Photo by  Ally & Bobby Photography  from the TSOS Summer Bash

Photo by Ally & Bobby Photography from the TSOS Summer Bash

Written by Kelly Hovis

Elon University


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A little over a year ago, I was officially introduced into the “Creative Industry.” It’s a whole other world folks. These are the people that curate the Pinterest images that you pin, and where Instagram is filled with amazingly beautiful feeds of perfectly placed and intentionally colored items that come together to produce an image that the eye loves and finds exciting. I was immediately sucked in. And I drank the cool aid. Because it is satisfyingly delicious. It filled a niche in my heart that has always meant to thrive, and before a year ago, I didn’t have the awareness of how (or where) to channel the creativity that God put inside of me. Now that I have been exposed, I find myself striving to create those same images of beautifully styled spaces and develop a personal craft that fills me with excitement. I’ve even started pursuing various avenues in my own business life (that has yet to go public, lots of work still needs to be done!).

One question I have found myself seeking to answer in the midst of creating is, “How do I stay motivated and inspired while maintaining originality?”. Here are four things I have learned while seeking those answers, and I would LOVE for you to comment and add to this list!

1. Separate your study from your creation. While perfecting your craft, I’ve realized how important it is to study the work of those ahead of you in the game. Study images, pick someone’s brain. Learn, grow, and be taught. Practice with the help of someone further along. But when you combine the two and try to create something original while studying the work of someone else, it comes to mirror their talents rather than develop your personal creativity. So after you practice with the help of a veteran, take some time and gather your thoughts. Wait a few hours or days before you seek to create anything that you want to call, “your own.” Just because your mentor creates one way, doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways. They have developed their niche and what defines their craft, now it’s your turn.

2. Figure out what inspires you. This depends on your craft. But after you are inspired with a thought or idea, go create. If you aren’t at a place where you can go create, then write down that thought or take a picture of the scene or item that has struck a chord in you. For me, if you take a look a my Instagram, what has inspired many of my own images are beautiful items or colors. If I’m at a store and I see a really cool and/or beautiful product, I oftentimes will buy it, ready to use it for an image later. Like a marble serving tray, light pink bowl, or gold flatware. Other times, I will see an item or some sort of food around my house and I think, “that would look beautiful in an image.” Like a pomegranate, for example. I find them beautiful and wanted to incorporate it into an image. I did not have that idea beforehand. I saw it in our fruit bowl and was inspired by this beautiful thing that God created. Most of the images in my Instagram are not deeply thought out beforehand, but pieced together in the moment as I discover concepts or items that I want to place together. They are whole images that come to fruition while I’m in the process of being inspired. So whether you realized it or not, my images are a product of inspiration!

3. Practice through imitation, create by separation. It’s intimidating revealing your craft to those who are really good. It can create doubt inside, and you begin to think that you can’t do it by yourself or you don’t have what it takes. Or you think you just aren’t as good and don’t know what to do. If you struggle with these thoughts, then I would recommend you stop following those people who make you feel that way. Stop looking at their work while trying to create. On a day where you aren’t creating, then I recommend absolutely studying their work to practice. We are all students and can all get better!  But then, when you are ready to create, step away and separate yourself to make your work original. If you are tempted to create how another person creates, remember to use their work as a guide to learn from and to study, but not as inspiration. While you are learning, it’s okay to practice through imitation, but try and add your own flare! After you practice, add a little something extra that you thought of all on your own.

4. Lastly, pinpoint your negative voice. It has been proven that those who are more creative tend to feel a lot and are sensitive to stimuli in their environment. For me, this means I am very aware of the negativity in my head that tells me to give up. Or the voice that says I am not creative enough, smart enough, or good enough. Most of us will hear that voice, but it is what we do with that voice that matters. I have recognized a pattern in my own life. My negative voice tends to come in the evening and night. If I truly analyze this concept, it makes sense. I have two children, I wake up early, and in the evening my defenses are down, and I am exhausted. I lose motivation and my creativity is at an all time low, cue negative voice. I have realized this: It is in the evening when I should do nothing in terms of my craft. I should do nothing with that voice other than replace it with thoughts that are true, I should make  no business decisions, and  I should pursue no collaborations. I wait until the morning. The morning is when I am confident and when I thrive with new ideas. The morning is when I am excited and feel that I really can do it! The morning is when I can confidently pursue collaborations and not take it personal if I am turned down. The morning is when I can confidently explain what I do, and I am motivated to pursue it. So recognize a pattern in the negativity. Recognize a pattern in your confidence and motivation. Don’t make any business decisions when that negative voice is louder than your confidence. Be patient and wait for it to cease then run hard.

I have already learned so much in such a short amount of time. I would love to hear what you are learning in terms of staying motivated, original, and inspired! We are all students and can all continue learning and growing, may we never stop learning from one another.



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