Living Creatively in a Creative’s World
Gabby Althoff Senior Graphic Designer
Being a creative is great! It can also be frustrating. People tend to assume that you can whip up beautiful designs out of thin air and with no effort at all because that’s just what you do.
Somehow creativity is treated as though it is something mystical – that you have been blessed by the gods with an endless font of creative juice and that you only need to dip your well-worn (but aesthetically pleasing) coffee mug into the shimmering waters and drink deeply to get your creative tank back to full.
If only this were the case! In my experience, I’ve found that to keep me at my creative best, I have had to master the art of living creatively outside the workplace without encouraging creative burnout. I feel like this is an essential tool in the utility belt of any creative professional and something that can be tough for many graphic designers, including myself.
Through a lot of trial and error, I discovered that finding inspiration and honing my creative skills in other artistic outlets was imperative to becoming a better designer and avoiding the dreaded burnout. To me, living creatively is not just about finding my work-life balance, it’s about finding my creative balance. Like a physical muscle, your creative muscle only gets stronger when you engage it and work on it every day.
To stay in the creative mindset at home, I make and sell jewelry and take on many an artistic DIY project. Recently, I have been working on reupholstering some hand-me-down furniture for my home, and it has tested my creative skills in ways that my graphic design skills never would have tested.
Unlike a graphic design project, where the undo button is your best friend, there is no undo button when measuring and cutting fabric. There is no scale tool to make the pattern bigger when you mess up the measurements. I’ve had to learn new skills and find creative solutions to problems that have me outside my comfort zone.
And because I drifted into the DIY world, let me close with these suggestions:
My Top 5 Tips for DIY Success
1) Take your time
They weren’t kidding when they said to measure twice, cut once. Upholstery fabric is expensive, and one bad cut can be a costly mistake.
2) Coupons are your friend
Supplies can be pricey, but if you find a coupon or shop for items when they are on sale, you double down on your creativity and thriftiness.
3) Do your research
Look around on the Internet to find people that have done similar projects. You may learn some tips or tricks that will help you in the long run.
4) Take a class
If you are feeling invested in your creative endeavor and want to take it to the next level, a class can take you from a DIY novice to a DIY master.
5) Show it off!
Even if it looks more like a Pinterest fail than a Pinterest-perfect project, show off what you have done. Who knows, maybe you may inspire creativity in someone else.
In short, being a creative can be a fun, frustrating and ultimately fulfilling career path. You get to be creative and be paid for it, all the while helping the world be a more well-designed place. Protecting yourself from creative burnout is imperative if you want to stay sane and at your creative best both at home and at work.
Senior Graphic Designer
Though fantasy novels, nerdy movies and her Etsy shop are passions of Gabby Althoff, her primary focus has been producing engaging, brand–centric marketing design. In a return to her hometown of Billings, she joined Kinetic in June 2019 as a designer. She had been in Bozeman for five years before that as a designer and social media specialist for Cat® Workwear.Read more about Gabby