Resurfacing (a personal note about getting stuck in a creative rut)

This summer was an incredible time for me for new opportunities —  I could see my business growing and it was amazing and thrilling and fulfilling. I had been so busy working on brief-based assignments that I hadn’t had a lot of time for self-directed work. And to be clear, I am 100% aware of what an amazing problem to have. It’s kind of insane.

So I hadn’t been finding a whole lot of time to just play around and doodle and assemble patterns purely for fun, for myself, self-directed. After finishing up a few projects, I was super excited to dive in and just let the ideas pour out of me. For the past year, I’ve had my head down developing new work morning, noon and night in preparation for Surtex — I’ve been in such a groove. So I sat down and put pen to paper and… nothing. I tried to employ a few of my tricks to kickstart things. (Walk away and come back with fresh eyes. Get away from the computer. Look at other work that inspires me. Go buy some flowers. Change my scenery.) But nothing was working, and I was getting increasingly frustrated with myself.

After having some successes (small to some, huge to me), I now realize that I had really started to psych myself out. I started to think maybe that was all just a fluke. Maybe I was just channeling some limited-time-only creative kick and now my window is over. Maybe I’m a one-trick pony. It was really getting in my head. Ultimately what happened was that I had to try and turn my inner business lady off and realize why I’m doing what I’m doing. It may seem silly to some, but I absolutely love patterns. I am passionate about them and have been my whole life and when I discovered that I loved creating them myself, it was like a light was turned on inside me. After throwing myself into the business side of things, I was getting distracted from the thing that mattered the most — I needed to stop thinking about the future, about success, about what my next moves are, and remember that this is just what I love to do.

The other important lesson that I learned is that creativity is a fire that must be stoked. If you keep it up, keep the coals hot, you can hop back in and start one up so easily. But if you neglect it and let it go out, it’s a whole lot more work to get back to where you were. So keep those fires stoked! And I hope you enjoy my newest collection (more coming soon!). Thanks for reading!

FloralValley1 FloralValley4 FloralValley2 FloralValley3
FloralValley5

 

11 comments

  • September 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm // Reply

    You are so right! I thought it was just me!!! Thank you Elizabeth!
    Your new designs are just beautiful….keep stoking your fire!!! xxxx

    • September 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm // Reply

      Lizzie! Thank you so much for your nice words… and believe it or not, I was literally just on your website admiring you work this morning after voting for your piece in the global talent search. I absolutely adore your work!! Good luck!

  • September 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm // Reply

    Creative ruts are the worst, but always an essential to learn more about ourselves and how we work! It’s tough to balance the creative side with the business side, but so glad to hear you were able to get through it! Your patterns are still as beautiful as always :) Keep that creative fire burning!

    • September 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm // Reply

      They are the worst but you’re right, it’s good to reflect and learn about how we work. Thanks so much Amy!

  • September 3, 2013 at 5:17 pm // Reply

    I truly believe there is something magical about the year leading up to something new. For me it was the preparation for my first Surtex. I felt the same way, like a switch had been flipped and I was at no shortage for ideas or creativity. Almost as if you had been bottling up all these ideas and just needed someone, something to let them all out. You get into a groove where things just come together, quickly and effortlessly and you seriously can take on the whole world! I was laughing that you said that maybe it was a fluke. I literally wrote that exact thing in response to a question last night. As if you just had this little window where it all came and now you’ve used it up!

    The truth is, it will come again but you just have more to juggle. Client requests, deadlines, mock ups with already completed collections, AND all the non art parts of your business will take you out of that blissful state of pure creation and its just a bit bumpy! I’ve been fighting this battle since coming home from my first show and its hard. I think its just a matter of figuring out where your focus should be and allowing yourself to just do that for a bit weather that is art or another area (by the way I’m failing miserably at this myself!!!).

    As I was told by a very dear friend, “it’s the summer, cut yourself some slack, you’ll be back to your super productive self soon!”

    • September 4, 2013 at 1:45 am // Reply

      What a great comment, Nicole. I felt the *exact* same way going into Surtex, just bursting at the seams, it was incredible. But business is business, and that aspect is just as important as the work we create. If we can’t run our businesses well, then creativity is only going to take us so far. It’s a juggling act, and hopefully with every year, the curve gets more and more minimized till juggling just isn’t the same challenge. IDEAL WORLD!! Fingers crossed. Nice to have folks to share these thoughts with :))

  • September 4, 2013 at 12:12 am // Reply

    Everything you create is just magical. This was a honest and encouraging post from you, thank you for sharing! Even with how well you are doing now, you are still so humble :) Keep up the fab work!

    • September 4, 2013 at 1:46 am // Reply

      Aw man, Ashley, your comment made my night :) Thanks for your lovely, lovely words!

  • September 4, 2013 at 2:34 am // Reply

    That last paragraph hit the nail right on the head!! I try to devote some time each and every week to sketch with a simple pen and real paper, and get away from the computer, phone, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter….the list is endless, isn’t it? Love this blogpost!

    • September 4, 2013 at 3:20 am // Reply

      Thanks Mary! It’s the whole point, isn’t it!!

  • September 4, 2013 at 3:48 am // Reply

    Even when you’re not doing, I’m always interested in what you’re up to, Elizabeth! I think there’s something to be said for the business lady momentum overshadowing the creative soul of fresh ideas. A great reminder to remember why we do it and to live for the now.

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