This week's Monday Inspiration is a spotlight on Cultivate Your Creativity, a digital workbook filled with uplifting messages and activities that will motivate you to nurture your inner artist. So for those struggling to find balance between life and pursuing your dreams, author Jessika Hepburn, who also edits Oh My! Handmade Goodness, shares the importance of setting time aside to celebrate your awesomeness, cultivate an empowering support network and revel in your "creative spark."
Thanks for taking the time to talk about your latest project! Oh My! Handmade Goodness is such a great resource and community for indie artists, designers and children's retailers so I'm excited that you decided to share what you've learned and experienced with this book. What spurred you to produce Cultivate Your Creativity?
I was needing a calm and reflective space to create. Oh My! Handmade has been skyrocketing and I was feeling overwhelmed and unable to create. When I don't create I feel off kilter and even more overwhelmed, so I started drawing and brainstorming on paper again, and it felt so wonderful! I remembered how when I worked with at-risk youth I used to make them illustrated journals with prompts and how transformative that experience was for all of us. I thought why not share this and see if other creatives are also needing that space to just be and if this workbook can help them find it.
You said that this book came after a year of listening to the needs of creative entrepreneurs. What did you learn from them during that time?
Oh so much! I learned that we are all up to our ears in emails, deadlines, launches and new ideas plus dinners to cook, messes to clean, children to parent and responsibilities to attend to. There isn't much room for reflection or just simply acknowledging everything going right in all that chaos. I also learned that many creatives are brutally hard on themselves, they worry about failing or not doing things perfectly, or that they - and their work - are not good enough and quite often downplay their true awesomeness.
So many creatives are incredibly generous and while they have a hard time sharing their own abilities, they are always quick to celebrate others. So Cultivate Your Creativity was meant as a way to get us all to acknowledge and own our beauty and triumphs while taking the space we need to breathe before diving back into building our dreams.
And I'm sure this was quite the triumph for you! How did you decide what activities to include in the workbook and what messages to share with your readers?
It was a really interesting process of illustrating some of my biggest inspirations, quotes that have sustained me through hard and amazing times. I also drew on concepts that I think are vital to business and creativity like planting and tending our dreams, identifying the keywords that really define the heart of what we do, noticing the way actions ripple outward and how we impact others and some tools that have really helped me get my ideas out of my head and onto the page.
You're not only editor of your site, but also an artist/entrepreneur yourself and have started a range of projects including art empowering camps for inner city youth. How did these experiences influence your book?
Like I mentioned before, my youth groups dealt with really heavy topics like abuse, addiction, violence, poverty, racism and suicide and I used journaling as a way to help them channel their struggles and transform them into something beautiful. I think that is what makes creatives so unique - we are able to take our experiences and channel them into something tangible. My own life experience and work with communities has taught me that we are all seeking a sense of belonging, no matter how hard our lives are or how successful. We all want to have a place and be recognized for our own unique abilities. The difficulty for many of us is knowing how to let that out and share it with the world.
I wanted Cultivate Your Creativity to be that safe and beautiful place where you can let yourself shine and revel in all you can do. It can be easy to get caught up in the daily grind of running a business, and for many of my readers, parenting as well, that we lose sight of how many blessings are all around us, how much we are capable of and how incredible we are. I hope the workbook gives people a few moments of peace and reflection so they can reach inside, release and revel in their creative spark.
What was the biggest challenge while writing the workbook and what was your most fulfilling moment?
My biggest challenge was time, which was ironic because here I am writing a workbook about taking time and struggling to find it. I put at least 40 hours a week on OMHG, parent two girl beasts full time and have clients and other projects going on behind the scenes. I was struggling to find my own time to create, which was both the catalyst and the challenge in creating the book.
My most fulfilling moment was by far sending it out into the world and getting such a positive and amazing response from the community. I've already seen pages being worked in, heard about people taking time for their own creativity and even a tweet from you about busting out your watercolors for the first time in months! To me that is the best gift I can imagine and can't wait to see what other creations come of it.
Well I'll be checking out the Flickr group you've created to see what it has pushed others to do too. By the way, I really love your illustrations! They're so sweet and cheerful. How did you fall into design?
Thank you! I had so much fun with the illustrations! I think I've always been a designer but it's in the last 5 years that I have really focused on those skills. I did my first computer camp when I was 8 and in high school my teacher insisted I should go to school for design. I laughed and said I would never work at a computer all day, that I would rather be talking with people and changing the world. Thanks to social media I can do all of those things now!
Well you must really love what you do because not only do you run OMHG and your own design and marketing business, but you also just opened up an online store with Friday's book release! What other goodness can we expect from the Oh My! Shop?
So many exciting things are literally in store for the future. Expect prints, services, some more books and even a collaborative project focused on our #omhg chats that readers will be able to participate in!
Speaking of which, your Thursday Twitter chat sessions always look so fun. I usually lurk and read along during your hour-long virtual meet-up or make sure to catch up after work. It's so nice to see everyone cheering on each other's successes and supporting one another through the frustrating moments of self-discovery. Why is it so important to cultivate and surround yourself with such a group?
I think our #omhg chats are the best part of the time I spend online. Anyone who works from home knows it has the potential to be isolating and lonely. Plus, your offline community might not understand the success and sadness of running a creative business. They don't see how insanely thrilling a recent feature or sale might be, not because they don't care about your success or are happy for you, but because they just don't get it.
Having a community of people you can connect with and relate to online or offline who are just there to talk, not to promote or give advice, but to listen to all perspectives and celebrate each other is the best thing ever. I am now seeing people take those relationships further, chatting regularly without the hash tag and even planning hang-outs. Having friends that get you and your business will give you the confidence you need to keep pushing forward. I know that I look forward every week to our Thursday chat and the chance to really connect with the amazing talent and intelligence of our #omhg crew.