Elgin Subwaysurfer Bolling [elprophetthescribe]
How and why did you begin to be creative?
I began to be creative as soon as I came out of the womb! LOL! I believe ALL children are born creative! and it makes sense, doesn't it? I mean after all for nine months, sometimes more...heh .. we're in this environment where theres food, warmth , and comfort and we're surrounded by water and darkness, and all of a sudden we're put in this world where there's light and noise and sound, and people and now we have to breathe on our own, learn to eat learn to walk learn to speak and understand.... I tell ya, you'd BETTER get creative real quick or you wont survive!
Your mind is your work tool. How do you take care of it?
I'm very careful what I put into it. It's a cliche but "garbage in , garbage out" really DOES apply.I am a voracious reader of inspirational material, biographies, autobiographies, comics, all types of art in general, and talk radio. I always have stuff coming in on some level. Im fascinated with people and how they think, WHY they feel the way that they feel, and I interview them. I have always thought people were truly fascinating and honestly ask them more questions about them than I do about me. An untapped resource for creativity is OLDER PEOPLE . MAN! you'd be SHOCKED and maxed at the adventures some elder people have had. Overall I try to maintain a positive attitude. daily Bible reading and prayer is important and I always create space for that.
How do you avoid repeating yourself, or falling into formula? How do you stay fresh?
I stay fresh by showering daily , but I sometimes send myself out to be dry cleaned. I stay fresh by staying OPEN to my creative voice and by not fighting it. Ive learned that you haveto sometimes let ideas "come to you" and that happens sometimes when you're doing some totally unrelated, "un-creative" activity, U;ve gotten great creative insight while walking the dog, and washing dishes! Its one of the reasons why I always have pen and paper handy,.
It can be difficult NOT to repeat yourself in some respects, as any artist has a certain "STYLE" or method that categorizes them. SO you cant help but repeat yourself in SOME way just so people can identify you. I might draw a picture or sing a song or write a poem on the same SUBJECT but approach the subject matter in a different way. For art I use another tool, for music I may slow down or speed up or sing it in a different genre.
One other way I stay fresh is trying something totally unexpected for me and just putting it out there. I know Ive succeed if my adrenalin start s pumping.
Do you have a ritual like retiring to a lonely place from time to time to cleanse your mind?
Ive already spoken about the importance of prayer and worship. Its very important for me to create a sacred space for me where I can have a transcendent experience. This may take place in a church sanctuary, in a park, on the beach, or even in my bathroom! LOL a LOT happens in the bathroom and although it's not the most "romantic" setting, I've gotten a lot of mental cleansing done while i'm sitting on the throne! LOL!
Like most creatives Im an introvert by nature, and being alone is a way to reorganize myself. The problem with most people is that they really don't LIKE their own company and are so easily board with who they are they feel a need to fill their silence with activity and noise, usually someone ELSE'S noise. That's really sad. if you cant be with YOURSELF how can you be with OTHERS??? or at least how can you GIVE to others something that is insightful and meaningful?
What cultural sources do you draw from the most?
WORLD CULTURE. We are, global, after all.
Have you ever had a job that was so stimulating that you could not get your mind off of it?
For the past 20 yrs I have worked as a professional illustrator having done animation,story boarding, character design, cartooning, caricature poetry, and singing.
My job has been the MOST satisfying, I get to connect regularly with all kinds of interesting people from ALL walks of life, in what is always a festive party atmosphere! As a party caricature artist, there's nothing better! As a result of my job I'm CONSTANTLY thinking of ways to improve my performance, add value to my services,talk to my clients, and most of all create my work.
My work can be seen at
There you will find work that Ive done LIVE of people at parties and special events.
My ongoing project, "SUBWAYSURFING" or EXTREME LIFE DRAWING ON THE TRAINS, is an ongoing, open ended project where I draw the subway commuters who ride the NYC MTA Trains. People are unaware that this is being done, and I record the results at
My work at subwaysurfer has to be the most satisfying , as it is always a work in progress, and Ive had some very interesting meetings with people from all over the world who visit NYC as a result of doing this. SO I have become some sort of "un official" subway drawing ambassador for New York City!
Does spirituality contribute to your creativity?
Absolutely. In The BIBLE The Book of Genesis gives the Bible account of creation where God creates the heavens and the Earth , in fact the entire universe. Then when it comes to creating man he says, "LET US CREATE HIM IN OUR OWN IMAGE AND LIKENESS" and then forms man out of the dust of the ground, and breathes breath of life into him, making him a living soul.
So right from the start We see a mighty CREATIVE God who creates this animated claymation entity called man, and breathes HIS breath into him.
