James Victore is an artist, author, mentor and designer to brave clients. He teaches how to illuminate your individual gifts in order to find clarity and purpose. His work is represented in the permanent collections of museums worldwide. Enjoy our #DesignwithDot interview.
Meet JAMES VICTORE: a New York based Art Director, Artist and Author
As a creative thought leader James is a sought-after speaker known for his timely wisdom and impassioned views about creativity and its place in the world. He teaches how to illuminate your individual gifts in order to find clarity and purpose. His work is represented in the permanent collections of museums worldwide.
In 2010 and 2012 Victore’s work exhibited in The Museum of Modern Art. He has won numerous awards and accolades for his racy and unique posters.
His clients include Moët & Chandon, Aveda, Esquire magazine, TIME magazine, Yohji Yamamoto, Bobbi Brown cosmetics, The New York Times, and The School of Visual Arts in New York City.
It’s such a pleasure to have you on the #DESIGNWITHDOT blog James
1. So I would like for you to tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you become the great James Victore that we all love, admire, and adore?
You know, it’s funny thing. I was on a coaching call earlier today and this guy said he needed to step up his game. It’s his first business and I said ‘Dude, I need you to be bold. I want you to be audacious’
And he’s like ‘Nah.’
Okay, it goes like this. ‘Do you know why James Victore is a sexy motherfucker? It’s because I say so.’
And he’s like, ‘Oh, I get it.’
For the uneducated on the James Victore scope, I started because I was a designer and I gave a damn. I started making political, social, and cultural posters and crafted a career as a designer. Then at some point I realized that I’m a pretty good graphic designer, meaning I can get into most of the museums around the world. I’ve had two shows at the Museum of Modern Art, which is kind of cool, but I’m a much better teacher. But I didn’t want to be standing in front of a classroom of 19-year old shit heads who don’t really care, as their daddies paid for them to go there.
So what I did is I started to recraft my career and everything I’ve learned and everything I care about into, you know, teaching professionals how to own their creativity. That’s what Perfucktion came from. It’s created from all these lessons that I was learning along the way about all of the things that we need to be full of before we put pen to paper and because I know how hard it is to be creative. I wanted to show what it’s like to grow up creative and to hold on to that when I have a whole history of people slapping me down. People saying things like ‘Why do you have to draw on things?’ or ‘Why are you like this?’
‘Why do you have to sing all the time?’ ‘Why do you have to play and have joy in your life?’ I know how hard it is when we become adults–we want to get paid for that creativity. Paid for that thing that makes us vulnerable. So now I want to shepherd creatives who want to have ownership of their creativity. They don’t want to feel like a leaf in the wind, they understand that there are rules out there. And the rules are for suckers, the rules are for people who are not creative. So I’m like Moses for creative people. I set them free.
2. Have you ever had the #impostorsyndrome and how did you deal with that?
I have it right now. So I’ve just started a new video blog. We’re three weeks into it and there I’ve got 15 weeks planned and one of them is on imposter syndrome– because it’s super important and I realized when I was working on that and doing some research that imposter syndrome isn’t imposter syndrome.
It’s self worth syndrome. It’s this deep embedded feeling that we all have–we’re not worthy. To think that what we do isn’t of value, especially for creative people. What we do is so close to us, and what I do comes easy quite frankly. I should just allow myself to go sit and go play and go make and not worry about what other people think and not worry about getting paid for it. It’s powerful but that’s hard to do to trust that what I have to say has value. That there is value in James Victore.
Standing there has value. You don’t have to do a task. You don’t have to dance for people. You don’t have to have it rewarded. Just understand that it has value and it has worth. It’s very freeing when you can do that because you get rid of all the weight of: ‘Is anybody going to like it?’ ‘What if I don’t get paid for it–how am I going to support myself?’ That’s the essence of creativity.
If you can create without all that baggage. Self-worth is then perfectionism.
3. How do you get over being a perfectionist and become confident about putting your work out there?
Action action action action. Action beats procrastination and procrastination is just another way of saying ‘It’ll be done when I’m perfect.’
