10 things you could be doing for your creative practice

Here’s a list of 10 things you could be doing now to help you stay creative, with some suggestions of places and resources to help you. If you don’t feel like doing them, that’s OK too, but if you are at a loss of where to start whilst you’re stuck at home and feel like you want to put some things in motion, then perhaps tackle one or two of these in the coming weeks and see how it feels before taking on some more.

We are all in a difficult situation right now and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, but taking a step back from things and turning this all into a positive, could be the time to take a look at your creative practice and get all the things done that you’ve been putting off.

Let us know how you get on with it all and if there’s anything we can do to help you.

1. Improve your workspace

Emma Housley studio space at Clayhill Arts

Emma Housley’s studio space, one of Clayhill’s resident artists. Follow her work on Facebook, Instagram and twitter

Before you start anything, make yourself a nice space to work in. With everything else feeling unsettled and your home feeling squeezed with everyone living and working together, negotiate a corner or some space by the window and claim this as your own to work from. Put some of your favourite things out, some of the recent work that you’re proud of and if you are at home with the kids, why not take some time to make some work together?

Depending on how you feel about it, share the work that you create together and the new spaces you have created. The strategies and coping mechanisms you have used to make this work for you and your family, we’re all learning and working through this time together, sharing that can help us all.

2. Keep an eye on your well-being (and plan for your well-being needs)

With the restrictions in place for leaving the house at the moment this can feel like something that’s impossible, but planning for your well-being is in fact top priority! If we’re not looking after ourselves, then the work we want to do suffers and our ability to connect with others suffers too.

There has been some great advice appearing from people who have experience living and working in isolation and how to cope with it, who have been working from home for a number of years and their top tips for dealing with this and how to stay confident right now in amongst all the uncertainty.

It’s important to notice through the week when you’re getting tired and stressed, taking that time to stop for a cuppa, or call a friend for a chat. Planning this into your week can help too. Set up a skype or zoom chat so that you are committed to this, and know that you will be talking with someone who understands you. Build this in as a routine for your week and start developing some healthy habits. Maintaining this on the other side of our time in isolation is equally important. Getting into good habits now will breed good habits and a better work/life balance for the future.

3. Reflect on your practice

Now is the perfect time to reflect on your practice, to step back from what you’re doing and take a look at where you’ve been and where you want to go. Creative consultant Melody Vaughan has developed a set of questions to get you started on this with her Creative Practice Spring Review.

Answering these questions can also help get you into a writing habit, which will help you feel more confident about creating new content to share.

4. Update your admin

After spending some time reflecting you’re probably in a better position to revisit your artist statement. When was the last time you looked at this? How has your practice changed in that time?

Melody has also developed another great resource to help you with this. Writing an Awesome Artist Statement offers you tried and tested methods to enhance the written communication about your work, with 12 pages of essential information and writing templates/guidelines.

5. Create a Marketing Plan

It can be tricky keeping up with all of the available media and you might be taking some time off-screen, but it is important to keep regular contact with your audience and now is a great time to put some time into planning this.

Use this time now to look at your practice, what is it you have been doing since the beginning of the year, and see what it is that you have to share with the world – there will be more than you think! All that preparatory work, the ideas you’ve had before you got to where you are at the moment, even things that have had to be put on hold, your audience are interested in this and once you’re into a regular habit of sharing, it will become easier (promise!)

Start off by having a look through your phone. What images have you taken for inspiration? What images have you taken of your work in its different states of creation? What books have you been reading? What podcasts, TV shows or radio shows have you been listening to? How have these been keeping you going or inspiring you during the recent weeks and months? This is all part of your creative practice, it’s all relevant and it’s all worth sharing.

There are scheduling tools that you can use, to set out your upcoming content, so that you can put together a series of posts over a number of weeks at a time. It doesn’t have to be every day, but at the moment, we’re all online, so daily sharing could help.

“But what about when I’m struggling for things to talk about?”

