On Becoming Creative: Practical Tips from Alabaster's Co-Founders

This is the third post in our series, “On Becoming Creative.” The series centers on practical steps that readers can take towards developing creative practices in their lives and offers a Biblical framework for how to think about that process. You can read our first post here and our second post here.

When we’re trying to develop and deepen our sense of vocation as a creative people, it’s not uncommon to feel stuck and unsure about what creative living actually looks like.

We know that there are things that God has placed inside of us; a desire to make and grow and innovate that we feel compelled to honor. But when it comes to the habits and practices that make up our lives, it can be hard to know what rhythms will help us cultivate our gifts and talents.

We asked Bryan Chung and Brian Chung, Alabaster’s Co-Founders to share from their own experience on what habits of practical, creative living have served them well.

Brian Chung

Collaborate with other creatives: Being around other creatives gives me the freedom to create. It’s difficult to be around people that are always shutting down new ideas. I want to build new things, and it’s helpful to be in community with people that encourage that. Don't be afraid to collaborate with others. It will often inspire you to create things you might not have thought about, keep you motivated, and help you stay accountable on your "less-creative" days.

Explore new places that inspire you: Sometimes I need to get out of my normal rhythms and spaces and go somewhere new. I’ve got to get out of my comfortable way of thinking or creating so I can get to the new thing. Travelling is ideal, but walking around the neighborhood or through the park is also really helpful.

Rest: My brain basically shuts down around 5 pm. I don't see this as a bad thing, but as a way that my body and God are telling me today's work is done. The discipline of rest is just as important as the ability to work. It’s essential to the creative process. Often my best ideas come when I’m half-awake or just lying on the couch watching Netflix. There’s something about creativity that you can’t force. So for me, I relax, take naps, or pet my dog Levi—and see all of these things as good. They all become part of my creative process.

Bryan Chung

See other art: I find it really valuable to go to museums or art shows, see other people's work and let it inspire me to make stuff. A lot of times I feel most creative after seeing someone else's art and feeling like I want to respond to it somehow. Art becomes this dialogue within itself that’s incredibly energizing to participate in.

Make rhythms for creating: Set dedicated times to do the work of creating. If you don't, other "daily" tasks will take up all your time, and you'll never actually get to making stuff. We are always fighting against the things that want to occupy our time. Set weekly rhythms for when you are creating and reward yourself for sticking to it. For me, it's Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings.

Have grace on yourself: There are frequent days where I feel I haven't made a meaningful contribution to my creative work. I haven't come up with a good idea, or I can't seem to get an image looking how I want it. It's easy to try and do more in those moments, but it usually only leads to more frustration. I'm far from an expert, but every day I'm trying to learn how to take a step back, breathe, pray, and have grace with myself. In my experience, the best creative work is done from this place of grace.

What practices or rhythms have been helpful for you? Are there things listed above that you could incorporate into your life this week?

Words—Geoff Gentry