How can I NOT be creative?? GOD is creative and Ive Got his breath of life and essence IN ME! Just the vry THOUGHT of that sparks my creativity.
It is possible to fall in love with a bad idea simply because it is yours. How do you avoid this?
I ask non artists to look at my work and ask them if they "get it" if they DONT then it's sometimes a bad idea.
Must someone be the leader or boss in order for a creative team to function well?
This is a good question, and one that Ive encountered on several occasions working with others. I would say that the boss must be willing to let his creative them do what they do BEST in order to achieve the desired objective. Bosses are typically left brained people who deal with hard facts and figures, charts and statistics, but know ZIP about the creative process which is elusive. A leader should point out
1 WHAT THE OBJECTIVE IS
2 WHAT RESULTS ARE EXPECTED
3 WHAT THE DEADLINE IS
Once the creatives know THIS, than the leader should step out of the way and let them do their thing. This way the flow of energy doesn't get STOPPED. if a boss or leader can put his ego on the shelf and do THIS the project WILL be successful.
What criteria do you use when selecting someone to be a part of your creative team?
Someone who is a good collaborator, who has a healthy self image and can take criticism , one who is honest and speaks their mind, and who is talented and capable in their area of expertise.
Above all, I treasure people who are good oral and written communicators.
The armchair psychologist: Is creativity an act of rebellion for you?
Never. Creativity is what it means to be human. It's our birthright.
Do you work well under pressure?
Definitely. For a number of years I was a NYC 911 Emergency Operator for The NYPD.
Imagine a job where it's BAD NEWS all day long. You answer calls from people all day who are desperate for help. If you do something wrong, type in the wrong code, re route the job to the wrong authorities, someone is badly injured or dies
ITS YOUR FAULT.
I worked successfully under that pressure for YEARS.
No, Pressure doesn't bother me at all.
You are as good as your last idea. Wouldn't you like to have a more secure type of work?
In THIS economy, WHAT type of work is THAT???
What do you do? What is your musical specialty?
My musical specialty is Spoken Word Poetry.I combine spoken word with singing improvisation and art
Do you work alone or in a group? If in a group, who are the others you work with?
I work alone at present. As with most poets the work is very personal and doesn't lend itself to collaborative efforts at present. Thats not to say though that this cannot happen in the future as things evolve.
Is there a web address where one can listen, see, or read some of your work?
I go by the moniker of EL PROPHET THE SCRIBE. Work can be read online at
There you can find some of my written work,links to other projects I have on the web as well as information where you can purchase CD's and E Books.
How did you begin making music? Who introduced you?
I've made music all my life, but became serious about it recently as a result of an intense series of events that can only be described as a transcendent religious experience, for lack of a better word. As a result of this experience I felt a need, a compulsion to write, to speak, and to share. I dont think of what I do as "performance" which is based mostly on the ego saying "look what I can do, dont you wish you could too",
I have a vocal coach/mentor who prefers to remain nameless, who has helped me immensely in focusing on what I want to do musically Ultimately, GOD is the one who "introduced me" to music. He is the one who gives the gift, after all, as well as the unique instrument to perform it.
When did you realise that making music could be a way of life for you?
It's when my son reminded me that I used to sing to him as a baby, and how now that he is an adult with his own music career that he credits his love of music to me. Music as a way of life is a profound HUMAN expression that goes beyond getting on MTV or getting a record deal. Its a way of expressing emotion, showing love, and working through issues in your life. I realized making music as a way of LIFE when I called to mind how often Ive used it to solve problems, resolve anger, and of course, worship GOD.
What is your creative process?
A lot of my writing comes directly out of worship. Usually in the morning after morning prayer and worship and sometimes during. There is no ONE way really.... sometimes I sit down and write a word or a sentence, and other stuff seems to evolve out of that... other times I think about a particular theme, like, Sept 11, and begin to free associate. Other times I write lyrics in a book , forget about it and come back days or weeks later. Ive learned NOT to PUSH or FORCE the creative process. It's elusive when you do that... I DO find its important though, to move forward. I try to write SOMETHING every day, or at least perform something even if it means going over my old stuff and reciting it.
Have you ever awoken with a melody created from your dreams?
I think every musician poet has had THAT happen. I ALWAYS keep a notebook and pen by my bed for that reason! as a matter of fact, I have a notebook and pen in EVERY ROOM in my house because of that reason! you never know WHEN you're going to get something.
How do you know when a song is finished or needs no more changes?
