Meditation is the new black. In particular, using meditation to help unlock your creativity is getting a lot of hype at the minute. David Lynch has been a huge proponent of Transcendental Meditation ™, even starting a foundation to give more people access to what is a costly style of meditation. But he’s not alone, famous creative meditators include: the Beach Boys, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Steve Vai, Tom Petty, John Denver, Sheryl Crow, Katy Perry, the co-founders of Def Jam Recordings, Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Clint Eastwood, and lest us not forget Oprah.

Meditation is also something I’ve heard a lot about on some of my favourite creative podcasts, for example Tiffany Han’s Raise Your Hand Say Yes with Lacy Young. Everyone seems to be talking about the power of meditation and it’s no surprise because supposedly it can help:

“You become more you – you get more ideas and more energy to fulfil them […] It’s fuel for the artist, you grow faster between films or paintings. It speeds things up. You start making the subconscious conscious; meditators have an edge over artists that don’t meditate.”*

As someone who’s always trying to be more creative, and also, in the least Eat Pray Love way possible, find myself, that sounded pretty attractive. So, I’ve been trying out a few different kinds of meditation (unfortunately not TM) over the last few months (so I’m by no means an expert) and these have been my experiences and take-aways.


Headspace is (I think) the biggest mediation app available right now, “We all need to get a little head space” – it’s a catchphrase that has become ingrained into the psyches of more than 6 million people worldwide. The app, led by Andy, leads you through easy to follow guided meditations and mindfulness training. The meditation sessions on Headspace are divided up into levels, and you can try the first level of ten sessions for free, which I would highly recommend you do if you’re interested in trying meditation but aren’t sure where to start. I definitely enjoyed working my way through different levels of headspace, and it gave me a lot of food for thought. The little explanation videos at the beginning of the sessions were really helpful in giving me some perspective on meditation and also just generally being more mindful. If you’re someone who gets a lot out of gamification, you’ll love headspace. The app is really good at reminding you to take ten and encouraging sustained mediation, and was a great starter for me personally. But it’s not something I’ve stuck with for that reason. After really trying to get on with Headspace, I decided that it’s not something I want to use every day. I’m not a big fan of everyday tasks turned into games (for some reason it irks me) and the guided meditations began to feel a bit redundant after I’d tried Zazen. However, I’ve kept the app on my phone so I can dip in and out of their specific meditations like commuting and sport. 


Zazen is what you probably imagine when someone says mediation to you. It’s sitting quietly, quiet often cross-legged, breathing and thinking. This self-guided meditation focuses on your breathing and getting in touch with your body in many of the same ways as the Headspace guided meditations but without anything else in the way. I normally follow something a little like this method, and I like to have some rain sounds (there are loads on spotify) in the background, in part because my house is never really all that quiet. I know that some people might find this a little boring, or hard to get into, but this is the kind of meditation that I have gotten the most out of. Not only has it helped me feel calm and at peace in the way that a warm bath does, I’ve also had a number of almost magical experiences while doing it. When I’m practising zazen, I feel both hyper aware of my body and somehow external to it, I don’t quite know how to describe it. Has practising this kind of meditation helped my creativity? I’m not sure. It hasn’t in any obvious way but I think being able to enjoy those warm moments of calm has helped me feel more content in myself, which I think can’t have done anything but to affect my creativity.


I’m including this even though I’m not sure how much it counts as a “meditation” because it’s been something I’ve gotten a lot out in many of the same ways as Zazen. Every day I take some time just to paint. I don’t go in with a plan or an image I just move the colours and forms around wherever they lead me. It’s been a great way for me to visualise whatever I’m feeling as well as starting to gain confidence in painting. This is the meditation that has helped my creativity the most because of that confidence. When making feels as easy as breathing, and can bring you a greater sense of calm, you just end up with so much more trust in yourself and also a better sense of your own internal source of creativity. I realise that sounded quite strange and new-agey but I didn’t have a better way to put it.

