We sat down virtually with RuinousRapture, or Heather, visual artist and writer, to discuss why she writes and creates, and her favorite horror franchises!
MT: As a visual artist, what are the most important parts of creating art for you? What do you personally get out of the act of painting and writing?
RuinousRapture: As selfish as this may sound, I think the most important parts of creating art are the same, or may be very closely related, to what I get out of producing work.
As a child, I took to writing very easily. When the teacher would announce that we needed to write on a topic with a minimum word count, and everyone else was groaning, I was already writing and very frequently producing two to three times the number of words requested as the minimum. But visual art was something I came into later, around my early 20’s. It started with drawing, and it was essentially a tool I used for survival.
At the time, I was still writing poetry, but there came this point where I just really needed to shut the active thinking off. I started doodling only by intuition. I had nothing in mind for a final product, I just had a pen or pencil and began working. What I would find at the end, not always immediately, was that the final product was connecting to a part of myself that wasn’t being heard or fed. For most everything I do that would be considered creative, I only work intuitively. Structure and planning is very difficult for me (though sometimes, a necessary “evil”). This process is part of how I feed myself. It’s truly a form of self-care and self-love. I believe strongly in the power of the subconscious mind and by creating works based on my intuition and flow of consciousness, I find a new connection to myself that I didn’t know I needed or existed. It’s a form of meditation.
As I’ve gotten older, and after reading the wonderful book The Mission of Art by Alex Grey, I’ve become very interested in extending my creative process beyond what a final piece does to feed my own needs, and how it could possibly impact positive systemic change. I am of the belief that when we are better to ourselves, we are better to each other. And when we are better to each other, we work toward the collective good and the betterment of our planet. That is to say, when I connect to myself, I can connect to others more sincerely and authentically, and by doing so, I’ve already created a ripple in the current narrative. I want to do that much better than I currently am.
For me, creating works of any kind is a form of radical self-love, and my hope is that in their current state it helps awaken something of the same kind in the person consuming my content. My goal going forward is to go into my creative sessions with that mission in mind. Honoring my need for an intuition-based process, but also extending my reach beyond my own introspection and efforts toward personal growth.
MT: We have the same writing process and started writing at young ages also. That’s so beautiful, to me. You stream on Twitch though it seems, not often. Do you enjoy streaming? If so, what exactly pulls you to stream? If not, what don’t you like about it?
RR: Absolutely! I used to be a very active member of the Creative community. Both as a viewer and a streamer. My streams consisted mostly of painting, drawing, and other varieties of art (with some video games, but very rarely… Okay, “some video games” was Stardew Valley. I would stream Stardew Valley). I enjoyed it immensely and I was very happy with the community I was building. Around the time that Twitch removed the Creative category, my husband and I also made a big move from San Diego, CA to Omaha, NE. Moves can be pretty disruptive to streaming, and for anyone who paints on stream, they know how extremely frustrating lighting set-ups can be to properly capture what you are working on. It took a very long time before I had a space in our new apartment where I could comfortably get back to doing creative streams. The stability of our internet connection was another thing to contend with at the new place. Ultimately, I just needed to get back into building up the habit.
Then, my husband and I moved again. This time into a house (and with a fiber internet connection!!). This, once again, disrupted the set-up I had for streaming. We have been in the house for close to two years now, but things kept coming up that made rebuilding and rethinking a more comfortable set-up not so much of a priority. I did recently get back to streaming, but it has been from my couch, without a camera, using a headset as my microphone (though I have some great cameras and microphones) and it has been video game content. Also, it has been sporadic. Part of that is trying to figure out a good schedule to get back into the groove. My original stream times were Friday nights, Saturday afternoons, and I THINK I would do Sundays, too, but I can’t remember that for sure.
But I REALLY miss streaming my creative content and I miss my community. Part of what pulls me to stream is making those wonderful connections with others. My husband and I recently had a discussion about this and he has decided it is his sworn duty to rebuild my creative and variety streaming set-up bigger and better than it was before. We have already begun that process, and soon my office will be in a place where I can finally get back to doing what I love.
