• Michael Edward Stephens

How to Create Space as a professional creative.

Updated: Apr 26

When my job is my passion, how do I find work life balance?


When your job is also your creative passion it's sometimes hard to find that work life balance. Especially if you are self-employed, free-lance, or own your own business. Our personal and professional lives often blend into one and switching off from work can feel like a distant dream. But why is it so important to find that balance?


As ambitious, career-focused individuals, we're always trying to squeeze as much as possible into an already jam-packed schedule. Whether its a few emails before bed, a quick meeting over lunch, or pop into another friends birthday party at the weekend. Society has conditioned us to believe that it's good to be busy. Not just that, but we have started to rationalise our 'busyness' with 'being productive'. But are we?


One of the effects of living a decent portion our social lives digitally through social media is that we’re often fixated on end results. The complete look, the finished piece, the climactic scene... We've normalised the image of 'perfection' and consider anything less than that incomplete and even unworthy of our attention. We easily dissociate the work, time and energy that goes into ‘creating’. The same can sometimes be said for how we view our own personal development, and the impatience we have when striving to look or feel a certain way.


As we attempt to navigate our way through this fast-paced and ever-evolving world, we are responsible for managing our own resources and commitments - both personal and professional. Where we get our energy from, and how we use it. It’s not uncommon for our mental health and physical health needs to sometimes get put on hold. However, the repercussions can be dangerous, with occupational burnout already reaching epidemic levels in several countries.


With our personal energy fuel tank starting to empty, some of our most precious attributes also begin to fade, such as our creativity, intuition and positive energy. These are the very things that make us unique, valuable and brilliant at our jobs. Many people are now asking themselves 'how do I find work life balance?'. Recognising the significance of a balanced personal and professional life is the first step. The next is actively exploring new ways to slow down, prevent exhaustion, and build resilience. 


In a series entitledCreate Space, Repeat’, we’re asking established individuals who work in creative fields about the importance of their ongoing self-care routine. In a fast-paced and competitive landscape where speed is everything, we’re hoping to highlight the significance of slowing everything down and consistently 'Creating Space' for yourself. Taking a break to reset shouldn’t be seen as a hindrance, but an opportunity to come back with more energy, enthusiasm and new creative ideas.









Serena Guen, Suitcase Magazine.

What do you CREATE and why?

I founded Suitcase in 2012, while studying at NYU as I identified a gap in the market for an authentic, well-curated travel platform. We aim to make it easier for people to travel further and deeper through our content and hopefully soon by helping our readers build those experiences IRL.

How do you find SPACE?

My routine incorporates pilates in the morning and reading before bed. In my free time I’ll spend weekends away when I can, and always find the time for friends and family after work or on weekends. I also like to spend a lot of time in nature!

When and where do you RETREAT?

I actually go to the Maldives at the end of every year. I’m very spoiled I know!!! The highlands and Tuscany are also a couple of my favourite places that I go back to often.
@serenaguen @suitcase suitcasemag.com

Pepä Ivanoff, Artist.

What do you CREATE and why?

I'm a muralist, surfer, equestrian and traveler, and I have made my art my life. I create because it sparks joy in me, and in those around me. I love to create beautiful spaces in collaboration with beautiful people in beautiful locations. I've been fortunate enough to create in California, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru.

How do you find SPACE?

My mornings are sacred and my rituals inspire my day. If there are waves, I start my day in the ocean surfing. On land, I read a daily passage from my book on Taoism, write in my journal, meditate and pull tarot cards. I trust my intuition and pay special attention to energy, in all of its forms. I feel fortunate that my work as an artist serves as a form of meditation and a creative outlet.

When and where do you RETREAT?

I have a reverence for nature and solitude, therefore I often retreat into the ocean or on horseback. I almost always travel somewhere warm and tropical, as this type of climate and the nature that it produces both inspires and relaxes me.
@pepallama

Patrick Wilson, Hair Stylist.

What do you CREATE and why?

