The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Sara Walker: Sara Walker; 22; Freelance Design and Film Photography
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
SW: The different types of work I do are also my most precious hobbies. The act itself of creating art generates inspiration. This is especially true for commissioned projects. Clearing my schedule and sitting down for a few hours to paint for no reason sets forth the momentum I need to create. The more time I put into practicing a skill, the more creative I feel, which leads to more work.
Apart from this, being out with nature--hiking, camping, or just sitting outside and breathing the fresh air-- calms and opens my mind up to new ideas. Really, most inspiration comes to me when I am not seeking it. I'll see a color combination or texture somewhere and snap a photo for future reference. I also enjoy going to our local art museum by myself. Spending time with famous works of art, of different style and medium, inspires me and gives me the push I need to begin a new project.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
SW: Definitely. This is something that I have struggled with throughout my creative journey over the past several years and has likely led to me experimenting with a variety of mediums. My first true creative leap was with digital photography in 2011. I really struggled with finding my voice while also trying to grow and maintain a professional business. It felt like success in one area resulted in sacrifice in the other. This is something I continue to deal with, but getting my feet wet with a variety of different art mediums--film photography, watercolor, graphic design--has slowly helped me to find my niche and a balance between personal and professional fulfillment. It's a constant challenge and work in progress.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
SW: I'm a major night owl. I have been working hard the past few months to try to rearrange my schedule to match my husband's work day, but I still feel like most of my best work gets done late at night. I'd say productivity and creativity go hand in hand on this one. Because I feel most creative at night, my productivity increases too. Unfortunately, it always feels like my best ideas come to me while I'm trying to sleep. Sometimes my mind races for hours with projects that I want to work on the next morning, and I'm tempted to just jump out of bed and get started. I've gotten better at being productive during the morning and afternoon, but it's always a conscious decision I have to make, to sit down at the table and begin. This has likely stemmed from 4 years of late night work on art projects in college. My brain turns on like a switch the closer I get to a deadline.
Equally important to the process as time of day are physical environment and weather. Gray skies plus cool weather plus a clean home plus a good record is a perfect formula for my creativity and productivity.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
SW: Right now, I'd love to continue to develop my artistic voice in whichever medium I'm focusing on at the time. I feel really strongly about having integrity in the process and really trying to learn and master the skill.
Lately, my real focus has been on illustration and graphic design, and photography has been sort of put aside. I'd like to work on fostering all of these crafts and get to a place where I can focus on them simultaneously. I want to better define my skill set and continue to build a solid work routine, on both the creative and business side of things.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
SW: I'm always working on personal projects. Really, my entire illustrative career is one big personal project. I make things that inspire me, and then put them out to the world. This is the most fulfilling for me out of all the different things I do, because I have more control over the intention and process of the work.
I like to begin my projects with a long brainstorming session, one that never truly stops. I feel like my mind is always searching for new ideas to take on. I like to get on creative social media, searching for anything that sparks an idea...a color palette, a shape, a texture. I usually search for nothing in particular and let my mind wander into an idea I'd like to develop. I write down my ideas in a notebook or stash them as a "pin" for later.
As of late, I've been fascinated with a line and shape watercolor study. The whole process takes about 5-6 hours to complete, with 2-2.5 dedicated to forming and sketching the design, varying based on complexity, and about 3 hours to watercolor. The process is very much part of the art for me, and I've really enjoyed the time of personal reflection and patience that comes with it.
TCU: What scares you?
SW: So much scares me. This hobby takes up so much brain space, I feel like I never take a break from it. I struggle a lot with trusting myself and having creative confidence. I get into cycles of paralysis where I'm scared to take the first step, for fear of failure, rejection, or being misinterpreted. It is something that I've struggled with for a while and work on conquering everyday when I just sit down and begin a project.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
SW: From a professional standpoint, I often measure my success in terms of how people respond to my work. But in another, more personal sense, I feel success just by doing the work at all; doing so gives me purpose and fulfills my need to stretch my creative muscles. I have learned to appreciate both of these definitions. It is definitely easy to measure success in how many units sold or dollars made, but it is also important to reflect on the work itself and find accomplishment through the process of creating. In the end, I do this because I enjoy it and it makes me happy.
TCU: Anything else you want to add?
SW: Thanks so much for the interest in me and what I do. I really enjoyed taking time to reflect on it all. Xoxo.