How important is creativity in your life? If your job is your life, carving time for creativity is just as important – yet how? Ali Hall works a successful and intense job during the day and finds time to fill her life with creative projects from painting to flower arranging. Rather than doing it for herself, she’s made it her mission to empower and encourage others to tap into their inner creativity. Learn more about Ali Hall and her platform Design With Ali.
SDS: You make creating so approachable, from your art classes to the flower arranging classes. How did you become a creative?
ALI HALL: At a young age, I loved to color and make things like friendship bracelets and homemade lemonade to sell. I was lucky to have parents who supported me in taking all kinds of creative classes and doing activities like gymnastics, Girl Scouts and art lessons. Creativity has been a theme throughout my life and there have been several pivotal moments steering me in embracing creativity professionally in tech. The biggest advocate of my artistic background was my grandpa. He would look up fine art classes for me to try in the summertime at California College of the Arts and he introduced me to my first graphic design class.
Although my full-time role is a creative profession, outside of my childhood and through college I stopped painting and making things for fun. I didn’t see the value in taking an hour or even 10 minutes to make something, because I thought it was a waste of time or it needed to be purposeful. It was easier to de-stress from a long day by watching Netflix or getting more sleep. The pandemic, feeling burnt out and the loss of my grandfather happening all at the same time called for a moment of pause and serious self-reflection.
I sought out to rediscover and prioritize my fine art creative making (painting, drawing, floral arranging), because it grounds me, boosts mindfulness and elevates my happiness. Creative making time is a priority I plan on embracing throughout the rest of my life. This shift in mindset led me to creating several abstract series focused on affirmations and positivity to heal and inspire others. I love how my art and creative workshops touch people emotionally and personally.
SDS: Do you believe that people are born creative? Or is it something that can be learned?
AH: Everyone is creative. Creativity can be learned and applied to every aspect of your life. It’s an expandable muscle. The more practice and time spent to develop creativity, the stronger it grows. From a global study conducted in 2012 by Rupal Parekh, “75% of people think they’re not living up to their creative potential.” Creativity is a way of problem solving and embracing the unknown. Creativity is truly healing and it’s linked to increasing happiness, reducing stress and feeling a sense of accomplishment.
Through Design with Ali, my mission is to inspire others who are seeking to build up their creative spark and develop connection to their creativity through abstract art and floral design.
SDS: For the individual who is nervous about testing out their creative side, do you have any tips on getting started?
AH: Allow yourself to embrace the art of play and bring out your inner kid. It’s okay to not know what you want to make or to make something without a purpose. You also don’t need to be an artist or have artistic tools to get started. Grab a pencil and paper and doodle or pick up a coloring book that looks fun to color. Creating will not only be therapeutic, but also shift your mindset from a place of self-judgment to a place of openness and imagination with free-flowing thoughts.
A great exercise I love and recommend trying is a visual journal walk. Go on a walk and focus on things around you like trees, birds and the weather. When you come back, take 15 minutes to doodle and draw out things you remember from your walk. Journaling, doodling, coloring, getting outside and brainstorming are a few ways you can start to tap into your creativity.
SDS: How do you balance your creativity with a full time job?
AH: Proactively setting aside time to create resets my brain and energy. Making art through painting, floral design or even cooking grounds me in my body and mind – and helps me reflect after a long day filled with high-stress. A creative break can be something you block within your calendar. Prioritizing creative breaks boosts my energy and happiness and enables me to be a better leader to my team and others.
SDS: What’s one thing you wish you had known about being an artist early on?
AH: Don’t lose sight of the joy when creating and keep true to what brings you happiness. It’s okay to pivot and shift how and what you create and the types of mediums or artforms you embrace as you’re discovering your artistic voice.