We’re three weeks into 2024, which means you have probably settled nicely into the new year and are making good progress with creative endeavours. Whether you’re busy with client work or broadening your horizons with personal projects, It’s Nice That has shared a creative survival guide to help you succeed.
We’ve all heard the saying “new year, new me” calling you to create a number of resolutions and completely turn your life around for the better. It could be in the form of signing up for a new course, creating a whole new daily routine, or getting rid of any objects, habits (or even people) that are deemed a negative influence, all in the hopes of bringing about holistic change.
But we’re well aware that when these often grand changes you’ve set for yourself (inevitably) start falling through, the guilt and sense of failure can be pretty overwhelming. So, instead of helping to load onto that guilt, with the help of some creatives we’ve come up with five simple, more accessible ways you can hopefully spark some change in your creative practice this year, big or small, short-term or long.
So, if you’re looking to get out of a creative rut or just push your creativity even further, these might be some points to consider:
Remember you’ve got a good thing going
When we’re looking for a fresh start, many of us start throwing away miscellaneous items, objects and collectables of the past year as a way to clean house and usher in the new. But, what if you sat with them for longer and thought about how they can truly benefit creativity throughout the coming year?
Before deciding to overhaul your studio space, delete old drafts, or clear out your bookshelf, it’s worth remembering that these things have helped you get to where you are. When we want to make progress, it’s easy to think that we need to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch, but your progress is a testament to your existing process, so don’t discount your current setup. Instead, use what you’ve already built to improve and grow. You never know when your old drafts might help you solve a new problem.
So, whether your things are digital or physical, serious or fun, here’s your chance to stop and ask (before throwing it all out): how can what I already have aid my creativity this year?
Set yourself a mini-brief
The concept of a mini-brief comes from designer and influencer Elliot Ulm, who offers an exercise to kick-start your creativity:
What do us designers do when there’s no clients flooding our inboxes with work? Relax? Go outside? An equally enjoyable third thing? No, silly! We make up a fake client and pretend that we are employed! A very normal thing to do!
Ulm recommends setting yourself a mini-brief, dedicating an hour to the task, and letting your creativity flow. If the results are promising, maybe you should pursue it further? You could be onto something great.
The life of a designer: long days spent working at your desk hunched over a laptop, with little time allotted to get your body moving. It comes as no surprise that it’s an industry well known for inducing bad posture.
This prompt to sort out your posture is probably just a reminder of something you’ve been meaning to do for a long time.
Designer Angela Lian offers three top tips for looking after your body as a creative:
Find a place for movement in your practice as much as you can throughout the day. Is it taking a walk during the brainstorming phase? Stretching during meetings? Designing for 20 minutes at a time followed by 5 minutes of moderate exercise? Find your groove.
Minimise inflammation to maximise creative potential
Besides exercise, this could mean eating more anti-inflammatory foods and less inflammatory foods, getting an air purifier for your space, managing stress better, using ergonomic tools, improving your sleep, hydrating often to flush out toxins, and cutting back on screen time (my greatest culprit.)
Wellbeing over productivity
When creative people are in the flow, it’s hard to recognise when we should stop. But bodily pains can build and accumulate to something bigger. Remember that physical flow can also be so beneficial to creative flow. Listening to your body can only help your design practice in the long run.
Incorporating movement and prioritising your health and wellbeing can only lead to good things for your creative life.
Disconnecting and getting outside
This one is nothing new. In fact, it’s probably something you’ve heard over and over again; the importance of disconnecting, getting offline, getting together your various well-designed hiking equipment and experiencing the great outdoors. Though some issue lies in the way experiencing nature is often framed and sold, as if the only true way to engage with the outdoors is an extended endeavour, going on a long hike or a weekend camping trip. But is this really that accessible or feasible?
It’s true that the concept of an Insta-worthy getaway is inaccessible to many. With the cost of living crisis affecting all of us, even a budget trip might feel like a stretch. To tide you over until the next time you’re able to get away and disconnect, It’s Nice That recommends that you learn to appreciate your local greenery.
[W]hether it’s taking a moment to appreciate the nature that surrounds you in your own four walls, or being more engaged on short moments outside – before work, on your lunch break or at the end of the day – there are small yet effective ways of feeling more at one with nature, that don’t involve packing up your kitchen sink and embarking on a days-long voyage.
Few established creatives haven’t attempted or been called to give back – to their communities, people wanting to get into their particular field or local initiatives. But oftentimes we usually see this as something quite grand, you know, philanthropy and the likes. But there are so many ways to offer a helping hand, advice and your skills to others, that can also help to remove you from the tunnel vision of your own practice and birth new ideas.
Illustrator Olivia Twist often collaborates with her local community in her work, and sees facilitation as a ‘core part of her practice’. Her visual work has three strands: “place, the mundane and overlooked narratives”.
Different from, say, teaching a class, facilitation offers more of a practical exchange and horizontal learning approach to artmaking (or whichever medium is being explored), where the facilitator guides the group but isn’t wrapped up in a hierarchical structure. Offering an opportunity for facilitators to leave feeling rejuvenated and poured into too.
Olivia’s work is an example of just one way to give back, and engage in creative exchange with others. Finding a creative community, and serving that community, can be a fulfilling way to enrich your practice.
Whether you’re drawn to starting a project that engages your local community, volunteering some time to a worthy cause, or mentoring a fellow creative just starting out, giving back may be something you’re passionate about pursuing in 2024.
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