Creatives In Conversation: Shema Love on how creativity can be a tool for healing and helping others.
There have been countless studies focusing on the connection between the creative arts and health. Research has shown that engaging in the creative arts, in one way or another, is an effective healing tool. While there is much more to learn about the complexities and nuances of the power of creativity, especially in relation to improving psychological, emotional and physical health, many of us simply turn to creative means to find ways to build a deeper connection to our identity and to others.
For New York-based creative Shema Love, the connection between being a healer and an art dealer is one she explores both deeply and on a daily basis. While working as a healer, in the literal sense, through her work as a registered nurse, she is able to help patients of all ages on their individualized roads to recovery. Outside of the hospital walls, she dedicates her time as a freelance creative, focusing on all things visual, such as illustration, animation, creative direction and design.
Whether she is releasing apparel she exclusively designs (such as her latest "Cozy Creative" oversized hoodie), sharing her tastes as a sneaker influencer or collaborating with brands to help execute their creative visions, Shema is putting her heart into every endeavor. As the founder of the SneakHER Gallery, Shema is also working to help foster community and inclusivity in sneaker culture, with the intention to ensure that women have a space to express themselves freely through a combined love of art and sneakers and navigate a community often dominated by men's voices.
As someone who believes that creativity is a genuine representation of one's personal journey and identity, Shema is happily leaning into her gifts in a variety of ways, finding balance in her own life and inspiring others to find their passions as well. During a recent conversation with DropLabs, Shema Love shared a glimpse into what drives her creativity, how healing is an integral part of what inspires her and what she is looking forward to in the new year ahead.
What do you do for a living and what helped you get started?
I'm a little bit more of a unique creative in that when someone asks me what I do, the first answer to that would be that I'm a registered nurse. I'm doing it part-time at the moment, as I'm currently recovering from surgery.
I've been a creative my entire life. I've always done it part-time or freelance or whenever I have something in mind, like a project or something that I'm working on; that's the creative part of me. I went to school for nursing and I am now currently able to freelance illustrate, do animation, project design, creative direction - I'm across the board just creating content.
Is creativity a tool for healing in your experience, or is there a common thread or parallel you see between the two worlds?
I definitely do. I think there's no one way to do something when it comes to people in general, so you're always finding ways to navigate the best way to help someone. A lot of that takes creativity. I work with patients when they're fresh of surgery and not one method treats everybody the same way. For instance, if I have kids, they don't just take pain medicine and that takes their pain away, they need complete distraction. Sometimes we're coloring or doing different activities.
There are so many nuances to creativity in every single job that everyone does. It's cool for me because I'm a natural creative and it just so happens that I'm working in a more structured environment. When I get home, that's when I take all the structure from the hospital and I'm able to delve more deeply into my client-based projects. It definitely seeps out in nursing, too.
Is there an early memory you’d like to share about when you first discovered some of your passions?
When I was in high school, I was one of those kids that would draw pictures of people and sell them out of my locker. Or if someone saw me drawing in class, they'd be like, "Can you draw a picture of me?" I think when I got to 10th grade, I was like, I should start selling these. It really put me in my entrepreneurial bag, more so than the creativity because I think naturally I just create. When it became real for me was when people were actually buying stuff that I was drawing in high school. The whole selling aspect made me realize maybe I'm an entrepreneur too.
How do you get into your creative zone or remain inspired while balancing both nursing and content creation?
When I was working full-time with nursing, I'd have to put myself on a schedule as far as my client-based projects, but I think everything in general inspires me. It's cool that we're living in an age where social media is the forefront of our inspiration because we're constantly on our phones. If I'm not able to get out to a museum or get outside in general, if I'm just scrolling on my phone, I literally will find inspiration and people and see what they're doing. I follow a lot of cool Instagram pages.
If I step away from the nursing thing, it's just existing, walking around, talking with people. Color theory is my biggest inspiration. I'm constantly looking at the colors that people are wearing, the colors in the street, colors on signs. That's totally my thing.
