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Creativity at Work & Play: Living an Amplified Existence

Creativity and Big Magic

“A creative life is an amplified life.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

I recently finished a book — one of those books where right after you’ve finished it, you feel you could read it again, and again, and be inspired in a different way each time. It was Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I have no doubt that it spoke to me on such a deep level because of its subject matter: creativity — something I’ve built both a business and life around.

Gilbert contends that we are all creative. We all have access to creativity, because we are human. And as humans, it is both our duty and our privilege to act on that creativity.

Which made me take a moment to think about how I’ve acted on my creativity, and how I’ve incorporated it into my life. And how vastly different the creativity I fill my work days with is from the creativity that feeds my spirit outside of my work, but how much I need them both.

Creativity embodied in work & play

While I realize how fortunate I am to have a creative job during the day and a creative passion that fuels me in all the hours around it, I have learned to set parameters around how I use my two creative pursuits so that one feeds the other.

Why do I need to draw this line? Because, as Gilbert presents so beautifully in her book, when you rely on your true creative curiosities to sustain you both financially and soulfully, one tends to “murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills.”

I never want that to happen.

For me, it’s about using two very different pursuits to fuel each other, so that my creativity is always being exercised, but never too burdened.

Creativity at work

Graphic design and branding is my creativity at work; my logical sustenance. It feeds me on a professional level by letting me use my creative soul to serve others, while making a reliable income that I can support my family with.

I say this with much love: this aspect of my creativity is the responsible side of my being. Although I am exercising creativity on a daily basis with color, texture, layout, and more, I am restricted by technological constraints — computers, software, renderings, resolutions — as well as by demand constraints — I can earn only as much as the client wants to pay, and I am bound within the calling of their brand.

While these constraints do mean that my creativity isn’t exercised as freely as it is in other pursuits, it does mean that I get to use my creative skills to serve clients, so that they can change the world with what they do. I am giving my art on a much broader scale, and can’t help but feel a certain sense of pride when I see it on billboards, grocery store shelves, tourism bureau walls, and websites around the world.

It’s not so bad for logical sustenance, right? But the real fun comes when I get to use my creativity for play.

Creativity at play

Painting is my creativity at play; my soul’s sustenance. It feeds me at my core, and lets me use my creativity to serve myself. Painting is my unbridled, unadulterated creativity. There are no limitations; there are no pressures.

There is absolute creative freedom when I am painting. I follow no rules; I don’t rely on electricity or software; I am bound only by my own, self-imposed limitations.

I am allowed to have this freedom because I’ve built a creative day job that provides that logical sustenance. Thanks to my visual branding work, I don’t have to put pressure on my paintings; I’m not worried about creating the next masterpiece that will sell for millions.

Would I love to spend all of my time painting every day in the south of France, the Tuscan plains of Italy, or the mountains of the Adirondacks? Of course. But if I demanded that my painting pay for my existence, I would not have the sacred experience I get when I paint now — when I gather up my supplies, head out en plein air, squeeze the colors from the tubes, choose my favorite brushes and pallet knife, set my easel up, and observe what’s surrounding me.

Energy comes through me from a higher source when I am totally immersed in this process. It is my commitment; it is my loyalty. I am able to experiment without any restraints or boundaries. It is my Big Magic.

How they come together

I love both sides of my creative life. I am grateful for the balance that they each give me, and how one allows for the other. Without my logical sustenance, my soul would not be fulfilled, and without my soul fulfilled, I could not enjoy my other work nearly as much.

Whether it’s the cover of a brochure designed in Photoshop or the free-flowing brushstrokes on a canvas, creativity has always, and will always, be both my work and my play.

Living an amplified life

To put her words another way, Creativity is a life, amplified. If that’s the truth (and I happen to think it is), then I am living an amplified existence — and I want you to, as well.

Find your passions and pursue them without constraint. Write those poems. Sketch that portrait. Sing that song. Bake that pie. Whatever creative experience you are dreaming of, find the time and make it happen — but don’t put the pressure on it to be your sustenance on every level.

Will you join me in living an amplified life?

Comments

  1. Boy, does this speak to me, Cindy! I recently spoke with another painter who echoed your sentiments exactly. She said (to paraphrase): “I don’t expect my art to pay. That’s what my day job is for.” Bingo!

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