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Hillary Carlip: multi-mediaist

interview by Douglas Eby 

 "A lot of women don't get that space to express themselves."

Writer, website designer and producer, visual artist and entrepreneur, Hillary Carlip has struggled with the idea she should concentrate in just one area.

"For so long, I did so many different things," she says, "and I kept feeling all my life that if I only focused on one and gave it my all, I could be huge and have great success, although I've had a lot of success in everything I've done. 

"But, I finally made peace with that this year. It's just that I do many things; I like that and it's exciting to me to express myself in many different ways. I came up with a name for myself, which is being a multi-mediaist.

"So then all those separate things don't have to be separate, they're one thing, and I can focus and just do that, even though it may come in different forms."

Carlip has taught creative writing at residential treatment centers for at-risk teens, such as the Aviva Center for girls in Los Angeles, and finds "the most important thing for teaching writing or any creative thing is for them to trust you, and feel safe. That was really the case with these girls. Some were in gangs, and really shut down, not communicative to say the least."

But after being in a writing group for a while, a number of the girls even brought in journals they had written. "They realized I wasn't there to judge," Carlip notes. "I wasn't there to make them do anything, it was about giving them a space to express themselves. They don't get that often. 

"And a lot of women don't get that, or just don't know how to take that for themselves."

Carlip has an ongoing interest in helping young women, and recently co-founded VOXXY, an interactive network for teen girls.

Earlier, in 1992, she went to the first Riot Grrrl Convention in Washington, DC. "These Riot Grrrls were writing these amazing zines, where they were really speaking out and saying things I had never read from teenage girls before," she recalls.

"And that's when I realized there aren't many forums for girls to have a voice and to really express themselves." 

From that experience, she developed her book "Girl Power: Young Women Speak Out" which includes writing and perspectives from cowgirls, sorority girls, skaters and others from a wide range of backgrounds.

Following that book, she published "Zine Scene..." and now Carlip is collaborating with Deborah, formerly Debbie, Gibson on adapting a screenplay of Carlip's as a Broadway musical.

What helps her as a writer she says is "staying open. Just looking out the car window and seeing a strange woman sitting at a bus stop in a weird outfit: that's material for me. Or overhearing the conversation in a restaurant that, if you wrote it, no one would believe it: that's material. So I look more for the everyday and the ordinary, which put into a different context, becomes extraordinary."

One of her main creative endeavors now is developing her own company, Fly HC, and designing websites for corporations and stars, including Jennifer Aniston.

"It's been really exciting for me because I get to incorporate so many of the things I've done, including visual arts, writing, with music on some of them. It's just the greatest medium for me because I can do so much in one context."

Carlip affirms that her background in the arts, painting for example, has been helpful in creating sites. 

She agrees what she is doing is "follow her bliss" as Joseph Cambell put it, and finds "Things always seem to present themselves at the right time, if you trust it."

Carlip says one of the biggest lessons she tries to inspire people with is to let go of self-criticism. "Usually what stops people from creating is their own judgment. If people can just let out whatever is inside them, without that judgment, and know that all kinds of creative expression is valuable on so many levels."

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book: Girl Power: Young Women Speak Out

Hillary Carlip website: Fly HC

additional interview:
Hillary Carlip  - on cofounding the Voxxy teen network

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