Saturday, June 29, 2013

What makes you feel inspired?


"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities." -Dr. Seuss 

Inspiration. I find this concept immensely interesting. I think true inspiration happens when we step back and really notice what is happening around us. Tuning out the noise, the daily mishaps and busyness is something I am focusing on lately. When we step outside of ourselves to really see-that's when we let the good stuff in. 

Finding the humour in things and looking for the positives is a good practice even though it's often hard to do. This thought shift has really been helpful for me. I guess it comes down to the little things like this:

• We had a Deer in our yard last night that just stood there in the poring rain chewing on grass. He didn't care it was raining. He just stood there for over 30 entertaining minutes and my kids found this hilarious. 

• During the day I can hear our neighbours horse neighing  When he does this it sounds like he telling us he still there, "Hey, I'm in this field and I could use a juicy apple right now." 

• Waking up to paper, crayons and markers all over the living room floor is inspiring. This tells me good ideas are happening here. It just says productive free learning all over it. 

• Cartoons remind me that life isn't as serious as we adults feel it is or in the habit of feeling like it is. Gravity is defied, time is no object, no one gets old, and animals talk. It's all about being in the now, the ridiculous and escapism in a good way. 

• Creative underdogs are really inspiring. They just do, make and keep it going despite lack of notoriety or social networking fame. Not caring what others think is liberating. We worry too much.  

• Sometimes true wisdom can be found on t-shirts. Short, sweet and to the witty point really amuses me sometimes. 

• I love when one idea leads to 20 more. That's a great feeling. 

• I love when my kids cannot wait to show me what they made. Their happiness and enthusiasm is so contagious. Sadly we lose that fearlessness as adults an we end up questioning every idea and the things we make. 

• Stepping away from the computer, reading books, sketching and doing something old school is really good for my brain. It's a short period of time where I feel like I am sticking it to the man! 

• I love the busy sound of pencil crayons on paper. It's fast and determined. If free creativity had a sound, that would be it for me. 

• I love stumbling upon a new song that makes me wonder how I never heard it before now. I love that surprising feeling. 

• The mist moving over the mountains in the morning has a very relaxing mesmerizing effect. Almost like a lava lamp.  

• The first cup of coffee in the morning when the house is quiet is the best. It's just about me and my relationship with a fine homemade cup of caffeinated love! 

• Great conversations, although rare for some of us, can motivate and level out creativity on the days when I've been in the creative house bubble too long. A real meeting of the minds is important. This positive energy can help you feel you are part of something bigger than what goes on in your studio. 

What inspires you? 


"Imagination and fiction make up more than three-quarters of our real life." -Simone Weil

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Musical Musings June 22nd- Whistle While You Work!

I'm welcoming Summer by posting some weekly musical musings. I am 
always asked what I listen to when I work. When I'm not listening
to tunes, I listen to podcasts and webcasts too. 




Coffee & Links June 22-Time Well Wasted!

© Holly DeWolf- Coffee Doodle June 22

This week's coffee doodle is in celebration of the beginning of summer. Summer is also a good time for reading. Grab a coffee and read up on this collection of links- a mix of some inspiration zen, time management, leadership thoughts, working with art directors and a fun test at the end! Enjoy! 

-John Hall for Forbes Magazine

International Freelance Academy

An Awesome Instagram Resume -Business Insider



• Five Steps to Closing a Deal from Maria Brophy 

Tig Notaro gets zen in an interview about life, loss and embracing the void-in a good way.



The right mindset for creativity from Creativity Post


Create a personal budget and sticking with it from Freelancers Union 


12 Famous Writers on literary Rejection from Aerogramme Writers' Studio





• And one for fun: Discover your design alter-ego! 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Coffee & Links June 15th- Time Well Wasted!



Coffee Doodles
© Holly DeWolf


Grab a cup! This week is a great list mixed with a fond farewell, social media ideas, thoughts on contests, good illustration vibes, 2 videos and something random at the end! Happy weekend all! 


















"The most successful people are those who are good at plan B!" ~James Yorke

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why I Like The Colour Orange

Funny story about my relationship with the colour orange...



