I’m pleased to welcome Aileen Holmes, artist, graphic designer, and bona fide so cal girl, guest posting on the topic of creative growth!
It’s easy to get comfortable doing what you’ve always done. And, it’s easy once you’ve achieved some success to sit back and say “yeah, I’m awesome.” …But the world is evolving around you. You’ve gotta evolve with it! Evolution is a process of growth over time. Your daily to-do lists are too small in scope to give you proper perspective of how to grow. Even new year’s resolutions can be too small compared to the many years ahead in your life. It’s important to step back and have a long-range view to identify potential areas of growth.
There are many ways to identify areas of growth:
Sometimes the best thing to do is daydream! Ever since I was a little kid, I would daydream about my most perfect life in the future. In the beginning, I daydreamed about my most perfect tree house (complete with a giant slide, of course). My dream evolved over time to having a bedroom with a balcony (where a sweetheart would visit), to having my own apartment with a wall full of windows, to owning a house by the sea. As you grow, your dreams grow.
I invite you to daydream about your most perfect life and my most perfect career. Think about it. Where are you? What are you doing? What have you achieved? Write down all the details. Your daydreams can inspire you and even give you specific goals to shoot for. You can see the gaps between what your current life looks like and what it be. It’s important to dream big. As Les Brown said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.”
I was taught that jealousy is a bad, bad thing but my thinking completely changed when I started to really pay attention. Instead of pushing jealous thoughts out of your mind, try listening. If you have a strong gut reaction and find yourself saying “I could have done that” or “I wish I could do that”, well, you probably can! Jealousy is a very powerful tool. It shows you what you want.
Both daydreaming and jealousy are tools to guide you to your heart’s desires. They can show you how you how you can evolve and live your dreams… but those both come from your inner reflection. Sometimes you need the outside world to serve as your mirror.
Listen to others
Outside people whom you trust can also show you ways to grow. Have a chat with your mentors about your goals and they can share the wisdom of their experience, maybe even help you avoid obstacles and pitfalls that they have experienced. Also, listen to your fans/customers/clients. Your fans are in tune with your work and intuitively know what new products to create and where your work would sell. Listen and take notes.
After you have identified possible areas of growth, you’re likely to want to acquire some new skills and improve upon your existing skill set.
- Daily practice: This is a no-brainer but it’s easy to be swept away pursuing the ever long to-do list. Be sure to set aside a bit of time every day to create and work on your passion. If you put just a little bit of time every day and pretty soon you’ll look back on previous work and see how much you’ve improved!
- Classes/Seminars: You are never too old to learn something new and there is always someone who knows more than you. Why not take advantage of the resources in your community? Local community colleges are excellent and relatively inexpensive. Also, your local SBA (Small Business Administration) office has SCORE workshops. Within the last couple of weeks I’ve taken Advanced Internet Marketing and How to Write a Business Plan workshops for free! Check into your local arts and craft stores, community centers, and browse Meetup.com. There’s an abundance of people willing to teach what you want to learn!
- Critique Groups/Craft Clubs/Drawing Groups: You can also learn from your peers. It’s great to create with your artsy craftsy friends. It motivates you to create, of course, but you can swap tips and network. I like to go to my local Dr. Sketchy’s Anti Art School for modern life drawing with my artist peers. I also like to meet with my local chapter of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators hosted by my art mentor Marilyn Scott-Waters, the toy maker.
- Teaching: It might seem counter-intuitive to teach in order to learn… But once you have established a foundation of skills that others would like to learn, you can challenge yourself to organize your thoughts in a relatable way and communicate your knowledge to others. You’ll have to research your subject in depth and break down your subject matter into bite-sized chunks easy for students to digest. When you teach your class, students will challenge you by asking questions and approach the subject in unexpected ways.
A daily self-discipline of working on your craft, getting the support of your community and sharing your knowledge are all great ways to work on your growth. And, with your vision identified, your actions will be much stronger–fueled by passion. I’m excited to hear about how you are growing!
Aileen Holmes is a freelance Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Artist working in sunny Orange County, California. Having specialized in illustration and graphic design for over seven years, Aileen’s sexy and sassy vintage-inspired artwork has appeared on apparel, stationery, textiles, and posters around the world.