LIVING PROFILE: LANI TROCK
How are the first hours of your morning spent?
I usually wake up between 7 or 8 and make some sort of hot drink. I've been making a tea full of herbs that my good friend Nitsa Citrine of Sunpotion Herbs gave me - using cacao , Reishi mushroom powder, and coconut oil. Then I meditate while I drink my coffee or cocoa - and then go to yoga.
After your morning ritual, how does your work day begin?
I have a notebook that I keep all of my tasks listed out in . At the beginning of the week I make a new list. On one side I have my bigger projects listed out - be it admin, creative, etc. Then on the other side I create a sub-list out of the big tasks, which would become my the daily projects that get closer to the larger goal. So I start by looking at that list to figure out what I need to do that day.
Do you use any apps to help organize your projects?
I have a project manager Astrid, with whom I use Asana with - it's a project managing app that helps you keep track of bigger tasks and is shared between us. I also use Day One - it's a digital journal and you can attach a photo to each entry. I use it to keep track of installation ideas, recipes, and such. You can hashtag entries and then it organizes your ideas. It’s been really helpful.
Managing tasks vs ideas can get jumbled. Finding space to keep those two things separate is important and to also give my brain space between task managing and making sure shit gets done, and then the part of it that wants to dream and get new ideas is important to give space to awell.
You mentioned Astrid who is your project manager - what was the plunge to take on a project manager?
Se had been asking me for a long time and I was afraid of doing it because 1, I wouldn't be able to make it work, and 2, letting go of that control can be really scary. It’s an intense thing also because she sees everything about my business. Everything I am failing at, everything I am not taking care of, she sees EVERYTHING. It keeps you in check. But what is so beautiful with Astrid is that she and I are really close friends with a deep level of trust between us so that makes it a little easier to transition into it.
She had been asking me for months like I mentioned, and finally I realized that I needed it. She loves doing all of the things I don’t so we compliment each other so well.
What is one of the most valuable pieces of advice you have been given to help your business flourish ?
It hit me when I went to a Night Gallery Artists’ talk where Lani Beach was giving a talk on the business of being an artist. The most important piece of advice I took from that was that you need to look at your business the same way you’d look at a large corporation. In a corporation they do not have one person doing everything, they have departments. As artists we can assume we have to do it all ourselves, so we end up doing them half assed or not as strongly because we are distracted by other things. He said you need to find a team of people that you can trust and work with in order to free up as much of your time as possible so you can stay in your creative mode. Because that is your strongest point. I knew that gaining a team was important to grow and not stay stuck in this place of not thriving or not growing as a business.
Do you believe it’s possible to create your dream life? Was there a point when you realized you could create your own life?
I have come from a very supportive family who has encouraged me to do what makes me happy, but I have definitely experienced moments of self limiting belief, where I said I had to do it “that way” or not at all. I have obviously gone through moment of financial stress where I thought , okay I will just go get a 9 - 5 because it was so stressful but I also have never been one of those people who felt I needed to play it safe. When you talk about what the purpose of life is, yes I think it’s to evolve and grow but also find a way to be joyful in how you spend your time. And a lot of that has to do with having the time to be free to find what inspires you. So I think that one of my key objectives in life is to have the freedom to do what I was inspired by from moment to moment. That’s very important to me especially in making art. Finding joy within the act of doing it because the result is just a happy byproduct of that. That’s what brings me the most peace in life. I love foraging, I love making installations that people can be inside of, I love creating spaces that help people connect more deeply with themselves, I love taking photos.
Does human interaction play a part in the importance of what brings you joy in your work?
I think I am more and more realizing the importance of human interaction. I go through different waves of it though and I think that being alone is also very important for me as an artist. I can have a hard time releasing self conscienceless in the act of creation while around other people. And I can self censor. So being alone is important. I am having a rebellious attitude towards digital technology and things of that nature which can keep us hyper connected to each other and farther away from each other at the same time. I have been pushing more personal communications - calling people on the phone more etc. I was talking to Nitsa on the phone this week and one of the things that we said is that there is something that is really lost. There is a nuance of human interaction that gets lost in text or digital communications vs being on the phone or letter writing or in human conversation . When you are not able to edit yourself you leave room for human error that is part of being authentic. When you are not able to sit there and edit yourself perfectly there is humanity brought back into it.
