Stepping through a new door

Welcome to my journal and website

Hi, my name is Liz Christiansen and I have a confession. I have been self-employed for almost 14 years and I have never had a full website or online portfolio until this moment. I feel grateful that I have grown a business based on visual design and creative without having to need to have a digital presence – that all my graphic design work has come from referrals and that I am truly thankful for.

But what happens in this digital day and age when you decide you would like to pivot your work and change up what you are doing and discover a new world of art and design…? You got it… I needed a website!

So, with this blog post launches not one, but two websites. An exciting time to say the least.

One website focused on my graphic design and branding business, Lula Creative. And this more personal website Liz Christiansen Art and Surface Pattern Design – focused on artwork and surface pattern design – an area I am truly excited to be launching with this website.

Pattern has always brought joy to me – whether it’s through bold or whimsical patterns in something I’m wearing, drawing in, gifting a present in or a pattern on a homeware in my house. My eyes tracing patterns as a child – a scribbly bark or paperbark tree, a rug patterns, the fabric that my Mother sewed with, the entwined patterned borders on the postage stamps my Dad collected. All patterned elements in my life that make me smile, inspired me or evoke a memory. And now it’s that joy I want to bring to others through colourful patterns and artwork.

For years I filled my creative urges outside of graphic design work with making jewellery, creative short courses and pouring over home interior magazines – coveting the colours, patterns and artwork that adorned the walls, upholstery and linen. Not realising this is where I needed my work to focus along the whole way and its only looking back that I can see all the signs that pointed to focusing on pattern and art.

Do you have the courage?

A question I have asked myself – from the wonderful words of Elizabeth Gilbert in one of my favourite books on creativity ‘Big Magic’ is:

“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

One of my favourite type of movies since I was young (and to this day) was a good old treasure hunt, adventure or quest movie (think The Goonies, any Indiana Jones movie, Back to the Future, any ancient artifact quest, an adventure through zombies territory – you get the idea!). I dreamed of finding my own treasure, I loved drawing treasure maps, I kept all my own treasures safe. And so, with that love and dream of hunting for treasure, I’m going to say yes – I have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within me and go on this awesome treasure adventure.

And so we pivot

Almost a year ago I completed a surface pattern design course with the wonderful Cass Deller and made the decision to pivot my graphic design business and work toward surface pattern design and licensing artwork – combining my skill and experience of over 21 years as a branding and graphic designer with collage, painting, drawing, inking – a combination of mixed media. Even though I have wanted to be a pattern designer for many years, I did not take action straight away or take any tangible steps towards that goal until 18 months ago. Now looking back, I can see I was not ready to change pathways as it was more than just changing the type of design work I did. It was my mindset holding me back and I was not ready to make it work for me.

I’ll reflect on even a short time ago (just over a year ago), how far I have come. Working full time self-employed as a graphic designer, I was struggling to even call myself an artist, even though I constantly was creative, creating work for clients, regularly making collage, mixed media work and jewellery by this time. I could not hear the words come out of my own mouth and say – I am an artist – comfortably.

Funny that I don’t garden frequently or have any training in it but I would still call myself a gardener if somebody asked. Or my 8 year old daughter would not hesitate to call herself an artist. What is it about being and calling ourselves artist as adults that we struggle with? Even though my parents were always supportive of me making art and creating as a child, I have memories of doing art at school and never feeling (or being told) that it was good enough, not realistic enough, it’s a hobby but you’ll never make money from it. Shall I go on? We all have our stories that were programmed into us from childhood, but that doesn’t mean they need to stay.

Even though I know deep down I have always been an artist and have always had work inside of me that has been bubbling at the surface, waiting for me to say, yes, it’s time. So as I say yes it’s time to dig for the treasure inside me, I have come to accept many things which is making me move forward finally. I have worked on that I don’t need to be creating realistic work – that I can create the work that sings to me. And if that is colourful, messy, bold, abstract, graphic, inky, cutting paper out with scissors on my studio floor – than that is okay. I’m embracing being a multidisciplinary designer and artist working across multiple mediums rather than having to choose just one. Which is where I think I always had trouble, saying I was an artist, when my work did not fit within one category with my peers work at school.

Moving forward, it’s not forgetting about the decades of client graphic design work and design experience – but letting go of the structure that I’ve been holding onto and expanding on my experience, story, stepping through a new door and bringing that with me. Somebody very wise brought that to my attention (thank you Julia!) – that I wasn’t forgetting and leaving behind everything I had done so far. Not turning my back on it or closing a door or chapter on my work and life, but opening a new door and bringing it with me.

As I embark on this journey of being an artist, I know it won’t be easy. But I’ll keep showing up with my desire to create. Some days may be a little bit shit, some days may be a little bit great! It’s been an exciting and nerve-wrecking journey so far but for the first time in a long time, I am feeling positively challenged again with work and that is a good thing for me to start pushing myself and my creativity with wild abandon again. Discover my style and find out the work I love to be doing. Enjoying the process, not focusing on the destination as I know that will be flexible and change as I go. And I’d love you to join me on this journey of self-discovery.

And to inspire those who are perhaps looking to discover the treasure hidden inside them as well – here are some more inspiring words from author Elizabeth Gilbert:

“Surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. 

The hunt to uncover those jewels — that’s creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place — that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.”

From ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert

What sparkly treasures are you digging for inside you?

An overview of what to expect from my journal

I am very late to this blog scene so this will evolve as I go – and you are welcome to join me on my journey. This blog will be my journal along the way – a place of open honesty and finding my own creative voice. A journal of a mix of thoughts, musings, work I’m creating across both businesses, what is happening in my studio, what’s inspiring me. My journey of design, of rediscovering myself and my own creative work after decades of focusing on client creative work and following briefs – finding my own signature art style and design work through surface pattern design and licensing artwork. I still love working on client briefs and will continue to do that through artwork and design, I’ll just be creating more of the work that is inside of me that needs to come out of me and be seen in the world.

 Till next time, love Liz x

To be kept up to date with my journal and journey, sign up to my newsletter for monthly (ish!) studio updates on what’s happening in my world. I’ll include studio updates with the latest work in the licensing pattern and print library when it launches, visual inspiration, shop updates, other fun stuff and the occasional freebie! I’m working it out as I go 🙂

Image: Hand cut collage by Liz Christiansen

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