We love the book Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. It offers fun, bite-size prompts which help inspire you about what to share and why showing your work and your process is important. There’s a whole online community around this too, so make a start and begin to #showyourwork

6. Do some Digital Housekeeping

Website, Social Bios, Are all your URLs in order? It’s easy not to make time for this, but as things are slowing down a little at the moment, why not spend a day this week looking at that.

Considering your current website, what platform are you running your website through, is this right for you? How easy is it to navigate as a consumer, and for you to upload to?  If it doesn’t feel right, have a look around and change it. There are some great platforms out there, so have a play around to find the right one for you.

Have you registered your own domain name, or are you using the one that came with the platform? You want to make the site look as professional as possible, so using your own domain name is important. Once this is registered, you can add this to your social media profiles and suddenly everything online about you will start looking more professional and connecting together.

When was the last time you updated your news page?

Whilst you’ve been spending some time reflecting and gathering your content together for the marketing plan, you’ll probably find that there are some things you can look to be sharing on there now. Write a new post about what you’ve been up to recently (like updating your website!) and share this across your social networks. Ask for feedback on your current website from your peers, it can be really helpful to know what other people think.

7. Improve your Photography

Image credit: Yeshen Venema @yeshen.uk (Instagram) @yeshen (Twitter)

We live in a world of images now and having the best quality image is important for showcasing your work.

Product Photographer Yeshen Venema is offering a free audit of your photography or website, if you’d like some advice on how you’re looking at the moment and what you can do to improve things, contact hello@yeshandtash.com

We’re looking to get Yeshen here at Clayhill to deliver a masterclass around this. Make sure you’re signed up to our newsletter so that you can hear about when this is happening

8. Book in a Utilities MOT

Now it might sound a bit dull, but why not spend a day getting on top of your paperwork? To get you on board with this, plan for the day to be broken up with a nice lunch that you have prepared and are looking forward to, along with a cup of tea (or two) at regular intervals. In fact, this should become habitual whilst you’re working from home.

Spending some time reviewing your running costs, will allow you to feel more confident about what you are putting out into the world. When was the last time you looked at your broadband provider, your phone contract or your electricity and gas providers? All of these running costs are essential to maintaining your life as a creative. They impact your sale prices and eat into your holiday and social budgets. We’re all spending a bit extra on our electricity at home at the moment, so making sure we’re on top of that spending and know what are outgoings are looking like will help make coming out of this current time an easier place to be.

There is a lot of advice at the moment about the financial effects of Coronavirus for freelancers and the self-employed. The government has updated its policy for supporting the self-employed and there’s some great advice on coronavirus financial help and rights.

9. Develop your network, both on and offline

The artist Sonia Boue offers some great advice on how to navigate online networking. Similar to our initial thoughts, she advocates that “We can break through social isolation by daily sharing” Looking for groups and forums you can become a part of is important.

Creative Boom founder Katy Cowan, has set up the Creative Boom chat, which is an open forum for creative discussion. It’s a great space to say hello and start sharing your work with a community that cares about what you do.

Connecting with loved ones is also important at this time, as well as old friends. Whilst you’re developing a daily writing habit, why not put this to practice and write a letter. Tell them about what you’re doing, that you’re making some time for the business side of your creative practice and developing your marketing plan? Writing this down and sharing it helps you commit to it and helps you develop an awareness of what it is you can do and achieve. You can share with them how resilient you’re being and how resourceful you are by using up all those things at the back of the cupboard! Writing this letter and sending it off in your daily walk to the post box will help you maintain an active level of contact, and get you out of the house too.

10. Give yourself a Skills Audit

We love learning here at Clayhill and have set the space up here to support just that. Whilst you’re being halted from doing things, and are reflecting on your practice, have a look at what it is that you’re missing from your current skillset.

There are some great opportunities now to engage with online training. But when we’re at a point when we can move around and connect physically again, what is it that you’d like to be learning alongside a group of peers?

This could be developed as a personal and professional audit, looking at all the things you would like to achieve to move you and your creative practice forward this year and next.

Share this with us @ClayhillArts with the hashtag #artistskillsaudit and we’ll look at what we can do to provide you with that training in the future.

Good luck navigating everything in the coming weeks and months, keep in touch and let us know how you’re getting on.



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