On Being Creative


On being Creative…

What do you think of when you hear the word “Creative” or
“Artist? Does your crafty next-door neighbor come to mind? Or maybe you’re
thinking of a favorite painter or sculptor. Maybe you’re thinking of yourself.
Maybe you think definitely NOT yourself.. I ask this question because the word
“creative” seems to have an aura and mystery about it, like magic, some people
have it, some people do not. This word is also synonymous with other “aura”
words “Free-Spirit” (which is also often used by folks when they are trying to
describe someone who is either irresponsible or unreliable but that they like
because they use words like “aura”…). For the whole of my life as a
Creative/Artist/Free Spirit, I felt a disconnect because, in my mind, there was
always someone more “Creative”, more “Artist”, more “Free Spirit”.

Throughout the years this doubtful mindset actually stopped
me from reaching my potentials in these realms, and then even when I started
breaking through my doubts and insecurities, my “Imposter Syndrome”, the little
voices (those Gremlins I’ve spoken about before) are still in the corners,
waiting to jump out and yell “BOO”.

I was absolutely plagued by the Gremlins about 4 years ago
when I decided to go back to school and get my Master of Fine Art degree. Let
me take a moment and share something about my personality. You can call it
delusion or a protective mechanism, but even in my deepest, darkest moments of
doubt, when the Gremlins are running the asylum, there’s this other voice
inside of me, as small as a whisper, that urges me to move, to grow, to take a
leap of faith and actually focus on how I could succeed instead of how I could
fail. I believe it is this voice that has saved me from tanking my creative
journey and my belief in my potential.

So there I was sitting in one of my mentors offices
discussing enrolling in graduate school, the entire time thinking, “OMG, you
aren’t even an artist” but somehow knowing I MUST do this. Fast forward about 3
years, 3 fairly rough and revealing years in which I worked harder than I
thought I could, I failed a lot, I cried, I drank lots of wine, I swore off
wine, I drank more wine, I realized the problem was them, I realized NOPE
actually the problem is me, I realized I could change, I figured out I truly
was a fraud, I figured out I am an Artist… do you see when the Gremlins were in
control and when the small whisper was guiding me? Towards the end of the 3
years I realized the #1 thing I needed in order to be a “Creative/Artist/Free
Spirit” was: DISCIPLINE.

So here are some myths surrounding being an Artist:

They are inherently genius…

They wait until their muse strikes and then create only

They brood and are seriously wiser than common folk…

They are unreliable and that lends to their creativity…

(In modern times) They either need to “sell out” or starve…

Part of the reason I struggled with being an Artist is
because I just didn’t want to fit into those categories. When I graduated I had
developed a thesis (you
can read it here)
and within that, as well as during the writing and
creating process (they often go hand in hand for me), I realized my personal
creative potential was best reached if I did they following:

Developed a schedule (and stuck to it)…

Found daily focus and positivity in my mindset, no matter if
I was creating or cleaning my studio…

Ate meals consisting of whole foods…

Drank plenty of water…

Practiced yoga or went running on the trails…

Tried new things and let go of feelings of judgements from either
myself or others…

Slept 8+ hours per night (yeah, pulling all-nighters and
effectively destroying the creative centers of my brain were no longer a badge
of honor, check out this
talk by sleep expert Professor Matthew Walker)…

Showed up and didn’t wait for my “muse” (Stephen Pressfield
has a WONDERFUL insight about muses in his book “The War of Art”, seriously
read it! Click here to see it on Amazon)…

And the biggest breakthrough:

               I had to
use 80% of my time creating an infrastructure for the 20% of the time in which
I could actually let my creative, free spirit soar….

Being creative, at least for me, does not work if I don’t
have a foundation. I may be able to fake it through a couple of nights of
shortened sleep, or missing a good meal here and there (I’m not perfect and I’m
really trying to stop striving for that), but in the long run it all falls
apart if I don’t have my ducks in a row.

