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Why Starlight?

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So, why a “Starlight” Journal? What is it about starlight that is so important? Like everything in this journal, the name is not an accident.Yes, it’s pretty and enchanting, but it’s also more intentional than that. And yet, it is intentional in ways that I’ve only come to realize well after I named the project. Originally, it just sounded right. Even more strangely, I later discovered the meaning behind the name I had already chosen as a result of things having (I thought) nothing at all to do with this project...the universe works in mysterious ways, my friends.

Back to the original question- what is it that is so important about the stars? That turns out to be a more complicated question than it first appears. It’s bigger on the inside.

For one, there’s not a human being alive who can lay outside, stare up at the blanket of glittering stars dotting the void in front of them, and not feel awe in the original sense of the word.

Awe-struck, that is. Inspired, energized, impossibly insignificant and tiny compared to the vastness of the universe, and yet simultaneously meaningful and oh so ALIVE. It’s a transcendent experience; a universally transcendent experience, in fact.

“And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” -Friedrich Nietzsche


This Nietzsche quote comes with a lot of speculation as to its meaning. One possible and popular interpretation is that you become what you focus on, which is true. He’s probably talking about the metaphorical or psychological abyss here, but I think the same holds true when you gaze at the literal abyss- the open expanse of stars in the sky. You become that vast and inspiring universe. Or rather, you realize that you already are. The chemical components that make up life on our planet, including the blood that runs through our veins, is only formed in a dying star. And stars at varying levels of decay are what you see when you look up on a clear night. You’re watching the glittering dance of the universe-- its continual growth and evolution and decay; a thing with which every one of us is inextricably linked. We ARE the universe in ecstatic motion. Every one of us. We are the ecstatic dance of ancient stardust, looking up and focusing on the void and realizing that we are continually becoming, and already are, ancient stardust ourselves.

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When you gaze upon the glittering night sky, you at once realize just how small you are compared to the expansive abyss above. At the same time you also realize that you, the tiny individual, are both made of and a part of the whole that is this vast and powerful universe, literally and metaphorically. If you gaze too long at the universe, I think you become one with it-- or maybe more accurately, you realize that you always were one in being. And that is both a powerful and humbling experience. Which, really, I believe everyone should experience as regularly as possible. So the stars are immeasurably important for facilitating this sort of transcendent experience. Gazing at the stars makes us better humans.

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And then there is the light. Everything always comes back to the light--the name of my business, the name of this journal, even the name of my chosen medium (“photography” means “light writing”).  

It might seem a bit strange at first for the focus of a very dark, nocturnal adventure to be the light. But it’s true. You need the darkest dark in fact, the places with the least light pollution, to see the most light in the sky. Darkness and light are two sides of the same coin: darkness is only scientifically the absence of light, in a physical sense. So, in a way, of course you need to go through the darkest dark to find the metaphorical light within yourself as well. You need the darkness because without it there is no true light. The hero is always born at the height of chaos in the story, because the chaos and darkness is what creates the conditions that require a hero, or light, in the first place. This is why we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the ultimate hero, at the winter solstice. Because the hero is always born at the height of darkness. And this is where the theories on that Nietzsche quote can get really interesting, because right before he says “when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you” is a line about monsters- a warning not to become the monster you seek to destroy.

Metaphorically speaking, Nietzsche’s abyss is most likely our own darkness. And in many ways, we do have to face our own darkness; descend into our own darkness, and ultimately overcome it, in order to truly find and embody our own light.  

Light is always the highest good. The light illuminates- both literally and figuratively, and that is good. God said “Let there be light,” and it was good.  Because knowledge is what allows us to grow figuratively, and light from the sun creates heat and life and physical growth. Fire and light further are tools that humans have mastered to allow us to advance knowledge and technology in unprecedented ways. You can literally learn more if you have candlelight (or electricity) that allows you to spend more time reading and learning.

Just like physical darkness is the absence of light (and in a way, vis versa), and so one cannot exist without the other, good and evil (the human capacity for darkness and light) must also exist as two sides of the same coin. In order to have the highest good, we must also necessarily have the lowest evil. One cannot exist without the other.

