This year, our Ideas Report showed us that we’re changing our priorities, and reevaluating what really matters. 36.7% of creatives have been learning new skills and 46.4% are reporting reflecting on what they want in life more than usual. The amount of people who place work as their biggest distraction has almost halved since 2019 (42% vs 25.3%). For illustrator Hiller Goodspeed, this year has given him the space to think and reflect, something he sees as vital to being creative, and the time to take up some quirky new hobbies.
Data visualisation by Gabrielle Merite.
Everything's shifted now. I don't have to commute to the library where I work, so I have more time at home which means I can focus more on what I'm doing.
It's also been tricky to be denied the stimulus that I often get from going out. I usually like to go on walks and spend time in the neighborhood, just to experience my city, talk to people, and do things. So it has been limiting in the past several months having to be at home. But I’ve definitely had more space to just think. Thinking and reflection is such an important part of being creative.
The good thing about illustration work, for me at least, is that thinking constitutes a large part of what I do, so I might consider an idea and think about it for a very long time before I actually sit down and work on it.
I daydream all the time, which means that I can always be creative, no matter what kind of situation I’m in or if I’m busy doing something else. When I'm at the library, for example, I have head space. I'm doing my job, but I can also think about things while I'm there. I’m working, but I'm also thinking, "Oh, what happens if I were to do this, or that?" and I might jot down an idea. It's those ideas that my pockets are filled with as I'm rushing home to actually put in some time and create stuff.
And I do still rush home for it. I think it took me a long time to figure out a balance between having a job that pays rent and pays for my bills, and having a job, or a hobby, that you’re really excited to do. I know some people wait all week to garden on the weekend. I think keeping my illustration the activity that I don't get to spend as much time as I want to on makes me more excited about it.
If I was working on it full-time, I think it would be more difficult. But because I'm kept away from it, sometimes all I want to do is work on stuff, because I've been thinking of an idea all day. It's still exciting because I'm kept from doing it all the time.
I have gotten better at self-reflection; I do that often. I feel like I spend a lot of time just thinking about things in general. Oftentimes those thoughts drift back into the past to things that have happened, things I've done and how I could've done them better. I feel that digesting thoughts like that can sometimes help future decisions, because you see how things played out, and how they worked to everyone's benefit, or they were complicated because there wasn't enough communication. You get an idea of how projects went, and going forward you can utilize that and use what you've learned to make future projects better.
I do kind of miss the more social aspects of being an illustrator. I miss talking to people at events and having that sense of community, but I can’t deny that I’ve been enjoying all the time by myself this year, because that's usually when I work the best and I have time to reflect and do things. Now I have more time to devote to activities around the house and there's a bunch of activities and hobbies and skills that I've started to look into.
I have a little hacksaw, and I've been making things out of wood and painting them on my own. A little perfume bottle, a pencil holder in the shape of butter. Primarily I draw, but I really just want to make things, and if I have ideas and want to make stuff sometimes I’ll turn to woodworking. I was inspired by pinewood derby cars, and made a little racing car in the shape of a parsnip. So I just try to do things that are still inside the realm of what I think would be fun to work on, but are not just drawing with pencils.
I've been working on my correspondence skills too. A few months ago I posted on Instagram saying, "Hey, I have this PO box. Send me a letter." It was at a time when the US Postal Service was in a crisis and I felt like I wanted to do something, so I encouraged people to send me mail, and I would write them back.
Over the course of a few months I received several hundred pieces of mail. Responding to all of these letters and having conversations really helped my writing. I’d come home and I would check my mailbox. It was really interesting because there was a lot of funny mail: people drawing doodles and stuff. But there were quite a few letters from people who were just happy to write someone a letter, and I was on the receiving end of that. I would take my time and write a thoughtful response. And it was kind of fun. It was eye opening. Whenever you do something that's different to what you usually do, you tend to learn something.