So back to the initial question… What does it mean to you
when you hear “Creative/Artist/Free Spirit”? Do you still see the mystery? Or
do you see that it is a practice of discipline, focus, and intention. And my
biggest question is, do you see how you could also tap into your creative
potential and embody your Artist self by becoming disciplined, focused, and
intentional. I also want to point out that being an Artist is all about
“problem solving”, developing creative solutions (I’ll talk more about this in
a later post). The artist uses a material or medium like paint, wood, metal,
paper (at 1905 Studio we primarily use clay to create solutions) but perhaps
you use numbers, or community relations, or communication. Do you see how you
could possibly tap into your creative potential in whatever field you’re in and
that the words “Creative/Artist/Free Spirit” can actually be positive words for
you to adopt in order to find greater success? I truly hope so…

A further thought on the word “Free Spirit”: I truly believe
that “Free Spirits” actually thrive on discipline, and could potentially
self-destruct without this discipline (speaking from experience here). Once
discipline, focus, and intention are in place, the negatives of the free spirit
idea are removed and what is left is someone who isn’t afraid to go against the
grain, to explore uncharted solutions, and to be a much needed voice in our
(sometimes) lemming society.

1905 Studio would never have been a possibility without my
rewriting my thoughts surrounding what it means to me to be a
“Creative/Artist/Free Spirit”. It also would never have been a thing if my
partner (in business and life) hadn’t helped me develop the systems I needed
along the way. He is the Yin to my Yang.

Let us know how we can help you on your journey as a
“Creative/Artist/Free Spirit”. We’d love to share more with you and to support
your journey as you are supporting ours.

Be sure to follow us on Social Media and sign up to receive emails from us! (we promise not to spam or share your email, we want to connect with you!)

Cheers Y’all,

Joanna Gifford

1905 Studio Co-Founder

Showing Up

A notification dinged on my phone and l absentmindedly looked
down thinking nothing of real importance would be flashing on my screen. When I
saw the tiny Etsy shop icon pop up notifying me that we’d made our first Etsy
sell, my heart leapt! That one “little sell”, totaling less that $25 (minus shipping),
obliterated the mounding doubt that had begun stacking itself against my heart
and mind, building its foundations on my every insecurity as a human and an
artist. This (monetarily) “little sell” was achieved before I’d even begun
implementing any sort of marketing, it was achieved simply by being available
on the site. 

Now there’s a lesson for me. This is the business equivalent of
“just showing up”. Not that marketing is not a crucial tool for business, and one that I a currently learning about, but I realized that the most important thing for the business that Jeff and I are starting is for both of us to be present, for us to show up every day and do our best. If I continue to show up in my life and business, it means I
don’t have to be perfect (I mean seriously, why do we keep trying?), it means I
don’t have to have all of the answers (actually, by showing up the answers come
to you, like which art works are more popular, what activities fuel my life and which take
away from it (yoga=fuel, procrastination=not so much). This one “little sell”
unlocked new paths to where Jeff and I needed to show up, like ordering custom
shipping materials and stock piling packing material. Once that one “little sell” happened, clarity followed!

Since the beginning of 2019 Jeff and I have slowly been
dreaming about and creating 1905 Studio. However, in the past 2 months, we’ve
gotten laser-focused on it. Each time we learn something new about business this
new information would open up more new information, ultimately multiplying like…well…gremlins… and as cute as business looks on the outside, I’ll remind you all
to not feed business after midnight (don’t try to implement everything at once)
and do not get business wet (those gremlins will soak in every insecurity and
spray it back to you like a super soaker!) The anxiety I felt was immense and
it completely affected how I showed up in my relationships and every other area
of life. I mean, this is not the first business I’ve tried to start based on
either my skills or talents, and the fears that I’ve developed based on those
past “failings” found the MOST opportune times to peak their fuzzy little

I’ve learned little by little how to show up and fuel my life and how to
quiet the gremlins (thank you Brene’ Brown). Just like my business, it’s a work
in progress. I share this story with you because maybe there’s someone
out there like me. Someone who is struggling with overwhelm in their lives and
they are just waiting for their version of a “little sell” on Etsy. If that’s
you, I want to remind you: Instead of waiting in a pit of anxiety…SHOW UP! Do the work in front of you, don’t try to do everything, and show up. That’s what I’m going to
be doing every day, for my business, for my relationships, for myself. Show up
and see what happens. I’ll be here to celebrate your “little sell” with you,
just as I know you are celebrating with me.

Be sure share your “little sell” stories with
us! We’d love to hear them!

Don’t forget to follow us on Social Media and sign up to receive emails from us! (we promise not to spam or share your email, we want to connect with you!)

Cheers Y’all,

Joanna Gifford

1905 Studio Co-Founder

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