Those have been my experiences with meditation and creativity so far. Do I think it’s worth trying if you’re looking to be more creative? Definitely, there’s absolutely nothing to lose and quite a lot to gain, not just a boost in creativity. Do I think it’s worth the hype? I’m not sure just yet, there’s a lot more to meditation than the bits I’ve tried and I’m keen to investigate it further, either through classes or through just more research.

What are your thoughts on meditation? Have you tried it? What has worked for you or what hasn’t? Should I be trying classes?

*I really enjoyed this article from Emily Gosling on It’s Nice That.


Design history of Dr Martens

Everything around us has a design story, a history of how it came into being. So, I wanted to start a little series documenting those stories, starting with the things I use everyday. And what could be a better personal everyday design classic to start it off than Dr Martens?

Dr Martens have found their place in every generation since the 1940s. They began their life as a medical remedy and a housewife’s favourite before becoming a subculture staple, all while being known for their comfort and durability. I’ve worn my trusty pair of 1461s almost every single day for the last 3 years and still love them dearly. 

The idea for Dr Martens, similarly to that of Converse, came from their creator taking a slip and fall. Dr Klaus Märtens, a 25-year-old German doctor in World War 2, sprained his ankle while on the ski slopes of the Alps. Unhappy with the idea of being inactive for months, because his injury was made worse by his poor-fitting army issue boots, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He gathered materials from a cobbler. Then used an old tyre for the sole, creating the now famous air pockets which gave his feet a cushioned bed on which to walk.

As soon as he realised he might have made something special, Märtens decided to try and sell his creation. However, there wasn’t much interest at first. In fact, it wasn’t until Märtens teamed up with a friend with more production knowledge, Dr Herbert Funck, that he had any success. With Funck’s help, Märtens upgraded the rubber soles of his boots using rubber from airfields. Thanks to this upgrade and some clever marketing, their boots soon became a housewife’s staple because the boots’ comfort and practicality meant that long days on their feet were a bit more bearable.

Once they had this first loyal fan base Märtens’ boots quickly grew in popularity. By the late 1950s, he was ready to expand internationally. This is where Märtens’ boots became the Dr Martens we know and love now. Märtens teamed up with the R. Griggs Group, a family run operation in Wollaston, Northamptonshire, who had been making boots for over half a century. As soon as they got the rights to Märtens’ innovative bouncing soles they trademarked the soles, added a bulbous but simple upper, a distinctive yellow welt stitch, a two-tone grooved sole edge and a unique sole pattern as well as Anglicising the boots’ name to Dr Martens to make them easier to sell in the UK. Those first boots were branded as ‘Airwair’ and came complete with a black and yellow heel loop, which tied in with the yellow stitching, and featured the brand name and the slogan “With Bouncing Soles” the typography of which was based on Bill Grigg’s handwriting. With these changes in place, the first pair of cherry red Dr Martens boots rolled off the production line on the 1st April 1960. That date is where that first style’s name, 1460, comes from.

At first, these boots were mainly popular with those who spent a lot of time on their feet, namely postmen and police officers. That was until 1967 when they were first worn by Pete Townshed, guitarist for The Who. Townshed who was “was sick of dressing up as a Christmas tree in flowing robes that got in the way of my guitar playing” decided to move onto “utility wear” in the form of Dr Martens which brought his attire back in line with his working-class roots. This connection between rock music and Dr Martens brought about a change in how they were perceived, they were no longer a workwear staple but a style statement, that has been linked with music ever since from skinheads to pop divas.

After the skinhead craze died down, Dr Martens remained a symbol for subculture and self-expression for the countless splinter groups of glam rockers, punks and goths. The 1990s were the boots most successful period thanks to an era defined by Britpop and Grunge, two opposing cultures both of which loved the heritage, style and comfort of Dr Martens.

