As any artist will tell you, once in a while, you hit a dry spell. It's that horrible feeling of staring at a blank piece of paper (in real life or on a screen) with no idea what to do. That feeling has been happening more often to me lately.
I've been working as an in-house designer at a theatre. I love this place. It's one of those rare work environments where you actually feel valued and supported. I have learned so much from my boss, and I truly enjoy collaborating with my co-workers. The fact remains though... I am the only graphic designer on staff. No one else that I interact with on a daily basis does what I do. There's not a whole lot of design critique and bouncing ideas around about design options. There is some, and I enjoy those conversations when they happen. They just don't happen every day.
There's also the challenge of working for the same client year after year. I've got the same projects that happen at the same time every year, and after a number of years, it becomes harder to have new ideas. You solve the same design challenges a few different ways, and it's tough to look at it with fresh eyes again the next time it comes around.
Working at a theatre helps with that some. At least they're always producing new plays. Every one is a new story, so creating marketing collateral for each new story naturally allows for variation. Thank God for that!
This job was the first full-time design job I'd ever had. All my other work experience was in retail, office administrative support, or theatre work with graphic design happening on the side for various friends or small clients. I remember vividly the first year of coming to work every day and getting to be creative. It was a dream come true! I loved coming to work. I loved sitting down and having the ideas flow out of me like a river after a huge rainfall. It was fantastic!
I also remember feeling creatively shellshocked when I got home each evening. Where my evenings and weekends used to be full of sewing and crafts and theatre (acting, painting, building sets and costumes), I had no creative energy left and no desire to do any of it. It felt foreign. I didn't recognize myself. I would come home at the end of the day and just watch endless episodes of anything on Netflix. (To be fair, I had spent previous years so incredibly busy that I had a lot of tv shows to catch up on.)
Slowly, slowly, I started to dip my toes back into hobbies that I had previously enjoyed. I started to feel more like myself. Then life exploded again when I met my husband, got married, and had a baby all within a 3-year time span. If you've ever had a new baby in your family, you know that one will just throw you for a loop! Talk about everything feeling foreign... Woah!
It's nearly been a year since our little guy was born, and I find myself again longing for new creative inspiration. I've dabbled here an there in graphic design projects. I've designed a few t-shirts for a friend's screen printing business. I've signed up on Spoonflower.com and put a few fabric designs up.
I find myself looking at my day job and trying to have fresh ideas again. It's difficult. I'm less inclined to think it's the job itself. I think it's me. I need to step out and find ways to engage my creativity in different formats. I've gathered some painting supplies and some calligraphy pens. I've filled my Instagram feed with fabric designers and calligraphers and illustrators. Time to place some new creative challenges in front of myself and see what comes of it.
As a new mom though, I need to recognize that it may be slow going at first. In the past, I've been gung ho and set lofty goals to pursue with verve and vigor. Now, I think it's time to set some smaller goals to pursue with intentionality and grace for myself in the moment.
Blogging will be part of the journey. I'll share what's inspiring me, my progress and projects, and maybe some personal reflection on the kinds of art that interests me.