About 3 years ago I had an interest to draw. My husband is an artist, so I asked him how to start. I drilled him with questions: What pens do I need? What type of paper should use? What should I draw? How much time should I draw? If I want to draw like this favorite artist of mine, how do I do it? I was like a buzzing fly orbiting around him as the questions went on and on for weeks.
His advice: “Draw. Sit there, and do it. Then do it every day. And don’t care what it looks like.”
That advice was too easy. Just draw? But don’t I need to take classes or drink an Americano so my creativity gets jolted? Should I save it for the weekend, put on my smock and crappy jeans, and go wild? And don’t care how it looks??? If it looks terrible then it’s wrong… right?
After more weeks of my stagnation/procrastination, his advice began to settle. I did it. I set aside time in the morning to draw. I sat at a desk in my home office and drew whatever I saw. A vase full of flowers. A picture of Barack Obama from a magazine.The medicine cabinet. My feet.
“Draw. Do it. And don’t care what it looks like.”
I’m grateful for that original guidance. It taught me to draw what I see. It taught me to see, to really look when I was drawing. Drawing made me feel good, like how I felt after walking in the park, or having a long talk with a friend. I began to draw every day.
Drawing became meditative and personal. In an interview with Debbie Millman—educator, artist, designer, and author of multiple books on design and art—Millman says that drawing bypasses the thinking part of the brain. “Your hands go straight to your heart and you’re able to capture all that emotion out into whatever it is your writing or drawing on.” I found that to be totally true.
I worked to overcome my attachment for the drawings to look a certain way. This is what my husband meant by “don’t care what it looks like.” Not caring opened me up to experiment. I cared less about what the outcome is, but that I actually got to the pad of paper to draw. And the funny thing is, over time, the things I draw do kinda look like what I’m drawing.
3 years later from those early mornings of drawing, I’m still doing it. I’ve got an obscene amount of sketchbooks piled into the corner of my home office.
A couple of months ago I met local artist Jules Naly. She has such a unique style, and posts a new painting every day on Instagram. She mentioned The 100 Day Project was integral to build her style and painting practice. At the basic level, The 100 Day Project an Instagram challenge that people participate in by making something everyday. Could be poems. Could be drawings of cats. Could be a soup a day.
I knew of the project. I had been in awe of people who took on this challenge; their discipline amazed me. But I also disregarded these drawing challenges as being full of ego, posting hyper-curated images that looked like someone had an assistant do.
I wanted to join, but I had never shared my drawings with the world. I can say all I want that I don’t care what my drawings look like, but I’m a graphic designer who uses my creativity to get work. So, yes, dagnabbit, I do care how things look. Putting a drawing a day for 100 days on social media, where the world would peer into my personal sketchbook? Scary! Why don’t you ask me to run around my neighborhood on a busy Saturday with my pants off? I’d rather do that than show the world what I draw.
I asked my husband what I should do. He said “Draw. Do it.”
This is where I transformed like Princess Adora to She-Ra . It was time to show the world what I’ve been up to. I decided I’d draw my favorite thing: people. That was the only rule I had. I could draw with whatever I wanted. I could draw anyone I wanted to. I could draw parts of people, or groups of people. #100DaysOfDrawingPeople began.
So here I am, 30 days down, 70 more to go. I’ve grown to share my drawings with a bit more ease. It’s still scary as heck, but I do it anyway. Posting a drawing a day has helped me to work fast—I’m a busy woman running a business. I filled in some empty gaps of time to fit the drawing in, either staying late at my office, or drawing in my pajamas before I go to bed.
Here’s the thing that has surprised me the most: I’m now part of a creative community. After I posted my daily drawing I’d go to #the100dayproject hashtag to see what other people were doing. I started to like a bunch of posts. Then others started to like mine. We all started communicating with each other. “This one is awesome, @dopplebee!” “Hey, what did you use to draw this @emmaraekhalil?” Never in a bagillion years would I thought that this would be the result of a social media challenge on Instagram. Who knows? These may be future collaborators. They might be future friends.
Yes, there are those that are composing well curated drawings that, probably, their assistant is scanning, Photoshopping, and posting. Yes, those get hundreds of likes—I’m guessing blind likes by people who don’t really stop to look at what they are drawing, but like for purely liking a popular artist.
But there are thousands and thousands of other people. PEOPLE! REAL PEOPLE! Drawing and writing and photographing. It’s thrilling to see what everyone is experimenting with. The work has heart. It has soul. Like the project proclaims “The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the 100-Day Project, it’s not about fetishizing finished products—it’s about the process.” That is what really shines in my new creative community.
The World Needs Your Creativity
“If you don’t set out to accomplish what you want creatively, other people are going to suffer for it.”
— Danny Gregory
When I started the daily drawing, I listened to the How Design Live podcast where Ilise Benun talked with Danny Gregory, author, artist, and speaker. He says that as he grew as an artist instead of thinking “how can I draw more and get more famous?” he found that the more he tapped into his creativity, the more it helped others. “If you don’t set out to accomplish what you want creatively, other people are going to suffer for it.” It’s true. I see it in the community of The 100 Day Project. I see myself being able to make better decisions with my design work.
Here’s where I want YOU to tap into your creativity. Yeah, you. I believe that you have a creative side that is needed in the world.
If you’ve got a creative inkling, tap into it. By getting in touch with your creative side, you’re opening yourself up to be help people to solve problems. People out there need better looking logos and websites. People out there need to read what you have to say. They need headshots that make them feel confident and attractive. The need the delight that art brings them. You have a responsibility to be good at what you do because people need what you do. As Gregory says, if you do your job well, you get to participate in a larger cause by helping other people.
Is there a creative practice you do that gets you revved up? Do you have a yearning to write or animate or get your hands dirty with clay? Something that taps into your heart and soul? Maybe it’s a physical activity or a spiritual practice. If you doubt yourself about sharing your creativity, remember your world needs it.
What does your world need? How can you focus on who you need to help? Send me a message and let me know. We can do it together.
* * *
Here are some resources to fit creativity into your day:
- Danny Gregory
- Doodlers Anonymous
- Take a class at the Drawing Studio or PNCA
I work with creative entrepreneurs and I realign their brand identity so it feels fresh and fearless. My clients finally feel empowered to share their business look and feel with the world.
Do you want to be fearless when you show your business to the world? Do you want to share your passions and talents to a broader audience? Do you want your business image to be as fresh and creative as what you offer to your clients? Do you want to be the professional on the block, and stand out from the rest of the crowd? Let’s work together.