Even though their story began with women, Dr Martens had always been made and style for men. That was until 1994 when upon realising that over 50% of their customers were women, the boots and shoes were released in different designs, fits and colours to appeal to a wider audience. But, the boots staged what was labelled the ‘Turnaround of the Year’ by collaborating with high fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood to reinvigorate the brand’s, and specifically the 1460 boot’s, aura of British cool.

Today, Dr Martens are continuing to go from strength to strength appealing to a wider audience than ever, while retaining that original style and sense of brand identity with the same classic yellow thread, the same base boot design, and the same signature pull tab.

I just created my first ever mood board for a personal project. That’s right. I’d never created an inspiration or mood board for one of my own projects. I’d always thought they were a bit pointless. But I think I’m a convert. Inspired by that revelation and my excitement about having some inspiration back in my personal projects, I wanted to write a post all about finding inspiration, which I think goes hand in hand with my other piece on creative thinking.

8 things to do before 8 am


As I just said, I’ve just put together my first inspiration board for a personal project and I’m kind of in love with it. I’ve not shared a picture of it here, so I can keep what I’m working on as something that’s just mine for a while. Creating an inspiration board can be a great way of drawing together a lot of ideas so you can synthesise them and find links, it has also served as a great way to remind me of the concept I was striving for to keep me on course. My board includes some reference images, colour palettes, a couple of quotes, images of objects and scenes I really love, and some fragments of work I love. I’ve only used fragments of artists’ work because I don’t want to be taking too much from them, rather I’ve taken sections for the inspiration of quality of line, or textures and materials, or I’ve drawn over them to highlight composition. That distinction was really important to me in terms of finding inspiration, I didn’t want to steal ideas and I also didn’t want to be overwhelmed by work that I liked because I know that my own won’t be the same, because it’s mine, and that’s not a bad thing.


When I say get outside I don’t just mean going for a walk, although that can be a great way to come find inspiration. I love just walking and looking and listening and absorbing. Make sure you look up when you’re walking around, you’ll see so much more. When I say get outside, I mean get out and try new things or go new places. If you can, travel somewhere new and let a new culture or location inspire you. If you can’t, just visit somewhere new in your city, or look at it from a new vantage point. You could also try out a new class or go to a museum about something you’ve never thought about before (if you’re in London I love the Wellcome Collection for that kind of inspiration). Get out, experience something new, and let the world around inspire you.


This kind of goes hand in hand with what I just said but don’t just look to one source for inspiration, and in particular don’t just look to one artist. That’s how you end up in a dangerous place. If you’re working in design why not look to architecture, or classical artworks, or nature, or fashion? Looking outside of your field for inspiration will help you come up with new ideas and help you find your own style. I love using my Pinterest to gather up lots of images that have caught my eye and varying where I get my inspiration from.


If I’m looking for a bit of a quick fix for inspiration I put some music on. There’s just something about engaging with a different sense that makes my brain work differently, whether I’m inspired by a feeling or a lyric I normally come away more productive and engaged with whatever I’m doing. I also love using smells to evoke memories or to inspire me. Try engaging with your senses (yes this is an excuse for a snack) to see which bits of your brain they will switch on and inspire.


Back in January, I started a painting everyday journal, to encourage me to just play with paint again. Pretty much everything I’ve created in there has been an abstract watercolour, and I’ve found a style I like that’s really different from anything else I make. It’s so easy to become comfortable in doing things a certain way or with a certain medium, but challenging yourself to try something new or present your ideas in a different way can be really inspiring. Using watercolours more hasn’t just been fun it’s made me want to incorporate them into my work more and it’s inspired me to try some more abstract pieces of work. Finding that style on my own through experimentation has also given me the confidence to try more new things, which I think has been just as inspiring as the work itself.