Furthermore, in order to ensure that we are choosing the light, we must first face the darkness. We must acknowledge that the darkness is an equal option. Otherwise it’s not a choice, it’s a default.  And we cannot take credit for a default. We must gaze into the abyss of our own darkness, and instead of letting it consume us, instead of becoming the monster we seek to destroy, we must choose to focus on the lights that dot the abyss like stars. Because if we focus on the light, we become the light.

Maybe there is something to the act of gazing at the stars that physically mimics the metaphorical, and so we feel that awe and power resonate in our souls when we stargaze-- for the beauty is almost always terrifying, too. The terror of space and darkness could just as easily consume us if we let it. And yet, laying on blankets and gazing up, surrounded by the darkest night we can find, we do not look in fear at the empty blackness of space. Instead, we look to the light of the stars. And we delight in their light.

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For it is always the light of the stars that guides us along. In terms of movement and navigation, the stars have always been the guide, shining like beacons in the night. Their light orients sailors, and guides them along their way. If you are lost, whether in a forest or at sea, or even just within your own soul, the thing to do is always to look to the heavens- look to the familiar and steady lights in the sky, orient yourself, and follow them home.


Since ancient times, we humans have always looked to the steadfast stars glittering above us to light our way in a real and literal sense. But even as we evolve our technology, and the light of our cities drowns the light of the stars, there is still a significant but metaphorical way that we use the stars as guides: we wish on them.


It sounds fanciful- the stuff of fairy tales. But fairy tales are usually true in profound ways. A wish on a star is more than a delivery order to heaven. A wish on a star is in fact the embodiment of finding the highest physical light (which represents the highest metaphorical good, because lightness IS always goodness), orienting ourselves towards that highest good, and following it home. Once you name the highest good you can imagine in your wish, then you have your orienting point, and your guiding light. It is only once you determine where you’re going that you can determine how to get there. So, we wish on stars. We pronounce our destination to the universe, and then we use that wish to guide us to it, just like sailors following the stars home. And that is no more an accident than the name of the Starlight Journal.

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Get your copy of the journal here, and let this starlight help to guide you to your highest good.


This month’s shop release is also my favorite line from this article, so if it resonates with you especially, grab that line on a print, mug, tshirt, or other home decor item here. And as a bonus, get the design on the back of the Starlight Journal, which for me so embodies the importance of following the light, in the shop as well.

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Thank you, as ever, for your support and interest in this blog, my creative musings, and my creative work. If you’d like to support this blog, consider grabbing a product from the shop like the Ancient Stardust or the I Create Myself pieces featured today, or consider supporting my creative work in general on Patreon. Learn more about that here.

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5 Things That Inspire Me

This blog was originally written and published by me on the blog of The Hatch, on December 28th, 2016. View the original post here.

Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes, it hits you out of nowhere; in the shower, while you’re driving, or while you’re trying to fall asleep. And it’s all you can do to get the new amazing idea down on paper because your heart and mind are racing with the overwhelming excitement of it all.

Other times you sit for hours and stare at a bank piece of paper…. just waiting for all the ideas you had three days ago to come back and present themselves articulately so you can write, paint, draw, or whatever your chosen medium is. As a lifelong artist just starting out on a more full time and serious creative entrepreneurial journey, never has this been more of a problem for me.

Luckily, other creatives have gone before me, and from reading their works and listening to their talks (shoutout to Liz Gilbert, Neil Gaiman, and JK Rowling especially), I have learned that there are a few things I can always fall back on when I need a little help chasing down that fleeting wonderful moment that is inspiration.

#1- Find a story. There is nothing more inspiring to me than a story. Books, poems, songs, short stories, long novels, folk tales, fairy tales. Stories of all kinds are the most inspiring things to me.

I have been a bookworm all my life and have always been interested in “nerdy” things and stories like Alice in Wonderland and Doctor Who.  I am particularly interested in what are usually considered “children’s” fantasy stories: Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid. I believe that these types of stories are relevant for everyone not only because they tell truths of the human condition which resonate with us all, but also because they tell them in beautiful ways that really capture our imaginations and can be understood by everyone. To paraphrase what GK Chesterton once said, fairytales are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. And there is something immensely powerful and magical in that.