How do you know when a conversation is finished? you just stop talking when you've said all you can say. I don't put a limit on how long or short a piece of poetry is. Sometimes it's short other times it's a "book" LOL! it's like life, like conversation. Sometimes you feel strongly about an issue and have a lot of information on it, and other times you're just so angry, sad, joyful, that you can say very little...at least not easily. As for changes, I find that when I come back to a piece sometimes I find things I want to change. Thats always natural, as there's always SOMETHING to improve.... but I try NOT to do that because it takes away from the essential thing I was FEELING at the time I wrote a piece. I want to retain THAT authenticity without alteration.
How did you discover your creative territory? How would you describe it?
I discovered my creative territory in praise and worship. It put me in a transcendent place where anything was possible. It's a peaceful place where tension dissipates and bliss remains. It's also a place that helps you to confront problems and see things clearly. Most people thing of quote, "religious people" as being intolerant airheads who are no earthly good. Not true. when you're coming from a place of peace it's THEN where you can confront the harsh realities of life. Just ask Mother Theresa, Ghandi, or Martin Luther King. My creative territory is found also in the everyday things and situations I encounter with people, the state of the world, and the things that I long to see and experience.
What part of your job is your least favourite?
I must say that Im not very fond of REWRITING. As a visual artist I also dislike RE DRAWING for the same reason. You lose some of that authenticity when you're constantly doing that. You re write to the point that when you're done, or think you're done, you have something that was once vibrant, alive and passionate that morphs into something clinical-like, "academic" and lifeless. I'm speaking from personal experience of course.
How often do you practice?
The practice never stops! LOL Life itself is practice. EVERYTHING is "practice" because everything ultimately gets filtered and commented on in some way through the prose, poetry and music. So I really think of my LIFE'S activities as PRACTICE that way, it doesn't become a CHORE. Practice, when it becomes a chore or a job creates a lot of tension and leaves room for the ego to come in and evaluate or reprimand you. I try to silence the ego as much as possible , as it gets in the way of creativity and flow.
How do you feel right before going out on stage?
Ive NEVER had stage fright. Before I go out there always a spirit of expectancy... what's going to happen TODAY??? RIGHT NOW???? it doesn't matter what you "practiced" whats happening is happening NOW. You may forget a line, you may be unable to hit a high note or cough... How are going to react??? I prefer to come out thee as a "HUMAN" what ever happens... happens. This is NOT to say I DONT PREPARE I DO but once Im about to go on I have the opinion that Im going to SHARE and EXPERIENCE with a PERSON in the audience. That's all and audience IS: It's ONE PERSON.....multiplied hundreds and thousands...
List three songs that are key to your life.
I WANT TO BE MORE LIKE YOU
by Clint Brown
KEEP YOUR HEAD TO THE SKY
by Earth Wind and Fire
by Mylon Le Fever
What should be done to stop piracy?
The only way that is ever going to happen is that people are going to have to grow a conscience. SONGWRITERS are the ones who really suffer because of piracy. People need to become more aware on the people they're hurting as a result of doing this. It's selfish. In a lot of ways this present generation feels "entitled" to just TAKE something because they CAN. Since we live in the technological age also, there is a tendency for people to just swipe, "borrow" modify things because more time s than not, they're relating to a keyboard and monitor instead of a living breathing human telling them to stop.
What type of music do you detest?
DETEST is a pretty STRONG word.
I want to be careful and respectful for disrespecting another artist's creative work. People have a variety of reasons WHY they create a certain piece at a given time. Maybe they're in a bad place mentally or physically. Perhaps theres some pain somewhere , and the ONLY way to get it out is throguh a piece of music that I dont happen to find appealing.
So , rather than use the word, "DETEST" lets just say there's a certain way some music is expressed, that I'm not particularly fond of. Im not fond of music that puts me in a state where I feel tense or agitated. The Bible says that we should seek peace and pursue it and that's what I try to do, even by filtering the things I listen to. I hope that my poetry does that.
There is no "bad" musical genre in and of itself.
Spoken word has its roots in R&B with elements of Rap, for instance. That's what I like to do.
Music whether it be Rap, gospel, rock, whatever has such potential to cause people to ACT. I really dislike music that causes people to act in negative destructive ways to themselves or other people.
What other things have you done to make a living?
I work as a professional caricature entertainer for Corporate Events and private parties. I've never been a "starving artist" and my business has been very satisfying and comparable to what I do musically.
My work can be seen at
I have also done storyboarding and sequential art as well as illustration and logo design.
Have you ever played on the street or in the subway? How much did you collect each day?
Yes I have. As far as how much I collected, that info is private.
Elgin Subwaysurfer Bolling
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