Hello, everyone! My name is Alex Hughes, and I own a printmaking business called Wandering Paper Co. where I sell my globally inspired prints and illustrations. I went to TCU, where I majored in graphic design, and I now live in the DFW area with my husband Philip, our cat Athena and a few frogs.
I don’t know about you, but I often feel in a bit of a creative slump around January. The holidays are over, the days are short and blankets and Netflix seem awfully appealing! To fight the winter blues, I thought I’d share a few tips and resources I use to stay passionate and excited about my work. I hope they may inspire you, too!
Take a Trip
Most of my work is inspired by traveling, and visiting a new place always leaves me filled with ideas. I recently took a trip to Germany, which is known for beautiful paper crafts like folded stars and cut paper art called Scherenschnitte.
While a trip to Europe isn’t always possible, there are plenty of ways to “travel” closer to home, like going to international festivals or trying new foods. I love going to the Japanese Festival at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden every year. The Japanese gardens are beautiful and always leave me feeling inspired. The Chinese New Year Festival in Dallas is a great way to have an international experience close to home!
Check out Other Artists’ Work
Here are a few artists whose work always leaves me inspired:
Rebecca Atwood (textiles)
Tad Carpenter (graphic designer/illustrator)
Check out Books and Podcasts about Creativity
The Creative Habit
I recently read The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, and I highly recommend it. It is full of exercises and habits to get out of a creative rut. My favorite was a questionnaire designed to help you get to know yourself as a creative better. Through answering the questions I discovered that I am drawn to work that is loose and unstructured, colorful, emotionally expressive and unpretentious. That knowledge has really informed my work, and has helped me develop a style and direction that is uniquely mine.
Art, Inc. is a great book by Lisa Congdon, and it is full of practical advice on being a self-employed artist.
Creating Your Own Path Podcast
I love listening to podcasts while I work. Jen Snyder’s podcast is full of interviews with self employed creatives from fields like textile design, illustration, ceramics, jewelry, film, and many more. It’s always inspiring to hear others’ success stories and a bit about how they got there!
Go for a Walk
Science shows that walking is good for the brain. It’s true! My mind always feels sharper after exercising. Whenever I’m stuck on a project, I go for a walk and come back refreshed.
Make Personal Work
For me, there's a constant struggle between making work I think will sell, and making work just for me. Although it can be hard to find the time, I've found that my best learning happens when I make work for myself.
Take the time to create work that makes you happy. Making personal work energizes the soul and will leave you excited to make client work again!
Okay, I’ll admit it, I am TERRIBLE at this one. I’m trying to be better! Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to take the night off. Snuggle up on the couch with Netflix and a hot chocolate and enjoy a little self-indulgence. That way your brain is refreshed and ready when it’s time to get back to work!