Creative Practice for Creative Professionals

Creativity coach Lucy Nobles provides her top tips on the creative life.

Posted Apr 07, 2021 | Reviewed by Matt Huston

Eric Maisel
Creativity Coaches on Creativity
Source: Eric Maisel

Many creatives choose professions that feel “somewhat creative,” thinking that their day job will keep them in touch with their own creativity. But then the graphic artist discovers that she is never doing her own painting and the copy editor discovers that he is never working on his own fiction. To deal with this very common occurrence, creatives who are “professional creatives” in their career or day job likely need to create and maintain a personal creativity practice if they are to get to their own creative work. In today’s post, creativity coach Lucy Nobles explores this theme.

Lucy explained:

There are many jobs and career options for people who want to make a living being creative. But many of these jobs require that someone else defines the outcome of your creative process. If you are making a living from your creative skills, you may want to develop your own personal art practice and outlet as well—that is, art for art’s sake, for your own personal satisfaction. 

A personal art practice starts with a few easy steps.

Step 1: Inspiration

Pinterest, art blogs, museum websites, books, magazines. What is speaking to you? What ideas are being sparked in your heart and soul? Journal about what is being sparked and how you might explore those ideas. Remember those projects that you loved to do when you were a child or reflect on something you always wanted to learn how to do.

Step 2: Research

Visit an art supply store just to look, dig deeper into specific projects on Pinterest, read up about online classes, talk to friends doing art, or watch YouTube tutorials. Once you decide what you’re going to create, you’re halfway there.

Step 3: Supplies

Keep to the basics: a few high-quality tools can make a difference in your experience of doing your chosen art form. Quality paint, brushes, and paper will make painting easier, but see if you can stick to just a few basic colors to start with. If you like to write with pen and paper, get a few different pens to try out and look for a journal of the right size or one that is particularly inspiring.

Step 4: Space

If you’re painting, collaging, drawing, sculpting, or doing other things with your hands, you’ll need plenty of space and some furniture. Designate a corner or table that you can take over for a time, a space where set-up and clean-up will not be too difficult, where you can move around, where airflow is good, and where natural light is plentiful. Add task lighting, if needed. If you’re writing or knitting, you won’t need as much space, but you might still want to consider a private, quiet corner.  If you’re doing photography or film, use this quiet corner for setting up your editing space.

Step 5: Schedule Time

Block a weekend or evenings after work, or take a vacation day. That might mean taking a drawing class in the middle of the day and then home practice on Sunday mornings. If you can, schedule regular and recurring time. This is the most important and the hardest part. If you don’t schedule this time and keep it as a priority, it won’t magically show up for you. Many people say they don’t have time for creative pursuits, but the truth is that they haven’t made and prioritized time for it or for themselves. Time for yourself, to do what you most want to do, is the whole goal of developing your own creative practice.

Lastly, celebrate your art! In addition to creating, sharing your work is an important part of your personal artistic practice. Show your family and friends. Display your work on the wall behind you in video calls. Create a group at work for people to share their personal practice. Talk about what your art means to you, what you’re learning, and what new things you want to try. Not only does this spread the joy of your creativity to other people, it helps encourage you to keep creating.