My background, my calling
…over 20 years ago, in a small town in the North of England, there lived a young art student.
It’s summer. 1993.
I’m loving life as an art student in the beautiful spa town of Harrogate.
I’m blissfully immersed in an Art Foundation Course – a year of exploring the various disciplines of art and design: sculpture, fine art, graphic design, drawing, painting, building and making.
But my beloved course is coming to an end.
The glue is drying on my final portfolio piece.
My paint-spattered studio desk is empty and clear.
I have just a few days left before I head back to my parents and a part-time job in the dog-food factory.
There’s just one last chance for some creative fun:
The competition to design the flyer for the End of Year Show.
It’s optional: no pressure, no tutors to impress or curriculum to follow.
It’s that rare and beautiful thing; an open brief.
Total freedom of expression.
And the night before the deadline, I’m sitting on the floor of my tiny lilac room, cutting and pasting and playing in my happy realm of paper and ink, collage and colour.
In the background, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are clowning around on my little portable TV perched hazardously on the edge of the sink. (It is a really tiny room).
I suddenly become aware that I feel completely happy. And free.
I’m struck by the sheer joy of creating for its own sake.
It’s almost a trance. (What I will later learn is called the flow state.)
And I’m so deeply absorbed in my creative bliss, that I’m actually quite startled when I finally emerge from it and review my handiwork.
It feels a bit like waking from a happy dream.
But unlike a dream, I have a very real new creation in my hands.
A colourful, fun, ink-splashed design that breaks many of the rules I’ve been learning.
It doesn’t look like anything I’ve created before.
I can just imagine what my favourite tutor Mike will call it:
A creative and original solution.
The kind of thing he likes to see.
I feel slightly puzzled about how I’ve managed to produce such carefree and playful work.
I hadn’t planned to, I don’t even remember being conscious of the process.
In fact, this new work is so much less restrained than any of my previous methodical pieces, I even feel a bit nervous and vulnerable about putting my name to it.
But I find the nerve to submit my entry, and to my amazement…
My entry is selected to represent the entire college.
I’m so thrilled to have won, though I can’t quite believe that my work has been chosen to be plastered on lamp-posts all over town.
It’s a welcome and happy boost to my fragile creative confidence.
I christen the piece, my French & Saunders design, because I believe I must have been ‘channelling Dawn and Jennifer’s comedy vibe’ as I created it.
And its creation has got me thinking…
How is our creativity affected by what’s going on around us as we create?
How do our different moods and mindsets show up in our creations?
And what exactly are the magical ingredients of sparking that blissful, magical flow state?!
I’m curious, but at 19 I don’t realise that these questions will spark a journey of discovery that will lead me – in a twisty-turny way – to my dream career…
Cut to 25 years later and I’ve never stopped analysing the creative process.
With over two decades in the creative realm as a designer, copywriter, blogger, author, publisher and entrepreneur – my roller coaster creative journey has made me a great Guinea Pig.
My own experiences have helped me understand what makes the process easier and more fun – and what has the opposite effect.
I’ve become obsessed with understanding the nature of creative magic – reading hundreds of books and articles about artists, writers, creative genius, the flow state, inspiration, and all aspects of the creative process, from the mundane to the divine.
Yet this study is still a work in progress – and I’m glad it is!
It’s my favourite puzzle.
And there are always new revelations to find.
But my favourite discovery is this one:
I know because I’ve found them and used them with great success – for myself and my clients.
And as I learn to ease my own creative struggles, I feel increasingly called to share this wisdom with anyone else brave enough to explore a creative life.
Because the more I learn about our minds, our nature, our potential, our natural inclinations and the creative process itself – the more peace I find.
Not just in my creative work, but across my whole life.
I’ve come to know in my heart that creative expression, and finding joy in the journey, are not only vital keys to a life well lived – they can be a fast-track to our ultimate happiness and fulfilment.
And so now I feel it’s my mission to share these simple strategies – to help other soul-seeking creatives find more joy and ease in their creative journeys, and more peace, meaning and fulfilment in their lives.
I think Dawn & Jennifer would approve.
Creativity Editor (Empowered Wellness Magazine) : 2016 – present
Creativity Coach + course tutor : 2014 – present
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Creativity Coaches Association: Creativity Coaching Training – Advanced
Creativity Coaches Association: Creativity Coaching Training – Basic
Bucks University : The Psychology of Luck (Research Project)
Camberwell College of Art / Manchester Met : BA (Hons) – Communication Media
Harrogate College of Art: Foundation Art & Design
• • •
CITY & GUILDS:
Stained-Glass Window Making
Business & Marketing
Metaphysics & spirituality
Diamond Feng Shui
Creativity, creative minds & the creative process
Flow state & inspiration