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?

The Healing Power of Art

Art heals

You know those days when you have a headache that just won’t seem to go away?

Or how about the days when you’re distracted and feeling completely incapable of getting through your (never-ending) to do list?

Or, perhaps the worst: the days when you’re simply not yourself… and you don’t quite know why — or what to do about it.

I’ve had all of the above. In fact, everyone I’ve known has had those days when they would love to crawl into bed and start over again tomorrow.

But a bad day doesn’t have to be a forgotten day. How do you turn it around? I’m here to share with you my solution; my saving grace: art.

Art heals

“At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity.”Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

My life is centered around art. I’m a graphic designer, a painter, and a conscious observer. I’m drawn to art as an expressive tool. Fortunately for me, art is largely based on creativity, and there’s sincere power in creativity.

Engaging in creative activities relieves stress. It increases your productivity. And it’s simply been proven to help you achieve more success in many facets of life.

For me, art is my job. But it’s also my go-to for the bad, sad, and tough days that get the best of us. And it can be your go-to, as well.

I have a feeling that I know what you might be thinking: you’re not creative. You’re not an artist. Take that thought and squash it right now. The beauty of turning to art as an outlet for healing is that there is no one way to do it “right.” And because of that, no one is an expert. It’s about progress over perfection, and discovery over domination. It’s about finding the outlet that improves your mood, your outlook, and ultimately, your situation.

What that might look like for you:

1 – Painting: a blank canvas, an easel, and a set of fresh paints.

2 – Writing: a notebook, a pen, and a head full of stories.

3 – Photography: a camera, a subject, and a source of light.

4 – Sewing: a needle, thread, and a choice of fabrics.

See where I’m going? Using art to heal looks different for everyone. Art is color. Art is words. Art is texture. Art is seeing the world through your own lens, and translating it in only the way you can. And through this, there is learning; there is expression; there is healing.

All you need to get started is an open mind, and the desire to turn your bad day around.

Use art as your outlet

Artist Susan Griffin said this:

“I think artists can go to a level of vision that can often save us from a situation which seems to have no solution whatsoever.”

You don’t have to be a full-time creative to be able to find that level of vision. You, my friend, are an artist. So remember, the next time that headache sets in, or the to do list seems insurmountable, or the day just seems lost: it happens. And when it does, I urge you to do this one thing: turn to art.

Create when things are good, create when things are sad, create when things are uncertain. Open yourself to the healing power of art and welcome the change in your days.