Hello everyone, welcome to my first blog post as I embark on a creative journey! I have to warn my readers (if there are any at all) that I am not good with words so my apologies in advance. 

About me

My name is Gav, I am 35 years old and live just outside London in a town called Epsom. Born and raised in the UK with parents of Indian descent who are fairly westernized. I live with my husband Jason, who’s family is also Indian but from a different area. We have lived in and around London for about 14 years but are originally from the Midlands. 

My creative career till now

I have designed user experiences for laptops, mobile phones and tablets.

I graduated with a degree in Multimedia Technology and began my career as a digital designer. For the first few years, I sat between design and front-end development and then settled in digital design. Eventually, I became a user interface designer (UI). As a UI designer, I helped to design user-friendly websites and mobile apps. I have worked with a wide range of companies and industries, from both small startups to larger well-established corporations. I decided on a freelance/contractor life as it offered the right amount of variety and flexibility. My UI work can be found here in my portfolio.

My creative journey outside of digital

I have always taken a liking to both hand-drawn and digital illustration and appreciated the hard work behind each piece. I collected a lot of Computer Arts magazines etc but admired from the sidelines, as I never had the skill or ideas to execute anything myself. 

My love for travel led my husband and me, on a 6 months adventure where we traveled to Africa, India, and S.E Asia. We spent Christmas with his family in a state called Gujarat in India. It was there that I had an idea for 12 days of an Indian Christmas! When we returned back to the UK, I created a set of Christmas cards that I sold in my Etsy shop and to friends and family. This led to a few other greeting cards. It was a pretty cool feeling that I could create something that others would enjoy! The cards can be found in my portfolio.

A set of 3 greeting cards I created.  Reading on the 4th, 5th and 6th day of Christmas along side illustrations.
A clipboard with the words hand-lettered in ink reading "you got this" that I created in my hand-lettering workshop

My love for hand-lettering came after attending a workshop that I thoroughly enjoyed. We were taught by the wonderful Emma Block and Terri from Lovely Draw and I have loved lettering ever since. I have also dabbled in watercolor where I painted myself a moon that now lives on my living room wall. My creations have never really made it into my day job and have mostly lived on my Instagram feed. I sometimes use my lettering for gifts such as custom pieces for family and friends and for the odd baby shower here and there. 

What changed?

Over the last couple of years, UI design has started to feel meh. I wouldn’t say I am over it completely but feel like it is restricting. The industry standards and component libraries are pretty robust and I don’t get to be very creative. I think I have reached a point in my career where I don’t have that spark.  

Book: Figure Drawing, for all its worth by Andrew Loomis

Instead of plodding along, I looked at my skill set to identify what I was missing and what I am drawn to. I realized there is a big gap between what I like and what I can create. Outside of secondary education (where art wasn’t my strong subject), I have not received any formal training so I needed to start from scratch. I decided to start with figure drawing so I bought a few books and began drawing when I had spare time. My plan for 2020 was to enroll in some art courses between contracts. I was pretty excited to dedicate time and effort to this. 

The universe aligned and I took a leap!

Then the universe gave me an opportunity, disguised as something which can only be described as something you see in the movies. A virus. COVID-19 has swept through our planet and has almost put the world on lockdown. 

I started a UI/UX job just 4 days before we were ordered to work from home. Unfortunately, the role didn't meet my expectations so after ALOT of thinking and deliberation, I decided to leave and pursue my journey of learning and creating. I have always dreamed of locking myself away and creating so I guess this was a perfect time! My plan is to figure out if I have what it takes, decide where to apply it, and then get paid to do it.

I decided to start my creative journey whist it was advised to stay at home due to the virus outside

Financially I have been a sensible contractor so have enough money saved up to be able to afford to take some time off whilst still drawing a salary. This was probably the most important deciding factor as after all, we have a mortgage and bills to pay. Being sensible all these years pays off! I have decided that should this journey take longer than expected I will take up some freelance work in UI/digital etc. Hopefully, I can bring my new skills into my existing set and start taking jobs that bring more joy and are aligned to my creative self.

My creative journey, what is it and why does it matter?

This brings me to my creative journey. As mentioned I feel like I need to start at the beginning so my journey would be different from other people. I have found that there are two major elements: learning and finding my style, my creative voice. These 2 combined should be a winning formula to produce some art! I say stuff because I have not quite honed into what it is that I want to produce. The learning part of my journey will tackle both the skills and the type of output, the industry etc.

What is the actual plan?

I am the type of person who loves a good plan! I have approached this journey as if I had enrolled in my dream art course. I asked myself what would my ideal curriculum be and I devised a timetable to reflect just that.

My method has been highly influenced by the following books: How to find your creative voice by Lisa Congdon and Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.

Another brilliant, insightful resource is the self-paced course: Make Art that Sells, Money BadAss. Top art agent Lilla Rogers and award-winning entrepreneur Beth Kempton share the secrets in a crash course in making money doing what you love and building a thriving business. This has been an eye-opener in the different income streams and very encouraging! Lila has a few other really great courses that I would like to take in the near future which could really boost my career! 

I didn’t want to set myself up for failure so my timetable is manageable and I have decided to be flexible with it.

My creative journey timetable. Monday: Figure drawing and art history. Tuesday: Figure drawing and replicating some art history. Wednesday: Faces and colour palettes. Thursday: Inspiration and replicating inspiration. Friday review  and network. Everyday doodle diary.

The progress on my journey so far

OK so here we are. I am 4 weeks into my journey and it feels good. As expected doubt and fear do rear their ugly heads but I think I am managing them ok so far. I have managed to keep to my initial timetable and mold it around recent discoveries. Now at week 4, it may be time to review my progress. I am my own teacher and student, a very strange set-up!

Blogging and I

A few resources have recommended blogging about this process of creative development. My fear has been that I am not a good writer and it takes me quite a while to get my thoughts down and for them to make sense. But hey, I will try my best. Instead of loads of words (like this post), I think I will incorporate more doodles and aim for a work in progress and pictures of inspiration. I will go with the flow and see what happens!

I hope that my journey can inspire others to do that thing they have been wanting to do. Take that leap of faith and hope the universe catches them!

Onwards and upwards!