With the holiday season descending, it's easy to start feeling overwhelmed by everything going on. With the sparse daylight at this time of year, it often seems like my days are compressing and I feel tight and rigid rather than open and free. I start to feel ruled by the calendar, thinking constantly about what needs to be done and what event is coming up, rather than appreciating the moments as they come and go. I've since realized that space is a mindset, and a choice. All the pressure, heaviness and constriction is in my head. I get to decide how I feel and I've decided I want to live a life that's full to bursting, while still staying open and finding ways to expand.
Have you ever noticed how powerful it can be to make a decision? How focused you become when you go from the uncertainty of multiple options to the clarity of one single choice? It can happen with decisions as simple as where to go for dinner or which art project to start on first, to as complex as what city to live in or whether to have kids or not. Once you make the decision, all the other options fall away and you can focus on enjoying your meal, or packing your bags.
A friend of mine introduced me to her comics and at first, I really didn't get it. Her drawing style is not pretty or tidy—it seems to flail across the page a bit—and her stories are heartbreaking. But after spending more time with her work, and especially after discovering her workbooks, I fell hard for her imagination and deep commitment to exploring the impact of images on people.
Every time I move to a new home and have to set up a new studio, it takes some time to figure out, to find a rhythm and a system. Finally, after a few days of knee-deep hard work, a lot of help from my partner and months of tweaking, my studio feels clean, functional, and inspiring. I walk by and can't wait to get in there and start making something.
I am slightly obsessed with learning. I was the only kid in my grade one class who was excited about homework. I couldn't wait to get to university to take classes on theoretical physics and African history pre-colonization. As my boyfriend can attest (he had to implement a 'no books in the bed' rule when I moved in), I usually am nearing the maximum number of books my library will allow because I want to read every book written about all the subjects I'm interested in - of which there are many. Constant learning has been essential to the growth of my creativity.
Why do we create? Because it makes us feel good. It relaxes us, or helps us focus, or lets us escape. It gives us a sense of purpose and helps us to create meaning. And if we choose to share what we create, it can help others get to similar positive states. Unfortunately, the creative process doesn't always feel good. Sometimes it can feel downright awful. Here are 6 ways to find your way out of the dark spots.
So. You want to work on being more creative everyday. You want to establish a creative practice, you want to jump in on those projects you've been dreaming about. But you have no idea where to start. Should you take a class? Should you start a 30-day challenge? Should you ask your friend for help? Should you just start messing around and see what happens? The choices spin around in your mind and, day after day, you do nothing. It's too hard.Starting is the hardest part of any project or practice. And when there is no clear starting point, it's even harder. Here are some ideas on identifying what exactly is making it so hard to get started, and what to do about it.
She's a successful artist and illustrator based in San Francisco (thought she's been mentioning moving to Portland), and I've been following her blog and her Instagram. According to her website, she does commissions for all kinds of big name companies like Martha Stewart and MoMA. She has also written some books, including Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artistand teaches courses on Creative Bug and Creative Live.