Even though the term “artist” is fuzzy, I do consider myself to be one. I think most artists share similar personaly traits: introverted, sensitive, perfectionism. I pour a lot of emotion into my work–I’m not sure you can create and not have this happen. Whenever I draw something, design a website, code an interface, I feel drained afterward–like I have nothing left. It doesn’t feel like a good state to be in, especially in a society that wants constant productivity.

Part of my growth and creative process has been learning to work with these changing energy levels. Sometimes I might be bursting with ideas, other times I might be totally drained. One of the key things I learned about myself is that I need to accept that my creative energy levels are not always consistent and that’s just part of the process. Learning new techniques and improving my craft have been as essential as learning to take breaks, however long they require. It seems to be the reality of the artist’s way, at least for me. Maybe some artists can crank out work 24/7.

For me, being an artist means I’m a perfectionist—I’m never satisfied with my work, although there are brief moments when I am but they usually only last about ten minutes. Being this way and realizing that I have to step away is challenging but refusing to accept this reality is more detrimental to the finished product. If I push the need aside and continue trying to make something I’ve found that it typically doesn’t end in a happy place. Now, some might argue that you should push through those moments to rise above the challenge and I think there’s some validity there but I’m much happier with my work when I take breaks, however long they may require. I find that my work is better when I’m listening to my surroundings, listening to the things I can’t necessarily hear. Hippy, new age shit, I know.

I find that listening and being still increases my self-awareness and when that happens I’m able to listen to what my mind or body might need in that moment. Doing this is the quickest course to action if action is required - sometimes the mind simply needs rest, like a computer needing a reboot or a drain that needs to be unclogged.

So, for me, taking breaks is just as important to the creative process as the work itself. It’s in the moments of not doing and not thinking that the work sometimes exposes itself which I think is pretty cool. I love this aspect of what I do. In terms of design and user experience, self awareness is a wonderful skill to exercise because it increases compassion and empathy which I think are vital to a designer.