Amy Levin is a raw food chef and chocolatier with incredible talent. She is based in London, and teaches advanced chocolate and fermentation classes travels throughout the UK, Europe, and USA. I've followed her work for quite a while now, and her creativity never ceases to amaze me.
What does Creativity mean to you?
To me, it means knowing yourself. Creativity is such a deeply personal experience, it’s an expression of who we are as an individual and as a soul. Our entire life journey culminates into that moment of creative expression, it tells the story of our life. To be able to allow your own flare of creativity to rise to the surface, and be able to express that through your own medium of art, is truly magical and profound. It takes great courage and self confidence to express yourself artfully, to fully reveal yourself - it takes truly knowing yourself.
Were you creative as a child? If so, how have you evolved through the years? Did anyone encourage you, especially?
It’s interesting actually, because I recall being very creative as a young child. I’d play in the woods with friends and “cook” up the most awesome dishes from leaves, berries, sticks and stone - pure imagination! Also, I drew a lot as a child. As I grew up, and became more disconnected from myself, I stopped drawing, imagining, playing… I conformed. This was likely due to being bullied for many years, so I stopped being me and started being what i thought others wanted me to be. It’s taken me many years to re-discover myself and appreciate who I am as a person and an artist. And so it again goes back to fully knowing yourself and believing in yourself enough to follow your own artful path, whatever that looks like.
What inspires you most?
A background project for me is making bespoke chocolates ; for clients or for their loved ones, family members, friends, etc… The piece of this project that I love the most is hearing someone explain to me what this person is like; who they are, what they enjoy doing, foods they love, what they do for a job, where they grew up and so on. As this person explains these things to me, I can feel their love for this person and that is both beautiful and inspiring; I can feel their love in my heart and that instantly inspires me. Then, I take all this information about them, and begin to form a picture of who they are and, based on that, I piece together a chocolate that I feel will represent them and what they value, love, hold dear, but most importantly, one that I feel they will fall in love with. The flavours should represent them. The texture should represent them. The chocolate in its entirety should be a reflection of them and, hopefully, evoke emotions for them so that they may experience someone else's deep love for them in every bite.
What turns you on creatively?
Collaborations. Working with like minded people is a huge inspiration to me and offers me so much energy, enthusiasm and happiness and from that comes a huge rush of inspiration. When I work with others, I feel, as a team, we can accomplish anything. Anything! That’s a lot of stuff. Additionally, my students inspire me with their perseverance and their bravery in finding themselves within this medium of raw chocolate. It takes great courage to learn an art because, in doing so, we discover ourselves.
Do you have any gratefulness practices?
I’m an Angel kinda chick. I believe in Angels. I talk to the Angels and I pray to the Angels and to God. I meditate and, after my meditation, I give thanks for all that I have in my life and offer that feeling of gratitude to all beings on the planet. Another way I practice gratitude is by telling people in my life that I love them as often as I can. For too many years, I didn't do this out of fear of rejection, but now I’m overflowing with it and getting it back doesn't matter, giving love and appreciation is a gift in itself.
How do you care for yourself to ensure you’re available when ideas present themselves?
Such a good point to address. I always tell my students that when you get a wave of creativity, you ride that wave as long as you can because you don’t know when the next one will come. Creativity is such an organic, natural process. It’s one that cannot be forced to occur, like a good surf wave; you must patiently wait for the perfect wave and, when it comes, you go all out to ride that wave as long as you can! If I had to, I would cancel my days schedule to ride creativity because I know that the result is likely a new class, book, blog post, article, recipe or something like this and that is the cornerstone of my business. Plus, creative expression is high unlike anything else and I like a little bit of a natural high….
How do you deal with creative dry spells? Do you make space for them, or push through?
Another great question. I think there is something to be said for both approaches, but.. I am a very organic person and find that pushing doesn’t suit me at all. As I am also highly emotionally based and charged, if I try to create from a space of emotional imbalance or upheaval, I just end up getting angry because I have not done my best work. I’ve learned that the best thing for me, is to accept the dry spells and allow whatever is occurring for me in those moments to come and go. To trust that when it’s time for me to create, the inspiration will take me over and, when that times comes, there will be no question of if I will create. I will ride the wave. As I said before, creative expression is a high and there is a balance in life, you cannot be high forever, you must come down eventually and accept both aspects of life and draw as much learning from one as the other.
How does criticism affect you?
When I was creating in order to please others, from that space of still not knowing myself, I found it very difficult. It would make me angry, as I was really trying to tap into myself, but, at the same time, trying to please anyone tasting what I was making. That’s a tall order. These days, I am much more easy about it. I allow it to come and go, but the perfectionist in me wants to then go back to the drawing board to perfect it. In the end, what we must know, is that you will have your audience who loves and adores you and that understands your colours, tastes, mediums, combinations and your very personality. Those are your people, those are the people who truly get you. Those are the people whose lives you enrich and touch with your work. You can rest in the beauty of that acceptance and love.
Has your work ever been copied? If so, how did you deal with it?
Yeah, it has and this experience can make you want to hide your work completely. So, I feel it’s a massive part of the journey for any artist. Once upon a time it would make me very angry, but then I came to a pivotal point and awareness ; If they need to copy my work, then their work is not sustainable. They will never be me. I am an endless cup where my ideas and expression are concerned. For every recipe or technique I create, there are thousands more where that came from. If they are copying me, what does that say about them ?
Where can we find your art?
Amy Levin's work can be found at Ooosha.