The creative life: 8 tips to make it yours

The creative life: 8 tips to make it yours

What does a creative life look like?

Creativity – noun.
The use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.
(Oxford Languages)

Artists are the stereotype when it comes to living a creative life. People often picture a French beret and a paint smock splattered with color. The moody writer also comes to mind, drinking copious amounts of coffee while jotting their thoughts down. Or, maybe the photographer, jet-setting around the world in a leather jacket and Aviator sunglasses, capturing moments with wind-swept hair and a smile.

Despite those stereotypes, that life is not meant only for the “artistic elite.” Instead, anyone can live a creative life. 

Whether you are a professional artist, a hobbyist, an art aficionado, or none of the above, YOU can have a creative life. As long as you have the desire, I will provide you the tools needed. Keep reading for my top 8 tips on how to live a creative life. 

How to live a more creative life:

1. Stay true to yourself. 

  • Embracing what makes us unique ensures a diverse society.
  • Diversity in a community encourages individual thinking.
  • Individual thinking fosters innovation and creativity.

It sounds cliché, but—like a snowflake—each of us is one-of-a-kind. No one else is you, in your body, with your life and experiences. No one can mirror your exact thoughts, dreams, and fears. Let those unique traits guide your steps toward living a more creative life. Allow your individuality to color the way you interact with the world around you. Let it influence how you depict that world, whether on paper, film, or through music. 

2. For a creative life, look past the surface.

  • Finding beauty in unexpected places can expand our own perceptions.
  • Having perspective can reveal the hidden potential in other people or objects.
  • With deeper learning, we are able to take what we know and manipulate it to solve other, more complex problems.

We artistic types are a different breed. Our genetic makeup includes a unique perspective of the world around us. That perspective is what allows us to see things others may not. So if you’d like to live a more creative life, I suggest looking past the surface of whatever you come in contact with. Having a deeper understanding helps us to be more adaptable and understanding, no matter the situation.

3. Create something with your hands.

  • The act of making something from nothing enhances mental health.
  • Artistic creation also improves mood and helps to relieve stress.
  • Completing a personal, creative project brings a sense of satisfaction. 

Many artists, myself included, feel so much and so intensely that those emotions must find an outlet (or we risk imploding). What better outlet than to create something? Even if you don’t have a particularly artistic talent, find something you can do, something that you enjoy, and use those skills. Write a poem or gather your thoughts into a journal entry. Sketch your pet. Or, learn something completely new.

4. A creative life means making mistakes.

  • Mistakes allow us to learn, grow, and discover new ideas.
  • Our experiences, mistakes included, shape who we are as individuals.
  • Accepting failure frees us up to go after our goals without reservation.

Bob Ross said it best: “We don’t make mistakes. We make happy little accidents.” Such a simple change in how we look at failure can have a profound impact on our lives. Mistakes will happen. They are a fact of life. Without failure, how can we hope to grow and improve? So, instead of fearing failure, we need to acknowledge that it happens, then move on. After all, a life lived without risk becomes a life wasted. To live a more creative life, we need to take more risks.

5. Surround yourself with other creative people.

  • Creative friends challenge each other into continually improving our talents and skills.
  • Artistic people are a never ending source of inspiration and creative insight.
  • No one will support you and understand your struggles better than a fellow creative individual.

Success begets success. This is especially true for a creative life. By surrounding ourselves with talented people, we in turn become more talented. For example, when I see work from another talented artist, I immediately want to go out and improve my own skill. This is because who (and what) we surround ourselves has a huge impact on who we will become.

6. Do more things that spark passion

  • Passions provide a sense of purpose in living a creative life and can give that life meaning.
  • Having things we are passionate about helps us to be more resilient when we encounter obstacles and difficulties.
  • Without passion, we are much more likely to burn out, lose motivation, and feel unfulfilled.

We only have one life. Why waste a minute of it doing things that don’t bring us joy? Yes, life comes with responsibilities, but that makes the time we spend on personal pursuits especially important. Make time for who and what you love and find meaning in the things you do. After all, when you look back on your life, you want to be filled with satisfaction, not regret.

7. In a creative life, let yourself play and have fun.

  • Playtime as an adult releases endorphins, improves well-being, and reduces stress.
  • Play also keeps our minds sharp and boosts mental health.
  • When we play, we are present in the moment

Children need play in order to improve coordination, memory, language skills, and much more when they are young. However, just because we grow up doesn’t mean we should stop playing and having fun. Even adults are continually learning and growing. Play helps with our cognitive skills, our mood, our coordination, just as much as in children. So, pick up that ball. Play the video game. Get out the play dough. Just have fun.

Here are some ways you can have some fun in your creative life:
Seven reasons to keep a sketchbook – 20 awesome songs to spark creativity

8. To live a creative life, be curious.

  • Asking questions connects us to the people around us.
  • Curiosity makes us want to learn more, understand deeper, and that knowledge then fuels innovation.
  • Being inquisitive leads to happier, more empathetic people.

