I’m creating again, reasons be damned.

I have to admit, it’s been a long time since I last sat down and allowed myself to create freely. Something about creating without a purpose has always felt wasteful and not allowed in my mind. I could flex my creative muscles if it were for a blog post or to go with a letter I was mailing to a friend, but to create for just the sake of creating? Well, that mostly hasn’t been the case for me since high school. (And believe me kids, that was a long, long time ago.)

The only exception has always been during my depressive episodes in which I turn towards creating to escape the thoughts of my racing brain. I find it’s one of the few things in life that absorbs me fully and brings me a sense of peace (which actually seems a bit counter-intuitive as a perfectionist who can always find something to hate in everything I do).

With my last fall into that dark world, I finally realized that my creating doesn’t have to be limited to bad times. If it helps me when I’m feeling down, surely it can make me feel even better when I’m feeling up. And so, over the last few months, I have created regularly again, without a reason, and it feels great.

Below you will find the doodles of November and December in which I started allowing myself to create again for fun. I’d say my main purpose those first few months, apart from accepting my wish to create, was to start searching for a style. Using photographs of models from Vogue magazines to reference for my drawings (credited as available below), I focused more on determining what I liked/didn’t like when illustrating women than creating something original.

So, if you’re interested, please join me in checking out my first attempts at creating again, reasons be damned.

Illustration based on Nov 2016 Vogue: "Flower of the Flock" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, November 2016 ed, “Flower of the Flock” (p. 207)

Illustration based on Sep 2016 Vogue: "Storming of the Beach" and "Chain of Command" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, September 2016 ed, “Storming the Beach” (p. 754) and “Chain of Command” (p. 755) as photographed by Mikael Jansson

Illustration based on May 2016 Vogue: "Arm (and Ear) Candy" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, May 2016 ed, “Arm (and Ear) Candy” (p. 242) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Illustration based on May 2016 Vogue: "Two of a Kind" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, May 2016 ed, “Two of a Kind” (p. 247) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Illustration based on Oct 2016 Vogue: American Eagle Outfitters ad || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, October 2016 ed, American Eagle Outfitters ad (p. 182)

Illustration based on June 2016 Vogue || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, June 2016 ed, as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Illustration of a girl + a ball || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: not recorded (whoops!)

Illustration based on Mar 2016 Vogue: "Come As You Are" and "Ticket to Ride" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, March 2016 ed, “Come As You Are” (p. 544) and “Ticket to Ride” (p. 545) as photographed by Craig McDean

Illustration based on Glamour: "Heart of Gold" and "Details, Details" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Glamour, “Details, Details” (p. 233) and “Heart of Gold” (p. 235) as photographed by Billy Kidd

Illustration based on June 2017 Vogue: "The Tide is High" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, June 2017 ed, “The Tide is High” (p. 122) as photographed by Jamie Hawkesworth

Illustration based on June 2016 Vogue: "Tied Together" || Asti @ bit.ly/atypicalnarrative

Reference: Vogue, June 2016 ed, “Tied Together” (p. 134) as photographed by Patrick DeMarchelier

Let me know what you think! Have any thoughts or advice on the illustrations above? Any comments on my “style”? And what do you think about creating without a purpose? Do you ever struggle to allow yourself to create just for fun? If so, I challenge you to tell me what creative activity you’re going to allow yourself to enjoy this week, and do it! Hopefully you’ll find it as rewarding as I do.

Asti signature

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14 Comments

  1. THESE ARE AMAZING AND YOU’RE SO TALENTED OMG. 😍 I draw basically like a dead fish clutching a pencil but like, sometimes I do it because…fun.😂 (Inner perfectionst starts screaming.) However I do WRITE purely for the pleasure of telling a story I want to tell! Even if I know it’s not even remotely publishable or like most people wouldn’t even want to read it…like who even cares. Artists have to create for themselves sometimes. ❤ It's inspiring and motivating and refills the creative tank too. I completely love your style of drawing too, btw!!

    • AW, THANKS CAIT!

      That visual of a dead fish clutching a pencil while drawing is hilarious. If you were to promote your art in such a way I’m pretty sure it’d be a success.