#2- Get myself to the sea or to the stars. Nature in general is always a great revival and refresher for the soul, especially in our fast paced, glorification-of-busy lives. I think to some degree we are all suffering from perpetual burnout, and nothing has ever been a better cure for that than to just put down our phones and get outside and present with the physical world and our bodies. For me though, the water and the stars are always especially inspiring. There is something so truly awe-inspiring, so universal, so amazing, about standing and just watching the awesome power of the ocean, or watching the endless glittering dance of the stars. It always makes me feel both immensely alive and great, and immensely humbled and tiny all at the same time. These two great natural wonders always put everything in perspective and help me to remember what is truly important.

#3- Ordinary people living extraordinary lives in a hundred little ways are a huge inspiration to me as well. Maybe this is just “stories” in a different way, but people who are passionate, from an amazing biopic about Walt Disney, to the woman who lives down the street and lives for her beautiful garden, never cease to amaze me. The human spirit is just so inspiring. The best example of this is my own Grandfather, who was the single most inspiring person I have ever personally known. An Armenian born in Jerusalem, and raised in abject poverty, he made his way out of that life, came to America, and built a remarkable life for himself, creating a family legacy of grace, determination, curiosity, love, and laughter. By his own example, he taught his family that it matters not where or what someone is born, but who they grow to be. I would truly not be the person I am today without my Grandpa’s fine example, and for that I will always be grateful and inspired.

#4- Speaking of being indebted to others, I truly believe that creative collaboration/brainstorming is one of the most inspiring things anyone can do. And you don’t actually have to be in the same room to creatively collaborate. Books allow us to collaborate, in a sense, with storytellers and inspiring people who lived halfway around the world a hundred years ago, but I still consider that a collaboration of sorts, because it is a meeting of equal minds, and results in a new blending of ideas that can produce new exciting things. Which is truly a little magical, when you think about it. But it doesn’t even have to be as esoteric as that. The digital age allows us to connect to amazing artists all around the world with the click of a button. Pinterest, for example, is flooded with truly astoundingly beautiful art. And if I am ever in a particular creative pickle, it is the first place I look to for instant inspiration. Just being surrounded by other creative ideas and beautiful artwork, whether in a museum, a bookstore, a gallery, or on Pinterest, I find myself instantly refreshed, inspired, and in awe.

#5- My final inspiration (and this is a new lesson that I recently had to learn), comes in the form of meditation and/or yoga, which is also essentially just prayer. Taking time to deliberately switch OFF and recharge, is so important that I could never stress it enough. And it is so much harder and so much more rewarding than it sounds. It is a constant practice and lesson of balance, and I’m certain it is something I will have to consciously work on for the rest of my life. But, when you think about it, unless you slow down sometimes, those moments of inspiration can never truly find you. Sometimes you have to slow down, be still, and give up on chasing the ideas, to let them come to you. This exact principle explains why those most brilliant ideas hit you just as you are drifting off to sleep, or while you are in the shower or driving on a long trip, because in those moments your brain is relaxed; and in that relaxation and stillness, inspiration has the space to come rushing in.

So there you have it: Stories, nature, ordinary people, other art, and being still. I guess when you boil it down, what I am really inspired by is anything that is wondrous, and curious, and beautiful. Those are the stories that I love to hear and discover. And as a visual storyteller, these are the stories that I love to tell.

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What to Expect from Lusicovi Creative

Dear Creatives,

If you’ve been following along on my social media at all (or even talked to me in person recently), you probably have gotten a general idea of what I’ve been up to and what’s coming down the line. But, for the sake of clarity, I wanted to write up a quick outline of the things currently going on at Lusicovi Creative, and also what to expect over the next year. We have a lot of awesome projects we are cooking up here, so bear with me on the length of this post. It might be a little longer than usual.

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First off, you really have to have been living under a rock to not have heard of this yet (because I've been annoying everyone about it), but the Starlight Journal, is finished and now in production!! This has been a project that I have been working on for YEARS, and I’m so proud of how it is turning out and I cannot wait to share it with you! There have been a lot of setbacks along the way, and honestly this is not at all the product I thought I was making when I started. But it’s so much better. Pre-Orders launch at an extra special discounted price (for the first 150 copies only) on August 1st (that's this Wednesday!) And the copies and official launch (including a glittering launch party) will be early November! So, for the next couple of months especially, as we go into launch mode, Lusicovi Creative is going to be almost all Starlight all the time! But, it’s going to be wonderful!  I won’t talk much more about that here, because we’re going to talk your ears off about it in the coming weeks, but I will end with this excerpt from the back cover:

The world is made of the dust of ancient stars, and we humans have always looked to the stars to guide us home. Like the stars, the Starlight Journal is both a guiding light and a source of wonder for creatives seeking balance.

