Reflecting is learning. When your work is out and the responses are in, you get to decide for yourself how to improve, and what you did well. Here are some guiding questions to help in this process:
Was my message clear? Did it confuse others?
Was my work effective? Did others feel/think/react how I intended?
If yes, why?
If no, what could be improved?
Ironically it seems the more creative success you’ve achieved, the easier it becomes to plateau. Its easier to repeat a familiar success than risk an innovative failure, and though it’s good to rely on past experience, lean too heavily and you’ll get bored. Deliberate reflection moves us forward and keeps stagnation at bay.
In addition to reflecting on the work itself, it’s worthwhile to evaluate the unobservable things, such as:
Did I enjoy this project?
What drew me to it initially, and did I stay true to that aspect?
If I were known as the creator that does projects like this, would that please me?
I find asking myself these questions keeps my work in line with my vision. Reflection is
the upwards trajectory in The Creative Spiral. When you’ve seen your strengths and weaknesses, you start the spiral again, with a newly elevated vision and skillset; imagine, create, play, share, reflect.
“The Creative Spiral” I shared earlier is a broad generalization of the creative process. Everyone’s spiral will have varying rhythms, inputs, and actions. I think The Creative Spiral is a useful jumping off point to find how you specifically create.
One of my favorite illustrators, Rebecca Green, reflected on the importance of her own creative spiral on her blog. She says when she graduated from university, she told a professor she “didn’t even want to think about art for awhile.” (Green, 2020) Rather than express disappointment in her, the teacher said her feelings were normal, and all part of her creative cycle. This was Rebecca’s first exposure to the idea of cyclical work. She writes that it “made me feel a sense of stability like I could manage creativity - it wasn’t an elusive beast. Further in my career, I started to recognize my own patterns of working. The changing phases grew more familiar, almost comforting.” (Green, 2020) Rebecca Green, along with other creative professionals, know their work habits. They’ve been at it long enough to identify their unique rhythms and patterns. If you keep your creative habit, you will too.
Green, R. (2020) The creative balancing act, Rebecca Green Illustration. Rebecca Green Illustration. Available at: https://www.myblankpaper.com/blog/2020/8/30/begin? rq=experiment (Accessed: March 24, 2023).