The final, but no less important, tip for living a creative life is to ask more questions. Be inquisitive. Don’t just take things at face value—search for hidden meaning and seek better, more thorough understanding of any topic or subject. Not only will you be more successful in life, work, and artistic endeavors, but you will also gain wisdom on top of knowledge.

Do you have any tips on how you live your life more creatively? Share them in the comments!

Giving Up: How to Let Go and Let Live

Giving Up: How to Let Go and Let Live

Have you ever thought of giving up?

Let me rephrase that. I don’t mean giving up ENTIRELY (please don’t do that!). No, I’m talking about that fork-in-the-road intervention we all face at strategic points in our lives. Who am I? What is my purpose?

In all honesty, I have had my own “giving up” come-to-Jesus talks with myself many times in the past. Not so much, “What is my purpose?” as, “Why don’t people like meeeee?!” (Or, maybe I just had a mental breakdown and started talking back to the voices in my head. But hey, I’m an artist. We embrace a little bit of insanity.)

So how does giving up work, exactly?

1. Stop being stuck in the past.

With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

giving up - illustration of getting stuck in the pastHere is my origin story of giving up (and finding freedom in doing so):

I began my journey as the kid who doodled all over her books in elementary school, then became the artsy girl in high school drawing anime characters. Finally, I graduated with a Bachelor in Studio Art, the budding artistic professional ready to take on the world. I have worked in graphic design, in preschool as an art teacher, and in all kinds of non-creative jobs scattered in between.

During some of that time, my muse stayed close. We were best friends. I had so many ideas, I thought I may burst if I didn’t get them down on paper.

Long dry spells inevitably followed. Days and weeks went by that saw me plagued with depression and anxiety and a constant struggle to find some sort of self-worth. Nothing I did was good enough. I felt inferior and longed for days past when things weren’t so complicated and hard. Giving up felt easy, but I needed to learn to give up the right things.

We should learn from the past instead of living in it. That way, when those dry spells inevitably return, we can be better prepared to handle them.

2. Give up on unrealistic expectations.

I’ve learned that universal acceptance and appreciation is just an unrealistic goal.
Dan Brown

Giving up - letting go of expectationsLike many times before, I found my footing again at the end of the dark hold of depression and anxiety. From then on I have spent every-possible-moment-since taking advantage of the inspiration. Painstakingly, I create quality content on my social media platforms. That includes making myself more marketable. I work tirelessly to grow my fan-base and extend my empire. Except that my empire is very, very small (really more of a village).

For a while that bothered me. (Okay… if I’m honest with myself, it still bothers me.) But, do you know what? I am learning that when I raise the bar too high, too fast, that’s when I crash and fall. Those unrealistic expectations can be killer to a perfectionist. And I have always been extremely hard on myself.

Which brings me to giving up on whatever measures of success have been ingrained into our brains from day one. So what if I have few followers? Those that do follow me, they are my people, my kindred spirits—they are YOU. And you are more precious to me than gold. Because you are real people who take an interest in what I do. You find value in the work I create (if not, you wouldn’t bother hanging around).

That means so much more than thousands of lukewarm followers who only stick around until the next trendy thing catches their eyes. And at the end of the day, I need to feel that my art means something to someone much more than I need to feel “popular.” If I can touch even one person’s soul, shed light on one dreary day, make only one person smile, I’ll consider my art a success.

3. Let go of what you can’t control.

You may not control all the events that happen to you. But you can decide not to be reduced by them.
Maya Angelou

I have spent years fighting for control. Control over my circumstances. Control over how others perceive me. Things that I can never hope to attain but that I continue to beat myself up over. I cannot force others to like what I do or force others to invest in my work. But I CAN foster relationships and build trust with those who do. Which means creating quality art for quality people, numbers be damned.

Sure, I may not have 100,000 followers. So what if I still have to have a day job on top of my art business? If I focus on the good things, the small wins, I start to realize that I’m pretty lucky—and extremely blessed.

What do you have a hard time giving up on? Let me know in the comments below!

Art chose me: a look at why I do what I do

When it comes to art, I never really had any other option. It chose me. From my very first breath, it grabbed hold, wove itself into the very fiber of my being. As soon as I could hold a crayon in my chubby little grasp, I have been drawing.

Yes, art chose me. But I chose illustration.

My childhood gave me the chance to dream of all sorts of different careers. A nurse (that didn’t last long), a musician, an animator. Finally, in college, I settled on a degree in Studio Art, with a focus in graphic design. I enjoyed the way design allowed me to use my art as a way to communicate and draw people in. Graphic design allowed me to move into a full-time career of development (a bit of a jump away from the art field, I know, but I have mentioned I am also a huge geek!) — but always, my passion has been to illustrate.

Why picture books?

Simply, I love children. Growing up, I was always the child who mothered the others in her class. I often played the mom every time we dressed up. Later, I stayed behind to assist with children’s church when the rest of my friends moved up to youth group. In youth group, I stayed behind to become a youth leader. During college, I worked at my church’s preschool center, when led me to an art teacher position at a preschool for a year on the east coast.