KD © Holly DeWolf
I'm sure we all have our personal reasons why we are attracted to the colours we like. Mine goes back to my childhood and a interesting picnic involving Kraft Dinner. 

Personally, I can't stand the stuff and when I was a kid I detested it even more. When you are young and attending picnics put on by your family, not everyone attending understands your delicate palate. 

So as the story goes... 

Picture a group of kids all eating at picnic table. It's on a hilly slope. It's summer in Montreal. Bugs are buzzing around us. I'm with my sister Tracy and my cousins. We are served Kraft dinner for lunch. Imagine me, a little girl playing with this orange noodle concoction. I'm then told to eat this because my Aunt made it. It would be rude not to I'm told. My stubborn self refuses and the imagination starts. 

How do I get rid of this awful mutant powdered cheese lunch?

I couldn't call the dogs. That would be obvious. I had no pockets to hide it. My sister didn't want it nor did my cousins. Darn.

Well, I was at a big table. The natural answer for a child would be to drop it on the ground and forget about it.

Problem-I didn't know much about physics and gravity back then. 

My parents, Aunts and Uncles were chatting below this hilly slope. Something caught their attention. It was an odd shaped ball of something orange rolling down a hill. Almost alien like. Yes, my Kraft dinner outed me and escaped out from the picnic table. Busted! 

According to my mother, it was comical and fascinating to see a ball of kd rolling down a beautiful sea of green lawn. She said no one spoke. They just watched it roll. I could have gotten into trouble...you know the '70's old school way of doing things. But instead, they laughed it off and it became a vivid childhood memory that I remember still like it happened yesterday. 

How could I not love orange after that?

What colours do you gravitate toward and why? Share them in the comment section. 

And on a side note, I do plan on illustrating this somehow or making a story out of it. Should be fun. ~Holly 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How I Got Over Writer's Block

Outside of illustration, I like to write. I often write because it helps with my creativity and I like to share ideas. Writing has become another way to communicate outside of making images. It makes me feel part of something larger than my four walls in an effort to contribute. 

Like many talented folks before me, I developed writers block. I must confess, I didn't fully understand this affliction right way. The thing about me is, I am always "on" and I definitely do not suffer from boredom. I knew the ideas were there-I just couldn't get them out.  

So how did this happen? 

I think it was a combination of not being physically well for a while which caused lack of energy in combination with a busy life. Not a good mix for creativity right? I hear you, I could use a vacation.

Even though I was unable to write, I still felt the need to put words together. It didn't really make sense to me so I stepped away for a while. I decided to do a little experiment to see what could work to help me move through this word blockade. The following list are some ideas that helped me through it.   

1. Watching stand-up comedy-
Laughter can be the smartest way to distract yourself. Not only does it lift your mood, it releases all those happy chemicals in your big brain to open up the hand of thought. Laughing is not a waste of time. It truly is amazing how the littlest things about life can be constructed on stage in a very side-splitting way!

Best part: it's contagious. It lets you forget about your long to-do lists so you can escape for a while. Odd observations and comical life issues have a funny way of making you feel human and grateful that we make it in this world everyday!

2. Watching TED Talks-
I found when I watched TED talks on creativity and new ways to do things it motivated me to take action; any action. I enjoy the process behind success and ideas. I love how people can just get up on stage and talk about their experiences in very inspiring ways. These talks gave me tips, advice and made me feel that just doing and trying are the best parts. 

Best parts: I got to watch these talks-
Shawn Achor-The happy secret to better work. 
Amanda Palmer- The Art Of Asking.
• Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life.
• Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are.

3. Listening to webinars and podcasts-
On the rare days I do not want to listen to music as I illustrate, I will listen to podcasts or web chats. I listened to creativity, social networking, business, writing and some on the concept of being happy. I tried to grab something that could be useful from everything I listened to. 

Best part: It has motivated me to want to have my own podcast! 