How would you explain the DropLabs experience to your friends?
Honestly, it's really like nothing I've ever seen before. I think it's a concept that people think about but don't necessarily think exists. There are so many levels to where my mind went as I wore them, thinking of how it could be incorporated and the different people that it could reach. For me, off that, when I was checking out the shoe--I'm automatically down for anything that's involving sneakers--DropLabs won me over with that aspect. And because it's such a blank canvas, I think there's so much opportunity to design with the shoe as well. The technology component of it is like nothing I've ever experienced before; the fact that you can feel something in your shoe.
I was explaining it to a friend the other day actually. She's a musician and she was saying how the concept of people feeling your music and feeling it in their soul and being moved by it, and then to actually feel the beat of it, is like exactly what artists want. It's cool. Definitely has the cool factor. The shoe pairs well. It wasn't a stretch to get me to put it on. I'm a little critical because I do wear a lot of sneakers and footwear is kind of my thing. The shoe looks cool and the technology behind it is super dope and innovative.
Tell me more about the SneakHer Gallery and what inspired you to get started focusing on this endeavor?
I have always been into sneakers but I always kind of just wore them for myself. I've also been fascinated with the opportunities that women have in the sneaker space because it's really rare to see women be at the forefront of anything that is involved with sneakers or something that is such a man-dominated industry. The SneakHer Gallery, with the play on words, is basically going to transition eventually into a real-life space for events and also an actual storefront that sells sneakers, artwork and can overall be a common place for women to congregate.
The Instagram page right now is just an inspiration gallery for sneakerheads all around. It's so easy to reach people from around the world right now on social media but I really want eventually to start transitioning. A lot of things can exist on social media but when you really get people together in real life, that's when we're actually moving things forward. As much as social media works right now, it may not always be there. Instagram could take down everybody's posts tomorrow. So, I want to make sure we're transitioning URL into IRL and still allowing our creativity to exist in tangible, brick and mortar places.
What are some of your goals for the year ahead?
With the SneakHer Gallery, it's really important to me that I start making a bigger presence in real life with that. It's super niche and there are a lot of blogs that exist for women in the sneaker space online but to have a physical space, whether in the form of pop-ups or an actual solid location, is a big goal of mine. To give women the opportunity to see it exist beyond the screen.
For me personally, I want to just continue creating. I'm always teaching myself new things. I'm trying to narrow in a little bit more on something that's going to define my brand a little bit better. People come to me and they're like, 'Can you do something like what you've done before?' So, I'm trying to create a little bit more for myself and more of a brand identity. I also want to start volunteering and giving back into the community a little bit more. I have a feeling that's going to be through my creativity somehow or in a creative space, whether that's teaching classes or having some pop-ups with more reach into the community, such as free entry and things like that.
I'm very goal oriented but I'm also a free spirit. I move with how the culture moves and I'm very inspired by my being a Black woman and being faced with what we're faced with every day; that inspires me. I want to make sure I'm consistent with that. We are literally the only people who can speak for ourselves. That is what keeps me going. That's on my agenda always, whether that's this decade, the next or the next after that.
Do you have any important mantras that you live by?
I do. There's a few actually. One of them is from Maya Angelou; I think I first wrote it in my high school binder. [Laughs] The quote is, "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style." Maya Angelou drops gems.
Another I have is, "The dream doesn't work unless you do." I literally think about that every time I wake up and especially now that I'm going through this knee surgery. Nothing is going to progress unless you put the work in. You can have all of these ideas that live in your head but they'll stay there unless you put the work in to do it.
As innovators by design, the team behind DropLabs Technology™ is dedicated to supporting and elevating members of the creative community. Together, we aim to serve as a platform highlighting different creators as they work towards achieving visionary excellence and inspiring others along their path. To nominate a creative leader you’d like to see highlighted on our website, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.