Reflecting on what it is that draws me to stream (and the barriers that enable me to decide not to), I have begun planning how to build my channel in a way that puts my passions and goals front and center. A lot of what I was saying earlier regarding wanting to have a more thoughtful and positive impact on those around me is part of that planning. I am also working on some collaborations that I am hopeful will help me create a more mindful and intentionally curated community. There are big plans in the works!
MT: Yeah moving and lighting changes seriously interrupt streaming. If one thing gets out of place with my currently stable set up, I get so frustrated trying to get everything back how I like it, lol. But yes, having a positive impact on those around you is commendable. Moving right along to your art, you have a list of exhibits your artwork was featured in on your website. Can you tell us a bit about how those exhibits went, what was the turnout, and how it felt seeing your work actualized in galleries?
RR: I think my favorite gallery to show at was La Bodega in San Diego. All of the shows I have participated in have been group shows. Often group shows have a theme and some guidelines for what the work should be about and the format they should be in and that can feel very restricting. You don’t typically know how others selected to be in the show are interpreting the prompts, and when you get there, sometimes you can feel like your unique voice is lost in a sea of others repeating the same message in the same style. For me, that sometimes felt like I was the square peg who also didn’t understand the assignment. But what I loved about La Bodega was that their guidelines were never so strict that there wasn’t room for some real conceptual thinking. The diversity among how the other artists in the show chose to approach creative problem-solving felt more like you were in a group of equally unique and “weird” people like yourself.
La Bodega is in a part of town called Barrio Logan and turnout was always fantastic for their shows. I remember the first time I saw a red dot next to one of my pieces, I felt a mixture of excitement, shame, and guilt. Like, “WHOA! Someone loved something I created so much that they bought it? Wait, they paid what I was asking for it? Oh, no! They’re going to be so angry when they figure out I am a fraud!”
I truly miss showing at galleries. I am currently in a rather creative dry spell at the moment, and with COVID, much of the group shows that allow opportunities for lesser known local artists to show aren’t as abundant. To be fair, I also have not become familiar with the local art scene in Omaha, despite having been out here for almost three years. I was recently forwarded an opportunity to show in a gallery that I think is in New York, so my goal is to get some pieces together before the submission deadline closes.
MT: Your art is so pretty. But also, you share your writing on your website. Are you published anywhere besides your website and if not, do you have goals to be published or self-publish your work? Why or why not?
RR: I am currently working on a collection of poetry that I plan to self-publish. My current struggle with assembling this book is page layout. I have a shirt that says, “Death by overthinking,” and I think that pretty much summarizes why that project has been in a bit of a stall. Haha!
There are definitely pros and cons to getting published and self-publishing, so I haven’t really made a hard decision on which I would ultimately prefer and for which works either would be most appropriate. The poetry collection is a way to really get my feet wet with the experience of self-publishing, and I will likely self-publish several of my works before actively seeking out a publisher (that is, if I decide to go that route). I am inexperienced and not nearly as knowledgeable as I’d like to be in this area, but my gut tells me that gaining the experience of self-publishing will be extremely valuable and provide me with great insight.
I am also working on a fantasy novel, but I haven’t decided how I will distribute it when it is finally finished. There is a writer meet-up group here in Omaha I plan on joining and seeing what insight those who have been self-publishing for years can provide to me. I’m also looking to connect with others who have been bravely publishing their content and have seen success in self-publishing to see what advice they may have on the topic.
MT: Awesome! I can’t wait to see how it turns out! Do you have any advice for aspiring artists, writers, or streamers on how best to continue their goals in each (or one) field?
RR: I don’t know if what I have to say is universally applicable, but, the most important thing I learned recently (through a LOT of struggling and fighting myself internally) is how to deal with my choice paralysis and perfectionism. These are my biggest dragons to slay. I get stuck behind what feels like a very real physical barrier to “doing the things”. Through a lot of self-reflection, I realized this was a trauma response, and what was happening was my anxiety was telling me two things: 1. Everything is broken and you need to fix it RIGHT NOW if you are going to make it through another day. 2. In order to fix the situation, you HAVE to make the right decision when prioritizing your projects and goals.
