Simple truths about creativity

Simple truths about creativity

I love little surprises. For Christmas, I was happy to receive a couple of books on creativity. Little books that are easy to read, inspiring with fresh perspectives.

One book is Hegarty on Creativity: There are no rules. I intend to touch on a few points he raised and how they relate to my own creative journey. Perhaps you can relate too?

Background context

After returning to art in 2012, I have carved out a new career. It is an evolving journey full of possibilities. I have discovered that a blend of illustration services and product creation seems best.

Initially, I displayed a mix of illustration styles depending on the specific needs of a client. This seemed easy for me to do as I was grateful for the sign-posting to new approaches. Early on I was not aware of a definite signature style and more open to suggestion.

On reflection, I am extremely grateful for my past clients, who trusted and provided me with an opportunity to create a new business. Thankfully, the majority of my clients are happy with the artwork and process.

This enabled me to make art easily whilst keeping my prices affordable.

Something changed in 2015…

I made my first illustrated products. My personal brief was challenging and led me to experiment with a couple of new art styles. 

This was a deeply satisfying process as I entered into many flow states and my first taste of freedom to choose whatever direction I desired. The wild artist within was unleashed 😉  

Whilst embarking on this delicious journey, I discovered that I had my own signature styles evolving. Supporters of my work could see and feel the magic too. 


For all the positives of starting to discover ‘my thing’ there is a consequence.

My art has become more focused and I appear unable to paint from a more general perspective where any style can be adopted. If my natural art flair doesn’t work, I start to feel like a robot and the magic drains out. 

What is creativity? 

John Hegarty defines creativity as ‘the expression of self’. I love this definition. It makes sense to me. Part of my journey has been discerning what my style is: where my natural flair lies. 

We all want to be unique and stand out for the right reasons. Although it is now impossible to be 100% original, we can still be FRESH. If we have a unique perspective, the magic shows up in a creative piece.

But, a unique and fresh idea needs fearlessness over formula.  If you want to stand out, there is no point producing something that follows a formula. It will resemble something else. It may get overlooked. I like to think that my art is produced with fearlessness. My commission work can occasionally be formula. I require freedom to express myself… or I just become a boring robot.

Successful creativity is when something has the power to stay in someones’s mind and capture their imagination? John Hegarty talks about the most powerful force of creativity being truth. For impact, we need to express a distinct point of view and that point of view needs to contain a truth. So if you want to create with impact you have to find your voice, your truth

I am expressing my truth in my artwork if I resonate with it. Otherwise the artwork may suffer. He suggests we stop thinking and start feeling our way into creativity. Of course it is an intellectual process, but it is also one driven by the heart. So the best thinking is done by feeling and not over-thinking. The more I have to think around a brief, the more difficult the process will be.

So what?

As time goes on, my art is evolving and weaving an evocative path towards a style that is fresh. It means I am finding clarity on the art I love to make. Where once I could paint any kind of art with any kind of brief, I now find my creative self is more discerning. I am tapping into my truth as an artist. 

If the person hiring me is not completely clear on what they require then we are both in potential trouble.

The best client scenarios are:

‘This is my clear brief. I love your art styles and I really want you to create an illustration combining my brief with your style and I trust what comes up’

‘This is my brief and these few Pinterest pictures show the cohesive and focused style I want for this particular piece. Can you create that for me?’  I can then decide if it falls into my natural flair as I do have an adaptable scope for a smaller range of styles I am confident in.

The worst client scenario is:

‘ This is my unsure brief…I like a whole range of art styles (conflicting styles that make it tricky to find a cohesive story) and I really (deep down) want you to try many different versions and when I see the image created that is in my minds eye, then that is the one I will choose…I will know it when I see it’.  Unfortunately, I am not a mind reader.

Can you feel the differences?  The worst case means that I feel I am creating samples of work from this place:

‘Do you mean like this? Or like this? Or like this?’

Open to problems when my illustration service prices are deliberately kept as low as possible for a win:win solution.

For the worst-case reason, I am particularly moving away from logo design. I tried a few but notice that clients become very attached to what it should look like. Who can blame them? It seems so permanent and final. It is particularly tricky if you are early and evolving in business. However, I do feel art can express a business beautifully. Keep it as a Living Brand and then the magic flows. Otherwise choose a specific graphic logo design service and be prepared to pay A LOT of money for the process and permanence.

Who does she think she is?

Perhaps this post is creating irritation within you because you think:

‘OMG you are deluded and cherry picking! …we would all love to do our own thing in our own way. What makes you so special?’  

In 2011, I made a conscious painful choice to let go of everything (marriage, career, home) that was not working in my life. I lived with an empty feeling for years trying to fulfil expectations of our external environment and culture. I have worked and lived too long in a way that was against my true nature. I have woken up to that realisation. Unfortunately, I do not have children. I find meaning and fulfilment in my life through my art and my new life. If I don’t find my resonant way then my health suffers. I have made a choice to live a simple life with less materialistic and external goals. Yet I have the desire to paint with meaning. This matters to me.

In conclusion

I am paying close attention to my process so that I eventually craft a clearer message on my website. I want my ideal clients to recognise themselves in my web copy. I need to be patient as it is a journey. I desire to be the BEST fit for my client. For us to recognise each other and have a fabulous time. Don’t be afraid to explore options with me. It is a dance and I like to think that my honesty is helpful for you.

The muddy pond where I ponder is definitely clearing. There is an evolving art theme of nature, metaphor, body and psyche. I love simple watercolour images to more complex textured artwork. For some bizarre reason, I don’t seem to enjoy working in the colour purple. It does not work for me (except when plant related). Go figure…

Over to you…

I hope it will help YOU discern if I may be a good fit for you. I am deeply honoured that you have read this post. I would love to know what you think.