I'm delighted today to introduce another new series to the blog where I get to have a chat with some of my favourite creative people about what they do, what creativity means to them, and to pick their brains for tips and advice to help inspire your creative life too.
I've got several people already lined up for you to meet, but I'm starting today with one of my Instagram buddies, Joanna.
Hi! It's lovely to have you here, can you introduce yourself: What’s your name and where do you come from? What do you do?
Hi, I’m Joanna. Originally from Derbyshire, I’ve lived in various places. I’m currently based in Somerset but moving back to London this summer, which I’m very excited about!
I run my creative business, Adventures & Tea Parties, full time. It’s a creative lifestyle website, incorporating a blog, colourful accessory shop, colour inspired Instagram challenge and a freelance writing, copywriting and photography service.
(Wow, it's sounds like you've got lots going on to keep you busy!)
What’s your personal definition of Creativity? What does it look and feel like in your life?
Creativity is the freedom to express yourself and your ideas, using your hands, imagination and some kind of tool. Whether it’s making music, writing stories, designing jewellery, sewing clothes, baking cakes, taking photos or anything, it’s about getting those ideas, however crazy they may seem, out into the world in some physical sense.
Creativity is also about the actual enjoyment of the creative process; the way creativity makes you feel is just as important as what you physically create. So, it’s both a mental and physical process.
Personally, creativity sets my heart and mind on fire with excitement. I get that huge creative rush when I’m thinking about what I might create and when I’m actually creating. It’s like being love, you can’t stop thinking about it, you can’t live without it, you don’t want to ever leave it and you can’t wait to see it again when you do have to go and sleep, eat and do boring life admin!
(Oh I love this! It fits exactly with my own definitions of creativity, and I love the analogy of it being like falling in love!)
Apart from in your business, how do you let your creative side out to play?
I find it so important to be able to create and feel creative without having a goal or deadline in mind because that’s what I do all day for work. So, I have creative activities that I do simply for pleasure, such as knitting, making clothes, photographing, doodling, gardening and cooking new dishes. I also go on lots of creative workshops to expand my horizons and to learn something new simply for the sake of it.
When I’m not knitting or at a workshop, then I love expressing my creative side through fashion and interiors, which I’ve been doing ever since I was a young girl. I firmly believe that putting an outfit together is a fun, creative process and it can really make you feel incredible; it’s a mood changer that’s for sure! I especially love mixing up my wardrobe to create new outfits using layers, colours and jewellery.
And, wherever I’ve lived over the years, I’ve always found it impossible to leave a wall blank or not give a room some kind of character. So, I love putting not just pictures, photos, and postcards up but little bits and bobs too; flea markets and junk shops are like sweet shops for me, I can’t leave empty handed. My pegboard in my studio has a regular make-over and my desk is always surrounded by colourful objects, which I’ll periodically move around to give the room a fresh new feel to it.
(Amazing, I love how you embrace being creative through your clothes and your homes, and the feelings you describe. Plus your pegboard is always one of my favourite things to spot on Instagram!)
Have you always felt creative? Have there been times when you’ve struggled with it?
Yes, ever since I was a young girl I’ve always had the urge to make something and I honestly can’t imagine life without it, it’s essential, like food and sleep! However, I have had periods in my life where I’ve not been quite as creative or simply lost sight of it, but it’s always crept back in one way or another.
(I find the same thing - if I go too long without having some kind of creative outlet I definitely feel the stress levels rising, and it's always a relief to let some of that energy out!)
Where do you find inspiration? Who or what do you look out for?
Colour is a huge inspiration for me. I love seeking out and exploring colours inside and outside home, then applying them to either a new design for my shop, an outfit to wear or using them for styling a photo. My Instagram challenge, #ColourMyEveryDay, was inspired because of that. I really wanted to explore colours and so the challenge mushroomed from there!
Aside from looking for colour in every possible way, I also find creative inspiration from books and exhibitions, exploring cities and new places, and also from music. I don’t know what it is about music, but it seems to fire up my imagination and trigger creative ideas. I wish I knew why it does that, but it sure fires up the creative side of my brain.
I’m very much a visual person, so I see my ideas first and will even play around with them in my head, switching colours and shapes, thinking about techniques, and all before I actually get the tools out. I hardly ever draw or write down my ideas, I just start making them because the doodles are already stored in my head and I’m too impatient to see the end result!
(Another vote for colour inspiration from me! #ColourMyEveryDay is always great fun to join in with. And I love your passion for musical inspiration - I know exactly what you mean about the difficulty of describing how it affects you, because I'm the same!)
What top three tips would you offer a nervous creative?
I truly believe that everyone is creative, whether they realise it or not. I also believe that no form of creative expression is wrong, that’s what is so incredible about it. But if creativity feels a bit scary, then I’d recommend these three tips for getting going:
- If you’re not sure where to start or are feeling daunted by what tools or knowledge you need, then sign up to a workshop. That way you get to try something out without having to find the tools and you get gentle guidance too. I always feel way more confident when someone has taught me and usually go rushing home to buy the equipment to carry on.
- If you’ve got the tools and are ready to go, then I cannot recommend enough just starting. It doesn’t matter what you create, whether it’s a doodle, tailored suit or a 6ft sculpture, nor does it matter what the finished piece looks like but starting is key. Once you get going you’ll find you’re into the swing of it and can’t leave it alone. When I’m writing, I often start mid paragraph to get my brain focused and in the zone for writing. As I get into the flow of it, then the words form and I’m away. I can then go back to that opening paragraph and re-write it.
- Buying a craft kit is a great way to try something new, without having to find all the right tools. Plus, you get guidance and you can try the craft in the comfort of your own home. There are so many brilliant craft kits out there and they really help build up your confidence.
(These are fantastic suggestions, thank you. Kits and workshops are amazing for starting to learn new skills - but I completely agree that the biggest and best thing you can do is Just. Start.)
Where can we find you online?
(Wonderful - thank you so much Jo for sharing your answers to these few questions, I for one am looking forward to seeing what's next in your creative adventures!)
NOTE: Banner image on this post is courtesy of Adventures and Tea Parties - art work by Poppekins.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this first Q&A, and I'd encourage you to go and check out some of Jo's links - her Instagram feed really is one of my favourites! I look forward to introducing you to another amazing creative soon, but for now - have a fabulous creative day!