How to Build a Practice Around Your Creative Work


2016, Here we go! Dustin and I have had some amazing time for reflection on what we want to do with our business in 2016. One thing we want to do this year is hone our personal style and eventually update our brand to match. I’m working on building a practice around how I create. The only way to hone a personal style is to create relentlessly.

Let me tell you about a designer’s dilemma. Starting a project, brainstorming, building mood boards on Pinterest - super fun. The edits, revisions, tweaking, and translating feedback - not always super fun. When you get down to it, the work that pays your bills and feeds your family, is not always what your creative mind wants to do. How to sidestep this dilemma? I take my mind to the playground. Every morning before work I spend 2 hours drawing, reading, dreaming, and writing. This is the hour that I build my creative practice and release any creative energy or tension. Then I shower and get ready for work. I find I am much more focused and disciplined with myself after my practice hour.


We all know a good relationship takes work. You have to look at your work and understand that it takes relationship.

How do you build a good relationship? You show up, a lot. How do you build a good relationship with your work? You practice. You show up even when we don’t feel like it and create things just for the sake of creating things. Over time, you will build strength, clarity and focus. Practice makes a professional.

(There are so many yoga parallels in this post, I just can’t even.)


Tips on Building your Creative Practice



You can’t treat your creative practice as a performance. Ever sat down to create and thought, “I can't wait to post this to Instagram?!” Just having that thought cross your mind takes you to an entirely different place. I don’t know about you, but I can't make anything wonderful in that place. It's the place where I start stressing out about shit that doesn’t really matter. I repeat, it’s a practice, not a performance.



Have intentions, but not goals for this time. So my intention is to write a blog post per week and illustrate a little every day. But one morning last week, I wasn’t feeling it. I read Rumi poems instead. Listen to yourself and give your mind what it needs.



Practice with frequency and keep showing up. Try to practice when you have the most energy. I’m a morning person, so I do first thing from 6-8 am. Do this everyday. 



Use mental cues to teach your brain what this time is all about. I always start with coffee, chill music and my journal. It’s my little warm up. Experiment and find what works for you.



Stick to your end time. Unfortunately I can’t let myself dream all day. At the end of my practice, I review my calendar for the day and get ready to do billable work. Sticking to your start and end time will help you build boundaries around your work. It will also help you build strength at setting boundaries in other areas of your life. Cheers to that.


Let's make 2016 the year that we constantly showed up for ourselves. Yeah? 


Side note: Should I make coloring pages / screen graphics from these illustrations? Leave a comment below if you'd want one!

Update 1/19: Coloring pages available here!