How to overcome blockers and stay creative
Creativity is the capacity for valuable and original creation. But let’s face it, as true as this statement is, there’s more than meets the eye (or art, for that matter). As makeup artists who also earn a living from our passion, we do much more than just envisioning and executing creative ideas. There’s the material aspect and many practicalities which often stand in the way of creativity, as they require a lot of our time and energy. On top of it all, we live in a world of overstimulation and there’s this external, but also internal pressure to constantly raise the bar, which can be a blocker in itself.
Creativity, just like desire, doesn’t always spark from nowhere. Even spontaneity needs some nurturing, the right environment, the right state of mind. It needs space to regenerate and then to bloom again.
Here are a few means that animate my curiosity, hence my ability and disposition to create.
Books and Magazines
Of course, books of any genre have the capacity to stir our imagination and expand our horizons, but when it comes to stimulating our creative ability, imagery is key. I am not a magazine consumer, yet there is one in particular I love and have a monthly subscription to, and that’s Frankie. Not only are the images and illustrations unique and beautiful, but the pages also host plenty of meaningful and diverse content. Their paper is of great quality and so nice to touch, thus another sense exalted! I have come across the work of so many talented artists of all sorts and I have learned from their successes, but also from their struggles. The Lissome is another wonderful magazine with a focus on sustainability, regenerative fashion and organic beauty that inspires me. In terms of books, The Secret Lives of Colour is such a fun one! I find it so interesting to learn about the origins of colours, the different symbolism they bear in different cultures and the impact they had throughout history. Impossible not to fall in love with colours while reading it! For those passionate about the history of makeup, Lisa Eldridge’s Face Paint: The Story of Makeup is a true gem! Her knowledge and fascination with the subject transpire through every single pore of this book.
Journaling and Creative Writing
I tried free-flow, intuitive journaling a few times in the past, and although I found it useful and liberating, it didn’t stick with me. However, I bought myself The Creativity Journal at the beginning of 2022 and let me tell you: I am obsessed! It’s by far one of the most intuitive, fun and insightful pieces of writing I have ever come across. I can honestly tell you that I’ve had quite a few revelations about myself while playing its ‘games’ and filling in its pages, and I surprised myself more than once. It’s a great tool for unlocking creativity, disconnecting and digging deeper inside. It keeps me thoroughly engaged, pushes my limits, but it also allows me to loosen up and have a break from the usual.
Find and carve out other passions, as this will not only enrich your soul, but it will also take away some of the pressure from your main artistic endeavour. I love nature photography and losing myself into the exploration of tiny worlds, patterns and unusual colour combinations. And it often happens that I come back with colourful ideas lurking in my head. Travelling to remote corners of the world, having contact with indigenous people, their culture, colourful quirky clothing, vintage finds, structural buildings and food, they all add to my creative world. Just find your thing, no matter how small (you think) it is.
I love discovering and browsing through other artists’ work, in particular illustrators and ceramic artists. I could spend hours just doing this. I find it both inspiring and relaxing. And it just puts things into a different perspective. There is a long list of illustrators whose work I follow, but my favourites must be Mădălina Andronic, Tania Yakunova and Alice Lindstrom. I love their use of colour and naive depiction of reality. Few things I love more than ceramic accessories and sculptures and I am especially fond of the work of Sofio Gongli, Daniela Cățoi and Nastia Calaca. Shape, patterns and colours play an important role in my use of face makeup and face paint.
Of course, there are also our fellow makeup artists whom we look up to. There are some brilliant artists out there, but while it’s great to get inspired by them, be mindful as to not put yourself down. Be selective with the content and people you follow, and diversify your sources. And while you use a reference, make it your own and allow mistakes – this will boost your confidence and feed more creativity.
The more we create, the bigger the appetite, the greater our capacity to become better at what we do, but creativity also needs breaks. Nurture your soul, but also your body, it’s where we stack unprocessed feelings, unsaid words, stress and trauma. Don’t underestimate the power of rest and let go when you feel it’s too much or not for you. Listen to your body and avoid arriving at that moment when it will say ‘no’.
A clean environment = better productivity, more room for creativity
Keeping my content, products and workspace clean and organised helps me make some extra space not only in my environment, but also in my head, and it increases my productivity. Besides the Creativity Journal, Poketo has lots of other cool and efficiently designed planners that can improve focus and motivation.
Few things are more enriching and soul opening than surrounding ourselves with like-minded people. We have somehow managed to lose that deep and nurturing sense of connection along the way, and I believe it’s so important to bring it back and make a priority out of it. A strong community will always give us a sense of purpose and belonging, essential to a fulfilling personal and professional life.
Time in Nature
Last, yet definitely not least, Nature is my playground. Nature speaks the most when it comes to finding inspiration for my work. It's the most genuine, insightful and diverse source. Nature is a friend, a healer but also a source of pure joy and spirituality. I am a better and more artistic person thanks to it. It’s amidst its richness that I’ve learned to be mindful and to pay attention to the tiny worlds that you will often find portrayed in my work.
Remember to give yourself those moments when you create just for the sake of creating. Have fun with it. PLAY is the best antidote to anxiety, boredom, demotivation, everything really. In between jobs, admin work, emails and figuring out what to do next, make space for the artist in you. I do not believe that we are as good as our last work. Just as life and personal growth are non linear, so is our ability to create. We are an accumulation of experiences. We all have good days and bad days, and it’s normal they affect our productivity, so I think it’s important to be mindful of both. Set long term goals that are really YOU and move your energy in that direction. Wander through museum and art exhibitions, study film, fashion, photography, street art, family roots, pay attention to the sky and bees pollinating, hug a tree. Explore your aesthetics and find what makes your heart thrive. And if you find yourself deeply stuck, just give it time and have as many breaks as you need. Creativity will come back.
The industry is ever changing, and especially now, at a very fast pace. While this can bring excitement, it can also be overwhelming. Stay true to yourself and what you believe in, and most importantly, maintain that sense of enjoyment for what you do, and everything else will follow sooner or later.
REST, PLAY, LOVE.