Are there any books that you are reading now?
Yes one is 1Q84 by Murakami and another is one that Masanobu Fukuoka wrote that Nitsa gave me called "Zen and the Art of Farming", which is about a Japanese farmer who developed a technique called “Do nothing farming”. It allows the nature of the soil to be what it is without interfering too much. I was already doing these techniques in my garden and when Nitsa came over she noticed it and recommended it to me. The concept is to basically let nature do what its going to do and not interfere too much. He’s method of farming was proven to be just as effective as the pesticide farming of his neighboring farms. Basically it explains his method.
With that method, and seeing how you run your own garden, do you take that idea of letting nature run it’s course in your daily life. Including having a more mindful approach on the things you buy and how your time is spent? And do you feel now is a time where people are wanting to be more connected in what they are using and doing as well?
Yes, absolutely. I have been finding it more and more and becoming hyper aware of my belongings and really wanting to release a lot and pair down to the most meaningful items. I think it’s an interesting moment where we are becoming more connected to the impact of our existence on this planet. I am coming to understand the impact of the Micro vs. the Macro. I was previously overwhelmed by my inability to change things on a grand scale so I just did nothing. But then I started to work with Ashley Parsons who created Alma and started to see the whole effect of working on a micro level. Seeing how every little choice has a true ripple effect and it’s huge impact it can create. I am in a space where I am really thinking about the decisions I make. Be it not using single use plastics, or bringing bags to the store to collect bulk items. I really do believe where you put your energy really creates more of whatever that is into the universe.
What major lessons have you learned in the budding stages of starting your business?
Delegate. That has been the most important lesson I have learned this year. The importance of working with people who can help you manage your ideas and run the business with you because I think that is the greatest error I had made. I had tried to do it on my own for too long. For me to do my best work, I need to be as free as possible to daydream and explore and do the things that ignite that creativity for me.
Was there a fear you had to get over in order to take the step into taking on a team?
I was not ready at all but I got really lucky with someone who knew we could do it together. I realized how important it was to take that step otherwise I would still be at the same place.
What is your idea of success?
Freedom to spend my days as I am inspired to.
How do you navigate creative blocks or how to put your inspirations into play?
I try not to force it. I give myself as much space to create as I can and explore many different mediums without self judgement, which isn’t easy. Exploring a lot of mediums is giving me clarity for the grander ideas I am working towards. I really try not to force it - when I “try” to make anything is when I get stuck. So I just let what wants to come out, come out. I can now see all of the different things that I have created over time and their connection to how I have grown and the strongest hats I wear, and bring them together to see how they inspire and inform each other. I went and saw Jordan Sullivan's exhibition recently. He started out as a painter before photography and in his exhibition you see all of his different formats he’s played with over the years. One thing I took away from his show was the power of understanding what your personal aesthetic and vision is, and then applying that across many mediums. Once you understand your personal essence as an artist you can then use any medium and say it in a million different ways. There is so much power in not having to put yourself in a box. For me that is a mark of a great artist. Not having to be bound by one medium or idea and yet still communicating your truth.
Can you name individuals who you feel are living your own passionate lifestyle?
I really am inspired by Miranda July because she is so much herself in every moment and i Think there is so much power in embracing who you are. In this moment it feels like we are moving away from a idea on what we are supposed to be or look like. Now it feels there is an embrace of the wildly different individual. As artists I think we have a moral obligation to create from our own unique space of creativity . There is a real power in owning our own individual natures and our individual gifts and not comparing to others' gifts. I love her because she has embraced her weirdness, and celebrates it!
And my best friend Andrea Cho. She is a neuroscientist as Cal tech. She is working on a revolutionary new technique of administering a drug that will combat schizophrenia. In addition to that she is musician and an artist. She’s incredible.