June 20, 2019
As a creative entrepreneur, your attention is always divided. Answering emails, sending invoices, networking…
That all has to do with the “entrepreneur” part.
But what about the “creative” part?
What are you doing to stay creatively fresh? How are you staying inspired?
Sadly, we don’t always think of creativity as a top priority. It gets pushed to the back burner in the shuffle of entrepreneurial life.
But I would argue that it’s actually the most important aspect of your job. Your creativity is the reason you got into this gig in the first place. Your creativity is what makes you (and your business) unique. Memorable. Sellable.
It’s well-worth the extra time and effort to prioritize creativity in your business. But what exactly does this look like? How can you stay creatively inspired in your work?
If you’re anything like me, if it’s not on the calendar—it doesn’t happen. This applies to creativity too!
If you want to push creative boundaries and hone your skillset, you have to build it into your calendar.
What does this look like? For me, it means I start every Monday with free creative work. I’ve blocked out a few hours to create, learn, and explore. It can be anything I want, as long as it’s not business-related (no client work, no marketing graphics… no plans for monetary gain).
It helps me get into the groove for the work week, so I can start on client work feeling refreshed and creatively inspired. As an added bonus, I always look forward to Mondays!
Here are just a few ideas for how to spend your free creative time:
Oh, I CANNOT stress this enough.
In this industry, we are so fortunate to do what we love as a job. But when you attach monetary value and client expectations to your work, the work loses some of that creative magic.
Give yourself a pretend dream client and create a project for them. Join a styled shoot or collaboration that suits your dream aesthetic. Start a passion project that fuels your creative fire.
Find that shiny spark of inspiration again. Remember why you love what you do.
Some of my favorite portfolio pieces are still non-client projects… designs I’ve created with total free rein. They’re opportunities to do my best work—to showcase what I can do and how I want to do it.
On a more practical note, non-client work is important when you’re building a portfolio (hint: you should always be “building a portfolio”). The type of work you put out there is the type of work you’ll book. If you’re only showing recent client work, you’re missing an opportunity to attract your dream projects right into your inbox.
Creative inspiration ebbs and flows… but I’ve always found that it’s more likely to flow when I actually seek it.
Keep a pocket journal (or start a new note on your phone!) to list inspirations you find in your daily life. I also use my phone to snap photos throughout the day… maybe a bathroom’s floor tile or hotel lobby wallpaper.
Best of all? Sketch. Again, don’t worry about whether the sketches are good or not… just use them to record your inspirations. I love sketches because they automatically put your spin on whatever it is you see in front of you. By translating it from the real world, through your mind, to your hand… you’ve already created something new. Plus, it trains muscle memories: maybe the contour you just drew will serve as inspiration for a future project.
This will get you into the habit of looking for inspiration and taking note of it—building inspiration into your everyday mindset.
Where to start? I’ve got a few ideas:
Be open to the inspiration around you. Take yourself on creativity dates; allow your mind to wander, to soak in the environment around you. And document it!
Sounds pretty do-able, right? If you’re willing to give your creativity the opportunity to grow, it will.
So that’s it:
Start small. Start today. What’s one little thing you can do to stay creatively inspired?
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