“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
There are some very creative people here at the Artterro office, including a silversmith, a mixed-media artist, a graphic designer, a paper artist and several general crafting enthusiasts. We were recently talking about how difficult it can be to get started on a new project, and one member of our team mentioned that she has a much harder time finishing a project than she does starting one. It got us thinking about the forces that get in the way of the creative process, and what we can do to work through them. Here’s a Q&A with some of the artists on staff at Artterro; we hope this sparks some creative thinking for you!
Q: Are you a starter or a finisher?
Anna Lee: Finisher.
Forrest: I would say that I’m a finisher and will only start a project if I know that I’m going to be able to finish it in a reasonable amount of time. Usually a few days or week.
Shari: Definitely more of a starter. When I have no time to do anything, I get all these ideas! And I make lists and pull materials out and start three things at a time. Then later I get busy with other things or run into obstacles, and most of my projects I don’t finish. But I start A LOT of projects, even if it’s only planning for them, so I still end up accomplishing a lot.
A recent craft project by Anna Lee: Jewelry Holder made from our packaging, handmade paper and wooden rods
Q: Do you find it difficult to pick up your tools and supplies for the first time? Why?
Forrest: I find that I need to gather all my materials and supplies first, then let them sit on my table for a few weeks, maybe even a month before I start the project. Sometimes I find it so difficult to start a project because I need time to let it stew in my head for awhile and sometimes I need lots of inspiration. So, I use the internet to find pictures, I find Pinterest especially helpful and quick.
Shari: In some ways yes, and some ways, no. If it’s when I’m first starting something random and getting ideas, I pick up everything and pull everything out (and essentially make a giant mess). If it’s something I’ve been hired to do/a specific thing I know I need to do, I hesitate to start it because I’m nervous about screwing it up. Even if it’s something I know I can do.
Anna Lee: No. Gathering supplies, tools, etc and getting started is my favorite part. I enjoy the concept/ planning/designing process a lot.
Lavender Sachets made by Forrest
Q: Do you find it difficult to put in the work to finish it once you’ve started an exciting new project? Why?
Shari: YES. Even though I love crafting, I get very distracted by all the other things I need to do (like stuff around the house, running errands, cooking, etc). And again, I’m always nervous I’m going to screw it up. Even though I know finishing awesome things is totally worth all the work. Especially if it’s a surprise gift for someone.
Anna Lee: Usually yes, but mostly because I enjoy the starting process too much and tend to start too many projects at one time. This also depends on if it is an art piece or a DIY or craft project. If it is an art piece it can take me years to actually finish, as there is no real planning process, it’s just worked on when I have the inspiration, and the final vision is always changing. If it is a craft or DIY project I find it difficult to put the work in to finish if I haven’t acquired all of the necessary materials/tools/etc from the beginning. If I have missing parts I tend to put it aside for “later.”
Forrest: I find once I start a project I’m able to get it done quickly and don’t mind if it starts to take a lot more time then I originally thought. I also find that I really start to get into the process of working with materials after I start the project, then it feels more like play and less like work.
Shari, at work on a Collage Jewelry project
Q: How do you get past whatever is holding you back?
Shari: I’m not really sure. When I have a deadline and it’s down to the last minute, I know I can’t disappoint whoever the project is for, so I forge ahead; I’ve sacrificed a lot of sleep for last-minute crafting. Getting paid is also a good motivator. It also helps to try to get out of the house because there are so many distractions there. If I can bring my project to a coffee shop or a friends’ house, in some ways that helps me focus on just the project at hand. As long as I don’t let other things there distract me!
Anna Lee: This also depends if it’s an art piece or a craft/DIY project. As far as art goes, I try stepping away from it and finding inspiration in other places…I’ll go to a museum, go for a hike, look through old pictures, etc. Or I’ll try creating something in another media; if I’m stuck on a metal art piece I might start drawing something or paint something. If it is a craft or DIY project, usually a deadline motivates me, like if some one’s birthday or a holiday is coming up and I need a gift to give. Or I’ll motivate myself to finish by imaging where the end project will go in my home, garden, etc. or ways I will use or enjoy it, and then start planning for that. For example if I’m making a purse I will start planning outfits to wear with it, or if I’m building a plant stand I’ll move other furniture and make room for it in my house.
Forrest: I like to give myself a deadline or start a project a few days before I need to give it as a gift. That way I’ll have to get it done and the pressure to get it finished will help to motivate me. I believe procrastination is a useful tool.
We hope you found it helpful to hear how some of our resident artists deal with artistic road blocks. Feel free to give your own answers to these questions in the comments!