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January 28, 2022

How Digital Art Saved My Creativity After Becoming a Mom

Being a mom makes doing a lot of things more difficult. This is the story of how and why digital artwork became the catalyst for a career in art.

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Genius Kids Club
Photo Credit: Mike Fox | Unsplash

As a traditionally tactile artist working with fibers and textures to satisfy my creative cravings, having a new baby that was too attached for me to not be touching her while she was sleeping was soul-sucking. Don't get me wrong, I love my now 5-year old, and soon to be 2-year old more than life, but it doesn't (and shouldn't) detract from feeding my own identity as an artist. That identity felt like it was slowly dying. 


My first daughter was only 7 months old when we decided to purge our possessions and move to China. I had recently graduated with a Master's in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) just one month before becoming a new mother. I was anxious for a lot of things; my new role as a mother, for one. I was also anxious about using what I'd learned in graduate school, and expressing all of these new feelings and experiences through my art. 


There were many road blocks in my path. As a new mother, my time was consumed with a perfect little baby girl who wanted nothing but mommy, and postpartum depression loomed unchecked. In addition to this, my usual storehouse of art supplies was left behind for the purposes of traveling light, and I felt my creativity was left with it (this was the postpartum speaking). 


I wasn't afforded time to work on things of the creative capacity even when my daughter was asleep. As soon as I would try to sneak away, it was as if she knew I was gone and immediately woke up. So there I was, in the dark, with images overflowing in my mind that I couldn't get on paper for one reason or another.


My husband, who is a professional artist in multiple mediums, insisted I try digital art for illustrating. The hair rose on my anti-technology neck and I bucked until he pestered me so much I gave in. 


The learning curve was difficult... at first.

Then... I could produce more quickly.

As I learned the user-friendly tools in Procreate, I began to discover that not only did I love being able to get my ideas out quickly before losing them, but there were many other benefits as well.

I could work in the dark.

Because my daughter wouldn't allow me to move away from her without waking up, once I was sure she was asleep, I would pull out my iPad and spill all my ideas out in the dark of the night. I didn't need the light on- I didn't even need a desk!

I only needed one device to do my work & cleanup was easy.

As our lives became more travel-centered, my weight became lighter as well, and I was able to create what I imagined with one simple device. Instead of carrying pencils, markers, notebooks and accessories, I was carrying one device. I could pull it out on a train or plane while my daughter slept without worrying about spills and juggling different materials. I also didn't have to worry about cleaning up a mess if my daughter was suddenly demanding my attention in the middle of a project.

I wasn't as afraid of making mistakes because anything could be undone.

Programs like Procreate allow you to easily undo mishaps, or simply change your mind quickly about the direction of a piece. My creativity exploded because the ideas that I was able to extract quickly, were also evolving at a faster rate and lending themselves to even more ideas.


Over the next two years of my daughter's life, I not only illustrated and authored three children's books, but I created beer labels, logos, and infographics for customers all over the world. 


Being able to take my creativity anywhere with me was liberating and empowering, opening creative opportunities that healed my postpartum mind and helped me maintain my sanity through art was world-changing for me. 


As my life has settled down a bit more, I have adopted different ways for the iPad and Procreate to support my art while I move back into textiles. It is still a way to hash out ideas quickly, plan, practice, and offer a more illustrative look to my artwork. It has also made me a better artist because the quantity of work that it enabled me to do, kept me drawing daily and served as great practice for learning color gradients as well. 


If you're in a position where your art is stifled because of life changes or lack of space, you may find that digital drawing is a game changer for your creative endeavors. 


If you’re not in a financial position to drop the necessary funds on an iPad, try seeking out art grants for aspiring artists. You can look based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, city, passions, affiliations, where you are in your career, or even what you want to do with your art. Check out this list of art grants to see which ones you qualify for.