I was 19 when I decided to start my business. I didn’t have any idea what living my life as a full time creative would feel like. All I knew was I had this skill – this passion – and I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do for my job. I was meant for it.
I’ve been in business for 6 years now and I am undoubtedly grateful for this work. That being said and entirely true, operating as a business owner while simultaneously trying to function as an artist is not for the faint of heart. It’s an endless identity crisis, constantly working your ass off while constantly questioning whether what you’re doing is good enough, true enough, you enough let alone actually working. It can be a lonely life of solitary trailblazing and if you don’t look up from your feet every once in a while you can start believe that you really are walking the trail all alone.
Over the years, I have been blessed with some incredible people who’ve come alongside me in this walk, who share their own experiences and lend an ear for mine. Those relationships have been a constant source of encouragement and comfort for me.
I’ve also come across, been gifted, and been introduced to many resources that fill me up when I’m drained and articulate the intricacies of my experiences as a creator way better than I ever could. I thought I’d take a beat and share about a few of those books, movies, and podcasts I’ve fallen in love with over the years. Some served me for a specific season and others continue to fuel me even now. Though in all, I have found inspiration and encouragement and I hope you will too, you hardworking creative soul.
Read on to find out the 5 things that fuel me!
1. IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN // by Grace Bonney
My sister bought this book for me a few Christmases ago and I adore it. It’s a compilation of interviews with dozens of women who are everything from business owners to fashion designers, architects to illustrators. Each interview is paired with beautiful portraits along with photos of each woman’s creative space.
The writing is all in question and answer format and the author, Grace Bonney, has a set list of questions she asks every interviewee. I really enjoy being able to compare and contrast different answers. Seeing how each woman has their own journey, preferences, style, and advice further drives home a lesson I learned a few years back, which is- there is not secret sauce to success in business or art. You have to put in the hours to search out and know yourself, your craft, and your market and find the path that works for you. There is no easy way around the process. You can only go through it. That’s oddly comforting to me.
I think, above all else, the responses from these women help give voice the things I experience everyday and reading their words helps me feel less alone.
>> Get “In The Company of Women” HERE. >>
2. MAKE // a Musicbed Production
I’ve been using Musicbed for years to license the songs I use in my video work. They are an amazing company and as a customer it’s been wonderful to watch them grow and change over the years. They’re always pushing boundaries, always creating, and always unfailingly pleasant to work with. Not too long ago, they released their first ever documentary entitled “MAKE.” As the trailer describes, it’s “a film about the things we make and the things that make us.”
Throughout the film numerous different artists, filmmakers, photographers, and musicians share about their journeys, their process, and their outlook on the creative life. I remember the first time I watched it thinking, “YES! This is everything I’ve ever struggled with as a creator!” It’s a nourishing watch for any creative and a beautiful piece of art that articulates the artist’s journey better than anything I’ve ever encountered.
BONUS INSPIRATION #2.5 // Musicbed also has a blog where they regularly publish content for creatives. One of my favorite articles that was a very illuminating read for me is called “The Five People Every Creative Needs In Their Life.” You can check out the article here!
3. DAILY RITUALS // by Mason Curry
“Daily Rituals” was first introduced to me by Nessa K via an Instagram post she made a few years back. It’s a very cut and dry look at the daily routines and habits of writers, inventors, mathematicians and artists throughout history. As you read you learn that Ernest Hemingway liked to wake up early around 5:30 or 6:00 and get to writing as close to sunrise as possible. In contrast, Anne Beattie liked to work at night. Her favorite hours for writing were between midnight and 3:00AM. The content of this book makes for a fascinating read and for me, it was relieving to once again see how there is no “right” way to for an artist to approach their work.
I used to read posts on social media about fellow photographers who’d say “Ooh, up late till midnight editing again!” and I’d compare myself thinking, “Gracious, what is wrong with me?! Am I not as committed because the idea of editing till midnight makes me want to cry??” This book helped me contemplate my own rhythms and seek out what worked best for me in my daily routine.
In case you’re curious about my current daily routine (as I’m sure it will shift throughout my life), I most often wake up sometime between 7:30-8:30AM and I like to have an hour and a half to two hours before I start my work. After a hearty breakfast I sit down to my computer for work. My happiest and most productive hours are late morning to midday so I always like to edit first thing in the morning if I can. What are some of your daily rhythms?
>> You can buy “Daily Rituals” here. >>
4. OFF CAMERA WITH SAM JONES // A Podcast
A friend of mine introduced me to “Off Camera” a few years ago and I’ve been in love with it ever since. In this podcast, photographer and director Sam Jones brings in artists, actors, and musicians for wonderfully candid long-form interviews. I love any chance I get to hear more about actors I admire, but these conversations are particularly insightful.
I think it’s very easy to look at people, especially actors, who are incredibly successful and assume they worked out some kind of quick-rising formula to get to where they are. But as you listen to them speak you see that’s just not true. Behind every success is hundreds of hours of work with many failures, fears, and doubts along the way.
Sam has an undeniable way about him that allows his subjects to open up and the stories they share are so encouraging to anyone who’s pursuing a dream. Each episode seems to be a constant reminder that none of us are alone in our hustle. And that’s a lovely thing to realize.
5. BEGIN AGAIN // A film starring Keira Knightly & Mark Ruffalo
Last but not least is a movie that is surely high up on my list of favorites. “Begin Again” tells the story of a girl who follows her boyfriend/musical partner to New York for his record deal. Shortly after arriving, everything goes south and she ends up meeting a down-on-his-luck but incredibly talented music producer. Together they push boundaries to create a project like nothing they’ve ever made before. I won’t say anything else about it but watch it, watch it, please watch this movie.
One of the things I found most creatively inspiring in the film was how these two people defied the idea of needing fancy equipment and just the right circumstances to create art that was fresh and full of life. All it took was a noise-filled city, a duck tape boom mic, and a group of willing artists to create a record with such personality.
I often fall prey to the idea that I need great gear and perfectly aligned stars to create great work. This film helped me feel more freedom trusting my gut and working with the resources I have. On top of that, it’s a movie with some great performances, lovely music, and a beautiful story. A five star watch in my book!
>> You can watch it “Begin Again” here. >>
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about a few of the things that have filled my tank over the year and maybe you even feel connected to something I mentioned here. I’d definitely encourage you to check out these incredible books, podcasts, and movies and let me know what you think!
Go on and fuel yourself, you creative you!