10 Lessons from a Year of Creating Patterns
10 Lessons from a Year of Creating Patterns
When you’re first starting out as a surface designer (or any kind of creative entrepreneur), you might feel frustrated that you’re behind. It can be tempting to rush through the early stages, or wish that you are further along.
But the truth is, we all start at the beginning—and if we embrace it and go deep into learning and refining our skills, we reap the benefits that will lead to a more rewarding and impactful creative career and a stronger business.
In this article, I’m sharing 10 lessons learned during the year I spent doing nothing but creating. In 2011, I embarked on a transformative journey, dedicating an entire year to the art of creation. The insights I gleaned were profound, offering a roadmap for budding artists and entrepreneurs alike.
Here are ten lessons from that pivotal year:
- Cherish Your Early Work: Every piece of art starts with a raw, unrefined idea. These beginnings are the roots of your growth. Embrace them. Reflecting on my own journey, I recall the challenging early days, when it took immense effort just to create what I envisioned. Yet, it's these early works that shaped my artistic journey, reminding me of Ira Glass's philosophy of "The Gap" between our beginner self and our advanced self.
- Explore Different Approaches and Techniques: This year was a journey of experimenting for me—from sketching on paper with pencils to exploring different brushes and paints. The key is to immerse yourself in diverse techniques and find what resonates for you.
- Give Yourself Permission to Make Bad Artwork: Not everything you make will be a masterpiece, but each piece has its unique charm. It's crucial to allow yourself the freedom to explore without the fear of judgment. Remember, sometimes it's the 'imperfections' that lead to groundbreaking innovations.
- Create the Beauty You Want to See Come Alive in the World: There was a time when my creations were influenced by external factors, be it trends or others' works. I found myself crafting pieces without pausing to ask, "Is this genuinely my vision?" This introspection led to a pivotal shift. Instead of producing for the sake of it, I focused on birthing beauty that truly resonated with me. This commitment not only deepened the meaning behind my work but also carved out my distinct artistic voice, setting my creations apart.
- Grow a Love for Yourself and Where You Are Right Now: Loving oneself is foundational. While it may echo the sentiment of cherishing early work, this lesson extends beyond just your creations—it's about embracing every stage of your journey. It's natural to yearn for a different time, be it the simpler beginnings or a more successful future. But recognizing that you're precisely where you need to be is crucial. Celebrate your progress, acknowledge the challenges overcome, and nurture a deep appreciation for the present. You're not behind; you're on your unique path, and every step you've taken has shaped your journey.
- The joy of developing a skill: When I think back on this year, I can't help but smile because it was so fun. I was literally obsessed. I was completely engrossed in creating artwork. I was immersed—every waking moment was consumed with inspiration, experimentation, and creation. This kind of obsession—where a skill becomes an inseparable part of one's thoughts—is rare but deeply exhilarating. While diving into a new skill can initially feel overwhelming, recalling the sheer excitement of the learning process transforms that apprehension into anticipation. Remembering the euphoria of seeing progress and making discoveries acts as a reminder that, at its core, the journey of skill development is a rewarding adventure.
- No Shortcuts to Success: Your unique voice is a blend of experiences, learnings, and soul. It can't be replicated or rushed. My year of creation taught me the importance of patience and the joy of the discovery process.
- Clarity in Action: I've found that clarity often emerges in the midst of creation. Overthinking can cloud judgment, but diving deep into action often unveils the path forward.
- We Can Do Hard Things: Every hurdle is a lesson waiting to be uncovered. Challenges that once seemed insurmountable become stepping stones with time and practice. Though I look back on it with joy now, this year of creating was also hard—but it was so worth it, and it does become easier because today it doesn't feel hard at all. At the beginning that I would be able to do it but it became easier with practice.
- Invest in Hard Skills: While intuition and talent are invaluable, tangible skills can transform paths. For me, learning Adobe Illustrator wasn't just a skill—it became a gateway to numerous opportunities, reinforcing the idea that such hard skills can be an asset in any industry or country.
To my fellow creators and entrepreneurs, I urge you to savor each moment, each lesson, and each brushstroke. Your journey is uniquely yours—cherish its beauty and embrace its challenges.
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