Artists – afraid of being judged?

For me, one obloc busterf the most de-motivating thoughts I can have when attempting to start work on a piece of art or something creative is the thought that it may be judged by others as “silly” or “not good” or that others make a judgement about me because of my work – “She has copied another artist” or “She is trying to show off” or “She has very strange ideas” or any number of these combinations of judgements that peers or other people may make when forming an opinion on what you’ve created and why.

This thought is hard to overcome but if you want to be able to create what you want and not what you think others want you to, you have to be able to accept that these less than flattering comments will be made and, where possible, be capable of turning them around into positive feedback, for example “I created something which gained attention, so much so, they thought it was worth commenting on.”

The thing far too many of us do is to constantly compare ourselves to others, and art is all about exposing our inner ideas ready for this comparative judgement. If the creative piece challenges someones pre-conceived idea of what is normal, acceptable, clever or aesthetically pleasing then congratulations you have inspired someone to think or even better react and in a world of information overload that is a feat in itself, so pat yourself on the back.

There is no normal, nobodies art is normal, so stop trying to fit in and create freely. Don’t be frightened of doing it wrong, just do it. You’ll do it wrong a hundred times but then one day maybe if you keep trying you’ll do or see something amazing or new in what you have done.


Creativity: how does it strike?

Have you ever had those days where the planets seem to align and everything just works the way you want it to? How often do you find yourself wishing for a day that reveals solutions, a day that gives you the most amazing discovery, that rare and elusive time that is so unusual it drives you to frustration.

Believe it or not, those days do happen, but far less frequently than the patience span of the average person happily waits. It takes a strong person with vision and determination to bridge these times, the hard parts where your motivation and drive is put to the ultimate test to keep going despite the hills to climb and the setbacks to move beyond. It also helps to surround yourself with people who can encourage and help with constructive advice, the people who contribute and say things like “what if you tried this,” or comments like “that works well but maybe you could…”

I can honestly say I have really only had a couple of these rare and amazing moments in my life. Moments where I felt that I was able to achieve without the long drawn process of trials, errors, testing and retesting. The one instance I most remember was a self initiated project that lasted a whole weekend and I was totally absorbed I hardly slept. It was the weekend after an inspiring trip away to the country. We came across an intriguing animal, on the road on our Friday evening drive north and this led me to write and illustrate a short children’s book. I did the majority of the story and illustrations in two days, in a kind of frenzy. I didn’t want it to end and so I didn’t want to sleep for fear that the flow would stop. Even though I know, that in the past some of my best ideas have popped into my head just as I drift off to sleep, I kept going. I was totally exhausted after it.

Helping_Tawny_coverIf you are interested here’s a link to the final book. Let me know what you think. Helping Tawny is available from Blurb books here

If you expect the high achieve moments will happen and should happen regularly then it makes it much harder to cope emotionally when they don’t.

So without feeling like a defeatist, it is best to not expect success or solutions but in a way to prepare yourself for failure, that way anything you do achieve will be a bonus. 

Is it better to keep practicing how to recognise a problem, how to better define what needs to be achieved and to keep practicing the processes of working through the possible solutions, than to give up in the early stages simply because of your high expectations? I think it is.

I don’t want to sound like an analyst because I’m not, I’m just talking from my own personal experiences. I’m not even always able to follow my own “owl like” advice but I do try. I have just found that most of the time creativity strikes when you’ve worked hard, gone through numerous options and made the choices that lead you to the best solution.

I really hope this article helps you and I hope you will share your thoughts.
Is this similar to your experience? Let me know if you’ve had a rare, all absorbing moment and how it occurred.

Creating “quiet time”

IMG_0326In my last post I talked about seeking and finding your gift or talent. You probably have many talents, but I am referring to the one which you have decided, or will decide, to prioritise and take to a higher level. Perhaps you are still contemplating your options. Either way, you’ll need to set aside a suitable creative time and place in your day, one  to help free the ideas and solutions you seek.

Find your preferred creative space for thinking

I tend to do activities that help to clear my mind from the day-to-day distractions. For me this may be getting out into the fresh air for a walk or run, listening to music, taking a 10 minute nap, or maybe going into a quiet space on my own to scribble in my visual diary.

If you are looking for ideas on how to nourish your creative thinking, here’s a great TED presentation by Susan Cain, who eloquently expresses the importance of  “quiet time” or solitude in the creative process. Well worth watching.

I look forward to your feedback and thoughts.

Recognise your creative gift

Bull amongst the flowers. Illustration by Sharon Coward

Bull amongst the flowers. Illustration by Sharon Coward

I have been contemplating my New Years resolution and I’ve decided to start it today, a few hours early with this – my first blog.

I hope to inspire and encourage fellow graphic designers, photographers, artists and illustrators to keep creating, never to loose sight of the creative process and to keep doing what you enjoy.

I have recently spoken to a number of very talented graphic designers who are dissatisfied and unhappy with their chosen field of work. Many are looking to move out of design and into completely different jobs. After so many dedicated years of training I think it is a shame to see them go. Hopefully they will move into alternative professions that will allow them to draw on their design and creative problem solving skills so not all is lost.

With this in mind I would like to say this: Recognise your creative gift

I believe everybody is born with some kind of gift, although not everybody recognises what that gift may be.

If you have been lucky enough to discover yours is a creative one then how to nurture that gift is a responsibility. A gift is often ignored by even the most intelligent people or they just let the busy pace of life take over. Take-on the responsibility to reach your potential, make time for it and use that gift to communicate the right things. Keep at it and don’t give up.

Have a great New Year!