The greatest piece of advice I have ever received was from Katie Selvidge, Editor of Cottage Hill Magazine. In a webinar called You the Brand from Crème Brands (which I rave about in my previous post), she stresses how important it is to “protect your creative well.” It is so very easy in this age of online sharing to be bombarded on all sides by other artists’ work. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to keep up with the modern design world, to share work for feedback, and to cultivate relationships with other people in the industry. However, there is a huge difference between finding inspiration and copying. For even the most honest of designers, it can be a difficult task to not let others’ ideas wiggle their way into your own design sensibilities.
Sometimes copying is intentional and other times you might not even be conscious of it. All of the sudden, you are struck with an idea-- a beautiful monogram, an interesting layout, or a new style of painting flowers. You think to yourself, "I am brilliant! This whole designing thing comes so naturally to me!" You know why those ideas just "came to you"? Because you saw it on Pinterest two days ago.
In order to help combat the temptation to copy (or opportunity to be too heavily inspired), I have made some changes in my daily routine and my creative process with clients. Here are two tips that have helped me to “protect my creative well.”
I do not follow any other stationery designers on social media.
When I ask my clients for images that inspire them, I request that they do not post any other designer’s works. For bridal clients that means no invitation suites and for my business branding clients, no logos.
These choices definitely haven’t made my job easier-- on the contrary. It has been very challenging at times when I hit a wall when designing and can’t seem to get past the creative block, when my own “well” feels like it has dried up. It would be so easy to get on Pinterest to glean a couple new ideas. Instead, I spend hours sketching, thinking until my brain hurts, and whittling away at designs that just flat out stink. Behind most final designs are about fifty failures. It is all worth it though. My work is so much more rewarding when I have to truly dig deep-- finding inspiration in the stories of my clients and in nature. Putting this distance between myself and others’ works was one of the best decisions I have made for my business.
What is the best piece of advice that you have received, in business or in life?