With the fuzzy head that lingers after a little too much mulled wine, I found myself facing the first week of January 2016 from an existential hollow, just off the coast of the Sea of Despair. You see, I quit my full time job of 7 years back in November to go it alone, and what started out as whispers (who am I? why am I here? how can I be the person I’m supposed to be?), had grown into the roar of a great big wave threatening to crash over me and sweep me away. What I needed was a New Year’s Resolution, and fast. Not some sweeping statement or unscalable mountain to self-flagellation come February, but something manageable and meaningful.
So what did I do? Turned to some of my favourite creatives, of course: the folk whose work has inspired me so much over the last 12 months. Here’s what they had to say.
Find Balance - Jessica Hische
“I think this will probably be my resolution for the rest of my life: finding time to balance work and parenting duties in a way that I feel like I've really maxed out both. And also I should probably watch less TV. It's shocking how much TV one can consume when trapped at home in the evenings.”
Jessica Hische is a letterer, illustrator and all round wonder woman of creative inspiration.
Experiment more! - Stanley Chow
"I'm very much feeling an urge to try new things, and also maybe trying old things like painting again. My work has been solely digital for the past decade, and personally for me I feel my work is stagnating a little. To keep illustration entertaining, I need my style to evolve. I’m basically getting bored of my current work!"
Illustrator Stanley Chow managed to create loads of wonderful illustrations, insult Donald Trump and be immortalised in Lego all in one year. Not too shabby.
Turn Anxiety Into Excitement – Tash Willcocks
“I'm not really one for resolutions (they’re a bit like ill-fated diets, ready to wash up on the early shores of February), so I'm calling this my healthy creative life tip… In recent years I’ve noticed anxiety creeping into my life like a little fear pit in my doom belly. With personal projects I run carefree like Bambi (pre ‘Mother Murder’), but with some bigger projects and creative talks I’ve developed an unsettling unease, which creeps in unseen. Everyone gets them (except psychopaths, I've read), BUT I plan to tame those trembling nerves and master the art of channeling anxiety into excitement. I will conquer the quibbles and reign in the restlessness! Athletes re-programme their bodies and mindsets to channel the adrenalin into a positive; it’s your fight or flight kicking in. It’s just saying your ready to gooooo! So I'll embrace it. Use it as creative fuel to drive me. If I'm not a little nervous I shouldn't be up there, I may not care. So I’m going to grab those new sneaky nerves and squeeze them in my brain so hard that I poop out an excitement diamond.”
Tash WIllcocks is an illustrator, letter lover, design junkie and Programme Manager at Hyper Island. She’s also an absolute firecracker of inspiration.
Get into the habit of pairing your socks, and other short stories – Gre Hale
“Seriously. It's always been the case that my priorities are work and food; everything else has forever taken a back seat. This year I'm attempting to take more care with the small things. It's often said that all big tasks are made up of smaller ones, so hopefully my newfound attention to detail will be nurtured with everyday activities and (hopefully) manifest itself in a better creative output.”
Gre Hale is multi-talented tattoo artist based in Manchester. He also makes awesome paintings and collaborated on a swanky sweater with Diesel in 2015.
Do more personal work – Layla Sailor
"I had to take on way too much work last year and totally burned out, so this year I just want get organised, paint my studio and carry on my Kokoshnik project. This years is based on female freedom fighters so I am excited to start researching and making the props!"
Layla Sailor combines fashion photography with her love of fine art and filmmaking. The resulting eye-popping pictures and candy coloured gif goodness are simply marvelous.
Unfold Your Mind – Chris (Simpsons Artist)
"One of my new year resolutions is to unfold my mind and lay it out on the ground every single day so that the thoughts of the world can explore my imagination so I will be able to know what the world is thinking more easily and I will be able to be more creative and make beautiful pictures and stories that will help people from all around the world smile again and make them feel less depressed. Love from your friend Chris (Simpsons artist) xox"
If you haven’t come across the work of Chris (Simpsons Artist), then where have you been? If the answer is “cowering under a rock in some surrealist nightmare”, he’s probably made a picture of that.
And finally, I had to include another one from the master of pep talk Tash Willcocks...
Embrace: ‘All who wander are not lost’
"I have all the answers at my fingertips but they, along with my eyes and attention, are glued to my phone far too often! So I plan to leave my phone at home and wander… I'm going to step out of the zombie lane and enjoy the city’s facades and its voices with their odd tales of excitement and woe… I get the best inspiration from overheard words (I've been known to sit at rainy bus stops just to hear the chatter), but since moving to Hyper Island I no longer have my 15 minutes of bus entertainment and have missed recounting Salford stories.... So I plan to stroll, meander and skip through this fair city gathering tales and putting them on the page. And again I'm removing my inky comfort blanket to lose myself in new ways of working, styles and materials; to keep taking risks."
And there you have it. I hope their words motivated you as much as they did me.
Why not share your own tips for a contented creative life in the comments section below.