Surround yourself with people who inspire you. That doesn’t mean you need to be in an artist’s collective, but it does mean you need to find good people. I constantly find myself being inspired by my friends, by the things they say, by their bravery or intelligence or just their drive to be good people. I think that’s really important. Find people who can inspire you to approach the world in a different way or just to be better, and make sure those people are people who support you in your creativity. If you’re struggling to find people in the real world, reaching out and starting conversations on social media, especially twitter, can be a great way to get involved in a new community and speak to new creative people.


I’ve started carrying around a little idea notepad with me in my planner so that I can jot down anything that comes to me and have all of those ideas stored in one place. Having a catalogue of ideas, however small or frankly rubbish, is really useful to come back to, either to remember what you wanted to do or for some inspiration from your past self. Once you have an idea, don’t wait to work on it. You don’t need to have the perfect idea to have a go at something. Sometimes just starting and working gets you thinking as you go, and sometimes you need to work through 5 bad ideas before you find your real inspiration and a good idea.


Quite often having a deadline can be a good thing, and sometimes we work best under pressure. But coming up with an idea when all you’re thinking of is coming up with an idea can be the hardest thing in the world. You are not going to be inspired all of the time. It’s just a fact. If you are, please share your secrets with me. Give yourself some space and time to think, and perhaps try out some of these creative thinking exercises, and let inspiration come to you as you go without overthinking it (this comes from the world’s biggest overthinker).

I probably spend too much of my time on youtube, but there’s so much great content out there and it’s so easy to get sucked into the blackhole that is the automatic play function. The more time I spend on there, the more favourites I find. I wanted to share some of those discoveries with you to expand your subscription boxes and your creative inspiration.




Natasha was the first design youtuber I watch and subscribed to, and her videos kind of led to a whole day of design-tube binge watching. Her videos cover every and anything design-y and they’re awesome. I’ve particularly loved all of her London recommendations and vlogs, as someone who lives in the big smoke. Her unboxings and reviews are ace as well, as, in fact, is all of the rest of her content. If you like this list, Natasha has two really great lists of creative youtubers on her blog, which really helped get me into the creative side of youtube (This is the first one, and here’s the second).


Hollie is a designer from New Zealand, and she just seems like the loveliest person (very much on my list of people I wish I could be friends with list). As well as some really useful advice videos, Hollie also does the occasional graphic design challenge on her channel, which are some of my favourite videos to watch because you get to see someone’s work process in hyperdrive.


Robin’s paintings are absolutely stunning, but that’s not why I love her channel. I love her channel because she’s hilarious. She makes pure comedy gold out of the things every artist has thought, or felt, or done, or had said to them.


Sha’an d’Anthes AKA Furry Little Peach is an Australian illustrator and artist living and working in Australia, which is kind of my dream. Her work is gorgeous and I absolutely love her studio tours and getting to watch her work. If you’re looking for some really lovely relaxed design videos that will leave you in a good mood, I highly recommend checking her out. Fingers crossed she posts some more videos soon!


I love the Sad Ghost Club wherever they are. If you don’t know them already, The Sad Ghost Club is a club for anyone who’s ever felt sad or lost, which is kind of everyone at some point. Their youtube channel is still quite new, but their sketchbook club is so lovely.


As well as being one of my favourite blogs to read, The House that Lars Built (AKA Brittany Watson Jepsen) also makes some of my absolute favourite videos on youtube. They are beautifully shot and produced craft videos. I feel like calling them craft videos underplays it, perhaps aspirational DIY or mind blowing make and do projects might be better, either way everything Brittany makes is stunning and makes me want to be better.


I’ve been a huge fan of Fran’s illustrations for absolutely ages, so when I discovered she had a youtube channel I was more than a little bit excited. As well as discussing her own work and showing her process, Fran talks really honestly about life as an artist in a way that’s really lovely and refreshing.


Logo designer Will Paterson, is one of the most popular design-tubers with good reason. He mainly focuses on logo design, brand identity and Adobe Illustrator. Will’s laid back style make his videos so easy to watch, which means you find you’re learning things without even realising.


