musings about creativity & my trip to Italy

Here’s the thing about travel that we all know, yet often forget: it’s life changing. By that I mean that the simple act of traveling alters your perspective on so many things. Lifestyle… priorities… even the acceptability of eating cheese and cured meats for dinner instead of a planned-to-the-T meal. My trip to Italy brought inspiration in a two-fold fashion: creatively thanks to the workshop and personally thanks to a week and a half of exploring. I had a whole other blog post scheduled for today, but pulled it because writing this post felt more urgent and necessary. So let’s start with my creative takeaways…

Creatively-speaking, up until 3 weeks ago, I was mired in a creative rut. I was bored of my usual sources of inspiration and the aesthetics that we’ve all seen a million times and counting. I struggled with where I wanted to take my vision and even what that vision should encompass.

1 – Do I want to do more styling?

2 – Do I want to do more of my own photography?

3 – Do I want to design products again?

4 – Do I want to design interiors some more?

It felt like I wanted to answer YES to each of those questions, but where was the time to do so?? Before blogging full time, I was a textile designer and painted and drew about 80% of the time I was at work. Looking back on it… I actually feel nostalgic! Imagine getting to be creative for most of your time at work. What a luxury. It’s so easy to think that working for yourself is lovely all of the time because, yes, I get to take time off and go to Italy for 2.5 weeks and I don’t have to ask permission from anyone to do so. But here’s the other thing: I work all the damn time. And usually that does not allow for much creativity.

What you don’t see is the bookkeeping, the emails, the meetings, the press events, the solicitation for free work or rates so low as to be offensive… At the end of the day, I’m too burnt out to paint or draw or create anything of real, true, soul-enhancing value.

I actively miss creating things.

While in Florence, I happened upon an art supply store that resembled the one I frequented in college. While there, I purchased a small sketch pad and some of my old favorite pencils. Tenderly, I packed them into my suitcase and hoped that I’d actually use them when I got home. Then promptly forgot about them until yesterday. So, I woke up and just felt… ready. I nestled into the couch and doodled just for the sake of doodling. Also, I spent a good hour, maybe two, just letting the lines and compositions evolve into something that felt like the glimmer of an idea.

The truth is that I have wanted to launch a line of products (textiles? rugs? ceramics? prints?) since I left my full-time designer job. I miss the “I’m an artist” portion of my career description. So now, looking back at those doodles I can see where they could go and it excites me.

Thinking back on my time in Italy, I met so many people who have opened up time in their lives in order to pursue a passion. Sometimes those passion projects opened doors into new professional pursuits — and sometimes they just fed the soul. At this point, I’m more interested in that soul-feeding part because — god damn — I am starving.

Because I am me and I can’t sneeze without sharing it on social media, I look forward to sharing my journey back to a creative life with you here, too. If you have any ideas of how you’d like to follow the journey, let me know down in the comments.

photography by Jojotastic, while visiting La Serra MK Textile Atelier.

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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