As seen on Fashion Roundtable.
At the best of times, creativity is fairly subjective — whether we value a piece of work or idea, it comes largely down to our unique perceptions both individually and as a community. Since the pandemic began, I’ve seen a fairly even split of creative energy within my community and a quick poll on Instagram confirmed this. Some have totally immersed themselves into lockdown life and have not only boosted their creativity, but perhaps set-up the small business they’d always dreamed of. Whilst other creatives have found it really hard to harness their creativity in such surreal times. And with the government constantly revising their responses and regulations, many of us have felt particularly restless and claustrophobic, without a clear road or plan ahead.
My personal experience, creatively speaking, has been largely up and down. Some days I’ll feel revived and refreshed and my ideas for photoshoots, articles and projects seem to come quickly and all at once. But on others, it’s felt quite the opposite and imposter syndrome has been rife in my house. It may seem simple, but to have the desired output you have to be putting the right stuff in and starting with a clear mind. For most of us this has been almost impossible – financial hardship, home-schooling and the inability to collaborate ‘in person’ have been real negatives in this situation. Yet as creatives what we fundamentally need the most is to just be creative.
When I’m at my lowest creatively, I am always inspired by my toddler. Children have a very authentic way of being and doing and if you have the chance, creating with a child can offer a whole other perspective – no matter the mess! We’ll often get paints out and mix colours and the awe that follows when blue and yellow interchange to make green, emanating magic is truly joyous. Whenever we do this, I can’t help but remind myself that I’m my own worst enemy and of the fact that I limit myself. And to some extent I feel that’s true for all of us. Comparison is the crux of a lot of our issues both societally and creatively speaking. I recently listened to an interesting podcast on creativity with Julia Jackson, author and creativity guru, and what I took from it was this, when we compare our creative ideas or work, we’re usually comparing our embryotic work against those who have truly mastered their craft. For me that snippet was ground-breaking. I wouldn’t compare my daughter’s art to anyone else’s, I wouldn’t dream of it. Her work is unique and precious and watching her paint or draw or take photographs, the joy it brings is contagious. What I’ve recognised about myself here is that I have a very different set of rules for how I value my work and to move on from this, self-belief is central.
Self-doubt amongst the creative community is extremely common, I know I’m not alone when I share these thoughts. Frankly speaking it comes as no surprise, as creativity in general is sorely under-appreciated. Here in the UK, creative industries employ over two-million people and produce more than £30 billion in service exports, yet in terms of Brexit, there still isn’t a comprehensive or even clear answer from the government on what sort of deal is expected with the EU moving forward. Similarly, the government has just abandoned a £75m plan to make vital reusable PPE clothing to protect against a second-wave of Covid-19. I have spent the last few months watching in awe as so many professionals and creatives have collaborated and worked tirelessly to create reusable PPE with very little media coverage or appreciation. The pioneering plan the government scrapped would have been a fantastic opportunity to not only tap into our technical expertise as an industry, but to also offer a huge opportunity of work for UK-based manufacturers. In turn, this would have safe-guarded jobs in the UK textiles sector. So, the question stands, how can we harness any form of self- belief when our industry is so often overlooked?
It’s a question I ask myself all the time, and from my years working internationally, I think the key here is to find your community. This is where your creativity will truly thrive. I have been lucky enough to be able to contribute weekly to Fashion Roundtable and the community that Tamara and the team have built over the years is truly authentic and the genuine support, ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ from this hub has really spurred me on over the last few months. Mark Pierce, author of The Creative Wound, backs this need for a positive community up.
“I encourage my clients to surround themselves with cheerleaders as much as possible. I don’t mean pom-pom-waving dancers, but enthusiastic, vocal supporters—people who believe in you and what you do. Everyone I consider to be a friend is also a cheerleader of some kind. And, in return, I do my best to support and spur my friends on with their work.”
This two-way exchange of support makes sense on so many levels and is something that is now very much on my radar as a creative.
Finally, the intention of this piece was to offer some tips on how to boost creativity if like me you’re having a lull, however what I’ve found in my research is that what we all need is a safety net. A community to catch us, prop us up and to spur us on. And in turn, a space for us to offer words of encouragement and kindness to others, whether that be a quick ‘like’ or ‘share’ on Instagram or a phone call if you have more time. This doesn’t take long, but can mean the world and offer a much-needed boost to another creative, particularly if their energy is low. We all have the ability to gain control of our thoughts and channel them into something more positive, but if you don’t right now, then I’ll leave you with these four words – “I believe in you.” Now go out there and shine!