“DESIGN IS SUBJECTIVE. WE KNOW THAT MUCH. WHAT ONE PERSON THINKS IS A GOOD DESIGN, ANOTHER WILL THINK ITS UGLY OR USELESS”
This is a statement I wrote back in December 2018. It’s taken me awhile to get going on this blog post.
- Because I’ve been busy with client commissions and
- Because I’m a procrastinator and have dealt with serious creative confidence issues over the last few months.
Is it a good statement? possibly. But the issue here is the fact that it’s taken me almost 5 months to get back to writing this blog post. Why? I hear you ask… Well, dear friends, like I said above, I’m a procrastinator. I have so many “projects” on the go, that my head is spinning! I start a project, and quickly lose interest, unless it’s something I have to do, like commission work where it pays my bills, or watching Game of Thrones (Can that be classed as a project even?!) or the blanket I’m knitting for my soon to be born niece.
In many ways, creative confidence and procrastination go hand in hand. If you’re confident in your creativity, then procrastination shouldn’t get in the way as much. That’s my opinion anyway and confidence in my creativity is something I’ve been secretly struggling with over the last couple of months. It got to a point where I was not enjoying what I did (that lasted all of half a day!) So I did something about it, and continue to do so every day. So here I present to you a list of the “things” I did to push past this confidence block and keep building myself up.
- I decided to take a really good look at what my style was, my brand, my ethos. I closed down my main Instagram page and decided to start up a new one, so that it was fresh, and clean and very very focused. I didn’t like that. I felt constricted, so I went back to my original Instagram page where you will find the odd photo of my children, some random quotes about design and Insta stories about what I’m cooking for tea. I’m not just a designer. I’m also a mum of three and a wife. I work from home, as does my husband, and to hide that side of me would be like only showing half a tv program. Pointless. and you wouldn’t get the full picture.
- Stopped comparing myself to other creatives. This can be really tough, when there is so much competition in the world to be the best at what you do. Especially in the creative industries. Social media doesn’t help either. But what the hell do you do when social media is part of your job? There isn’t much you can do to be honest, apart from take a break, limit when you access social media or, do what I do. Re-frame that negative thought and send out positive vibes. Comparison is the thief of joy!
- Took a break. No one can keep going without taking a break. It’s a simple fact of life so over the Easter Break, we took a trip down to Weymouth to see friends and explore the area. We stayed at the Little Sea Haven which was perfect because there were so many activities for the children to do. We also went to Durdle Door which was amazing in itself! If you’ve never been, it should definitely be on your to do list.
- Bought a book. Written by brothers Tom and David Kelley – Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All I’ve followed David Kelley since I watched one of his TED Talks many many moons ago. He is the founder of IDEO and in my opinion, is one of the greatest designers and thinkers of today. Granted I haven’t ready the book yet (its downloaded onto my kindle, ready for prosecco hour tonight ;-)) But I have read around the associated website, and what he and Tom say is so absolutely true “Creative confidence is like a muscle—it can be strengthened and nurtured through effort and experience” – Which leads us on to the next point.
- Made more time for practice. Its true that practice makes perfect. Or as near perfect as you can get, because no one and nothing is perfect. And that’s something we all need to remember when learning something new or practising existing talents. Mistakes do not equal failure. Mistakes prove that you are trying, and practising your craft. I have countless sketch books full of drawings, ideas, notes and more. They are all part of my creative process. the practice, the “Ideation” stage if you will. I’ve learnt so much from them, and will keep them as reference to look back on. When life gets busy, it can be so easy to forget about that little bit of time you need to just practice your craft. especially in design. We are working to so many briefs, and most of them are other peoples briefs. We are meeting their needs, their ideas, their creative input is in there. But what every designer should do is spend time on their own creative briefs. Even if it’s just putting down some doodles to turn into a sticker pack, or writing a blog post. Do it! and thank me later!
With all these steps taken, my creative confidence has improved, a lot. But it’s something that I will continually work on no matter what. I’d love to know how you get through a creative confidence block. Let me know in the comments!
It’s probably been written about a million times before. Its the crux of every single creatives life I know. It’s so important to nourish, yet so often forgotten about or ignore. I’m talking about creativity. We all have it within us. Its what we choose to do with it that’s important though.
