As we journey into 2021 it's hard not feel a little battered and bruised from the last year and trepidatious about what the next will bring. We find ourselves still navigating the many challenges that the ongoing pandemic brings but we've made it to a new year and with each new year comes new hope so with this in mind, I thought I'd kick off the new blog with some ideas on how to stay positive in these challenging times.
1. STAY CONNECTED - the old-fashioned way
Sounds obvious, but in an ever increasing digital world good old traditional snail mail is often overlooked and underestimated. We all know the joy that a hand-written card can bring; it's one of the reasons I started my business. Nothing beats the human touch of knowing that someone has taken the time to choose a card, put thoughts onto paper and send it on its way. Of course, technology has it's advantages; video calling has certainly seen us through this last year but let's face it (pardon the pun), it starts to wear thin! There is a tangible, personal process in putting pen to paper that technology just can't touch - literally!
2. LOOK TO NATURE
Nature has always been a great source of inspiration to me and features in many of my products. One of the positives that this pandemic has brought about (and let's be honest, there ain't many!) is a renewed appreciation for nature and it's importance to our physical and mental wellbeing. It's the one constant in a very uncertain world. As sure as night turns to day, winter will soon turn to spring and the passage of time will move us closer to where we want to be and with spring just around the corner and the promise of longer, warmer days tantalisingly close, life will undoubtedly start to feel a little brighter.
The image above was captured during one of my many lockdown walks and serves as a positive reminder of the joy that nature has given me during this difficult time. Walking is a great escape, in fact it's our only escape so make the most of it. Wrap up warm, don your wellies, embrace the mud and breathe it in! You'll feel so much better for it both mentally and physically. And why stop there - bring some of the outside in too!
3. GET CREATIVE
I believe everyone is creative in their own way, it may not manifest itself in the same way and is all too often overlooked, seen as an indulgence or (dare I say it) an 'extra curricular' activity but it's at the core of everything we enjoy in life - music, art, theatre, film, food, fashion...life would be VERY dull without it!
Most of my own creativity is unlocked through play. It allows you the freedom to explore without the fear of failure. If you think about it, our early years are dominated by play; it's how we explore the world, our place within it and how we discover what makes us tick. Sadly, it slowly diminishes as we get older as the pressures of life take over, but now, with the world a little smaller and slower, we've got a bit more time to dedicate to it.
It may surprise you to learn (or not, given that the name is a bit of a giveaway) that the Paper Cut Collection was the result of time spent just playing with paper and scissors. It's the quickest collection I've ever pulled together and was the result of a very simple process.
I'm a traditionalist at heart and being hands-on is integral to my work and happiness as a designer. When creative block rears it's ugly head, I go back to basics. If you're looking for ways to spark your own creativity, why not start with paper and scissors? Matisse did and he's now regarded as one of the greatest artists of all time, so what are you waiting for - get cutting!
4. KEEP DREAMING
Because life is very much 'on hold' right now, it may feel counter-intuitive to be making plans but it's really important to remember that this won't last forever. We still need to dream and work towards achieving our goals otherwise we give up and if we give up then we're sure to fail.
It's often the difficult times in our lives that make us reflect and re-evaluate what it is we want from life and if this pandemic has been good for something; it's been good for that, so in many respects, our hopes and dreams are probably clearer now than they've ever been which actually makes it an ideal time to plan.
As a designer, I'm often working on ideas and designs that can take months to be realised. Sometimes circumstances just don't allow me to put my designs into production straightaway but do I stop designing?, no, I just learn to be patient. A good way of keeping ideas, plans, hopes or dreams fresh in your mind is with a mood board. As well as sketchbooks, I have a physical working wall that I populate with all kinds of imagery from sketches to colour swatches and anything in between. Pinterest is a great alternative if you prefer something digital. Mood boards (or inspiration boards) are a great tool for keeping ideas or aspirations fresh in your mind until you can make them a reality.
Something I've been patiently waiting to put into production is gift wrap. It's been on my wish list for quite a while now but I have a feeling 2021 might just be the year it becomes a reality - watch this space!
Have a great rest of January and in the words of the mighty Fleetwood Mac - "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow"