Being Creative: Inspiration from Big Magic

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat. Pray, Love fame) is a life line for Creatives. I had had this book on my reading list for a long time, and I finally was able to finish it! This is only the second book that I have finished reading since my graduation from my Master’s program… It is apparently taking me a while to get back into the concept of reading for fun. This book, however, was more than just a book for me to read and then shelve. There was some meat to this piece of literature, which is part of the reason why it took me so ling to finish. It is a manual for those who are called to be creative and it really changed my outlook on my understanding of what it means to “be creative” and how a creative lives a creative life. I want to take a moment to discuss a few of the quotes and concepts that have stuck in my brain.

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“Big Magic”
Gilbert themes her book around the idea that creativity is a concept of “Big Magic”, meaning that it’s not something that can be fully understood, and often acts in mysterious ways that we can and can’t control. It is a paradox, one that many people spend their whole lives trying to solve. Being creative mens living in this world of simultaneous extremes, and if we are not careful, this uncertainty can lead us away from creative living, as fear of uncertainty backs us into corners. Creativity works in mysterious ways, and we have to embrace the concept of the “magic” in order for it to work. Faith, trust, and a little pixie dust, if you will.

“Argue for your limitations, and you get to keep them”
This one hit me like a brick to the face. I never realized how many hours in the day I spend arguing with myself and others about why I can’t do something. As a younger creative, I think I spend a lot of time standing in my own way. I don’t know enough, I’m not experienced enough, I’m not, I’m not. I’m not. But what if I spent my time trying to fight through and overcome my limitations and find ways around them instead of fighting for why I can’t? “Fear is boring” is another phrase that Gilbert uses and one that I have adopted as a personal mantra. Fear IS boring. It holds us back, and keeps us in our mundane boxes that we inflict upon ourselves. And if we fight kicking and screaming to get out of these boxes, people will leave us there and we will never feel the need to leave. Don’t box yourself inside your limitations, and don’t let fear make your life boring.

“Live a decorated life”
We spend a great deal of time on this Earth in boring situations, in boring places, and life is too short for boring. Why wouldn’t we want to add our touch to the parts of life that we can effect? I never understood why I was attracted to the arts, in particular music, design, and lettering, in the way that I was until I heard the concept of a decorated life. I don’t want the spaces that I inhabit to be boring. If I can decorate the places and spaces that I frequent, then they are no longer boring. I can leave my mark and the world will be a better place because of it, because someone cared to decorate.

“Curiosity”
My favorite concept that Gilbert discusses is the relationship between creativity and curiosity. The idea that creativity is more about the pursuit of knowledge and pursuing inquisitiveness than just pure passion and mystery is much more encouraging. When you base your life and understanding of who you are as being a “creative”, it is mildly terrifying to think that you do not have control. But Gilbert asserts that we DO have control. You just have to be in control of your ability to lose control and pursue those pieces of ideas that get stuck in your head. “I don’t know yet exactly what I am, but I’m curious enough to go find out.”

Finally, “You do not need anyone’s permission to live a creative life.”
Building upon my earlier discussion about standing in my own way and being insistent on telling others that I can’t, this point also resonated with me in that I don’t need approval for my creative pursuits. I don’t want to sound like my family and friends have never been supportive in my creativity, they actually are very supportive, but I am terrified about unleashing my creativity upon others that I am less familiar with. If the greater world doesn’t think I’m a good creative, then I must suck, right? Every mom has put her kids’ artwork on the fridge, so the validity of family approval loses it’s importance after awhile.

Like many creatively minded people, I stumble and I struggle, and I get discouraged in my creative pursuits. While reading Big Magic, I found myself frequently saying “me too”. It was nice to feel that there is another (much more accomplished) creative out there who has struggled with the same things that I deal with on a regular basis. The wisdom that Elizabeth Gilbert has imparted to others who struggle with their concept of creativity is encouragement to help us face down our fears, uncertainties, and desires for approval.  Creative living means simply to keep moving despite all of this and recognize it is our job to accomplish what we need to do to fulfill our creative duty.

I hope you found these thoughts to be encouraging to you as well, and I hope that you also take a minute to read this book. If you’ve already read it, let me know in the comments below!

Til next time,

Jessie

 

Being Creative: Weekend of Lettering and Line Illustrations

Hey Guys! Going on week 3 of the blogger lifestyle. I might be starting to get the hang of it! You’re still here, reading away, so I guess I must be doing something ya like. Thanks for sticking with me!

Anyway, I needed to take a break this weekend. I don’t know about you, but last week was CRAZY. I built a playground for my day job with 327 other volunteers from around Columbus. It was clearly a very chill experience. Actually no. Not even close. I cannot even joke about the lack of chill that was last week’s activities for this playground. It was fun, but it was a lot of work.  And I love my job, but sometimes, even the best jobs can completely drain all of your energy.

For me, when I am drained, I need to hit the reset button and recenter myself. My favorite way to do this is to create something. Lately, I have been playing around with one of my favorite instagrammer’s, @pigeonlettering a.k.a Peggy Dean’s, fabulous step-by-step illustration book, Botanical Line Drawing. I’ve never really considered myself an “artist”. I am an “amateur doodler” at best. But this book makes me feel like a pro!

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I’ve been practicing hand lettering for about 6 months now. I’m still not sure if it’s hand lettering or brush letting or brush calligraphy, (the blogging community has yet to come to a consensus on that one). I LOVE IT. I get to buy pretty pens that come in all the pretty colors and write pretty words and phrases and add some beauty to an otherwise dull world. It’s also really fun to send cards in pretty envelopes to brighten dreary mailboxes as well. My favorite pens are from Pentel, but Tombow’s markers are also fun. It just depends on the vibe you are going for, and the size of the piece. I’m a little clumsier with the Tombow DualBrush Markers, and the Pentel Sign Brush pens have a more flexible tip. But I’m still really new to the lettering game, I’m hoping to one day be able to make amazing letterings with any markers like all the instagrammers do, but it takes time. I love practicing lettering and I find it very calming. I love words, and letters, so making them myself is extremely gratifying.

I love studying different type and fonts and learning how different styles can make you feel. I was always that kid in computer class playing with the different fonts in Word to make sure that I had the best cover page. I also have always been the girl that wrote everything in cursive when she learned it in 4th grade. My printing is awful, but it’s ok, we are working on it! I found out about hand lettering while browsing around on Pinterest and Instagram. Before I knew it,I had bought some pens and paper and I was lettering. I’m still learning and refining my style. If you like what you see, let me know. I’m thinking about opening an Etsy shop…

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I spent some time with my sketchbook and a glass of wine on Saturday night, and this is what I came up with. Lettering: Pentel Color Brush, Line work: Tombow MONO Drawing Pen, and Color: Tombow Twintone Markers in Pastel. It was a great way to destress and calm my mind. I apologize for the sketchy color lines. I was trying a new, different style to fill in my illustrations, and some of it looks better than the rest. Just another excuse to keep practicing I guess!

I hope you are all enjoying your last few days of summer. I know I am clinging to them. But I am also ready for everything pumpkin. Summer color palettes are way better, though. Win some, lose some, I suppose.

Have a great week everyone! and thanks for reading!

Best,

Jessie