We all need to make more room for creative play

You have undoubtedly heard the Picasso quote: “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” It’s a quote that’s famous because it’s so true. There’s a certain freedom to making art and creativity when you’re a child, that you seem to lose somewhere along the way to becoming a ‘grown-up’.

But the simple way to protect your creative child is to keep playing. But it’s harder than it sounds, so it’s something we all leave at aside.

It’s so easy to get in a space of only putting energy into creative projects that have some kind of cause, especially if it becomes part of your job. You start to associate creative time with making money, or trying to make something that will do well on Instagram. Or, you simply just prioritise the work that pays the bills rather than the stuff that feeds your inner child. It makes sense. That’s the world we live in. I know, I for one, do it all of the time. Playtime quickly becomes the least important time to ring-fence.

But making time to play is so important. It’s good for your wellbeing. It reduces stress. It’s great for helping you get through a creative block or just coming up with ideas. It’s a big part of what helps you “remain an artist once [you grow] up”.

So how do you play creatively as a grown up? Quite simply you’ve just got to make time and do it. 

Playtime has to be something that isn’t attached to a need for a certain outcome so it needs to happen outside of your working time. In order to differentiate play and work there are a few things, you can do if you make things for a living.

First, do something outside of your creative bubble as your play time. For me, my creative playtime is cooking, which is about as far from illustration as you can get. But it could also be something as simple as using a different medium or style.

Second, go back to school. By that, I don’t mean go back in time but to try a new class. While that might sound like the kind of structure that’s the opposite of play but learning something new often unshackles you from the expectation that you have to make something good.

This year, I’m going to do my very best to make more time for play, even though it feels so unnatural to me now. Do you do anything to keep your inner child playing?

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