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The importance of play

So here we are again, the end of another year. Whether you like it or hate it, bringing a New Year in is compulsery.

Those hazy days between Christmas and New Year are all gearing up to the final crescendo. It's a time where we can easily slip into the habit of making worringly large lists of things we will and won't do.

We feel full of energy, a surge of possibility at the thought of a clean slate - and before its even started, we're staring at this list which already makes us feel overwhelmed.

I've been there. Maybe you have too.

And yet, the idea of intention is still a good one in my opinion.

These days, I still have my list, but I make sure to edit it right down to only the things that light me up properly. A few things that fit together in a way that I can achieve sustainably.

The one thing I'm focusing on this year is PLAY.

We've come out of a period of invisible warfare, that God damn pandemic and all the destruction it left.

We were told to stay home, then when it was safe to come out of hiding, we had to pick up from where we left off, which wasn't easy, was it?

This year found me promising I would take off gently. Set time aside for all the things I found enjoyment in over lockdown and to schedule my time with pauses.

I didn't do it.

In fact - I did the complete opposite.

What I've realised is that all work and no play makes Tam a very dull and confused girl.

Deciding to carve a career out in the Arts, whatever way that looks to you, is not an easy path.

It's generally done by those who feel a pull towards it and the ones who stay with it are the ones who have more of a compulsion than a pull.

So it seems logical that if we decide to follow this path, we should make sure that not all of it is geared towards commerce and that we find a way to grow as creative people, to learn and to find out what makes us tick.

Whatever way you're freelancing. Whether that be contracted on productions or going it alone - I've found that without any free time to explore what it is that I like to make, I forget what it is I even liked in the first place.

This is not good.

Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like An Artist, Show Your Work and Keep Going has this quote in one of his books. (I'll link them all at the end)


"Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are"

Jose Ortega y Gassett


I have his book "Keep Going" by my bed - Always. It's full of nuggets of wisdom, really easy to read and you can flip through chapters and catch a few pages like a reference book.

If you haven't got these books, I highly recommend them.

So, I deciphered I needed more time to play.

Then got stuck, worried and anxious that when the calender flip to Jan 2023 came around, I wasn't going to have any idea how to do it or what to play with.

This is how I worked it out.

  1. What Am I Consuming (Aside From Anything To Do With Wigs Or Hair)

This could be on our instagram scrolling journeys, books, films, you tube, google rabbit holes etc etc etc.

It's important to stay away from your niche. As far away as possible to prevent how easy it is to borrow what someone else is doing out of fear you won't find something equally as interesting yourself.

Truth is, you never will if you don't try!

For me recently, I've been following a lot of illustrators on instagram. A lot. I really love how their industry seems to be so fully rounded. There are a lot of illustrators who write blogs, show behind the scenes, talk about the materials they use and show their process.

In fact it was an illustrator called Rebecca Green who inspired me to start writing this blog.

You can find her on Instagram @rebeccagreenillustration

Her blog is brilliant, its all about her process and there's a lot you can take from it even if you aren't an illustrator.

What are they doing that attracts you to them so much?

What are they sharing?

How could you incorporate that into your play? It doesn't have to necessarily be all about making "the thing".

Another illustrator is @Frannerd

Her sketch books are so good, to the point where I decided to root out mine (which has been blank for years) and start.

OK so Im not about to illustrate a book any time soon buuuuut ... Thats not the point!

It's about finding things that are fun to do, fuel ideas and exercise that imagination muscle.

2. Write A List Of My Obsessions

This is fun to do. I put mine in my sketch book. I didn't worry about the value of the things I found interesting. I just brain dumped it.

The plan is to keep adding new obsession list pages in the book as fuel to sketch.

For Christmas I got a book that I've had my eye on for a while about Pop Surrealism.

I've been reading a lot about this movement, watching documentaries and following pop surrealist artists on social media.

So, on my list are weird bears (please don't ask me to explain why) and above book.

I picked these 2, combined them and sketched.

3. Go Back Through All The Work I Did Last Year

And I picked out what I enjoyed making most.

By far my most favourite project of last year.

They talk about being in that flow state. Where time just flies by and you're in a zone.

This was that for me.

I worked out what it was about these wigs that got me so much into that flow state

- Lots of problem solving

- 3D shapes

- Air brushing them to finish

So far, what I've got from following these 3 steps are

- What I want to make more of

- A growing list of all the things I like which may serve as inspiration for the next piece or personal project

- And a way to document these ideas in a way that I can both enjoy and share (via blog and sketch book)

So theres the bones to my play time project.

As another example. It needn't have necessarily been a wig to choose.

I could have picked from my list ;

Gilding my window frames


Tiny glass beads


Miss Havesham

Which could potentially result in me having the most talked about windows in West Yorkshire?


You get the drift.

Lastly ...

4. Carving Out Time

This has been a really big bone of contention for me.

- Im just too busy - is my favourite complaint.

There are 2 ways to adjust this

  • Making sure you're booking in work with the allowance of pause times (this is a whole new area I could talk about, maybe another time)

  • The big elephant in the room ... Use scrolling time to create instead!

Have you worked out how much time you scroll through social media every day?

It's got to be at least an hour for even the most mind full of us, no?

Imagine what you could do in that hour instead.

An hour of reading something that inspires you and generates ideas

An hour of starting that sketch book, or some morning pages to brain dump

An hour of practising something you feel isn't quite there with whatever your type of creative work is

Making a mood board - Mine is on my wall in my workroom. I just print out images that Im drawn to and blue tack them to my wall.

Do you think this is a 3 step process you might be interested in trying?

Or maybe you have your own process?

I'd love to hear in the comments below and if you do have a go, send me some pics of what you're doing.

I'd really love to see.

So there it is. My first blog which probably has millions of grammatical errors and such like.

Please over look it.

I am after all, at the beginning of these new intentions.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Here's to an playful 2023




A List Of My Favourite Books That Compliment What We've Discussed Here

Steal Like An Artist - Austin Kleon

Show Your Work - Austin Kleon

Keep Going - Austin Kleon

How To Be An Artist - Jerry Saltz

The Practice - Seth Godin


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