I’m a graphic designer by day. So you might think that the last thing I’d want to do in my spare time is create visuals.
Yet in the evenings and on weekends, you can often find me at my easel, working on my latest painting. Why? Painting refuels my creativity. It allows me to fully express myself without the constraints of client needs or brand standards.
Don’t get me wrong: I understand that constraints can often stimulate creativity. But after a long day working inside the box I need the freedom of being creative in my own way. For me, that way is usually painting, although I dabble in drawing and have explored pottery-making.
Getting back to the basics of creating art makes me feel . . . well, artsy. Plus, when it comes to painting, I find that the more I pursue new forms and methods, the more my creativity is unleashed when I’m back at work. As Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
That’s why, if you want to be more creative, I recommend that you explore an out-of-office activity. Here are five ways to do so:
1. Find your bliss. Choose an activity that you’ve always been intrigued about. Maybe you’d love to grow flowers. Or knit a dog sweater. Or bake a wedding cake. If you feel the passion, go for it!
2. Decide on your approach. I’m an introvert. Period. But when I wanted to learn how to throw pottery, I knew I needed guidance and support. So I took a class at a local museum. If you’re looking for structure—at least to get started—there are many choices:
- Check out learning sessions sponsored by schools, craft stores or artists.
- Search social media. You may find a feed that leads you to people like you.
- Explore meetup.com. This online platform is a great way to find like-minded people. For example, during a two-minute search, I found groups for embroidery, origami, naked drawing (!) and steampunk arts.
3. Commit time. Sure, you need to buy the right supplies, but a giant basket of yarn does not make a blanket. So you need to carve out time. Maybe you can commit to an hour every evening. Or you may need to dedicate a few hours on Saturday mornings. Some of us have to wait until we have a few vacation days. Whatever works for you.
4. Take risks. You’re trying something new, which can be scary. And you probably won’t be fabulous, at least at the beginning. But don’t be afraid. After all, if doing something truly for you, then what do you have to lose? As Brené Brown, research professor at University of Houston wrote, “We can’t know about things like . . . creativity and joy without vulnerability.”
When I‘m painting, I’m not worried if I will like what I’ve created or not because it’s mine and I can always paint over it. I never look at something that didn’t work as a painting as a failure because every stroke is a valuable lesson.
5. Celebrate success. For me, completing a painting motivates me to paint more. But you need to find your own motivation. Perhaps you want to make something you can bestow as a gift. Or you’d like to share your work on Instagram or Facebook. Just be sure to celebrate your accomplishments, even if you just pour yourself a glass of wine.
By the way, you may wonder what I’m working on right now. Since you asked, lately my painting and my graphic design have been coming together. I’m working on a series of paintings that use typography to convey a message. After all, type and color connect us all; they’re a constant in everyone’s lives but we each have different associations. My interest is in exposing what we use every day in a new and interesting way.
My efforts aren’t always successful, but the experience is always enlightening. That’s what art is all about. Here's a sample of my work for you to enjoy!