Christan Barnard – NOT THE HEART SURGEON
THE GOLD DIGGER – ARTIST – ENGINEER STUDENT.
I enjoy jokingly calling myself a gold-digger. But not per the redneck classic – or urban definition of the title. Rather as a person who is aware of the dirt (hypocrisy, corruption, racism, social injustice etc.) in society but chooses to make a difference by looking for and finding the gold. So whether it be knowledge and insight, people with influential stories or random acts of kindness – I like to look out for (and share!) the gold that’s making the world a better place. Oh, and I write poetry, study engineering, make YouTube videos and I’m proudly South African.
When did you first start writing poetry and know this was it?
I never really enjoyed poetry much while in high school. However, I was assigned a project after high school where I had to explain some doctrinal teaching “in a creative way”. Challenge accepted. So I’ve always loved painting but for this particular project, trying my hand at some writing seemed a good idea. The writing process was surprisingly effortless and the poem was surprisingly (I was more surprised than most) good. Since then writing poetry became a way of sorts for me to process my thoughts and significant seasons of my life.
What are the challenges of being a post and having a vlog?
Time management. Time management. Time management. Because I’m actually a student I’m continually juggling what I HAVE to get done and what I WANT to get done. Other obstacles include times when I’m lacking inspiration, deconstructive criticism and a lack of skills (there’s always more to learn and ways to improve, which sometimes drives me nuts).
How do you manage the balance between work /studies and your own creative pursuits?
I’m both quite practical and visual when it comes to managing my time, if I can put it that way. I like to know and see what my day consists of and I use Google calendar for this. So I’ve gotten into the habit of adding events as soon as they’re finalized, which allows me to plan in advance. I also realize that you make time for that which you value. So I also plan out “refresh” timeslots on my calendar where I have time alone to read, write or vlog.
Where do you find inspiration?
I call it my “white hot why”. I wish I came up with the term myself, but what it boils down to is that you won’t continue pursuing mastering your craft unless you know WHY you’re doing it. So my white hot why, which helps me stay inspired and motivated, is that the time and effort I put into my videos and poems will bear fruit. It’ll have a lasting impact on my own personal growth as well as my viewers’. I see value in sharing stories and perspectives, in challenging – and in coming alongside one another. Both my poetry (and the performance thereof) and the videos I make serve as a platform for me to accomplish this. Also, for the most part, it’s a bunch of fun.
How do you get the ideas for your poems / vlogs?
If you’re consciously looking for ideas or topics they have a funny way of continually and consistently presenting themselves to you. So whether it be through a book, a conversation with a friend, current events (e.g. student protests at my University), the season I’m in, other poems or vlogs – I’m constantly paying attention to what’s going on around me and drawing, what I call, gold-nuggets from them. Ideas and insights that shape my own and that I can share in a genuine way.
What is your favourite medium to work with?
Easy – pen and paper. But I prefer a simple blue BIC pen to any other expensive pen and my writing journals all hail from Typo, because they have cool covers.
Is there anything you are currently working on?
I do weekly YouTube videos, so I’m always busy with that. But what I’m even more excited about is a poem called “Love like a Lion”. I’m drawing inspiration from multiple sources, but primarily C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. (The seven books, not the movies, of course).
What does your workflow look like?
Very easy going. The type of weekly videos that I make aren’t labor intensive and I’ve become quite proficient with the editing. Poems take longer, especially if I’m planning on performing them or making a spoken word video. I write the poems, or spoken word, in either my free time or “refresh” time
slots and usually film them in between terms when I don’t have to worry about classes and exams.
What is the message you want to get across to people?
It’s a simple message really – that there’s hope. But with that message comes an invitation to be part of the healing touch that society so desperately needs. My platform of influence is different to yours but they’re both significant nonetheless. There’s no denying that we each have the ability to help and heal and restore and shine our light. The question is whether or not we’re going to say yes. Daily. So by my saying YES I hope to encourage others to do likewise.
Is there any insight or words or advice you would like to give to help others in their creative journey?
You never arrive. Hah. Cliché? No. Hear me out: human beings are programmed to want to strive to the top of the mountain. A fantastic and beautiful and horrid mountain altogether. And, after much toil and turmoil, we want to arrive at the very top of the peak and bask in the glorious splendour of finally ‘arriving’.
It’s not going to happen. And I’ve gotten so caught up in wanting to ‘arrive’ that there have been seasons where all the effort I put into my craft seemed to simply pull me back down that proverbial mountain. Those were the seasons when my white hot why was the measly aim of becoming the best – better than all the rest, right? So continually check your motives. Check your heart. Ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing and be brave enough to make the necessary changes.
Are there any creative people that you are a fan of that deserve some exposure?
I got stuck on this question a bit and realised that I’ve been getting my friends involved with my projects, but for the most part no other artists. I have done a couple of collaborations, but the question helped me realise that I need to put more effort into researching and intentionally reaching out to other artists in my field.