Creativity is like a muscle. Keep exercising it and it will get stronger – Makes sense right?! After all, we all (me the least at the moment!) go to the gym or do some form of exercise to keep our body’s in top condition. We eat healthy food to fuel our body’s so that we can do the exercises that keep us in good health. It’s just the same with creativity. We need to practice our skills, develop and refine our craft consistently so that we can reach the level of expertise that we want. Think of it this way. You wouldn’t enter an Olympic competition without having first put in months if not years of practice. The same goes for graphic design and illustraion. But what happens when you just have nothing left to give mentally or physically.
Life isn’t linear. It throws us curve balls constantly. So for those of us who are in the creative industries, where our livelihood is reliant on our ideas and inspiration, making sure we keep our “creative bank” topped up is so very important. There are many ways to stay inspired. But one of the ones that is most overlooked is rest. I don’t mean the early to bed early to rise type of rest. I mean actually stepping away from the computer/pen & paper and actually going out and doing something completely different. Take me for example; I woke up this morning, not feeling 100% as I do most mornings because of my fibro. I spent a couple of hours working away on some client work, but really wasn’t feeling it. But I pushed through and got the bulk of what I wanted to do, done. I then did something I don’t always do but should do more often. I took my dog to the beach. Such a simple thing to do. But it made all the difference. so in light of all of this, here are my top 10 things to do to stay inspired or get the spark back!!
- Get away from your work area – Especially if you work from home as I do. Having a break will give you time to breathe and think about things from a different angle.
- Schedule regular exercise – even if its just a short walk, a yoga session in your front room, exercising is scientifically proven to help release endorphins – AKA the happy hormone!!
- Use a planner – I’m a stationery addict, and I love a good planning session. I currently use an A5 Filofax Malden to plan 90% of my work. The rest goes into a black notebook I have specifically for design projects.
- Watch some inspirational videos or listen to your favourite podcasts! – “cheese factor alert” I do love a good motivational video on youtube. The ones where you have someone speaking in a very compelling tone and giving a right good old speech about working harder than your competition.
- Spend time with family – quite often, a good old fashioned family day will help bring my mind back to focus about what’s really important in life, and the reasons why I work so hard at building this little empire of mine – I have three little people watching me and taking inspiration from me!! (#nopressure!)
- Plan a weekend getaway – I recently had 3 glorious days in London with my husband for our 6th wedding anniversary. We went to watch the Smashing Pumpkins, visited an old friend and ate way too much pizza!
- Refresh your music playlist – I’m a big music lover and have had Spotify for many years – but quite often, I can get bored with the same old music every day. So this is a simple one; play some different music!! I’ll link my Spotify profile for you in case you wanted some music inspo!! Also, try the daily mixes. Ive discovered loads of bands that I wouldnt have thought to listen to.
- Talk – Go out and talk to people. In a socially acceptable manner of course. I doubt many would appreciate a random person coming up to them in the street and kicking off a convo about how the world is going to end… What I mean is, go and see your friends, pop in for a coffee and a chat. See how other people are doing. Connect with them. I have a few friends who run businesses locally to me – but they are on their own (think barber, tattoo artist) So I go and visit them as often as I can. Of course, they have their clients throughout the day, but having a friend pop in to see you is just lovely!
- Stay focused and organised – I have a whiteboard above my desk which I use to write down big goals, like projects I’m working on, Ideas I want to pursue and inspirational quotes.
- Treat yourself!! – This is obviously budget dependent, but I find buying a magazine and some chocolate really helps when Im feeling low and stuck in a rut. My current favourite magazines are The Computer Arts Magazine and In The Moment Magazine Both of these titles are like chicken soup for my soul!
So there you have my top ten ways to stay inspired. Your main takeaway from this should be – Don’t beat yourself up if the ideas don’t come pouring out like a tap, or you feel like you’re a shitty designer. Everyone goes through it. And we all come out the other side with bigger and better ideas. The key is to work through it, acknowledge it and learn from it.
Id love to know how you stay inspired. What do you do when that designer doubt creeps in and everything feels so bleak and boring?
Lots of Love