I've been suffering a creative block since the new year has set in, and it does not really seem to be lessening. It's not a total block, as I've been making stuff all over the place, but it's been very difficult to make these things, particularly any finished bundle design. I think there are a couple of reasons for the block:
- I've been doing a large amount of designing without a significant break for too long. Everything I do now feels like I've done it thirty times before.
- While that last sentence is true to some extent, I also think I'm having a designer identity crisis, which is masquerading itself in my previous statement.
It only occurred to me last night that while I may be a bit tired of what I'm doing, I'm not really. Is there anything else I'd rather be doing? No. Do I want to make scrapbook layouts all day, every day? Yes. Do I see other designer's work and feel like I want to make more and more things? Yes.
Last night I finished reading a wonderful book, My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss. Near the end she started talking about her failed dinner party:
It wasn't that the food didn't taste good. It's just that it all felt so strained, my relationship with what I'd cooked, I mean. I'd expended a lot of time and energy on figuring out the menu, planning the dinner, sourcing the ingredients, and cooking the food, and then, once my plate was in front of me, it all just felt so foreign, so far away from what I actually wanted to eat. My throat closed right up. It was an unexpectedly upsetting moment -- to be surrounded by nine people kindly devouring all that was laid before them and to feel so estranged from their experience.
If you took out all the cooking reference and replaced them with designing, this passage would perfectly reflect what I've been feeling lately. And then, even better than just diagnosing the problem, Weiss offers a solution too!
After that fateful meal, however, I decided that I needed to approach my dinner parties differently. Clearly the old model was broken. I had to turn away from the complicated cookbooks and highfalutin ambitions and just think about the core of the matter. I needed to think about what I wanted to eat, first and foremost, when I had guests over. That's really all it was about. It was as simple and as complicated as that.
What do I want to eat?
And I think that's really what's been going on. I've been creating so many things, and a decent chunk of it just isn't appetizing to me upon viewing the final product. I mean, I made two bundles about the ocean. Why would I need two? And I'm honestly not super keen on either of them. Which is not to say that they aren't perfectly fine, but just that they don't fill me with satisfaction. And if I can't figure out what I like, how can I really keep doing this?
And so my designer identity crisis emerges from what I thought was just tiredness. It's been niggling at the back of my mind in recent months, that my design style is not really what I think it is. I think I've had certain ideas about what I like and what I like to make, that are frankly just wrong. This isn't really surprising, as whenever you start something new, especially as I did, by just jumping in and flailing around, you're going to get somewhere, but is it really where you wanted to go?
This realization reminded me of some great advice that my high school English teacher gave me, which she said in relation to learning to write, but really is applicable far beyond learning to write a perfect paragraph. She said that we first needed to learn the rules and work with the rules, and only when we'd done our time and proved we knew what we were doing, could we then break the rules.
Obviously, breaking the rules is the fun part, but if you don't know what you're doing, it's just going to be a mess. And I think that's where I am right now. I'm tired of doing what feels like the same thing over and over again, and so I want to branch out. But before I can do that I need to know what I love, as in actually be able to articulate it, before I start changing things. Otherwise, I may break something that really I don't want to break. Or break too many things at the same time and then have no where to stand.
Luckily I think this process of defining my design style will not be too difficult or strenuous. I have access to Pinterest, which has made curating and defining one's style into an easy and beautiful thing. I spent a little time browsing through finished designs, looking for things that I would actually buy and use. From this collection, I've written out what I think my design style is. I'm curious also if some of you would be so kind as to describe what you think my design style is, from things I've published here at Pixel Scrapper. I'm curious to see how closely we match up.
I'll be back soon to share what I've discovered and hopefully a new way forward.
Hi There! I’m Marisa Lerin and you’ll see me around at Pixel Scrapper a lot. I started this site in 2010 soon after I discovered a new love in digital scrapbooking. Pixel Scrapper has gone through some significant changes since that time and it’s grown into this lovely community site you are seeing now. I am daily surprised by the turn of life’s events that has led me down this path. If you're new to the site, welcome! Here are a few tidbits about me that I hope will help you get to know me better!
I’m originally from Minnesota, USA, but spent a good chunk of my childhood living abroad (in Bolivia and Hong Kong). I returned to Minnesota to attend university, got married and then moved overseas again (Korea, then Jordan and 1 year of traveling). My designs are heavily influenced by these many nomadic years. I am currently back in the USA, now living in the great state of Oregon!
I have no official training for what I’m doing, since I decided very wisely (haha) to study physics in university. I am always learning new things about digital scrapbooking, and this community has been immensely helpful for that!
If I manage to stop digital scrapbooking you will probably find me watching TV, reading or baking. I also enjoy writing for the blog here at Pixel Scrapper where I talk about whatever happens to be catching my fancy at the moment.
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