There is nothing more encouraging for a creative than an encouraging creative.
Redundant? Nope. True? Well, at least I think so.
Using creativity is hard work. It is challenging, frustrating, and sometimes feels lonely, doesn't it? We need encouragement to keep going. There are oodles of books and blogs (haha) and quotes and movies and videos that encourage creative people, but there is nothing like being encouraged by a creative friend.
I was blessed to grow up in a household full of encouraging creatives. They rarely squash ideas and their creativity is catching. We used to sit around the table after Christmas when everyone had gotten a sketchbook and a 72 pack of colored pencils from Grandma, and we would draw then laugh then quiet until all that could be heard was the friction of colored tips scratching wonder onto paper.
Not everyone gets a built-in creative encourager (or 4 built-ins). I wish I could sit with all of you and hear your ideas, and hold them in cupped hands and stare into the beauty of their potential. I can write and speak with you, but I cannot walk with all of you. Do you long for a friend that helps you see potential in your ideas? Keep those wondering eyes open, because they can come in all different forms.
Outside of my family, creative encouragers are more common than I had first supposed--a commonality which makes them no less wonderful. One dear friend is what I like to call the idea connector. She has ideas, loves to hear ideas, and has connected more people together to help get the ideas going than anyone I have ever met. She is full of life and most importantly, she has taught me by example that sometimes we just need to let ourselves rejoice in a good idea without fear.
Two of my friends have been an inspiration to this blog. I see such creative potential in them, and they are hungry to create. They encourage me and support me by purchasing my art, seeking my help, and letting me help them get creative projects going. They are hungry and willing to try. They have taught me that there is always more to learn and try, and that there is opportunity everywhere to create.
A long-distance friend is the one with whom I share even my craziest ideas. Our friendship is a safe place for dreams. What I learned from her, which is our comical motto: dream big, dang it!
But what is the real secret to finding an encouraging creative? Where do we find these mystical folk to help us on our creative journeys? What is the one simple way to find the creative encouragement we long for?
What I found is that when I encouraged other people's creativity, creative encouragers began to show up. Do you want friendships that encourage your creativity? I suggest instead of looking for people to encourage you, start looking for people who need encouragement in their creativity. Watch for the doodlers and the decorators, the hiding poets and humble painters. Listen to their dreams over a warm cup of tea, connect them with others who share their dreams, support their creative endeavors. Sometimes we have to be the door openers and welcomers to start the conversations we want to be having.
If creativity is catching, then encouragement is contagious.
It can be intimidating to talk about our ideas--we clutch them perhaps too closely, and worry they will be shut down. They might. Some ideas need to be released. But what if your courage and kindness (en-courage means to cause courage in another person) opened the door for someone else to feel that she might actually be able to make something? Friends, that is one of the most beautiful experiences. Perhaps it is the teacher in me that loves to watch a person bloom.
I practiced encouraging earlier this year by having a craft party. But my sister and I took it a step further. Everyone made the same project--a banner made from a placemat, decorated and attached to a dowel rod or twig to hang on a wall. The catch? Everyone had to choose a quote and design their banner. My sister and I refused to lay out any design. We would help tweak or answer questions, but everyone was a designer that night, and the process was not without humorous complaint and struggle. Even for me. We encouraged our friends to think about their design, to use their own ideas instead of copying something.
My sister and I were a bit nervous about making our friends do their own designs. What if they thought it was too hard and never wanted to do it again? What if they failed and blamed us? What if the whole thing turned into a disaster?
That night was amazing. I had so many ideas spewing from the conversations and struggles. I had to help others deal with their creative blocks and realized what some of my own are. Best of all, I watched these girls look at their finished products with a smile, because errors and all, they had designed something, and made it, and it would encourage them and others for a long time to come.
So maybe your first step, hungry creative, is to host an art party. Below I have listed the materials we used to give you an idea of where to start. Let me know how your party goes and what you make!
How are you encouraging other creatives? Comment below to share!
Supply List for a Placemat Banner Art Party:
Simple Placemats (look for a neutral or solid color with not too much texture so ink and paint go on smoother)
Sketch paper cut to the size of the placemat
Sticks or dowel rods
Paint markers/Paints + Paint brushes
stamps and ink
Ribbons of various widths (2"ribbon is what we used to edge some of the banners)