Interview: Crystal Moody
Today is one I've excitedly dreamed about for months and I am so glad to say that it is finally here! I am beyond excited to share with you an interview with one of my personal maker-babe heroes Crystal Moody. Crystal has completed a "Year of Creative Habits" for the past two years in a row. In 2014, she committed to making and sharing one drawing a day. In 2015, she committed to making and sharing one painting a day. She's committed to doing a third year, this year, and is even unleashing an e-course to accompany it. Needless to say, Crystal is seriously the poster girl for showing up and getting it done!
I thought she would be the PERFECT person to interview on the first day of 2016 to set the tone for making all year. Below you'll gather advice and insight from the woman who has made art for 700+ consecutive days. So, without further ado let me introduce you to Crystal Moody!
First off, I’m so happy you’re here! By “here,” I mean Twelve Month’s little slice of the internet. Let’s jump into it. Who is Crystal Moody?
Hey Ashlee, I’m so happy to be here! I’m a mama, a nerd, and an artist living here in Springfield, MO. It was just a few years ago that I was inspired by my daughter’s artwork to start a year of creative habits. I completed two full years of daily making and I’m pretty pumped about starting on my third.
This year is slightly different than past years for you in the sense that this year you’ve created a course that accompanies a year of creative habits. Can you tell us about the process of making a course and why it was important to you? What do you hope to gain and what do you think others will by choosing to sign up and utilize it alongside their daily making?
After my first year of creative habits, people kept asking me about making it a book. I love books and I really liked that idea so I started working on it. The draft for the book went on and on. It just wasn’t coming together and was becoming more and more like a workshop. That’s when I decided to change gears and make it a course.
After 2 years of this, I still love the project but it was starting to lose a little of its spark. With the course, I’ve already regained some of the excitement that I felt when I first started by helping others get started with their projects. In preparing for their own year of creative habits, the class has fed off each other’s ideas & energy and are a great support group for each other.
What does a typical day look like for you? Spare us no detail!
My typical day has drastically changed over these past two years of daily making. When I began, we were homeschooling so I was fitting my creative work into very small pockets of time. Now both of my kids are in public school. That has certainly helped me have a more time for creative work.
Most days I walk them to school. When I get back home, my work day starts. I found that if I can get some momentum going around the house, then my work in the studio goes better. I usually do some laundry and dishes and then head to my studio. I start with my daily thing--last year it was a painting, this year it’s a quick sketchbook page to warm up. Then I work on on-going paintings and projects. Sprinkle in some email, checking in with my class participants, and lots of writing lately. Before I know it, it’s lunch time. I like to take a photo of my daily work with food so if I haven’t already taken one, I’ll take a photo with my lunch and post it to Instagram. My afternoons are for working on my blog and running errands before I pick up the kids. I TRY not to do anything work related after the kids come home. Soon I’m fixing dinner and my husband is home helping. I have no idea where the evenings go because they are over before I know it. My days are often the same and some would probably find them boring but I don’t.
What do you find exciting about the work you’re making now or plan to make for 2016?
I’m really excited about changing things up in 2016! I have a new daily sketchbook habit and I’m starting a new weekly series. I’m also really excited to have some open space for new ideas and new projects. I’m taking a class in January and going to a couple of conferences this winter. I’m looking forward to making connections and possibly putting together some collaborations.
You’ve completed a year of creative habits twice and are going on your third round. What is or has been been the most rewarding part of completing such a huge challenge?
The most rewarding part is seeing the changes, the progress over time. One of my mantras is that quantity leads to quality. If you put in the hours, the mistakes, the drawings, the paintings, the practice, etc, you WILL get better. And it’s really fun to look back and see just how far you’ve come.
When did you first realize the power of creating each day? Was there an “aha” moment for you that made things stick?
My “aha” moment wasn’t my own work. A couple years ago, I was sitting at our dining table sorting the papers that covered so much of it that we couldn’t eat there. It was mostly my 4 year old’s artwork from home and preschool. I asked her to help me decide which ones to keep. As we went through the piles, there were many keepers and many false starts, many mess ups and many drawings that looked just like other drawings. The keep pile kept growing and the recycle pile was overflowing. I marveled at just how much stuff she had made and how easy and effortless it was for her. And then it hit me— if I made that much stuff, some of it would likely be good too. I would have a growing keep pile that I was as proud of just like her.
Have you had any notable mentors or influential people in your life who have helped to shape your journey?
Yes, lots! Lisa Congdon is someone who I closely follow. I admire her work and the way she does so many different things from illustration to fine art to writing books. She has completed several daily projects over the years and often credits them as sparks in her career.
I follow several daily makers on Instagram who inspire me and encourage me each day. I really don’t know where I’d be without the Instagram community.
There are a few people who supported my year of creative habits from the very start like Dawn Rogal and Beverly Army Williams. Without their friendship and support I don’t know if I would have made it this far.
Then this year I met a couple local artists, Brittany Bilyeu and Kendra Miller, who have become my good friends. We meet up for drink-n-draws. We talk and sometimes draw and mostly vent and help each other out. I always feel like a new person after our visits. If I need advice or am having trouble with something, I go to them.
As someone who creates something every single day, how do you combat inspiration lulls and burnout in addition to the daily things life throws at you that make creating a bit of a challenge (ex: traveling or sickness)?
I have kept a blog where I document my creative process. Writing about the ebb and flow of creative work has helped me see the bigger picture of it. I’ve been through it often enough now that I know, each time it ebbs it’s only temporary. I’ve documented things that have helped me turn the tide before so I start with those: going outside, reading/studying, travel, artist dates, etc. And I just keep plugging away at it. I try not to really let it bother me that I’m in a funk. Funk happens. ;)
As for daily life, the key for me is to have a backup plan and be prepared. I have an emergency kit of supplies for on the go. I make a plan for how I’m going to keep up on vacation or other trips. I’ve worked from bed the few times that I’ve been sick. I adapt and I deal with it. I know that on those days I’m not making a “keeper” or being particularly creative. I’m just keeping the momentum going.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to complete their own year of creative habits?
I told my class the other day, I feel like when you commit to making every day, you have to keep it simple. That’s the only what to make it sustainable. Your project will grow big all on it’s own though the cumulation of days. So first keep it simple and then just do the work. Don’t think about being creative or making something ‘good.’ Just get in the zone and make something.
Do you feel a responsibility to create something bigger than, or outside of, yourself?
No, I wouldn’t say I feel a responsibility to create something bigger than me. I feel compelled to share my experiences with others. I want to encourage others to create and experience growth through practice and study themselves. Creative habits have changed me and the way I see myself. That’s too good not to share with others.