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Secondly, I’ve already started working on this project preliminarily, but it has been mostly on the back burner since it’s inception almost a year ago. This project is also a book project, and is a collaborative, unique project that I am also really excited about and anxious to get back to! This book will be called Into the Sea: Fairytales of Atlantis, and it is a curation of artwork and stories that collectively explore the question: what if the story of Atlantis was a princess fairytale story? The submissions that we have gotten already are blowing us away, frankly, and this book is going to be truly beautiful. It is definitely still in the collaboration and art creation stage. So if you are a writer or artist (or you know a writer or artist) and would like to get in on this group creativity action- send me an email at fairytalesofatlantis@gmail.com, and we will be sure to get you included! The current plan is to create a group and be really active in there in September, into next Spring, and then final deadlines for submissions will be next Spring, so that next Summer we can launch a kickstarter to fund the printing of this beautiful book.  

 

Starting in August, I will be re-launching my society6 shop, in an effort to focus more on my artwork. This will be a way to achieve three exciting things! One, to make my artwork available and affordable. Two, to keep me generating new artwork and products continually (we will launch one new design per month from September onward!). And three, to give all you marvelous creatives and supporters a way to adorn your lives with some great boho and literary beauty! So look out for those shop updates every month starting in August, and if there is a particular piece I’ve done or that you want to see done and up in the shop, definitely drop me a line and let me know!

 

Another way that I’m pivoting to focus more on artwork is by focussing my business more on book cover designs than anything else. Because I am such a bookworm, and my artwork has always been pretty literary inspired anyways, this is the perfect way to combine all of the things I love to do. So, as such I will be collaborating with authors, particularly self publishing fantasy authors, not just as their book cover designer, but as general support as well. The reason I design book covers is because I want to tell the story in enchanting visual ways, and my aim will always be to work with storytellers to truly capture the story within, entice readers to pick up and buy the books, and therefore help my authors realize their dreams of publishing successful books. So you can expect to see a lot more talk of upcoming books from me in the future! (Pssst: the first one will be Tell City, by a very dear friend of mine, Kaylin R Boyd. We just finished the cover for Tell City this summer, and the cover reveal is scheduled for mid August, so stay tuned, especially if you like urban fantasy or anything at all by Neil Gaiman!)

As a super sneak peek, here is one of the images we shot for the cover of  Tell City.  

As a super sneak peek, here is one of the images we shot for the cover of Tell City. 

 

With all of these big changes and exciting projects coming down the pipeline, you can also expect a lot more consistency from me in updates. I’ve obviously launched a blog, and while the blog posts over the next couple of months will be quite frequent as we really explain everything that the Starlight Journal has to offer, even after November, expect at least one monthly email update with the shop update, recent blog posts, and other fun behind the scenes news!  

Finally, though these are still long off dreams, I do want to mention two really big projects that are in the works for the future of Lusicovi Creative. One is the next book project after Atlantis, which will be an illustrated (with underwater photography + painting and montage) and re-imagined and re-written version of the classic The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. The second is even bigger in scope. But it will be a semi-annual magazine publication entitled The Starlight Emporium: Beautiful and Thoughtful Art and Stories. Combining many of the ideas and values of both the Starlight Journal and the Atlantis project, this will be a regular collection of beautiful and thoughtful art and stories that focus on anything curious, fantastic, and wonder-filled. There will be gorgeous photos and art, written poems, short stories, and articles that inspire, travel adventures, and featured artists, writers, and locations each time. There will also always be a featured “curiosity” article about anything interesting and related to a life of creative adventure (think health and wellness tips, financial talks, psychology, astronomy & other science, and ways to access creativity and divinity).

It will be for the curious, the adventurous, the thinkers, the dreamers, the magic makers, the ones aching for more creative connection. It will be physically printed, because there is just nothing like holding the physical art and words in your hands, or tearing out your favorite most inspiring pages and hanging them on your wall. And because, let’s face it, we all need to be better about getting off our screens and being grounded and in touch with actual wonder. It will be for anyone seeking wonder and connection in these frazzled, busy, exciting times of ours, and I cannot wait to get started on it. If you have any ideas for any art, stories, or creators and adventurers to feature, please email me at lusicovicreative@gmail.com and let me know about them!

