Blank canvas…now what?

On February 2nd I moved into my own little creative space. This is not my first venture into renting a studio, I have had studio shares (until buildings were sold/demolished or evicted) in the past as I mentioned in my previous post, but this is my first lone venture. Basically meaning I have to find the cash for it all on my own (carefully counts pennies in purse) So pressure is on to make it pay!

I am conscious to not make my creative productivity into some kind of mercenary pursuit (bit of a buzz kill)…but I also conscious that I need to be a realist! (even more of a buzz kill) For me, it’s about making the transgression from creative hobby to creative practice. A creative practice that I can be proud of…and that I can confidently declare when I get asked that same question ‘What art do you do?” This question is usually only triggered because I have made some stupid  attempt to make excuses for my day job. This need to excuse is completely self imposed (and not based on any reason or comment from others) It’s like i’m trying to prove to the little eyeliner wearing teenager/art student within…that I didn’t lose it….I’ve still got the spark!

320444_10150420845008496_7703184_n a eyeliner wearing art student…full of hope and creative spark!

In reality, we all have bills to pay. Actually, my ‘day job’ is something that I should be very proud of. I am paid well; I am given a huge amount of respect and responsability; my boss and co-workers are hugely supportive and flexible…and I feed the homeless! (bonus karma points). There is nothing to be ashamed of and certainly no need for excuses. So my little inner teenager, frankly should shut-up!

Also, nothing wrong with liking the feeling of getting paid for something you create. So applying a bit more of a business and commercial mind to my projects is not a bad thing. As long as it’s not the only incentive…that feels a little cynical.

The way I see it is like a creative curse. If you’re a creative person, it’s not just a whimsical hobby, it’s part of you and how you view and engage with the world. When you can’t express this part of yourself it hurts! (Sounds so dramatic, but I have had this discussion with other artists/creative people, so I know I’m not the only one) When life or creative block takes over, or you end up in repetitive loops, you just don’t feel like your being yourself. At times, I have almost thought about my creative pursuits and idea’s with a sense of nostalgia, like an old lover. I feel so far removed from it that my creative self just feels like a memory…it’s crap! You then build up resentment when you see your peers for-filling creative pursuits, though the truth is that they have more than likely experienced the very same feelings as you at some point.

I would say these feelings of creative inadequacy are something that comes and goes and you learn to overcome it and get on with it. Change is a good catalyst and taking new steps and challenges is how I move forward. A relative said to me once ‘to make it in this world you need to show up’

So, I show up at my new space and am faced with blank canvas (or walls) what?

Tea break investigate the building? (It’s a bit spooky working in this place at night)

I have busied myself with getting moved in. This is a nice practical distraction. A great opportunity to sort through all the stuff I had accumulated (my bedroom at home actually feels so much more spacious with all the ‘art stuff’ moved out)  I have been skip hunting for furniture and have been donated a cool projector stand and computer table which is now a sewing machine table. I put up some shelving and have plans for a large folding table and bean bags. It’s not the largest of spaces (I was spoimage_124_0ilt in previous studios) so I’m being precious about what I take in. I have scoped the area for hardware shops and found a great charity shop, literally on the round-about in Archway. I bought an old easel for £10! I  am now on nodding terms with the homeless guy who hides his booze behind an electrical cabinet next to the building entrance. I feel settled in.


For sure, having a new project or idea to work on is a pretty immediate remedy. Having a space and being able to say ‘My studio’ feels pretty good! I only realised this weekend, that I woke up on Saturday morning without a feeling of guilt/doom/pressure that I should be doing something worthwhile with my time. I had spent most afternoons at the studio,  making my creative practice part of my working week, giving it due diligence and concentration. I meant I could actually spend my relaxing guilt free.

The past few weeks have been productive. I have had my usual illustration and banner commissions from Creative Movements and hope to get more work like this from other francisee’s of the company.

I adorned one wall with imagery from Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz for some inspiration, and from that I created my first embroidered patch…a flying Monkey. I have been wanting to work on making patches since I took a free-hand machine embroidery class last year. So much fun. I want explore further into the fairytale themes…firstly because they are rich subject matter and I wrote my dissertation on their importance on our moral mapping and the symbolism they convey…secondly they contain accessible themes that an audience recognise and can tap into. It’s working for Hollywood at the moment, with films like Maleficent, Into the Woods and Cinderella…and Burton made a career out of such iconic themes!

The flying monkey patch then led to a ‘Sacred Heart’ patch which  then led onto a ‘Bowie’ inspired hat for my Itty and Fee partner and very close pal Imogen. She popped over to the studio and we discussed a Bowie party she was going attending that weekend and what she could wear for it. We then collaborated on a design for a hat, which once photographed and put on Facebook, resulted in an instant order! We pulled a late one  getting the second one finished ready to take to Brighton the next day, for the Bowie party.

Imogen and I have usually worked and sold our own individual item’s under the umbrella of Itty and Fee, but these little bursts of spontaneous collaborative inspiration are great. We hope to create some more of collaborative ‘show stoppers’ in the future in conjunction with the usual pieces we create. There are some idea’s in the pipeline. With a little networking  we could get more commissioned pieces to build our unique style while also working to a brief. Great fun!

Easter Bonnet!


Last year we made a Easter Bonnet, inspired by Baa Baa Black sheep, as part of a Easter treasure hunt in Primrose Hill. Combining idea’s gives you a great pool of knowledge and also a bigger promotional network (there is that mercenary in me talking!)

I’m excited if not a little overwhelmed by the possibilities, but am very happy that I am actively fighting the creative downer.

Watch this little creative space!


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