John Dunfee | Creating is Like Breathing to Me

by: Scott Bakken

Q. Where do you live? Explain a little about life there?

A. I currently live in Portland, Oregon. Portland is a magical place and really is an amazing city to call home. I always say it’s like a big small town. It combines the charm and intimacy of smaller city but still has the culture and diversity that a bigger city would offer. There is always something going on. Everyday is a celebration of something, be it fashion, food, the environment, coffee, or beer Portland takes great pride in its city and I enjoy that. One thing I love about is that you are sure to bump into someone you know no matter where you go in town. You quickly become one of the locals and are recognized in your neigborhood. There is so much to see and do and its so accessible. You can be anywhere in the city within fifteen minutes and if you need to get away you can drive an hour out of town and be on a goreogus mountain top. You don’t have that everywhere. We are very fortunate here to have so much around.

Q. Tell us what inspires you to create?

A. Creating is like breathing to me. It’s core to my being. It’s when I feel most alive. It’s how I express myself, how I worship, and how I find sanity. If I find myself in a dry and stressful season often times it’s because I haven’t been able to create freely or had time to tap into the ideas running through my mind. I would say my greatest source of inspiration comes from nature. The vast amount of colors and textures that are right in front of me are unbelievable. 

Q.  Explain your approach to Social Media, particularity Instagram.

A. Instagram is great, don’t get me wrong. I have met so many incredible people, many who are some of my best friends that never would have happened if it weren’t for Instagram. For that reason I love it. It’s an amazing tool for talented artists and photographers to showcase their work and gives many an outlet and the exposure that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. I think about the words of Andy Warhol when he said “in the future everyone will be – famous for fifteen minutes” Whether or not he was referring to actual fame I definitely think we are in an age where we are seeing that statement come true. Today someone can have an amazing idea or vision and they are able to broadcast on social media and within 24 hours people all over the globe will have an awareness. For that I love Instagram.  I think where the problem with social media and Instagram in particular lies is when we start using words like community and connected and we equivilate that to a free app on an iPhone. Those words are not synonymous. While yes they help foster those things we must be careful to not think of them as equals. Its easy to double tap a photo and feel that you are “doing life with someone” But true community is found when its not fun, when it’s not glamorous, and when it’s not golden hour. Community is found everyday in the ordinary, mundane, hardships of life. So to directly answer the question. . . Instagram is an amazing app that I love. I use it more of a journal. It’s a peek into my mind. What I’m feeling. What I’m thinking. It’s my heart in photos. I think people indentify with something that is real and transparent so I try to do just that. I think it can be reassuring knowing that someone else is thinking the same things and experiencing similar situations that you are half way around the world. My hope is that through my images and captions that it will resonate with someone and make them feel something. Make them think. Or simply inspire. 

Just don’t let it consume you. Everything in moderation and at the end of the day just remember that it’s a great app, not a way of life.

Q.You seem to do a lot of minimal shots. What brought this about?

A. I think that it has a lot to do with a lifestyle. It goes back to the principle quality over quantity. Not only do I find a minimalist approach to be creatively inspiring but also practical. A space that is clean and uncluttered allows me to see the potential of what could be. It’s like a blank canvas that I constantly get to paint with whatever I imagine. My perfect living situation would be a large white room with a giant window, a large white bed on one side, a hanging plant, and a garment rack of 5 grey shirts on the other. It’s all I need.

Q. What is one tip you can give to encourage creativity in someone?

A. Creativity is a beautiful thing. I think every human has been blessed with the gift of creativity. Whether you realize it or not. YOU are creative. You have the ability to see the world in a way that no one else can. I think the greatest threat to creativity is comparison. Not to sound cliché but I truly mean when I say be yourself. Often times I hear people say that they aren’t creative and I always want to know why. It’s usually followed by a remark about how they aren’t this or aren’t that. Normally referring to something artistic in nature. Don’t compare yourself. It’s like trying to figure out who was more talented -- Frank Lloyd Wright, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or Martin Luther King Jr. You can’t right. It’s because they are all completely different and each had their own skill set unlike the other. Some are brilliant doctors who are using their minds to cure diseases and making breakthrough discoveries, others are mathematicians and businesses men who are able to solve puzzles and predict trends and use their minds in a way that I never could. All that to say, do what you do and do it well. Creativity in its most raw and beautiful form must come from a place that is pure and inhibited

Q. What has been the biggest lesson you have learned this past year?

A. Learning when, who and what to say yes to and that it’s okay to say no.  

Q. If you could say one thing to the whole world right now and they would all hear, what would that be? 

A. Your time here is short. Don’t waste time doing things that don’t bring you joy. You were designed with a unique purpose and plan that only you can fulfill -- Live that way. Live intentionally. Love well. Serve others. Live and pour into something beyond yourself and your own satisfaction. Don’t get so consumed with the small trivial stuff. Look at the grander scheme. Follow your dreams. They were placed in your heart for a reason. Less talking, more doing. And never forget that you matter and you are loved.