One evening, while perusing the internet, I ended up on a blog called 'sweetfineday', and then I stayed up til 2 am reading. I had found my other self, a doppleganger of sorts. On her blog, Jenna writes what I'm feeling and thinking. (and I know that I'm not the only person who feels this way). It's kind of amazing how her random thoughts are so in sync with mine. Maybe the world isn't so random after all. Reading her blog is my goodnight treat to myself at the end of the day. I'm also in love with her photography. It's thoughtful, serene, and truly captures a moment. Recently, I decided to reach out to her. I wanted to know her creative process, and she graciously responded, once again with thoughts eerily similar to my own.

Jenna's Creative Process :

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with design. Maybe because  it’s never been my first love and we’ve been co-dependent for the past 16 years. I’ve made a good living as a designer, but I don’t think it defines who I am, creatively. I’ve always wanted to be an artist since I was a kid. I’ve always drawn, painted, made things with my hands, and my entire childhood was laser-focused on making this one thing happen. So it came as a surprise when I started questioning it all one day. I floated my way through 3 years of art school never really connecting with anything, never really creating work that had any meaning. Maybe I was burnt out by the time I was 19. Maybe I started doubting myself, but my relationship with art was never quite the same after that. 

There is one period in my life, however, when I felt the most creatively free. It wasn’t design, it wasn’t art, but it was through music. It felt like a clean slate when I left art school to study music. I didn’t carry the pressure that I felt weighed me down, years and years of built up expectations that were hard to escape from. I felt the freedom to allow myself the room and space to experiment and make mistakes. I wasn’t afraid to write something or make sounds that were ugly, whereas with art I was too afraid of creating something that was not perfect. Music first taught me to let go; I continue to learn that through photography. If I had to pick the one thing that has been my worst enemy it would be the pursuit of perfection. It kills creativity. It took me a long time to learn this.  

I’ve also learned that I can’t force creativity. I like having the time to let ideas simmer. Some of my fondest memories from the time I was writing music was sitting under the baby grands in the practice rooms, just breathing and thinking. When something felt right, I wrote the ideas down.  Maybe this is why I’ve struggled to totally embrace design as a career even though it’s the only career I’ve known - that pressure to produce on the clock. But if I’m being honest with myself, those parameters of time, budget, deadlines and client expectations gave me the structure and the push that perhaps I needed to start creating visually again. Maybe this is why I eventually turned to design. 

I’m finding that I have to re-think, or rather re-focus my creative process as I get older.  Sometimes ideas flow organically and a project comes together almost effortlessly, but other times art manifests through lots of struggle and self criticism. Neither way is right or wrong or better than the other; it’s all a process. I look at my kids and admire how they can fill reams of paper with drawings pulled from their imagination. I doubt that I can ever regain that same sense of child-like fearlessness when it comes to creating, but what I can do is be inspired by them. Being an artist, is a life-long work in progress. There is always room to grow, to declare that something sucks and move on, and there are always people to learn from. 

Click here to read Jenna's blog, sweetfineday. You can see her art direction and design work here

Whose creative process am I curious to find out about? My friend, Lisa Solomon. Lisa and I became friends somewhere along the way through the magic of the internet, but she is an artist whose work I’ve long admired.