When life gets busy, do you find yourself struggling to make time to be creative? I know I certainly do, even as someone running a creative studio! The last month or so has been a hectic (but enjoyable!) one, and between admin and preparations, I just haven’t had much time to sit down with one of my many art or embroidery projects. Or, should I say, I haven’t prioritised doing so. And of course, the irony is, taking 30 minutes to do so would actually help me to relax.
With that in mind, I’ve been considering ways to invite a little creativity into my days. Some take a while, and need an hour or so carved out for playing. Others are short, simple, and might take just a moment, or even happen without any planning whatsoever. I hope you’ll find some ideas here, and please do share if you have any more!
Realise that creativity is so much more than sitting down with a sketchbook or needle and thread
One of the most important things to remember is that being creative isn’t just the action of sitting and doing whatever your creative passion is. It’s not just getting the watercolours out and painting a canvas, or threading a needle and starting to stitch. It’s not only placing cut-outs and ephemera onto a page to produce a wonderful collage.
When I say, “I haven’t done any creating this week,” they are what I mean. But of course, I probably have.
Creativity is about problem-solving, new ideas, innovation, and experimentation. Things we’re probably all doing multiple times a day on some level.
It’s a useful reminder to myself that actually, I am ‘being creative’ even if I’m not ‘creating’ as a pastime. Of course, when it comes to my hobbies and passions, I want to focus more on the artistic side of creativity and less on the problem-solving! That’s where the tips outlined below come in…
Gather inspiration wherever you go, and save it!
Anyone who’s been into my home, or the Hope & Elvis studio, will know that I’m a collector and gatherer of everything I believe to be beautiful. Often, that’s items other people would just throw away! I collect vintage ephemera, from cigarette cards, old bus tickets and sheet music. I use these in my collages, altered postcards and other pieces.
“Ostranenie: encouraging people to see common things as strange, wild or unfamiliar; de-familiarizing what is known in order to know it more differently or more deeply.”
But we can gather inspiration not only from objects, but from the people and programmes we watch, the words we read, the conversations we have, the pictures we see… the life we live! Take photos, rip pages out of magazines (if they belong to you!), jot down lovely quotes or snippets of conversation. They’re there for you to flick through and look at again and again, ready to spark some creative flow.
Be on the lookout
Have you ever heard of face pareidolia? Even if you don’t know the word, you quite probably do it! Face pareidolia is spotting faces in things which aren’t faces at all. Gates, doorways, lightswitches… I see faces everywhere (which sounds spookier than it is!).
Perhaps faces don’t stand out to you as much as they do to me, but looking out for images within everyday objects or scenes as you wander through life is a great way to consider how shapes and their sizes or colours can come together to form something different.
And if you do see something like a face created by windows and doors, or a tree shaped like a chicken, take a photo! You never know when that image might be useful in your art. Even if it never is, in that moment, you created a picture out of nothing.
Places to look:
- In the clouds
- The shapes of trees
- Food on your plate
- Items around the home or out and about, like this abandoned container!
Attend creative workshops to gain new skills
If you’re struggling to make time for yourself to get stuck into creative projects at home, booking onto something will ensure you’ve blocked that time out. Before taking over Hope & Elvis, I’d been coming for 16 years. It was the perfect place for me to ‘escape’ my full-time work, family life, running a business, the ever-growing ironing pile… It was a way for me to have some time to myself, focusing on creativity. You can read more about my ‘Hope & Elvis history’ here.
Booking onto art, textiles or any creative workshop is a wonderful way to take time out of your usual routine to learn something new. Our tutors at Hope & Elvis produce incredible pieces of art with diverse techniques, and students develop both confidence and skills during the day (as well as having a great time!). Furthermore, I always find I leave a workshop or class filled with enthusiasm and inspiration for continuing a project or starting something new.
Workshops at our studio (which is near Worksop, North Nottinghamshire, if you don’t know!) take place on weekends throughout the year. Click here to view the upcoming programme of events (which is brilliant, if I do say so myself!).
Change your daily routine
Sometimes a creative rut can be improved with just a little shake-up of routine. Taking a detour on your way home might show you a mural, shop window or advertisement that inspires you somehow. Visiting a different café or homeware store may get you chatting to someone new. Walking in a different park or area of the countryside could lead you to a beautiful view you’d love to sketch.
New experiences spark new ideas, which is what creativity is all about.
Expand your creative network
There’s so much you can learn from others, whether they’re actual teachers and tutors or not. If you feel stuck in a creative rut, looking at the works of other creatives is a powerful way to reignite your spark.
I regularly find new artists and makers to follow on Instagram and love to see their innovative ideas.
I often share new creatives I’ve come across in my newsletters, which you can sign up to at the bottom of this page.
Pinterest is another great tool for gaining visual inspiration.
Be inspired by others at studio days
A great way to expand your network in real life is to ‘cocreate’ with others during a studio day. Gather together with like-minded people who love art as much as you do. Even if you’re working on entirely different things, the chance to discuss your techniques, see what others are doing, and enjoy a chat and laugh together is a great way to boost your creative juices.
Our frequent studio days – taking place most Wednesdays and occasional Sundays – are a chance for you to come and make use of the Hope & Elvis studio and focus on anything arty that takes your fancy. Some of our regulars do stitch journalling, printing and dressmaking! These are non-guided sessions allowing you to simply enjoy creating around other people in a well-equipped studio space.
Find out more about joining us at a studio day here.
Get creative away from the usual spot
If your usual ‘creative space’ is a desk, studio or armchair, head elsewhere. There are so many places where creativity can be explored and enjoyed.
Try getting more creative in the kitchen! This isn’t something I’m particularly good at (!) but friends and family love experimenting with flavours and foods. Be inspired by recipes online or in those cookery books atop your kitchen cupboards. If you usually cook mains, try baking a new kind of cake. Or, if you generally eat meaty dishes, give a veggie alternative a go. Creativity is all about trying something new!
Alternatively, get creative out in nature. On a walk in woodland, use fallen sticks and leaves to create a scene, or take items home to produce a beautiful wreath like those we created with Jane Bevan at Christmas. There’s so much you can do with nature’s bounty, but remember that it’s more sustainable to use what’s already fallen rather than taking trimmings.
Add creativity to your calendar
Sometimes we need to treat our hobbies like work or appointments that can’t be shifted, so add it to your diary or calendar. Block in an evening a week, a day a month, or whatever feels manageable for you – and do your best to stick to it.
If you have too many distractions at home, arrange a ‘creative date’ with a friend or book onto a workshop or studio day (as mentioned above). As soon as you’re accountable to someone, it’ll make it far easier to stick to.
Join an Instagram challenge
I have loved joining in with challenges run by other creatives on Instagram. This month, I’m gearing up for the 100 day project.
From their website: The idea is simple: choose a creative project, do it every single day for 100 days, and share your process on your social accounts using the hashtag #The100DayProject.
Again, having some accountability to try to create and share something (even a bit of progress on the last day) helps me to actually focus on making. This year’s 100 days starts on 22nd February 2023 – will you be joining?
I hope these suggestions have either inspired you to do something artistic or reminded you to look for creativity and inspiration in the most ordinary of places. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so do drop me a message on Instagram letting me know how you’re inviting more creativity into your routine.