Tips for artists, crafters, and makers focused on caring for the creative mind and body.
(Cauldron Mug: from thelittlegrasshut on Etsy.)
For a long time now I have wanted to write something helpful and that would actually be useful for both artists and crafters. Even though we may use different tools, styles of work, and methods, we have a ton in common -including having to face some of the same problems.
There are all kinds of articles on technique and a plethora of tutorial videos out there so I wanted to provide you with a set of tips that cover a different aspect: taking care of yourself.
Maybe you know by now, maybe you don’t but creating is not all about technique, talent, and continuous projects. Sometimes the problem is creator’s block or a constantly aching back. So I decided to assemble a set of tips focused more on caring for the mind and body that I think could help someone struggling in their own creative process.
Some of these tips are suggested by many other artists also, too many to give proper credit to. I have included my versions of them because they have turned out to be extremely helpful and important to me personally.
To keep from getting stuck in a creative rut, or to help pull you out of one, you should pay attention to what your mind and body are telling you.
(Model: our cat, Einstein)
Tip #1: Stretch Your Body!
If you have already started your creative journey then you might already be familiar with some of the side effects that come from sitting continuously while working.
A common problem I see among my fellow arts and crafters is back pain. This is due, in part, to a lack of stretching before sitting for hours on end. Set aside a couple of minutes a few times throughout the day to ease the strain on your poor spine and to stretch out your stiff legs.
First thing when you wake up, stretch your whole body to shake off leftover sleep stiffness. Stretch, practice yoga, or lightly exercise - whatever you prefer just move around a little bit.
Make time for a few quick stretching breaks throughout your working process, even if it happens to be after a bathroom break.
When you get up from finishing your project, stretch out your whole body.
Finally, finish your day with a few more body stretches or light exercises before going to bed.
(Photo credit: Anita Wallace Holt, owner of Still Poppin OG Bath & Soaps)
Some local bath/body care product specialists also have naturally-made pain balms that can immensely help ease tension and pain in the back and shoulders. Asher and I personally use this Hemp Whip (above) made by Still Poppin OG Bath & Soaps. I highly recommend trying some out if you struggle with aches! I am not joking when I say this stuff is amazing!
Tip #2: Stretch and Exercise Your Mind
There are several different ways to stretch your mind, so to speak. I have a few ideas for you to consider but this is one of those things that really depends on a personal preference. Try a few of these out and even if they do not fit you personally they may help you discover what does work for you. Stretching your mind is an essential part of helping keep up with your progress flow and for building better focus.
Read or listen. Stories and music are both fantastic for stretching the mind and for finding new inspirations! (If you are a music connoisseur and on the hunt for music you haven't heard yet, check out Downhome Fire here on our site or on their Bandcamp page.)
Meditate. Seriously, this is one of the best exercises you can do for your mind.
For some this process comes easily but for others, like me, it can actually be a bit challenging. Start simple with just a few minutes each day then gradually build up to longer times and aim for twice a day. Or sign up for a local meditation class to have a coach help guide you until you develop your routine.
Use your scroll time to your benefit! I know that every so often you can’t help but to see what is happening on social media. Follow pages that share creative and inspirational posts (and tips!) to help keep your creative juices flowing and your outlook fresh.
Play games and puzzles made specifically for exercising the mind.
(Photo credit: Lynsey Staggs, owner of Urban Atlas)
If you are local to Decatur, AL then check out the wonderful services Urban Atlas has to offer! Not only does the owner coach meditation sessions, she also hosts yoga classes to help with that body stretching I mentioned earlier. Plus you can top all that self-care off with some comforting tea from Mad Hatter's Tea Shop.
Tip #3: Walk Away
I mean this in 2 ways:
If you start getting frustrated with the project you are working on, walk away. Do not try to force it. This is important to keep in mind because if you start to stress out too much it will affect the quality of your work and we can not have that.
Alternatively, if you get to a finishing point in your project that you are really satisfied with then start debating on whether or not to call it done, walk away. Take some time to think about it instead of deciding right then.
As a fellow artist, it is truly painful to spend hours or days on a painting and love the way it goes only to add features that I was uncertain about and inadvertently mess the whole painting up.
I suggest sketching out ideas or additions on a separate piece of paper to ponder on before adding in those uncertain features to your project.
Tip #4: Do Not Forget to Eat!
When deeply focused on the project at hand it can be easy to set your hunger aside and skip meals to continue making progress. Don’t do that to yourself! Even if you just graze on quick snacks throughout the day, take the time to eat and feed your body.
Tip #5: Tidy Your Space
In between projects, take time to tidy and clean up your creative space. This helps relax you and get you ready to start on the next project with the sense of a fresh feeling.
This tip is especially useful if you are switching between mediums or crafting material in general.
Tip #6: Don’t Be Discouraged...Be Inspired!
The more influential artists/crafters you follow on social media the more incredible stuff you get to see! The ever-expanding and mind-blowing talent that is out there is truly remarkable. Sometimes it is hard not to compare your own work with that of other well-trained hands. Don’t do that.
Each crafter or artist is unique in their own work and is appreciated for it. Find inspiration in others’ work but confidently embrace your own style and keep at it.
Tip #7: Be Kind to Your Mind
Even if your project does not go the way you planned or if you happen to make a mistake, don’t trash talk yourself. Sometimes those mistakes can be fixed or covered up.
Even if those mishaps can not be fixed, do not start downplaying your talent and hard work. Take the disappointment and learn from it. In the words of the great Bob Ross, "We don't make mistakes - we just have happy accidents."
Tip #8: Be Bold Enough to Share!
One of the best things to do for inspiration and for your creative journey is to join art or craft groups and share your work!
I know we just went over how sometimes seeing top notch craftsmanship can discourage or scare a newer artist/maker away from sharing their work to the group for fear of being mocked. If this is you, share your work anyway.
The majority of the arts/crafts crowd is actually very kind and can provide all kinds of helpful feedback. Occasionally a few jerks will pop up with their negativity but the other artists are pretty good at shooing them away.
Tip #9: Try A Little of This and A Little of That
It is really important to continually practice your style of work to continue making progress. But if you find yourself getting bored or frustrated with your usual-style projects then find inspiration in trying new things.
Arts and crafts go hand in hand so if you usually work with a paintbrush try swapping it out for a DIY craft or if you usually work on t-shirts try swapping for a canvas.
One of my favorite uncouth DIY projects is turning trash into useful household storage like I did in this trash-tivity project with coffee containers.
(I am not good at taking aesthetically-pleasing photos but you get the idea.)
Tip #10: Be Forgiving
To yourself and to the jerks. Yeah, yeah I know how that sounds. But it is easier on you and your creative mind to forgive yourself when you make mistakes in your work or when you have to miss opportunities that could possibly have been great.
You will learn and continue to get better until mistakes become few and far between. Other opportunities will present themselves to you in time. As far as other people go, jerks do occasionally pop up. When they do, do not take their criticism to heart.
If you run into a hackler on the internet, it seems best to ignore them completely. Replying will just add fuel to their fire and that does not do anybody any good. Ignoring their presence will eat away at them more than any reply could.
So there you have it. My 10 self-care tips for artists and crafters to help keep the creative ideas flowing and the backaches at bay. Take care and enjoy your creative journey!
All of the shops included in this blog were listed because I personally enjoy them and their products and want to share the love. I was not paid or asked to do so in any way.