Designers: Pay The Bills But Don’t Forget To Feed Your Soul

I’ve been an increasingly passionate printer since I bought a Risograph a year ago. Not that I’m particularly deft in my screen-printing, it’s more that I was inspired by the fact I managed to not electrocute myself before the first print. That first print is still on my office wall, he’s still hanging to this day and his army has expanded to a load of other prints. I have a house full of artwork now, some framed others just ‘there’.

But there’s something about the act of keeping everything maintained. Nurturing everything the way it needs to be nurtured. Pulling back the ink drums, the cut of fresh paper, clearing out the waste. Print, rinse, repeat. It’s life. It’s work. And its results are beautiful.

I’m incredibly lucky.
I am in a role that allows me to engage with so many areas of my creativity. Not many people can boast such a luxury. Evolving concepts, designing, story-boarding, developing brand identities, copy-writing as well as engaging in my love for psychology, constantly studying and expanding my knowledge and understanding of human behaviour… And that’s just dealing with coffee-free clients first thing on a Monday.
Being a Freelance Digital Designer gives me so much space to contribute and give value. But being my best in my role involves me being the best version of myself. Healthy. Rested. Authentic. Inspired. I remembered all of a sudden recently what happens to the person who doesn’t stop to smell the flowers enough: when you push yourself too hard, your body may decide when it’s time for you to stop. When you do what you do in the same way for too long, just because it’s comfortable, reliable, fast… you risk being left behind in your field. When you’re stuck on a loop of constant delivery, you risk to forget, or worse, lose the love for what you do.

Finding Inspiration

True inspiration though comes from deeper places, which tend to not be from work. These speak to the core parts of yourself that don’t tend to pay bills but feed your soul. I’m talking about the things you want to do but don’t necessarily have scheduled into your life. Passion projects, volunteering, life drawing classes, the book you wanted to read, the book you wanted to write, the graphic novel you wanted to draw, all the mad and fantastic places in Yorkshire that you still have to visit… Not all these things may be creative in their nature, but the dividends of paying attention to them result in better and happier work.

Nurturing The Person You Want To Be

When you become too one-track minded, all the parts of the person you want to be are screaming for attention. Denying them means denying you being what you believe is your true and authentic self and this is going to really impact on your mood and how you feel about yourself. Whereas on the other hand, taking the initiative over your passion and actively incorporating it into your life means you are nurturing all areas of who you are, of what’s important to you and what makes you happy. Then it’s a ripple effect from there because being happier makes you work better.

Nurturing Your Passions

I have a lot to learn from my partner about nurturing passion. She is, by day, an incredibly hard working dog walker; by night, she is feeding her soul by carving out time for her passion, which is music. Whether she’s reading reviews, actively listening or attending gigs, she daily addresses her creative needs and I admire his dedication to them so much.


What I’ve learned from this little educational moment in my timeline…

  • I’m useless if I’m tired.
    I’m useless if I’m sick. I’m useless if I’m not in good enough health, mentally and physically, to see the wood from the trees. Sleep is the greatest healer so I need to ensure I get enough of it.
  • I need to schedule in the things that I want.
    That’s my responsibility – Only I can give myself the gift of time.
    Take the Anthony Robbins method: Write down all the traits of the person you want to be, think about what that person does and set an action plan with immediate actionable items scheduled in with a specific time allotted to it to bring you one step closer to that.
  • Take the time to think about and do what you love.
    Being able to fit in some old school loves of mine, like joining Kathryn at the gigs, making music, Field Recording… every little effort, every note parped, every tweet recorded, fed back a little more of myself back into this tired person. Sometimes it’s sleep that you’re missing. Other times, it’s the thing that drove you in the first place.
  • Tend to all areas of yourself.
    We are so complicated and so multi-faceted and we need all these different parts to ourselves as they all play a role in making us unique. We need to maintain the areas we love, work on the areas we want to grow and be active in this on a daily basis. Make yourself a priority and don’t apologise for it.

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