In the fast-paced world of creativity, things are always changing. New technologies arrive, creating new ways of working and new types of products to create. At the same time, new social and cultural movements spring up, changing how we see the world. And all this creates and influences new artistic and design trends.
For this reason, it seems imperative that we all stay connected and keep updating and improving our practice as more and more people enter the profession and provide direct, if broadly friendly, competition. But every now and again, you take a step back and think: 'Oh my word, I am exhausted.'
And if you don't do something about that, burnout is surely just around the corner.
The end of one year and the beginning of a new one is the ideal time for this sort of personal reflection. And after the 2023 we've all had, it's not surprising that creative minds across the globe are adopting new attitudes and approaches that prioritise authenticity, self-care, and the pursuit of personal fulfilment over the pressure to conform to external expectations. We wanted to know if the Creative Boom community plans to do things differently, too, so we asked you to share your thoughts with us on Twitter.
We share some of the most interesting insights in the article below, while you can read the full range of responses here.
Whether you're at the top of the profession, just starting out or anywhere in between, we all experience the same feeling. The notion that our work has to be 100% perfect, or we'll be 'found out' by all the younger/older/more experienced/more talented (delete as appropriate) creatives out there who we suspect, deep down, of being better than us.
But if we all feel like this, of course, it stands to reason it can't be true. And anyway, even if some people are 'better' than you (whatever that means), that's not really the point. Being creative isn't a zero-sum game: it's about bringing something fresh and different to the table that's uniquely you.
Artist and designer June Mineyama-Smithson is among those who recognise this and plans to double down on it in 2024. "This year, I'm embracing imperfection and the 'done is better than perfect' mentality," she says. "So many good things are sitting in my head and not materialised. If I can get just 5% materialised – even if they don't look perfect and the journey is wobbly – that would be a very good thing."
The great thing about digital technology is that today's creative can work virtually anywhere, at any time of day. But that's also a double-edged sword, suggesting to us that any time we're not working is time wasted.
"Try and leave behind the guilt attached with feeling like you've got to be productive all the time," counters Ross Middleham, creative lead at the Met Office. "It ebbs and flows, and sometimes the wins are bigger than others. Focus on what you've done. Not what you haven't. Plus, notice random inspiration every day in stuff around you."
Artist, designer and photographer Mark Leary tells a similar story. "There are so many things I want to focus on making things different to last year," he says. "But I think in 2024, my main plan is to do more artwork for me, things I'm interested in, and not to feel guilty about spending the time on me."
Author, founder and CEO Susie deVille is singing from the same hymn sheet. "In all our clamouring for more productivity, ironically, we hold at bay our ability to intuit the wisest path forward," she points out. "We all want freedom and success. There's a much easier path to both, and it begins with inspiration.
"I define inspiration in the same way as author Paulo Coelho," she adds. "Inspiration is breathing in the oxygen of everything that brings us alive. Joyful excitement. A desire to connect in novel ways with our interior chambers. Inspiration is what we're passionate about, what we find breathtaking and beautiful. It is blissful moments of being lost and in a state of flow while making something, working our hands, and letting our minds nap."
Susie concludes: "Without inspiration — this joyful infusing and breathing into the centre of us — we have nothing to offer that has the shape and stamp of our uniqueness."
If you've spent much time on Creative Boom over the last 12 months, you'll know that one of our biggest themes of 2023 was recognising that, for many creatives, social media is over. And while we're personally still keen users of Twitter (or whatever people want to call it now), we have to admit there's been a seismic shift in the profession's relationship with socials. And 2024 will likely be the right time for a number of you to cut the cord.
That doesn't necessarily mean cancelling your account, though; it's more about a rebalancing of priorities. For instance, illustrator and designer Paul Johnson says: "In 2024, I've promised myself to not to do work just for the socials but to do work I want to. That means getting out of my comfort zone, doing a screen printing course, being more positive and careful with my time, creative and otherwise, spending time with friends, being in the moment more."
Artist Chris Cyprus is taking a similar approach. "In 2024, I plan to stop trying to get noticed by the 'art world' – whatever that is – and concentrate on painting subject matter I love," he says. "I'm really looking forward to working with young artists this year on their own creative journeys."
That said, social media is an addiction, so it's important not to swap your compulsion to check Instagram and Twitter for a similar obsession with email or WhatsApp. These may feel a little more like "proper work", but that doesn't mean we should be answering them out of hours as a matter of course.
Meg, social media marketing at Pixelated Egg, recognises the harm of this and says: "In 2024, I want to leave behind the urge to reply as soon as a message comes in, especially during meal times. The anxiety of leaving a message unanswered irks me, but I want to work on it."
It's natural to start the new year with bold and brave ambitions, and if you're feeling that way, we applaud you. But that doesn't mean everyone has to go to hell for leather in 2024, and you certainly shouldn't feel bad if you're not motivated to do so. After all, you're not the only one who feels like this. In fact, you're very probably in the (vast) majority.
UX consultant Becky Colley, for instance, says: "My aim in 2024 is to find a better balance between aiming higher and appreciating what I already have. Working towards goals while recognising how far I've come."
And freelance UI/UX designer Maiane isn't out to dramatically change her career in 2024 either: she's pretty happy with the way things are already going. "I will gladly leave behind the hurry to study and learn each and every new trend," she says. "I want to focus on consistent study habits and the desire to strengthen my own way of creating. I can't do that if I were just following what all other people are doing."
In short, creatives everywhere are approaching the new year with positivity. Not the surface-level, false positivity of overambitious people with something to sell. But the more fundamental positivity of finding the right work-life balance is working to please yourself more and clients or social media followers less and focusing more on the work you love. Happy 2024, everybody!
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