So, for me, marrying art and my love for children seemed natural. Not only do I love art, but I love telling stories (both with words and with pictures). Illustration always seemed the have that perfect combination.

No matter what I choose as my career, no matter what path life takes me down, I know in my heart I will always be an artist.

What it’s really like to live with an artist

My husband is a saint.

(Just don’t tell him I say so – I’ll deny everything.)

Seriously though, I can’t really imagine how someone so left-brained, so… logical can put up with the whirlwind that is my existence. We have this little joke that the inside of his head is a tiny Hitler screaming at everyone in German. (I’ve been told my sense of humor is rather dark. I apologize in advance.)

In turn, he quips that I am the butterfly girl from Blind Melon’s “No Rain” music video, dancing aimlessly through a field of wildflowers. If you have no idea what that music video is (do they still do music videos?), then I am happy to present, for your viewing pleasure, “No Rain” by Blind Melon. You’re welcome.

(Random side note – that girl does look remarkably like me as a child.)

So, back to the joys of living with a creative, right-brained, artistic individual (that is to say: me, individually. I make no claims that all other artists are exactly like me. That would be weird.).

How accurate is my Dear Husband (DH) on his assessment of me? Let me count the ways:

A compilation of my husband and my various alter-egos.

A compilation of my husband and my various alter-egos.

  • My DH will often (daily) find me standing in the middle of the room with a vacant look on my face, lost in my own thoughts. (And forever frustrated that I wonder why I am always running late).
  • No day ends without the question, “Have you seen my phone?” being asked (out loud, by me, in intense frustration) at least hourly. I have once left my phone in between the top lip of our freezer drawer and the bottom lip of the refrigerator door. (There is photographic evidence.)
  • I will begin conversations in my head, continue them out loud, and expect DH to follow along. Usually, I get a blank have-you-lost-your-mind stare.
  • I take forever to get to the point of a story. I blame creative writing classes. (Backstory, people!)
  • My moods change without notice, and often.
  • Too many fragmented, unfinished thoughts run through my head before I jump to the next ones. This makes me a bit scatterbrained.
  • I am insanely stubborn. To the point of obsession.
  • I am selectively OCD. Things visually can drive me crazy, but I will “walk over a pile of dirty laundry to fix a blind that is one centimeter off.” (DH’s words)
  • I cry at least once at every Disney movie. Ever.
  • (Have I mentioned I’m emotional?)
  • I love naps.
  • Shiny objects distract me.
  • (Like, really emotional.)
  • I overthink everything. No lie. I will stare at something I’ve created until I hate it.
  • I am passionate. (Another word for emotional.)
  • Most things I do are spontaneous scattered rather than goal-oriented.

(And, yikes, that’s only a quick snapshot! )

What do you think – is this list fairly accurate of a creative individual? Feel free to add any other “artistic” descriptions in the comments below!


Color blind: the art of love

Heart in Ishihara color blind test plate

I want to be color blind.

Probably a strange thing for an artist to claim, to want to lack the ability to see colors correctly. I do not mean this in the literal sense. To be color-blind has two different connotations and I can see color just fine. I have no desire to lose that ability.

But, I do want to be color blind.

color blind

adjective | col·or–blind | \-ˌblīnd\
: unable to see the difference between certain colors
: treating people of different skin colors equally

I cannot in good conscience say that I am truly color-blind, as much as I would like to. Prejudice runs rampant in our society — whether it be toward race, socioeconomic status, sexuality, religion… the list goes on and on. No one person is truly color-blind. We all judge (and have been judged by) others.

We can easily say that we are accepting of others, but it is much more difficult to act upon in a world where opinions are given more freely than any other time in history (thanks to the internet and social media). Behind the anonymity of a computer screen, we become the world’s biggest critics. We condemn. We spew words of hatred, words meant to divide and tear down. We fear what we do not understand, and fear leads to hatred. Hatred leads to violence and pain.

In light of all of the horrible acts that are being committed in the world today (the Orlando shooting of the Pulse nightclub, police-on-civilian brutality, civilian-on-police brutality, ISIS attacks across the globe), I feel compelled to look inward. I like to think I am a good person. I give to charity. I feel empathy toward those who are suffering. But, I can do more. I can be better. I can do my part to end the cycle.

Because, when does it end? Where does it stop? Who will be the ones to say: enough is enough?

Enough with hatred.

Enough with blame.

Enough with division.

It stops when we quit feeding the monster. Focus instead on love, acceptance, and compassion. Love your neighbor. Three small words. One powerful and unyielding command.

It does NOT state: Love your neighbor IF…

  • Love your neighbor IF he makes as much money as you.
  • Love your neighbor IF she has the same skin color.
  • Love your neighbor IF his love is heterosexual.
  • Love your neighbor IF her beliefs are the same as yours.

It simply states:

  • Love.
  • Your.
  • Neighbor.

No exceptions. No excuses.

Now is the time to act. Stop feeding the hatred. Stop feeding this sense of “me vs. them.” We are all in this together. We are all on this planet together. We are all striving to make this world a better place for our children, and our children’s children.

Love is the reason.

Love is the answer.

Just love. ♥

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