Committing To Creativity

December 30, 2016 , In: Favorite Posts, Inspiration, Mixed Media

My last post was about the year I spent creating a different kind of art journal exploring a variety of ideas and techniques. It was an eye-opening creative journey for me. Since this is the time of year that we creative types tend to make lists of what we want to do in the upcoming year I wanted to share another idea with you. Sometimes, just the thought of doing a year long art journal or any year long project can seem daunting, so I thought I would share a smaller, more manageable project with you.

Way back in 2007 I decided to create a ‘tag a day’. I didn’t actually start it in January- I began my  project in August of that year because it was my daughter’s senior year of high school and I was dreading the day that she graduated and moved off to college. We were also going to be moving from Georgia to Illinois after her graduation so there were a lot of mixed emotions to deal with. So I needed something to divert my attention for at least a small portion of the day.

Tag Assortment

Creating daily without any pressure and without any predetermined outcome was my goal as well as something quick and small. So I settled on using manilla shipping tags to create a mini collage every day. I bought a date stamp so that I could stamp the date on each tag as I made it.

Simple Supplies

When I first started making them I was stumped. I would pull out ink pads and stamps and decorative papers as well as all the little bits of ephemera I tend to collect. I spent WAY too long on the first few tags because I wasn’t creating freely. I was overthinking them. Why was I doing that? These were supposed to be free flowing moments of creativity. Just a few stolen moments a day to stay creative and here I was spending 30 minutes just staring at a blank tag trying to figure out where to start. I kept telling myself: DO NOT OVERTHINK THIS~

Sooooo, I decided to make it more interesting and way more spontaneous. I bought an egg timer and timed myself. Yes, it does put a certain amount of pressure on you when this was supposed to be fun- but guess what? I began to create with much more ease. I stopped overthinking any of my designs. I would set the timer for 20 minutes-remember it’s just a small shipping tag that is not going to be some great work of art. This was just an exercise in opening up your creative channels and letting your muse speak to you.

Silly, Fun, Playful Tags Created Without Overthinking

What it ended up being was a journal of sorts. When I started looking back through all the tags I saw that I had recorded world events and life events as well as just plain silliness and fun. There are some tags that I look at and say, “WOW, I really like this one!” And there are those I look at and say, “EWWW-what was I thinking that day?” But the point is, I was doing something creative every day, in the midst of a very emotional, chaotic year. Remember, these are not meant to be fabulous pieces of art, just satisfying your creative urges by exploring and playing.

Top 2 Tags Were Commemorative; Bottom Tags Just For Fun

The tags in the photo at top recorded what was happening that day. The September 11, 2007 tag was not only a solemn memorial tag for 9-11 but  my beloved dog Rex passed away early that morning so it also commemorated my 4-legged friend. (you can see from the photos top right I have shown the backs of the tags as well)  You will probably also notice that the Obama inauguration tag is 2009.  I should confess and let you know that even though I  started it in August 2007,  by April 2008 the flurry of activities of my daughter’s senior year of high school and moving preparations got in the way. I had to start packing up all my art supplies that spring and decided to just put my project on hold until we moved. It wasn’t until January 2009 that I FINALLY started back on my daily tags-but I did end up with a year’s worth when I finally stopped.  You can view all the tags here on Flickr. You might also be wondering what the heck am I going to do with all those tags??? I have given some away as book marks, I have used some as gift tags, I have sold a few and I have made a book with pockets to hold some of my favorites-and I still have plenty of tags!

You will also notice that on the back of each tag there is a title of sorts. Another one of my spontaneous, spur of the moment add-ons to the tags. I would stare at the front for a couple seconds after they were complete and write down whatever came to mind! I also decided to give some slight decoration to the backs as well. Some tags just have ink smeared across, some have only tissue paper glued down and some have decorative papers. Each tag also has some decorative fibers or yarn to replace the plain string that comes in the tags.

Spontaneous Creativity

Committing to be creative every day can be very hard for some people. I firmly believe that everyone has the ability to be creative. What everyone doesn’t do is allow themselves the time to be creative. The above tag project is just a simple way to maintain some creativity in your life if you are overwhelmed with other facets of your life but you want or need to create. A huge ongoing project may seem too large an investment of time for you or maybe you just need a little jumpstart in order to move on to a larger project. When I restarted my tag project in 2009 I found that it helped me get back into creating after the big move and after my daughter headed off to college. It gave me the inspiration I needed.

If this doesn’t appeal to you there are many websites dedicated to daily art projects to keep you creatively motivated. There is the Creative Every Day Challenge, there is a Sketch A Day Challenge, the 365 Project for photography as well as Zentangle A Day coloring books along with a 6 week course in drawing Zentangles. Many artists challenge themselves and do ‘a painting a day’. Susan Sorrell of Creative Chick Studios has created a Facebook group for ‘A Year of Stitches’.  There’s also the Bead Journal Project that I am a member of. It used to be just through a blog that Robin Atkins created but now it is a private Facebook Group that you can ask to join if beading is your passion and you are willing to commit to a full year project. I know there are probably hundreds more options for joining a group to stay creative, but these are the ones I have either followed in the past or are interested in myself. Take some time to google and find a group that suits you if a group setting is your preference.

The main point of all this is to have an outlet for your creative energy. For some people creating comes easily, for some we might just need a little boost and for some, we know we want to be creative but we just don’t know where to start.

With only a few days left in 2016, think about what you’d like to accomplish or maybe what you’d like to finish. Maybe even switching gears as far as your creative endeavors go. It’s always fun to try something new or revisit a creative pursuit from the past. In case you missed it, Caroline just shared the goals of our group here in her most recent post.

Just remember to allow yourselves time to be creative next year. Committing to just a few minutes a day can be immensely satisfying and it also improves your outlook on life! Let us know how you choose to commit to creativity during 2017.



Cathy Spivey Mendola

Cathy Spivey Mendola has been creative her entire life. After a short career in the medical profession she became a stay-at-home mom which allowed her to dabble in various arts and crafts. Many years and mediums later she has finally found her passion-bead embroidered jewelry. When she needs a break from jewelry she creates bead embellished art quilts and wall hangings.
  1. Reply

    Oh, I love all the tags and what they represent. Right now there is an old calendar book lying in front of me that I am using as an art journal for the past months. Sometimes I work several day in a row, sometimes weeks pass and I do nothing. Right now I want to get some background on every page so I can doodle, glue, write and paint everywhere 😉

    • Reply

      Thank you Claire! It’s so much fun to just start randomly gluing bits and pieces down to see what evolves.Have fun with it and share it with us please!!

    • Lola
    • December 30, 2016

    Beautiful tags! I’ve been on the hunt for some daily/weekly challenges for 2017 — thank you for the inspiration!

    • Reply

      Thank you Lola! I hope you decide to do some sort of challenge during 2017 and send us some photos.

    • Divya
    • December 31, 2016

    Wow – such a vibrant and varied collection of tags. I admire your effort and sincerity in following through. Though I don’t think I can make a tag everyday, I think it would be fun to make some when you want to do something creative without overwhelming yourself

  2. Reply

    You are so creative!! Love the tag idea, I have started my art journal after reading one of your posts, just to have that ‘time out of life’, I am not very spontaneous when I ‘art’ I need structure but so far.. 2 days into 2017.. I am spontaneous!

    • Reply

      Thank you Laney! I am not as spontaneous as I’d like, but setting a timer has a way of forcing you to at least put something down on paper. Hope you will share your art journal with us.

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