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So friends, this where we are at. This is what I've been dreaming of lately.

This is what you should expect to see from me and Lusicovi Creative in the coming months and even years. I have to say, it feels really wonderful, grounded, and peaceful to have an actual plan more or less in place. Of course I expect for there to be curveballs and unexpected turns along the way. But overall I feel confident that this is basically the plan and trajectory. This is my mountain, as Neil Gaiman would say, and I’m very happy to be on the way there.

To follow along with this artistic business journey, and to support me and my art, make sure you are subscribed to my email newsletter here. I also humbly invite you to visit my Patreon page, and consider contributing whatever amount you are comfortable with to these projects. It would really mean the world to me. Especially if there is a project or piece that I mentioned in this email that you would like to see worked on and completed sooner rather than later, I urge you to support the project fiscally.

These projects are the things that light me up, the things that make my soul sing, and the things that make the hardships of life worth living through. So they are projects that I am always going to complete regardless. However, the biggest up in the air factor is always the timeline. The more time I have to devote to other jobs that drain my energy and soul, but allow me to pay rent and buy food, the less time and energy I have to devote to these projects, and therefore the longer it will take to see them realized. So if you believe that art is worthwhile, and that these projects are worth doing, please visit my Patreon here.   

All my love and light,

Elise

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Why My Art?

Dear Creative Soul,

Welcome, welcome dear brand new blog reader, to my own personal Neverland: Lusicovi Creative; here there be mermaids!

My name is Elise, and I am an Enchantment Photographer. Capturing wonder and creating enchantment is my specialty. I am a giant nerd and am fascinated by stories, the sea, the stars, and exploring questions like "why are we here?" and "what is the human condition?" and "why are we all still SO universally drawn to fairytales?"

My artwork is always literary inspired with a bohemian feel. I believe that both fantasy art and fantasy writing are incredibly important, because they allow us to explore very real problems in a safe space. Voldemort does not exist, but Hitler did. Evil Queens and step mothers don't (usually) exist, but surly bosses and prickly landlords do. And as CS Lewis once said, "Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage."

I have a lot of other people’s thoughts (and a few of my own) on the value of art in general (For more on that, read my first ever blog post here.), and that is all well and good. But still, a curious brain like mine, which is always asking “why everything” cannot be satisfied without also answering why this art in particular?

And the most honest answer is actually: I don’t know.

Or maybe, I don’t know yet.

Or maybe I do know already. Somewhere on some lower level that I cannot properly express. Because, in truth, the ideas just come to me, usually almost fully formed. And usually formed in ways that I don’t consciously understand how exactly to create them when I start out in the process of creating them.

I don’t always know where they come from, but I have noticed that they do usually come from other art, stories, and myths. They come from archetypes. Maybe, actually probably, in a lot of ways, they are themselves archetypes. The Pandora Series that I created as my college thesis certainly was archetypal. (Stay tuned to this blog for more on that later!)

Archetypal or not, they call to me to be created, like the sea calls to Moana. And just like her, the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me. I just have to trust that following the inspirations will bring me to where I need to be. And so far, they haven’t been wrong yet.

This is why, above all, I believe in the value of art to inspire and challenge us, children and adults alike, artists and viewers alike, readers and writers alike.

And I would like to think that my art, by exploring these big ideas about who we are as humans, why we do the things we do, and what amazing magical things we are capable of, can inspire others to re-examine what they think they know about the world and about themselves, and that together we can all learn and grow a little more.

I believe in spreading magic, beauty, love, & light, so that together we can inspire and empower the world, and I cannot do this work without your love and support. I appreciate more than words can say the support, the encouragement, and anyone who believes in this same mission, and I honor your part in allowing me to continue spreading this inspiring message and truly living my artistic life.  

To support my ever evolving artistic career, and to help me create the inspiring visions that come to me, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or check out how you can work with me as an artist or photographer here.

And of course, stay tuned to this blog (or subscribe to my email newsletter here) to see many more art pieces, and to read many more thoughts and musings about the value of art, the process of my art, magical stories, and many more exciting projects that I have in the works. If you have any feedback, I would love to hear it. Just send me an email at lusicovicreative@gmail.com.  


Love and light, always,

Elise

 

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