allowing myself to decompress. It allows me to strike a balance between working and relaxing and also gives me a reward for the work I’ve put in during the week. For me, that’s the system that I’ve found to work the best. It’s also a clean way to split it (Monday is here, that means I know that today is the day where I sit down to concentrate, whereas Saturday, I know is the day I relax).
You shared some powerful quote on how many creatives neglect the spiritual nature of their craft and create ‘for fake or notoriety.’ We cannot agree less. Also, you left a rhetorical question: ‘how about we practice creating just for the sake of it?’ Can you share some more on these insights?
Yeah, absolutely! This one sorts of follows on from what we were discussing earlier about commercial success and authenticity. I think it is very easy (especially when you delve deeper into the commercial side of creating or craft), to go for what sells instead of what is at your core, the authentic way you want to express yourself. That piece was almost a challenge to go back to the fundamentals. At the moment, I’m writing a book (which is a very long and arduous process). Sometimes, it’s very easy to focus on the fact that I want it to be a commercial success, to do well and open doors – but at your core, you need to fall in love with the process, and love the art itself. Creating just for the sake of it is a reminder to myself and to any other artist to whom it might relate, to remember why you started in the first place (the love of the art form), not just the commercial success. Of course, if that comes along as well that will be fantastic – but the key is to create for the sake of it.
What does success mean to you?
That is a tough question to be honest, there’s many angles you can go about it. I guess success for me is to pursue my goals, for me to be able to evolve consistently and to ultimately leave a mark that I can look back on and be happy with.
In the creative sense, it’s being able to look at my body of work when things are said and done, and be happy I gave it my all. To be happy with the final product and the way I expressed my feelings and experiences at that time.
In the wider sense it is about forming good, positive and meaningful relationships with people that will last a lifetime.
Ultimately, success is about being happy and finding happiness within, then extending that happiness outward.