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Welcome! I'm an Illustrator, Art Director & Motion Designer with a passion for sharing knowledge & teaching designers how to find their unique voice as a creative.

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Hey! I'm Kelly 

Creative challenges are great ways to experiment, stretch our skills and dig into something that interests us in a low pressure environment. There is no better month to do that than October as the creative community hosts dozens of challenges all thanks to the original Inktober.

I hope this inspires you to join in some of the creative challenges that are going on. To help you out I’ve created an Airtable Spreadsheet with some October 2023 challenges.

You can get free access to the October Challenges Cheat Sheet here.

Intentional Mileage

It’s great to get mileage & create volume of art, but if you set a particular focus of something you want to improve and then create a few pieces with that same intention you will improve faster. It could be improving your concepting process, creating in a consistent colour palette or sticking with one style for the challenge to create more unity among your pieces.

Mine right now is stronger concepts & interesting compositions, which means I’m spending about half my time sketching and concepting. BUT I’m seeing results!! (Like the artwork used for this blog post 😉

Creative constraints

Even one word helps to give structure! Personally, I love combining prompts from different challenges to give myself a fun starting point rather than feeling paralyzed from a blank page or a single concept.

Forced time limit = higher chance of you finishing

I’m guilty of overthinking my personal illustrations, and if I have all the time in the world, I seem to take all the time in the world. But if someone else imposes a deadline on me…I’ll use just that time. It also allows me to work a bit messier, let go of perfection, which has given some cool & unexpected stylistic results

Encourages making time to create regularly

Did you know many of these challenges exist because of Inktober? Jake Parker started Inktober in 2009 to encourage a daily art practice and leverage community accountability to accomplish said daily practice. Since then many other Inktober-style challenges have popped up, October being the most popular month for them but many folks host them all year round.

Opportunity to go analog (or try a new medium)

Inktober is traditionally Ink & Paper, so if you are on the screens all day maybe try digging into something you can’t CTRL + Z. Most other challenges are very open to all mediums! So pick something that inspires you, and dig in 🙂

Gives you a chance to build in rituals & processes

When you have a ritual, your body knows it’s time to create. When you have a process, you open up your creative channels and thrive. Check out my recent blog post on how to improve your on-demand creativity.

Low Pressure

I tend to illustrate with less pressure than if I sat down to create a portfolio piece. The irony here is, I have often walked away with portfolio pieces from creative challenges because I didn’t have time to overthink it, and if it didn’t work it didn’t matter.

No one was depending on me to perform.

The only pressure was pressure I was putting on myself, which is pretty low when I create for challenges! So for me this is a great tactic. The time constraint acts as the pressure I need to finish the piece.

Allows you to experiment

Sometimes our paid work isn’t always the most creatively fulfilling, so here is a chance to stretch your legs! Try playing with a technique, style or colour palette that you don’t usually migrate towards.

You can pick and choose the prompts that appeal to you

Even if you did one per week, that’s 4 illustrations in October you wouldn’t have done otherwise. Do more if you have time & bandwidth, do less if you don’t. Heck, if you did one where you normally don’t do any that’s a win!

✨ Sometimes these end up as awesome un-intentional portfolio pieces

As a result of keeping things low pressure, giving yourself the space to experiment with something new and having a small amount of social accountability can be a really good recipe for kicking out some amazing work for your portfolio! But if you head into the challenge with wanting a portfolio piece, it may put too much pressure on, so keep it relaxed & low key.

I hope this inspires you to join in some of the creative challenges that are going on. To help you out I’ve created an Airtable Spreadsheet with some October 2023 challenges that are appealing (to me ha!).

You can get free access to the October Challenges Cheat Sheet here.

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