4. So what’s your advice on how to actually find your voice as a creative?
I talked about in Perfucktion as finding your voice and I realized recently that it’s not finding your voice. It’s that your voice is buried. It’s buried within you. It’s buried by the inner critic. It’s buried by your ego. It’s buried by the trauma you received at Art School. It’s buried under what our parents said at the dinner table when we were singing a song, when we were playing or being creative. It’s buried under the fact that there’s no appreciation and culture for artistry, for skill. It’s buried under the rules–’There are rules. Mr. Victore. Why don’t you follow the rules?’ The rules of typography. ‘Why is your work so ugly?’ Our voice is buried under that.
If we can just allow it, if we can just find, again, self-worth. If we can understand the beauty that we have inside of us, see the value that it has. And quite frankly it’s not about the work at all. It’s about your ability to just go out of the door, your ability to just do it again and again and again and again. If you think your work is bad, keep making it because it will become good. That’s practice and it’s all about action action action.
Creative Warrior is somebody who understands that they have a choice. They have a choice and are the people who are enrolled in this school now. It’s been so humbling. And so amazing to watch their transformation.
5. How do you stop comparing yourself to others, to people that might be doing similar things as you?
We compare ourselves to Beyonce. We compare ourselves to Banksy. We don’t compare ourselves to real human beings, right? We compare ourselves to geniuses and it’s like whoa. Wait, how about you just start? Because starting is hard. Just try, and again, the comparing and judging comes back to the self-worth thing and self-compassion. We have to learn to be more gentle to ourselves, right? I’m guilty of it and everybody needs to know that everybody has all of these issues, all these concerns, all these fears. Concern is just another word for fear. Everyone has some, everybody on the planet has some– the major filmmakers that you look up to, the entrepreneur millionaires that you look up to. They all suffer from the same things. It’s just human nature.
6. What do you think is the purpose in life is as a designer, or in general?
I can tell what everyone’s purpose is. Not the details, your details are different than my details and your purpose is what in the Creed of Warriors we call the ‘Four Freedoms’. And those are the things that you were born with. This is your purpose– to live these out. And they are: fun, play, joy and love. The details are your own. But party. Play, have joy and love because life should be fun.
The Buddha tells us life is suffering and we suffer because we attach. We attach to things, we attach to people. We attach to particular outcomes– but life is supposed to be fun. We’re supposed to enjoy ourselves here. I wasn’t put on this planet to bitch and moan and complain and have crushing self-doubt. That’s not me. That’s not who I am at my core and play is the creativity we bring to our job. Whether it’s mowing in the field, whether it’s entrepreneurship, whether it’s Elon Musk-ing. I don’t want to go to Mars. Joy is what the play brings to us. I get joy out of my work. I get joy out of writing a newsletter that is from my heart and getting the responses that I do and love is just our ability to give and to receive fully and freely and that’s hard to do. Not all of us are capable of doing that and these things are what we were born with. This is us when we were three. And this is the stuff that slowly gets chewed away as we grow up. The ability to play. You know when I say play in professional spectrums, professional people respond ‘Yeah, that’s all Victore does– play.’
I say, ‘Yeah, that’s right.’
Work is serious play for me because that’s where the good stuff is. So yeah, the fun in the play and the joy in the love. This is your purpose and if you can understand that and you can work towards that, the rest of it is gravy. The rest of it is easy, but your details are going to be different than mine. Our purpose is to live our life with those freedoms.
7. So how does one learn more about how to become like this creative Warrior? You said you have a school that you teach? What is the creative warrior??
Creative Warrior is somebody who understands that they have a choice. They have a choice and are the people who are enrolled in this school now. It’s been so humbling. And so amazing to watch their transformation. These are people who were creatively stuck or had that crushing self-doubt or had the career that has always been on the back burner.
It started with just talking with people and asking and answering questions. Answering questions like ‘I’m so stressed out. How can I create?’ They would prompt me to really dig and come up with an answer and write about it and send them out into the world.
This exchange, this energy, this vibe is so powerful. I had to figure out how to keep this going. I started a school. Every week, every Wednesday. We do it live on Zoom. We record all the classes so they’re all backed up and they can watch them and re-watch them. There’s that safe space on Facebook that we share work and that’s where I’m most active. The audience is so good at helping people build and build unprompted– writing poetry about fear and poetry about love. And then showing this work that they’ve never shown and all of a sudden I watch their Instagram feeds and I see how they’re growing and this really works, it’s so great. And what they’re doing is they’re accessing those four freedoms.
