As an illustrator and a graphic designer, I am challenged to try to find my creative voice amongst all the noise and conflicting influences. I was encouraged to think about this concept recently and ask myself a few questions. Here are some of my recent thoughts about my own creative voice.
One of the wonderful things about my new WeWork coworking space, is that WeWork offers lots of little added extras that, well, add up to a lot of extra. There is free coffee and free draft beer at all times - ok, I realize it’s not actually free and that I pay for it each month, but it still feels free. Every Monday we get breakfast. This afternoon there is a 10 min relaxation workshop. There are all sorts of networking events. Even a yoga class and a cookery class or two. Last week, one of my wonderful fellow Weworker suggested going to a workshop for women in the workplace called “Finding your voice”, run by Nancy Writes Botkin of Think 8.
I am quite keen on such concepts and love listening to all sorts of inspirational talks, so I went along thinking I wasn’t necessarily going to be new and therefore enriching for me. That was a mistake. Nancy led 12 of us women through a very interactive round table seminar where we all shared ideas and brainstormed on the concept of “Finding your Voice”. It was truly excellent and challenging. And there was amazing food (did I mention that WeWork is always plowing us with excellent food? 😉 ). Now normally with these kinds of talks, I am challenged for an hour or 2 and then I leave, get to back to work and life and I forgot all about it. Not this time. I have been thinking again and again about the ideas Nancy raised and that we mulled through together.
To be honest, during the workshop, my mind turned more to important relationships in my life and I thought a lot about those. But another area where finding my voice has relevance is the creative field. As an illustrator and a graphic designer, I am often faced with the challenge of trying to find my creative voice amongst all the noise and conflicting influences. As a graphic designer, my role is to adapt to my client’s desires and create visual imagery that works for them and helps them express their brand. Of course my response to their brand is tainted by my own sensitivity. Another designer would have a different response to mine. But ultimately my own voice disappears in a visual that then becomes my client’s visual. Even in terms of copyright, once I have created a logo for a client, the logo becomes theirs legally and I have no rights over it. I feel at peace with this natural tension between my own sensitivity and my clients’ needs.
As an illustrator (the other hat I wear), the tension between these 2 elements is more challenging. Through lots of wonderful clients briefs and projects, I have been encouraged to develop different illustrative styles to meet my clients needs. I enjoy being able to show a variety of different illustrative abilities to prospective clients. But in doing that, I am losing my own voice? I have very much been challenged by that idea over the last week. In offering different illustrative styles, am I dimming my own creative voice? If I narrow my illustrative style down, will I attract less clients?
As you can see it’s a complicated question. Have any of you been faced by this challenge? Do any of you out there have the answer? I’ve posted here some of my favourite illustrations (my own work, of course). I want to share them with you but it’s also an exercise for me in understand where my true sensitivity lies and where my strengths are. I’d love to hear your feedback - can you hear my creative voice?