I’m a session stylist, originally from Liverpool, but moved to London for my career. Like most hairdressers, I started out in a salon. I then moved on to work backstage at fashion weeks before finally deciding to pursue a full-time career in session hair. Everyday is totally different now; I could be working on set or getting a celebrity ready for an appearance or red carpet. I really love the fact that I’m not in the same salon space day-in day-out - I find it exciting!

How do you find SPACE?

I like to work out, ideally 4 times a week. But it’s not always possible with early call times and late finishes. As a hairstylist it’s really important to look after my back. Often I have to carry a big kit-bag around, lifting it up flights of stairs etc. So I like to visit Masaj in London for regular massages. Sometimes I can get a little bit overwhelmed with deadlines and everything happening at once. Things can come up really last minute with work so It’s quite hard to plan. But my partner Liam is a big help with organisation, admin and just generally being a big support! 

When and where do you RETREAT?

My happy place has to be Mykonos, we really love it. I guess to feel totally comfortable and not feel judged on your sexuality. The food is great, you can chill in the day and if you want to go out you can. Most people think of Mykonos as a party island, but honestly it’s the most peaceful place.
@patrickwilson


Georgie Mason, Artist.

What do you CREATE and why?

I paint abstract scenes that are based on memory and intuition. I use a variety of media; from oil paint and pigments to sand, mud, sawdust and other found materials.  Every painting tells a story - an amalgamation of moments, emotions, energy and materials that went into its making. I value the art making process for its therapeutic benefits just as much as aesthetic output. I do this work because of its capacity for self-exploration.

How do you find SPACE?

Self-care is my top priority, above everything else. Without good mental health every other area suffers. I do yoga daily, meditate at the Buddhist Centre or just in my room most days, I practise gratitude and journal every day, I dance Forro (a Brazilian dance that makes me feel amazing), I have psychotherapy; the list goes on. I'm also incredibly grateful to have a network of close friends and family who I can talk to about anything. I try to keep a 'beginner's mind' attitude towards life, where rather than exist within a world view determined by habitual thoughts, I lower my expectations and get curious about things in order to keep a fresh perspective. (It's a work in progress!)

When and where do you RETREAT?

For me traveling is like pressing reset. I try and go away every winter and when I do, I am reminded that anxiety and stress isn't the natural human state. Without the pressure from ourselves and society, we are actually innately content, at peace, in harmony with the world. This brief glimpse of the truth gives me enough to get through the rest of the working year (I haven't managed a trip this year yet but hoping to get away at some point). Aside from leaving the country, my retreat is my meditation den in my room: it's a load of cushions, candles, plants and books piled up on my bay window seat and I love it there. Being up on a high ledge makes me feel elevated and separate from normal life. I can switch off and tune into my body and it's blissful.
@georgiesmason @georgiesartclasses georgiemason.co.uk

Aleksandra Kingo, Photographer.

What do you CREATE and why?

I create colourful surreal worlds, in which lipstick stains are a blessing and champagne baths are perfectly casual. I am a photographer and director working in fashion and advertising. I also have also created a new human not that long ago! 

How do you find SPACE? 

Being a creative, a mother of a 4 year old and an overachiever, it’s hard! Sometimes I simply stop everything, lie down and breathe slowly when I get too overwhelmed. Learning to stay in the moment and enjoying one thing at the time is key. 

When and where do you RETREAT?

I try to travel and see the world as much as I can, being in a new environment and learning new things is the ultimate retreat for me. But sometimes simple moments like morning toddler cuddles are the most valuable.
@aleksandrakingo @aleksandrakingodiary aleksandrakingo.com

Damian Garozzo, Makeup Artist.

What do you CREATE and why?

I’m an Australian Makeup Artist based in Paris, working in beauty advertising and red carpet, as well as consulting, education and public speaking for beauty brands. The best part of this job is the fact that every day I get to collaborate with a different team, often from different corners of the globe. In an effort to pursue new challenges, I’m also currently working with some very talented colleagues on a documentary series drawing attention to the struggles of LGBT+ youth displaced from their homes. No two work days are the same, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

How do you find SPACE?:

Finding and creating space for myself is something that I have to consciously work really hard at, because I’m a bit of a workaholic! If I’m not meditating, which I try and do as often as possible, then I’m cooking.