They’re accessing their ability to play and put it in their work. They’re accessing their ability to love and to love themselves so much. They won’t let the naysayers stop them. That they won’t listen to that inner critic that says ‘Really? You’re going to put that out into the world?’ it’s so wild. So to become a Creative Warrior, there’s a level of consciousness and awareness before you even put pen to paper. It’s what makes putting pen to paper flow. Because now you really understand where it’s coming from and it’s coming from that beautiful innate drive you’ve had in you all the time and it’s just been waiting to be energized and be allowed to come out. And it’s just when I see it going on. It’s phenomenal and I’ve taught a number of different formats at universities, at School of Visual Arts for almost 20 years–but to do it like this is intense. We have live class and it’s tears all the time because it’s just really getting to the core of who we are and understanding how much love and compassion and the exchange of love and beauty is so great.
It’s so great because people are starting to put themselves out there, on their Instagram feeds. They are recording themselves reading poems about self-love and f***, it’s so great. And that just gives you the strength to really understand where your creativity comes from, what it’s capable of, what the sound of your voice can do for other people to see the movement that you’re creating. It’s fantastic. It’s just fantastic.
8. So how does one actually find out more information about how to enroll in the Creative Warriors school? When are you going to be accepting new students? How do they apply? Who’s qualified?
You take one step towards me. I will take two towards you. We have on the Facebook page a regular group of people who asked and whoever wants more, who shares. It’s always going to be like that– the energy that you put into it is the energy that you’re going to get out of it. And not everybody can do that. Even in this safe space, even with me coaxing and being kind and compassionate. To begin is just JamesVictore.com–a video blog is listed there. At the video blog section, we just added free videos, a quickie seminar on finding your voice, dealing with the fear and living your purpose. So there’s all kinds of stuff that we’re starting to give away.
And it’s all just at JamesVictore.com. Yeah it’s the best work I’ve ever done.
Even when I do one-on-one coaching, I have a questionnaire that I send. When they send the questionnaire back, they’ve written the answer. They just can’t see it. And that’s fascinating. We have the answers. We just don’t trust them.
9. How do we get in the Facebook group and is it paid?
The Facebook group is not for paying. The Great Warrior is paid. Yes. The Creative Warrior is a monthly subscription and you can drop out anytime you want.
10. And that includes the Facebook group?
Everything. If you go to the video blog, you’ll kind of get an idea of what we do or if you do the free videos, you get an idea of the training that we go through. And we just got through our first two months of it– so the way it works is every month is a module and six months are planned. We’ve just done the first two, the first one is voice because that’s where everything starts.
The second one is fear because once you find your voice, you have to deal with the fear of getting it out into the world and the next module we’re gonna start in a week it’s called ‘In the particular lies the universal.’
11. Are you a psychologist or a writer?
I am a writer. I’ve written technically five books, but only Perfucktion being the best and the other one is the big ‘Victore, who died and made you boss?’. The big coffee table book of my work. I realized I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always been interested as a graphic designer. I’ve always been interested in the anthropology, the sociology, and the psychology behind the images that we make, behind these ideas that we put out into world. I’m more interested in that than the pleasant arrangement of shapes on a page or the space between words and lines or the color. I’m interested how it moves real people, how you can make your work a gift.
12. Do you have any recommendations on books to know more about creativity? Well, there’s that book right there. That’s Perfucktion.
Yeah, you know the problem with books even this one is: You’re looking for somebody else’s idea of how to do something and it shouldn’t be somebody else’s idea. You have all the answers inside of you already. You just don’t let them free. You just don’t trust them. You just don’t allow them to emerge. So don’t go looking for books because what’s going to happen is you’re going to have a whole stack of books on your bed if you don’t have it already. But you’re not going to be following any of it because that’s all somebody else’s answers. So the most powerful thing is to just look inside and say: ‘This is my answer.’ Even when I do one-on-one coaching, I have a questionnaire that I send. When they send the questionnaire back, they’ve written the answer. They just can’t see it. And that’s fascinating. We have the answers. We just don’t trust them.