Charli is a freelance designer based in the UK and all round super cool lady. Her videos are about everything from branding, to designing t-shirts and apparel to working with clients. Her enthusiasm about what she does really shines through her videos and always inspires me to get going.




When I grow up I want to dress like Lizzy Hadfield. Not only is Lizzy’s style in-credible, she makes really useful videos, her testing basics videos are the kind of fashion review that are genuinely useful rather than just fluffy sales tools. She also makes some of my absolute favourite vlogs, because she really feels like a friend and her accent kind of makes me think of home.


I just like watching Anna’s videos, that’s all I have to say – I really enjoy them.


Everything Estee Lalonde does is beautifully curated, whether that’s her home, her style, or her stunning book Bloom. I really aspire to that level of clarity of vision. Her dog reggie is a babe too – note to all youtubers out there I can and will be won over by the inclusion of a dog in your videos.


You could classify Arden as another beauty/style youtuber, that’s certainly where she started out. But, for me, her most inspirational videos are her more produced shorts like Almost Adulting, which she made to promote her book of the same name (it looks awesome). I promise after watching her videos your life will get a whole lot more sassy.




As I mentioned in my first Book Club post, Ariel Bissett has really helped reignite my passion for reading because she always just seems so damn excited to have a book in her hand.


Watching Do Not Settle’s videos is like getting to travel the world with a supercool architect friend who points out all of the most interesting buildings and elements in your surroundings. I genuinely think watching their videos has changed how I see the world a little bit.


I feel like Casey is already so well subscribe to on youtube that there’s not really any point in mentioning him. Nevertheless, this list would be remiss without him on it, his ethos of just taking his gear with him and getting the shot without being precious is something that’s really inspired me and made me want to get better at not worrying and just doing the work.


Who else should I be watching?


224-238 Kensington High St. couldn’t be a more fitting home for the new, reinvigorated, Design Museum. Its structural sweeping roof, its glowing yellow signage, its wide staircase that acts as an impromptu seating area, all come together to form a space that feels at once carefully planned and open to play.

When I went a couple of weekends ago it was absolutely packed – I’d avoid Saturday afternoons for a bit. While it was bad for me as someone who hates crowds, it’s a great sign for the museum. It wasn’t just design folk either, the new £83mil building was filled with a whole spectrum of Londonners and tourists.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the shows they have on currently is their permanent collection, something they didn’t have the room for in their last home. Designer-Maker-User examines how the world around us has been shaped by design, and how design has been shaped by designers, makers, and users. What could have been an overly broad and theoretical piece on the nature of design, their use of brands and objects everyone will recognise makes the exhibition relevant and engaging.


After you’ve seen Designer-Maker-User make sure you check out the Beazley Designs of the Year, to see design thinking in practice. The diverse collection of designs, from ambitious architectural projects to an electric bike and a pair of trainers made from waste plastic, are organised into themes to help you navigate the space and understand how design impacts real lives. On the topic of understanding, you can tell the museum has put a lot of effort into helping people understand why each piece has been selected. No matter how weird or wacky every design has been given its own write up, and there’s an introductory statement about the criteria for nominations. These little touches give the exhibit a real sense of value rather than just being a collection of oddities. Hopefully, they’ll also lead to some interesting results from the public vote for winners too.

The Design Museum is also hosting works from their artists in residence around the theme of openness, and a show called Fear & Love which is 11 pieces that look to solve problems created by design. Both of which are thought provoking and really interesting to wander round.  

I will say that I’m looking forward to them using the atrium space more effectively. In it’s current, empty, form, the heart of the space feels a bit lacking and without focus.

That said, the new Design Museum is full of promise and suggests a confidence in the industry that it really deserves. Design isn’t just a buzz word. It isn’t just making things that are pretty. It’s about improving the world around you for real people. That’s the calling card of this museum. You can just feel that there is so much more to come from this corner of Kensington.

Have you been out to the new space? What did you think?