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Why is it important to have creative hobbies and interests to pursue outside of work? Investing time to explore a hobby that requires your creative energy can have benefits that bleed into your day-to-day work. In this post, I explore the reasons why creatives, particularly in digital fields, gravitate towards ways to find how crafts help creativity.

Creative hobbies and crafts

Creative hobbies are activities that exercise your creative thought processes. A lot of these hobbies tend to land in the realm of crafts like woodworking, papermaking, and knitting. People who do these things commit to finishing an item such as a table or scarf.

Crafts help creativity. Designer and Sculptor, Kristina Rothe

Working with paper helps, “slow down time.” -Designer and Sculptor, Kristina Rothe

The Arts and Crafts movement then and now

The original Arts and Crafts movement started in the 19th century as a response to the increasingly automated enhancements of mass production from the Industrial Revolution. It called for a return to traditional craftsmanship. The movement spread across Europe, the Americas, and Japan with the idea that architects, designers, craftsmen, and artists should preserve the process as to which they create their work.

Why crafts help creativity?

Today we are inhabitants of a digital revolution. Our interactions are with making artifacts on a screen. It is easier to learn about and possibly make something. However, people are becoming increasingly disconnected from the digital experience, and they yearn for something with a more “hands-on” approach.

Crafts help expand our experience with creating things beyond the visual and cerebral interactions. We get the chance to learn how to interpret living things like wood in order to master how to carve it.

Diana Budds also adds from her article in Fast Company, that crafts give us the chance to slow down.

How do crafts help creativity

Applying creative problem solving out to something other than work helps you practice making mistakes in a low-pressure environment. You get the opportunity to control your space and timeline. Focus on the conditions needed to experiment, make decisions, watch for feedback, and start again.

Creative outlets for inspiration

Paper sculpture

Kristina Rothe, a German-based design featured in this Fast Company article, “6 Designers Explain Why Working with Craft Still Matters in a Digital World“ describes working with paper as a way to “slow down time.” She continues to explain that working with paper is the opposite of our computer lead work. It is responsible for keeping us alive.

The Ham Jam House

An electrical engineer based in Austin, TX started a jam session at his house dubbed, “The Ham Jam“. Every Monday he invited his musician friends to come over, and they would play music while eating ham. This has since grown into a much sought after event.

Crafts help creativity. Hip Hop Pioneer, Grandmaster Flash

“I studied other Dj’s, and I discovered what they were missing… the breaks!” -Grandmaster Flash

Grandmaster Flash and mixing music

I started this journey exploring craft after watching a documentary on Hip-Hop. It featured Grandmaster Flash, a pioneer in music and Hip Hop culture. While this stretches the definition of crafts, Grandmaster Flash describes how he studied mixing music obsessively. Finally, he found a part that most DJ’s at the time overlooked, mixing by the stops. That was when he discovered and eventually honed his signature style.

Working on creative hobbies help us with the trial and error process. We study how crucial it is to make mistakes to improve on our ideas. However, our corporate cultures do not incentivize failure. By taking some time to build and sometimes break our own things, we can rediscover the joys and benefits of being creative.

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Matt Eng

Matt Eng

DesignOps Manager. Based in Austin,TX. Worked with clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ogilvy, RBC, Deloitte, Whirlpool, Polycom, Symantec, and Pebble. Matt teaches, mentors, and speaks about design, creativity, and fostering stronger connections within teams.