Share Your Story: How Did You Start Your Creative Journey?

26 05 2009

At present, I’m working full-time as a Media/Music Coordinator for House of Joy in Valdosta, GA. I thought I’d share a bit today how I came to be a “graphic designer.”

When I was a teen we used to make newsletters with hand drawn art, a type-writer, a roll of scotch tape, and a copier.

I actually still have some of those newsletters somewhere.

I’ve been a doodler my whole life. But I never thought I’d do it professionally. I’m on my way to working full-time as a designer before the end of this year.

Later in highschool I began to play with the church’s word processing programs (on a Windows 3.1 machine). Continued to put together newsletters and flyers like that.

Fast forward to college where I got my hands on photoshop compliments of my music departments tech lab. I would go in almost every night and do “web design” and photoshop stuff. All the while not really knowing what I was doing. That’s where I started really in the digital world.

Still not owning a computer.

That was almost 15 years ago. That’s also where I learned that Macs pwn windows for creative applications, though I can design on anything with a current.

Still not owning a computer.

The 2 churches I’ve worked for over the years have always provided work machines for me. I’ve worked with everything from photoshop 5.5, to publisher, to cs2,3 and now the complete CS4 Master Collection (LOVE IT).

Still not owning a computer.

I’m by far not the best designer on the block, but by joining the creative groups like this one, I’ve been challenged and a whole new world of design was opened up to me. My eyes for design have gotten better, and I’ve been able to push myself far beyond what I’d have done alone.

Now I do music/design for the church I’m at full-time. The design part includes everything from print, web, motion graphics/videos, etc. I also work 20 hours on top of that doing design for a regional publisher that has markets in Texas and here in Georgia. We do community oriented magazines, so most of that work is ad and article layout.

I share my story to encourage you to really make that decision to pursue it if you’re going to do it. But also know that the tools (owning a computer, owning the latest photoshop, etc) don’t make you a good designer. Technically, that doesn’t make you a designer…it just makes you rich, haha, or lucky.

To this day I still don’t own a computer.

I will be buying towards the end of the year and it will be a great milestone for me, because it will be the culmination of many years of making do with what I had but pushing the boundaries of what “could” be done with “nothing.”

I’m living proof that you don’t have to go through years of school, spend tons of money, or even own a computer to be a good designer.

What’s Your Story?


Decompressing After A Writer’s Conference: Connection [Part 3]

16 04 2009

Part 1 (Blogging to Writing) | Part 2 (Story) | Part 3 (Connection)

What I pay for at a writer’s conference: Good food (5 days without doing dishes), Amazing speakers (the time to sit still and listen), and knowledge I could never get elsewhere.

What I don’t pay for at a writer’s conference (but still got anyway): connection, community and unbelievable friendships.

Nowhere else would I be able to find people with the same passion, the same belief foundation and the ability to make me feel as included and loved as I did. This year at Mount Hermon I both renewed relationships that I begun last year and made new ones.

Writers need writer friends. We can be lonely souls so knowing others who love the same craft is invaluable. Writers also need communities for both encouragement and critique. We simply need each other.

And nowhere else than a writer’s conference would I be drinking coffee with literary agents, eating meals with editors of major publishing houses and laughing at 11:30 at night with other writers from all over the country.

What sets something like this apart from something else is that we share passion. It isn’t like we are all in town because of a shared hobby. Golfing, knitting and fishing aside, writing for us is who we are. It is what we do. It helps define us.

And being in community with other people like this is worth every penny.

Sarah Markley blogs at She is the wife of Chad and the mother to two little girls and is convinced that she is living in the BEST DAYS of her life thus far. She runs, she writes and she works for her husband’s business, usually for free.

Decompressing After a Writer’s Conference: Story [Part 2]

13 04 2009

Part 1 (Blogging to Writing) | Part 2 (Story) | Part 3 (Connection)

My genre is memoir. So at Mount Hermon this year, I decided to take the non-fiction morning workshop track.

I ended up getting stuck in room full of writers working on eschatology books, how-to’s teaching high school from a Christian worldview, and guides to working through the aftermath of divorce.  Not what I had in mind.

I just barely fit into the category of non-fiction because even though memoir is technically non-fiction, it should be written more with fiction elements in mind.  Story arc, climax, resolution, character development – all of these are almost as important as anything else.