This pattern of thinking would paralyze me because I was so desperate to fix the problems (mainly, the feeling of being unsatisfied with life), that I was convinced there was a perfect path to go down that would resolve them. Do I need to produce more visual pieces to improve my skills and have a collection of works to prove my value as an artist? Do I focus on writing more for the same reasons? Is there something I need to be studying to find a way out of having to work the 8am-5pm grind (which ultimately takes me away from my personal growth for 40hrs a week)? Should I be streaming instead of doing any of those things so I can start building a community of people? And then feeling like if I chose the wrong thing to focus on, I was wasting precious time to mitigate the emergency of my existential crisis. This would cause me to do nothing because I couldn’t choose where to begin.
What I figured out was that I needed to slow down, realize that I was safe (despite being unsatisfied). The correct answer to “where do I start?” is “where do you WANT to start?” Time is going to pass anyway, so you may as well be doing something you are intuitively drawn toward rather than worrying about whether or not the choice you’ve made is the correct one (or that it is done perfectly). It’s important to realize that we really do limit ourselves in the way we think about how to solve problems. Starting where you want, based on your intuition, is going to lead you down roads you didn’t even know existed. Or it will empower you to consider taking on challenges you never thought you were capable of doing. It will connect you to people and subjects that ignite your passions.
Also, breathe. You’re going to be okay.
MT: Truer words were never spoken. Yes to all of this. I’ve done the same as you and my goodness, we’ve lived like the same life?! What’s your favorite horror franchise or series?
RR: OOoOooH! This is a hard one! My favorite kind of horror is psychological horror, and I am very picky about what I consider “good.” I am a huge fan of classic films (particularly silent films). My favorites are Häxan (1922), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), and The Hands of Orlac (1924). I also greatly enjoy almost anything with Karloff and Lugosi (because of course I be like that). Special shoutout to Nosferatu (1922) because, also… I can’t help my basic self! However, none of that would be considered a franchise or a series. If I had to pick from a franchise (with caveats), I would say that for video games, most definitely Silent Hill. For movies, I really do enjoy some Nightmare on Elm Street (I know that doesn’t really fall into the realm of psychological horror, but I have some real nostalgic feels for that franchise).
MT: I too love me some psychological horror. You know I’m not a fan of Lugosi’s Dracula? Idk why, not my cup of tea. Nosferatu though, was great! But why Silent Hill?
RR: The Silent Hill video game series really focused on working the player’s emotions. I remember, specifically of Silent Hill 2, what I loved was that you spent a lot of time wandering around, and it created a real feeling of isolation. It was easy for me to become immersed in that game. SH3 had a similar thing going on, though I recall it having a little more action than SH2 (To be fair, it has been a while since I have played it or watched a full playthrough). For Nightmare on Elm Street, it really is more about the warm fuzzy feeling I get when I remember snuggling up on the couch with a soda and snack to binge watch those movies during the chilly Halloween season. Also, I feel like that story had a lot of potential. Sometimes they nailed it, sometimes it was just campy and felt weirdly disjointed. But I really like the idea of Freddy Krueger and how that universe and lore could evolve into other fantastical things! It’s similar to the feelings I get when I think of the concept of Scarecrow from the Batman universe.
MT: I find meeting another creative soul awesome as I approach my art a lot like you do! We look forward to seeing where you art takes you!
RuinousRapture (Heather “Rue” Jacobs) is a creative from San Diego, CA, currently living and working in Omaha, NE. Her work deals with the concepts of vulnerability as strength, radical honesty as a form of self-acceptance, and our indelible connection to nature. As a visual artist and writer, her dream is to create a community of like minded persons focused on changing the narrative around mental health and systems thinking. She is currently collaborating on a podcast about vulnerability and radical honesty that is set to launch at the beginning of 2022.
You can find Heather at any of her links below!