Hello everyone! Today is a chance to meet another of my creative online friends - the lovely Clare of Hello! Hooray! Clare and I have connected over our mutual love of rainbow colours, and her gorgeous embroidery and hoop art. I'll let her tell you more about herself and her creative life...
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?
Hello, I'm Clare! I'm originally from York but moved up to the lovely city of Newcastle upon Tyne in 2004 to study music, and I have been here ever since.
I currently work part-time teaching Music and English to international pre-Masters students, whilst running my blog, Hello! Hooray! and Etsy shop alongside. Most of my crafting and blogging is done during my daughter's nap times or when she has gone to bed, so there's a lot of juggling of family time, work at the day job and my creative projects. Hello! Hooray! Is my space to share the things I love to make and do.
(I didn't know you were a musician, another passion we share in common, as well as roots in Yorkshire - my Dad's family originate from there)
What’s your personal definition of Creativity? What does it look and feel like in your life?
Creativity isn't just about the finished product; more significantly, it's about the process of making. The process allows you to slow down and take your time over something, with the added bonus of having a lovely thing in your hands at the end of that process. I find it really liberating! We all express ourselves creatively in different ways, and that's so interesting.
In addition to enjoying the process, creativity allows me to be me. Becoming a mum was the most amazing thing ever, but it totally turns your world upside down and you kind of have to work out who you are all over again. You have to find out what your new identity looks like. Creativity was a constant in my identity and I actually found that I became more creative after Little One was born! Maybe the limited time focuses my mind, or maybe I just have a better understanding of how integral creativity is to who I am.
(Oh I love this! The part about re-discovering your own identity separate from and alongside being a mum especially, and the process of self-expression)
Apart from in your work or business, how do you let your creative side out to play?
There isn't much time outside the day job and business really, but one of my intentions this year is to make time for some personal stitching projects. I've kept up with this so far and have added a few new pieces to the hoop wall in my new craft room.
I love to encourage Little One's creativity, so we do a lot of creative things together. She loves to play on the piano and sing, so I play the ukulele along too. My husband, Tom, plays piano and she loves to sit and 'play duets' with him. We draw, paint, build with blocks - anything that allows her to explore. She's so good at naming colours now so we spend a lot of time identifying them when we're out and about! Seeing her develop in this way is actually really inspiring to me too.
(That's amazing, what a wonderful way to explore creativity and to play through her experiences - and I love that you're training her up early with her colours!)
Photos by Clare Albans
Have you always felt creative? Have there been times when you’ve struggled with it?
I have always been creative, although recently my creative outlets have changed and I've struggled with coming to terms with that. Music had always been my passion, my focus and (eventually) my work, but this changed following a career move that I hadn't really expected. I found myself teaching all kinds of different things except for music, and to be honest, it left me feeling like I had failed. I had failed at the thing that I loved the most and was best at. This wasn't hugely conducive to my creativity!
But it was during this period of career change that I started to experiment with different crafts, and I began to find a new creative outlet. My friend suggested that I start a blog, and I used this to document my creative process. I'm basically up for trying my hand at anything! After Little One was born, I realised that the thing I absolutely love the most is embroidery. I love that I can pick up a project and return to it later, and I love how it makes me feel when I am doing it. It's my new passion, and I now feel happy about that. Music opened so many doors for me - I had so many amazing experiences through music and they are still part of my creative makeup. I love to listen to music and I still play my violin now and then, but I choose to express myself in a different way now. I'm finally okay with that.
(Thank you for sharing this Clare, it can feel so tough to let go of things we love, and I completely understand the sense of failure. But finding new things to try is always exciting, and the music is always there to come back to when it feels good, or to incorporate into other things, like teaching your daughter. Now I don't feel quite so guilty about my flute laying untouched in its case for so long!)
Where do you find inspiration? Who or what do you look out for?
Inspiration is everywhere - colours, patterns and textures play a huge part in my work so I'm always on the look-out. Being outside in the fresh air on a beautiful sunny day is one of the things I love the most. It just makes me feel good, and when I'm in that happy place I'm open to inspiration and I tend to find it more, if that makes sense?
(That makes total sense! I agree, when we feel relaxed and happy we're more likely to allow ideas and inspiration in to play, and to feel like anything's possible!)
What top three tips would you offer a nervous creative?
If you're new to exploring creativity, the first thing you really need to know that everyone feels nervous about the creative process at one time or another - it's completely normal to doubt yourself, doubt your work and want to run away from it on occasion! Keep going, work through it and you'll be so glad you did. Joining an online community of creatives can be so helpful in terms of getting advice and moral support. I love the In Colourful Company and The Rollercoaster of Running an Indie Business groups on Facebook as everyone is so supportive.
Secondly, take your time when it comes to working out who you are creatively, and be kind to yourself in this process of discovery. We're not all amazingly talented in everything, but don't let that put you off - let it inspire you to find your creative passion. If you aren't feeling inspired, just take a break. Breaks are good!
My final tip is to embrace imperfections. Not everything is as perfect as those little squares we see on Instagram and you're not a machine either. I choose to see imperfections as little bits of individuality, and that's the main reason I love handmade. I can make two versions of the same pattern I have designed, but they are each individual in their own right.
(Fantastic, such great advice, thank you! I especially love the second one - the part about discovering and being kind to yourself, and the part about taking breaks!)
Photos by Clare Albans
Where can we find you online?
(Thank you so much Clare, it's been lovely to get to know you better, and I hope my readers feel inspired by your work and approach to creativity too!)
I hope you've enjoyed reading this Q&A, and I'd encourage you to go and check out some of Clare's links - her Instagram account is one of my favourites! I look forward to introducing you to another amazing creative soon, but for now - have a fabulous creative day!
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