Creativity Does Not Take A Holiday
Plane ticket purchased eight months ago and my winter birthday gift, a new suitcase, packed full. All that was left was to take flight and take a break from design—but creativity does not take a holiday.
Nothing was going to stop me from going to France for a holiday and relaxing for the next month. I had not been on a proper holiday in over two years, and having sacrificed days off for getting my to do list addressed, I was in need of this time away.
Prior to leaving for my holiday, I was over worked finishing up projects, handing over files, letting clients know I would be away; essentially burning out. When you find yourself in a design slump, its important to find new ways to energize yourself. Unfortunately, as freelancers have come to find out, when you go away you have to essentially double your costs: the cost of the holiday + the lost income you are not earning as a result of going away; no paid vacations for a freelancer. So as tempting as it might be to do client work while away, I suggest try to stay away from that as much as possible. Take the occasional phone meeting (via Skype) but use your free time to focus on yourself.
Don’t stop looking for inspiration
I had it all planned, I would sleep in, eat sinfully delicious food, absorb the wonderful french culture and check the occasional email. But when you are a creative and are passionate about design, the need to create follows you wherever you go. Wherever I went, I kept my sketch book and my iPhone with me at all times that way whenever I came across something inspirational, I would able to draw or snap a memory on the spot. Having this change of scenery with new foods, culture, smells, language and people, with the addition of some alone time was the perfect remedy for the creative drain that I was starting to experience back home.
The hardest part about having all this inspiration, was that this alone time did not come as easily or frequently. My brain was constantly thinking of all the possibilities for fun projects and every new experience was another idea. Then one day my alone time fell upon me—and the creative flood gates opened. At first I wanted to do some experimental design ideas, but the practical side of me thought re-branding and getting my personal stuff completed was the better decision. Earlier in the summer, my websites were hacked leaving nothing untouched and uninfected. The solution I was presented with by the hackers was to pay them to restore my websites. During those times of “vacation isolation”, I was able to design a new logo (and created my first font as a result), re-design my WordPress website, write a few blog posts, create an infographic resume and even make a photo collage of the flat I was staying in. All the while uploading my new work to Dribbble for feedback from the design community—things were moving!
As a result of completing all these personal projects, I had potential clients contacting me for freelance work even before I was home from my holiday. It is important for people to have a place to see your work and have a way to contact you. I highly recommend all designers put their stuff up on a personal website, or at the very least on sites like Dribbble or Behance Network, if you can snag invites.
Creativity follows us
I can see how all this may seem like a wasted few days in France to some, but with a gorgeous view from my flat and delicious food around me, it was a very satisfying and energizing experience; just what a designer like me needed. Use any precious free time to do all the creative things that you don’t have a chance to get to while working on client projects.
Whether your change of scenery is to a beautiful European city, a cottage in the woods, or even to a different part of your city that you have never been to, go somewhere different and then find some time to yourself to create something just for you. The best of work comes from the love of creating and challenge; and good designers recognize when they are burning out—find ways to spark creativity or derive new sources of inspiration.