Graphic designer Megan Gray’s recipe to stay creative in a distracting world
It isn’t easy in a distracting world, and yet there are those who do this exceptionally well. In an invigorating podcast by hosts Brian Gardner and Lauren Mancke, the duo interviewed Megan Gray, a leading freelance graphic designer based in Orange County, California. In the 34-minute episode that seemed to end too soon for our liking, Megan spoke about balancing her business, House of Grays, with her personal life and why she believes entrepreneurs manage to remain creative in a largely distracted world.
In a nutshell, here are the main pointers she makes on the latter:
It’s easy to get overwrought by a career that constantly demands your undivided attention and relentless effort. In some cases, it even threatens to consume the time you should be spending with your loved ones or even yourself. However, as much as the concept of a work-life balance has been stressed upon by the business moguls of our generation, the everyday man and woman find it a bit difficult to rise to this challenge. To Gray, the trick lies in compartmentalising life. She advises her fellow entrepreneurs to “join the boundaries and lower the expectations” when it comes to the two worlds of the personal and the professional. To her, this helps her be more focused and organised at work.
Today, the concept of working from home has become an attractive norm for the world of the creative. Not only does it give you the time and space to work dedicatedly on your craft, but it also works as a cheaper and more convenient option. However, when you’re working from home, there is always a chance of mixing your personal life with your professional one. Gray states that her ‘escape’ from the bounds of ‘distraction’ lies in running off to an assigned office space. For the independent entrepreneur, she puts forth the idea of a co-working space, where one not only gets the opportunity to mark the boundary between work-life and home-life, it also provides the additional bonus of learning from other creatives sharing your desk.
“When something scares the crap out of you, you should go in there and do it anyway,” she says. In life, we’re often afraid to take a plunge that holds a 50-50 chance at success. More often than not, there is a tendency for even the bravest to halt at the periphery of the gold mine because there’s always a chance that they won’t resurface. Speaking from her own experience, Gray says that there are times when you will be up against people who have been practising your craft for twice the amount of time since you’ve taken to it. However, in these moments you have to remember that the sheer intimidation of their ‘advanced’ craft and the challenge to become as good, if not better, will make you rise upwards at an even faster pace.
These are the three mantras to Gray’s secret to success. To her, creativity comes in the strangest of forms. You just need to decipher the signs. To this end, when you feel disillusioned with your craft and begin to feel saturated, you need to take a break and seek the creative in something outside your work. This could be through podcasts, Yoga, DIY, data entries – anything that will help you re-coup. Sometimes you could even rejuvenate by spending your down time in areas that don’t require exercising creativity. Gray finds hers in this through the mechanical workings of making data entries. “I also tend to enjoy other people’s creativity in my down time,” she says.
It’s very easy to read or watch something or someone inspiring and try emulating them. However, your strength lies in your originality. For that, you need to start moving towards what you really love. It may not always be popular or ‘trending’, but if you start early and keep at it, you’ll probably be leading the way for a whole generation to seek inspiration off you and create a craft of their own. Gray promises that this one brave action will keep you happier than all those people who stick to the norms and indulge in whatever’s trendy or popular.
It’s easy to get distracted by someone else’s podcast or someone else’s e-course. If the subjects of these podcasts, courses, or TED Talks are calling out to you, then it is indeed your responsibility to yourself to follow it through. But if you’re doing it just to keep up with everyone else and to stay ‘relevant’, then save your time for something that is far more worthy of you.
On a final note, Gray urges all the budding creative entrepreneurs looking to make it big, to just follow their passion, and be loyal to it, because that is what will lead them to the highest reaches of unadulterated success. “Block out the noise, keep doing you and it will get you to wherever it is you’re trying to go,” she says.