Being the introvert and happy homebody I am, I'm quite content to spend hours on end alone or at the very least in solitary fashion working away. Yet, I love and thrive on quality time- either 1:1 or in smaller, intimate groups where you can really talk and get into things, truly know people and be known by sharing yourself in turn. I love sitting down with a friend for coffee and candid conversation without a care of the time.
Over the last year or so, I've learned how invaluable creative community can be to keep me motivated, accountable, aware, and challenged, along with an overarching kindred sense of home. This month is National Craft Month, and I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be an artist, designer, maker, and crafter. I've been thinking about self-expression and vulnerability and what makes art so meaningful. And most of all, I've been thinking about creative inspiration and from whence it comes. Here are few of those most meaningful to me...
Community sparks creativity
First up, is the inspiration that comes from getting to know other creatives, building friendships, and journeying alongside each other as we explore our mediums and hone our craft. When I see what my friends are creating and doing, I can't help but become even more energized and inspired to produce more meaningful work. By engaging in community, I'm in a constant state of being spurred on as I witness their explorations and growth.
Another is accountability, and not only when it comes to goals and timelines. There is also an accountability needed for me to continue learning, listening to others, and making sure I'm aware not only of what is happening in the world, but being intentional to hold myself in an open-minded, learning posture. Listening to stories and views that are different from my own that I may better live and create in a more loving, inclusive way.
By nature, I enjoy retaining control and doing things my own way. Yet I've been learning how much this limits my creativity and growth as an illustrator. By sharing works in progress with others and inviting them to provide constructive feedback, I open myself to a new level of vulnerability, growth, and the opportunity to brainstorm and troubleshoot, which so often brings a more fruitful result.
I've also learned that so often I simply don't know what I don't know. By engaging- and sharing- with others, we can glean from each others' knowledge, strengths, and experiences. Through community, we expose ourselves to a vast array of lessons learned, new ideas, and helpful resources. It's almost like a shared education in which we teach each other what we know, and when we are generous and others are in return, we all move forward with far less snags and backtracking.
Ways to foster creative community this month
Host a Crafternoon. Pick a project (check out my DIY Pinterest board for inspiration), and invite some fellow crafters for an afternoon of making. If planning something like this sounds overwhelming, see if one of your friends can co-host or divvy up shopping for materials with each attendee responsible for a different material to share. If you're up for doing the shopping, ask invitees to each pitch in $10 to cover their supplies.
Sign up for a creative workshop. This is a great way to meet fellow creatives with shared common interests. Last year, I attended a needle punch workshop with Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou. I attended with my friends Janice and Jackie, and our afternoon was spent exploring a new art form, chatting about creative projects, and getting to learn and glean from Arounna's knowledge, techniques, and stories. I'm teaching a Hand Lettering with Art Pens workshop at SEWciety Studio in Claremont, CA, Saturday, March 23, and would love to have you join us for an intimate morning of letterly loveliness.
Look into local creative meet-ups. I did a little digging and found a vast array of creative meet-ups happening all over the world. For my fellow introverts out there, this may feel like a big step and require a bit of bravery. Perhaps it's something to gear up to or a way to take a friend with you so that it feels a little less daunting.
Plan a creative outing or field trip. Is there a museum exhibit or a new yarn shop that you're eager to visit? Call up a friend or two and set a date to soak it up together.
I know that local, in-person meet-ups aren't always a possibility depending on where we live, and creative community can so often feel far away or unattainable. Yet, I've found that there are many meaningful connections to be found and grown online through social media and other communal platforms, or Skype meet-ups and masterminds sessions.
Participate in an Instagram challenge. This can be a great way to meet new people, spur on creativity, and build lasting friendships online. Here are a few I highly recommend...
Renaissance woman, podcaster, and friend Sarah Shotts' of Kindle Curiosity is hosting a Kindle Challenge. Sign up to receive a weekly prompt to ignite your creativity with your preferred medium. Share your creative projects to the #kindlechallenge2019 hashtag on Instagram and connect with fellow creatives.
The annual March Meet the Maker challenge on Instagram has just begun. Founded by illustrator Joanne Hawker, the challenge invites makers of all mediums to embark on a month of creative posting on Instagram. It's all about sharing our mutual love of art, discovering new artists who inspire you, and making new friends through creativity. Each day, participants respond to a daily prompt and engage with each other through the #MarchMeetTheMaker and #MarchMeetTheMaker2019 hashtags. I'm posting all this month on my IG, and would love to see your posts pop up there.
Art Stew is a monthly creative Instagram challenge orchestrated by artist Rhea Amyett. Creatives of all mediums respond to a monthly theme in any way they wish (visual, tactile, written, or musical works), and contribute their explorations to the Stew pot via the #artstew52 hashtag. Stewards encourage each other to explore, revel in the creative expression of others, and celebrate diverse voices and art styles.
Start an online mastermind group. This has been one of the most valuable things I've been a part of over the last year. Pull together some like-minded creatives who share a similar work ethic, commitment level, and passion for making. Coordinate a time for an online meet-up once a month (or your desired frequency). There are various platforms out there (many of them free!), that make for easy for video chatting.
I'd love to hear how you're celebrating National Craft Month, and please know that wherever you are creating from this year, I am cheering you on and wishing you all the inspiration and encouragement I can muster.
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