I want to start the 2018 blogging year off in the best way that I can, which means talking about creativity and authenticity. I love the hashtag #creativelifehappylife (whoever invented that one deserves free ice-cream cones for life). It took me most of my life to figure out that having a creative outlet is crucial to my overall happiness, mental health, and general well-being. When I am creating my brain is able to work out extra energy and anxiety that I'm unable to get out in other ways--getting out all of the ideas and focusing on executing them fulfills something in me that isn't fulfilled by the other aspects of my life. The whole process makes me happy! When I'm happy I'm a better mom, I'm healthier, and my whole family agrees that I'm more pleasant to be around. Right honey?
I am totally a New Year's Goals sort-of-person, so I want to share a few of my big creative goals for the new year:
- Make sure my work represents me, my style, my interests, and my ideas in an authentic way.
- Don't settle for the first version of designs, refine each idea to make it the best that it can be.
- Encourage and inspire others to create and express authentic creativity.
As any of you fellow stitchers will know, embroidery is slooooooooow craft. It takes hours upon hours to stitch through even a small piece of embroidery, which is simultaneously wonderful and vexing. Since I'm a full-time entertainer, chef, dictionary, maid, chauffer to my almost 3-year old, I don't have as much time as I would like to stitch, and quite regularly wish I could crank out hoops at a quicker pace. BUT, I love that embroidery forces me to move at a slow pace in a world where things revolve around high-speed internet and instant gratification. What's even better is that I have a well-spring of ideas for embroideries, but it takes so long to work through them that I never run out.
Since I have lots of ideas and I usually have to wait awhile before I can bring them to life, I'm trying to take that opportunity to mull over each idea in my mind and evaluate whether or not it's representative of me and whether or not it conveys the feelings and ideas that I want to share through my work. I continuously ask myself the questions: what is unique about this design? Have I seen something extremely similar to this already by another maker? Does this design have meaning? Does it truly speak to the things that I feel passionate about? If I can honestly answer all of those questions in a way that I feel good about, then I continue on with the piece--if not, I rework the idea until I can.
Creating a piece of embroidery, or art of any kind, doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with BEING creative. I actually see things all the time on Pinterest or in stores and think to myself, "I could make that,"--not because I'm cocky, but because I'm crafty. Am I right? Why buy those tassel earrings when you could make them for 1/32nd of the cost?! Just kidding, tassel earrings would get pulled on by small fingers in my house, but you know what I mean. Sometimes this is a totally fine thing to do. Like, yes I will take full advantage of totally free knitting and macrame patterns if they have been made available for free on purpose. I'm a huge fan of DIY (surprised?) but not when it comes to replicating actual art.
Sometimes I scroll through Instagram, Pinterest, or Etsy and feel pretty bummed by how much of the same things I'm seeing over and over (particularly in the embroidery community, but it exists everywhere). I'm sure I am not alone in this feeling. Certain content has become extremely trendy and is replicated over and over in ways that are neither new nor interesting. Some of this is inevitable, and honestly complete originality is difficult to come by. That being said, overt mimicry is also pretty easy to avoid (other than when you're doing a pattern that you purchased from someone or that was free, which is obviously totally awesome). I regularly see stitchers SELLING embroideries of designs that are extremely similar to those of artists that I know and respect (and sometimes I see copies of my own designs :( ). Seeing things like that can be both disconcerting and disheartening, but instead of moping about it, I'll say this to my fellow creatives instead:
We can't stop the people who would mimic our work. In time, they will either gain enough confidence in themselves to begin developing ideas of their own, or their followers will recognize their inauthenticity and withdraw their support. What we can do is continue to dig deep within ourselves to create art that is uniquely our own. We can work hard to create content that represents our individual passions, experiences, and style, because authenticity is difficult to replicate. When we foster creativity within ourselves and add variety to the marketplace, everyone benefits.
I'm taking my own advice to heart this year and hoping that with my creativity I can inspire others to feel confident in THEIR creativity as well. I truly believe that for every artist there are people who will love and admire what they create. The people who love my work may not be the same people who love your work, but if we all create authentically than together we can connect with a wider audience and bring more joy to the world through art, and isn't that the real goal?
On that note, I want to thank all of my supporters. Thanks to my hubby and my kid, my parents, and my friends. Thank-you to those of you who have purchased my art to hang in your homes, offices, or to gift to loved ones. Thanks to the lovely people who follow/like/comment so sweetly on my Instagram page. And thank-you SO much to the hundreds of you who have purchased my patterns. I love coming up with pattern designs and I love that I get to help you all CREATE. As much as I love the revenue, I don't want anyone to be dependent on patterns forever if they don't want to be. I really want to provide you all with patterns, tutorials, and blog posts that act as stepping stones, helping you to eventually gain the confidence to stitch designs of your very own (should you wish to). Because a creative life is a happy life, and I don't want you to take my word for it. :)
Have an awesome week everybody!