When and where do you RETREAT?

I’m lucky in that I married someone with the same travel style as me: « fare niente! » I tend to seek out places where we can be completely secluded and self contained, nothing fancy, but somewhere we can be by the ocean or high up in the mountains, sunset views a bonus. We cook, hike, read, meditate and try our best to disconnect (while also doing our best to turn off our phones!). I always need a few weeks out of the year not to think about lipstick and mascara, dig my feet in the sand and put the world on pause for a while!
@damiangarozzomakeup damiangarozzo.com

Eva Ramirez, Travel Journalist

What do you CREATE and why? 

Born in Gran Canaria to a Spanish mother and Lebanese father, I moved from Sierra Leone to London when I was 3 years old. I started out in the fashion industry after obtaining a BA (Hons) Journalism degree, holding positions with Alexander McQueen, The British Fashion Council and WGSN. I now work for myself as a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. I balance this with brand work, creating content and consulting on social media for food and wellness companies. I'm also on the advisory board for a nonprofit which fuses yoga, travel and philanthropy to empower young women through education. 

How do you find SPACE? 

Self-care to me is knowing when to tune in and listen to my needs, whether they are emotional, physical or mental. It's not always bubble baths and massages - sometimes self-care is cancelling plans when I know I need rest, checking in with my priorities when I know I am procrastinating, or making time to ensure my flat is clean and tidy. I find comfort in friends and family who I am very open with, and I journal a lot too. Movement, whether it's gentle yoga or exercise helps me too. Stepping out of a situation and focussing my attention on something totally different always helps me find a new perspective.

When and where do you RETREAT?

As a travel writer I often don't choose where I travel to, and sometimes there is no time for relaxation as I am always thinking and working. That being said I've been on some incredible retreats - digital detoxes in Arizona, plant-based hiking in The Pyrenees, luxury wellness in Marbella. But really, it's a back-to-basics approach I love best. I'm most content in my grandmother's home in the Canary Islands, surrounded by family, friends and home-cooked food.
@evieramirez evaramirez.co.uk

Egle Plytnikaite, Illustrator.

What do you CREATE and why?

I create minimal, colourful and conceptually driven illustrations, often utilising subtle textures that give my work a vintage warmth. I use my illustrations as a tool to talk about various difficult subjects like feminism, environmental problems and so on and see it as a great medium to reach a wide audience.

How do you find SPACE?

Every single weekend I do my best to leave my beloved city Vilnius and disconnect from everything at our little cob house into the woods. I spend hours walking in the forest and lying in the bath which helps me to find peace and clear my thoughts.

When and where do you RETREAT?

I love active retreats and my favourite way to restart my system is to challenge my body. I love hiking and rock climbing so every year together with my husband we pack our backpacks and get out from our comfort zone while hiking in Andean or Himalayan mountains.
@egle.plytnikaite egle.plytnikaite.com

Laird Kay, Photographer.

What do you CREATE and why?

I’m an aviation photographer – and I love planes. I see planes as giant sculptures – with beautiful lines, sleek curves, and machines that embody the wonderment of travel. To me, they are magical machines that bring people closer together, and allow us to experience the cultures of the world.

How do you find SPACE?

I’m self employed, so I’m lucky that I take gigs that I want. While it means that I’m my own boss (a stress in itself), it also means that I can take time when I need it. To keep myself fresh and creative, I give myself monthly goals to push myself to constantly evolve and improve my skills.

When and where do you RETREAT?

I love open spaces to re-energize and think. The most magical and calming place I’ve been is the Atacama Desert in Chile – the driest place on earth! The landscapes are other worldly – areas that look like the moon, then giant white salt flats filled with flamingos, and volcanic lakes that like mirrors. And because of its incredibly high altitude, it’s a landscape that truly slows you down.
@lairdkay lairdkay.com

A big thank you to all those who contributed to this piece.


Looking for a place to rest, relax or reset?

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