Story.  On the first day of class, our instructor, Kay Marshall Strom, author of over 20 books, told us that my story is not the story.  My story is only an illustration of a universal truth.

Whatever story I am going to tell is not only a part of the monumental story of humanity, but it is just a vehicle for truths that God wants to tell through me.

Among other things, Kay writes about international issues in the Sudan, India and Indonesia.  She inspired me.  She makes me want to be a part of the community who is saying something.

My truths?  Hope.  Redemption.  Restoration.  My story?  You’ll have to wait for the book.

Sarah Markley blogs at She is the wife of Chad and the mother to two little girls and is convinced that she is living in the BEST DAYS of her life thus far. She runs, she writes and she works for her husband’s business, usually for free.

This is OUR Creative Process

31 03 2009

So, I laid down the gauntlet and YOU came through. What an amazing response. We’ve had such a diverse response to the creative process.

So, although, we’ve already posted our links to our blogs in the comments section, I’d like to go ahead and create THIS post to link back as well.

Here’s what you had to say about YOUR creative process:

“I get it at the weirdest times. I’ve actually found I have some of my wildest ideas in that stage right before I fall asleep. With some of the craziest stuff I’ve gotten up and wrote down my ideas. Sometimes they’re so strong I remember them when I wake up the next day.” —Shawn

“…the thought that something I help to create might be the element that finally makes it click for a non-believer is all the spark I need to get me all fired up! I say almost weekly to someone nearby – I still can’t believe I get to do this every week!” —Lori

I struggle to create when the everyday tasks I need to complete seem insurmountable and tiresome.  Yet when I turn my thoughts to see those same tasks differently my creativity resurfaces and a spark returns.  I find new inspiration from chatting with friends, communing with God, particular inspirational blogs and simple everyday life.” —Cee

Quite apart from the fact I feel like being creative nearly all the time, I get inspired by others’ creativity.  A play, a song, a sculpture, a book, a solution…a tweet, a blog post.  Etc. I think it’s at the root of my being, which makes sense since God is there, and He’s the Master Creator.” —David

“Usually things come in a rush. So I’ve learned one thing. Let it come. Wherever I am, I need to be ready to be in for the long haul. There are times when I’ve been up to three in the morning writing a sermon, because the inpiration came at midnight. Once I wrote almost an entire Christmas cantata script in the middle of the night. I wrote a song once during a lunch break at a weekend encounter. It just happens.” —Mike

“This is creativity — using known ingredients in a new and different way. I think this is true with all artists. There is no new chord on a guitar that hasn’t been played or no new color painted on a canvas. All the ingredients are there; we just have to use our energy and ourselves to create something new and flavorful.”—Sarah

When I feel uncreative, I just don’t even try…I’d rather focus on something else that I need to do or enjoy doing instead of getting frustrated trying to shoot when I really don’t feel like it. There are few things less enjoyable than carrying a camera around everywhere when you really don’t feel like shooting anything.” —Nate

“When I get an idea, I get this huge burst of energy, and it’s when I share it and talk about it with other people that I’ll get even more excited. I literally bounce. No seriously. I really do!” —Sophie

“There’s always been something in me that drives me to be creative. As a kid I was always in the art classes, and bands. I honestly think it’s something that God has put in me.” —Janki

Mandy has a video explaining her process and Love has a photography page to share! Here’s my (Russ) post.

Creative Community Spring Challenge

21 03 2009

This week I’d like to challenge as many of you as possible to write a post on your own blog specifically dedicated to THE CREATIVE PROCESS.

What ignites that flame inside you to create?

What sparks that passion inside you?

How do you channel your creativity into a finished product?

What do you do when you struggle to create?

How do you celebrate your wins?

Do you enjoy your creative process?

How do you share your creative elements with others?

Feel free to answer these questions in any way you like. Video blog, text blog, photo blog, etc. Be creative.

Let’s get linked to as many posts about creativity as we can! I’d love to see a diverse and multitudinous response to this challenge.

This week, link back to your post in the comments section OF THIS POST!

Ready! Set! Create!

Links to Look At!

16 03 2009

Here’s some links that were shared last week.

How did THIS week go for you all?

Sharing Sund…err…Monday! [3.09.09]

9 03 2009

How’s everyone doing?

Post links to your success stories.

Post links to your struggles.

I’ve hit the wall the last 2 weeks due to travel and work. I need to write 2 songs this week and next week to catch up! But I’ll just focus on one and we’ll see what happens!