4. Taking a break from writing-
Yes, like I mentioned earlier I walked away from it for awhile. I still made notes and jotted down ideas but the main task of writing was temporally ignored. Forcing ideas and pushing against that stubborn wall was not going to happen. Having any type of creative block in my opinion is your brain trying to tell you something. It's often a sign that you need a break. The problem is, we don't always stop long enough to pay attention to find out whats wrong. 

Best part: I got over the need to be working all the time. It's one of those personal permissions I always go on about. Yes, we need to work to pay bills and we need to take breaks for our health too!

5. Reading lyrics-
We have all sorts of reasons why we listen to the kind of music we do. With that said, how often do look at the lyrics or even have a true understanding of what these songs are about? When you stop and look at a song you see that lyrics are written in haiku like snippets and parts but not always in full sentences. These snippets are subtle, metaphorical and often times very cryptic. When you find a good one, the words can be very visual and useful. 

Best part: I got to update my infinite work play list. Also, I gained many new ideas for new portfolio work. That is a huge bonus because I am currently having my website redesigned!  

6. Writing down ideas in point form- 
When you feel blocked, just making a paragraph happen can seem like one great big army crawl. Jotting notes down is a liberating exercise to just make ideas happen but without all the control. Who cares that you left out a period or you spelled a word wrong. Just get it down. Chances are, you will be the only person deciphering it later anyway. If it ends up reading like Klingon mixed with Ikea furniture instructions, you might want to pull back and have it more legible. 

Best part: I am able to now get ideas down faster without the worry of having to add every little detail. 

7. Poring over magazines and books on creativity- 
Similar to your note making, magazines use buzz words and short headline sentences. This is a good training ground to sum up your ideas. Your brain may feel like one big run on sentence, but your writing does not need to be. 

Books on creativity help because they focus on the whole point of your career; making stuff! Of course you will get endless lessons out of it. 

Best part: I picked up new books for my office library and it gave me more and more ideas for illustrations. 

8. Hooking up with words! 
I love thesaurus.com. I spend a lot of time looking up words, their meaning, and spelling just because words are cool. Illustration is linked heavily to narrative so it makes sense to jump into that. 

Best part: I have a full notebook of ideas for work, a new book proposal, and many blog post ideas.  

9. Sleeping more- 
It's good to be be lazy. Who knew? We are never okay when we are overtired. Not enough sleep, too much coffee, lack of light and feeling rushed can be a real creative downer. At some point, coffee stops working when you've hit a certain level of exhaustion. 

Best part: My insomnia is gone plus I am getting up earlier. This extra quiet time helps lengthen my day before the kids get up. 

10. Focusing on health-
How you physically feel really does affect everything you do. Similar to creative block; it reminds you to pay attention when you are not feeling a hundred percent. So proper hydration and eating better can seem basic but we often lose sight of it. I also make myself get up from my desk more often to give my eyes a break.  

Best part: Very few headaches and less eye strain. I also get to include my kids in exercise. I never have to give them an excuse to jump about and play loud music. Also, I'm starting to feel like old self again. 

11. Using my smart phone for voice memos- 
My neighbours probably think I'm nuts when I chat at my phone while not necessarily having it up to my ear. I should mention I do this at the bus stop. Why do these ideas happen there? I have no idea. I'm just going to go ahead and say it's like the shower effect for many. You step away, you get busy and then bang!...all the ideas hit you at once leaving you scrambling to save them somewhere!

Best part: I'm not losing anymore thoughts or ideas when I am doing the Mum thing!

12. Changing my morning routine.
By nature, I work best when I get up early. I no longer want to get online right away. I am making a conscious effort to steer clear of negative energy or images as I wake up. I try to read something motivating, watch something inspiring or I sit quietly with my coffee and let ideas just percolate. I never gave much thought about waking up differently or better. Now that I am older, I am realizing how waking up well can effect your whole day. 

Best part: My energy seems to be on an even keel. I notice when something inspires me, that theme carries on all day like an archaeological dig by making me going deeper with it. This jump starts the learning process and that makes me a happy girl!

Hope some of these ideas help. Of course, many of these ideas can be applied to illustration too. Have a great week. Happy creating!
-Holly