      I do think it’s great that even with your preferred choice of creative outlet you allow yourself to do it for pleasure as well. I agree, it’s so important! Of course, I feel like it might be a little easier for you than others because YOU’RE A CRAZY WRITING MACHINE! I mean, erm, a fabulous princess who is on her way to rule all the land?? >.>

  2. Your drawings are absolutely gorgeous, Asti, & I love that you’re bringing up this topic so publicly – I think it’s one that not enough creative people talk about or admit to feeling pressured by. Personally, I need to constantly be reminding myself to create simply to create – my main art form is, of course, writing, but in recent years I’ve loved dabbling in other types of art as well & stretching my muscles in those areas a little bit (for example, in photography & tarot reading & picking up the ukulele). It can be difficult to write without pressure when I’ve built an online platform / a large majority of my life around my words, but I’m learning to embrace creation in every form, even if it’s not the shade I first expected. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, love. xox

    • Thanks Topaz! I agree that these thoughts can be applied to other creative outlets, for sure. And like you said, it can even be a little harder when you’ve built up a platform around it.

      It’s part of the reason why I’ve limited myself to only two posts a week. While I could draw a picture for a post every single day, I likely then wouldn’t ever create anything else. And while these posts definitely bring me a lot of enjoyment, I don’t want my work to feel limited because of them. Finding a balance can be so hard but is oh so important for me.

      I hope you continue to find ways to create just for the sake of creating, too! I think sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves but honestly, I think the people who love your work will love it even if it’s unintentional. Your gift is one that can’t be hidden (and is only magnified by your lovely personality <3<3).

  3. Asti, this artwork is absolutely gorgeous and filled with personality! I love how it looks like it could be a colouring book. Writing is my outlet as well, although I haven’t quite ventured into fiction yet. I have all these ideas in my mind that just haven’t quite made it out on paper yet.

    • Thanks Jeann! A coloring book would be a lot of fun to create someday, I think! I just find that I’m not huge on colors when it comes to my drawings. My aesthetic is mostly monochrome with just a dash of color here and there for the most part. I tried using some markers to color my illustrations in completely with this set of illustrations but haven’t really since. Color intimidates me. :X

      I hope someday you manage to allow your ideas to find their way to paper! I think with the amount of reading you’ve done you’d have a good idea of what works/doesn’t work and could come up with something pretty fun to read! 😀

  4. Creating just for fun? of course! It makes me feel calm, satisfied and free from time and space. I feel the need te create something every day. Might be a drawing, a painting, a photograph,…

    • That’s great that you feel the need to create something everything and go for it! I think many people get too caught up in all their responsibilities that they let creativity fall to the side sometimes. Keep it up! 🙂

  5. Lovely, Asti! I really like the black-and-white drawings. I think it’s great that you’re making an effort to separate creating with the negative times in your life. Do your drawings look different during your depressive episodes? That would be interesting to see.

    I wish I let myself do things just because, without the feeling that everything I do needs to be productive in some way. (Reading being the key exception, of course. But even that is productive for my sanity, so…) Maybe once I’m more settled here and have a routine, I’ll finally allow myself to relax once and a while. I’d like to do more with photography, especially since S just got me a macro lens attachment for my phone!

    • Thanks Maraia!

      Hm, that’s an interesting thought, if my drawings look different during my depressive episodes. I’m looking at some of my pieces done during then now and I’d say they’re much more scribbly and unplanned when I’m really struggling. Like, when I’ve drawn while really down before I wouldn’t ever pencil sketch but would instead just start drawing with a pen and incorporate any mistakes I made into the drawing itself. As a result they’d often be very thick and scratchy lines, which sort of gave my work a chaotic feel. I guess my emotions slipping through? Now that I’m feeling better I feel like everything’s calmer. I start with pencil, I ink with thinner lines, I don’t scribble in as much as before. It’s all a bit more smoother. So yeah, I guess there is a difference, but one I didn’t think about until your comment!

      I hope you’ll find a way to do more with photography too! The pictures you’ve been sharing on Instagram with your macro lens have been beautiful so far. I definitely think it can be hard to fit such things in when there’s so much on the mind, but the effect it has on us mentally is so worth it. 🖤

      • Very interesting! I’d be curious to see your more chaotic drawings, too, if you ever feel like sharing them. Which I guess you shouldn’t, since this is a positive space.

        Thank you! It’s been really nice to play around with it. I miss being creative in photography class.

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