Podcast

Harness the Creative Within with Ali Hall of Design with Ali

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Do you consider yourself a creative person? Did you used to be creative as a kid? Channeling your inner creative is challenging, especially when bogged down with adult work. So, how do you find your inner creative? Ali Hall, of Design with Ali leads workshops and sessions dedicated to connecting with your inner creative after hiding her creative side while in the corporate world. 

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Ali’s first steps into arts as a child, and how she reconnected with this side of her as an adult.  
  • How connecting with your creativity can help your mental health. Ali shares how changing her mindset allowed her to enjoy the process and take the pressure off. You don’t have to be the greatest artist to enjoy being creative!
  • Where to begin? Ali recommends what things you can buy and an easy-to-follow routine to get you started.
  • Floral arrangements to show how you feel. Ali talks about an easy way to choose and make your floral arrangements look like a pro.


Find more about Ali in Design with Ali
Instagram: @design_with_ali

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Emily Merrell  

Welcome to the sixth degree Podcast, the podcast where we grill our guests about the things that make them tick and find out how human connection plays a role in their life. I’m your host, Emily Merrill. I’m excited to learn from you. I feel like every time I chat with you, I’m like, tell me the difference between an acrylic paint and a pastel. You’re like, you silly, young patient, or silly girl, and you’re very patient with me is what I was gonna say.

 

Ali Hall  

No, I love it. And I love that you’re dabbling into the creative art forms and spending some time doing so. I think that practice will only make it perfect and more enjoyable in the long run. So I think you know, props to you.

 

Emily Merrell  

Yeah, I was a little context on that for I’ve been working with kind of like a creativity coach for it was only three sessions. But one of my friends created a brand called dreamer daydreamers headquarters, and they send you all these different tools to to get creative, and I’m someone who was an ex creative or used, if you had met me, at nine years old, I would have told you I have superduper creative and at 30 something year old, I don’t feel super creative at all. Or at least I don’t feel creative in terms of like picking, having comfort to pick up a paintbrush, so it’s been really refreshing having someone guide me through it. And Ali, I really have to have to thank you for a lot of my resurgence in terms of like, finding my inner creative child. You know, I’ve had the pleasure of attending several of your virtual events. And from Flower workshops where I went as far as even buying clippers to make flowers. And I think of you every time I buy flowers at Whole Foods, but you’re just building such an incredible thing. So, you know, backing up a little bit. And in terms of creativity, would you have always, always considered yourself a creative person?

 

Ali Hall  

Yeah, that’s a great question. So I have always had a creative spark. And I’m lucky to have had my mom really who brought me to different activities to figure out what I was inspired by and like to do. So I would dabble in different things like mosaic design, painting, gymnastics, all the way to soccer and softball. And I remember this one moment when I was nine years old, and at the gymnast or like being a gymnast, and being next to an art studio, my mom was like, would you want to try art. And so I quit gymnastics, went into the art and started taking these different summer cost programs where I would learn watercolor, and distinctly remember painting my first ever self portrait, I think I still have that somewhere in a box saved away. So I will find it. I remember painting like one of the little like 90s choker elements on on that painting. But yeah, that was really like a moment where I got into the arts and started to keep taking it even more seriously and practice.

 

Emily Merrell  

And how cool that your mom recognize that inner talent within you. And let you have that choice of gymnastics and art. And she didn’t push either of them on you, but rather let you choose which one you wanted.

 

Ali Hall  

Yeah, what’s funny is it was actually my grandpa who pointed it out to my mom and inspired her to really see if this would be something I’d be interested in. Before that time, they had just gotten this white couch and I took a Sharpie and destroyed the entire couch drawing. And that was the moment for them where they’re like, Ah, she drew really cool things. But I don’t think that this is the correct place for her to be drawing. So yeah, it’s a funny moment, but one that they never let me live down. And so

 

Emily Merrell  

they’re like still asking you to pay back the couch, I’m sure. 

 

Ali Hall  

Yeah, definitely. So it’s funny in that time, but actually, my grandpa had passed away right before COVID. And his last two asks of me was can you paint me a painting and just like as my favorite place, one of the Florida Keys and one of Tahoe. And so prior to that I actually stopped painting. I was really active in it and had stopped mainly because I was working really long hours and my day job and you know, really trying to figure out more so my design career, and I did I committed a few weekends to paint him like a sunset view of Emerald Bay. And just this like giant painting that he put in his nursing home to look at every day. And then right after he passed. I actually painted this probably the largest painting that I’ve ever done. This ocean wave just like memories of him. And yeah, just that’s really what sparked getting back into that painting for them and realizing how much I enjoy it. and continue to do that throughout COVID by, you know, setting some time aside in the weekend, or even Wednesday light night paintings or Friday night paintings to create a body of work that I felt really proud of, and just something that felt really special to me and mixed with mixed emotions. So my first series is actually called affirmations. And each one of them is based off an affirmation, like I have the power to create change. And, yeah, it just ties back to what I was feeling in the moment when creating that and going to the creative flow.

 

Emily Merrell  

That’s incredible. And I love that story about your grandfather and his asks of you what powerful life changing asks to ask, ask of an individual. And, you know, it’s interesting that you talked about the, the busyness of your day job and carving out that time. And I think that’s the biggest thing that that I hear is that people always find excuses why they can’t do something. You know, you know, me, I’m a huge avid journal journal or early in the morning, I was talking to a girlfriend and she’s like, Yeah, I just, I don’t have that time like, well, you have to find you have to find that time, you have to make that time happen, that time is not going to just randomly present itself, it has to be baked into your schedule. So it’s beautiful to hear that you’ve been taking that self care with your creative practice and making that time a priority for you. But let’s talk about the health benefits of embracing your creative side. You are a very successful tech professional by day. But how has embracing this creative version of alley? I feel like you’re kind of like a superhero having this alter ego. You know? 

 

Ali Hall  

Yeah, I love that question as well. Thanks for asking. It’s one, two, we’re going back to your point, I’m just taking that time. I wasn’t taking that time, I just used to believe that taking anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. If it didn’t have a purpose, then why was I taking that time for it. And it was mindset for me that needed to shift and actually committing and trying it. And through that process of dabbling and doodling and just being creative for the sake of making, it actually shifted my mental health, my mindset, and my happiness increased just my focus and re energize my day. And that, to me was enough to be so powerful to not only apply it in my day, throughout the day, but also like throughout my life, and help teach others how to do the same. It’s just something that I feel so grateful to be able to do. And I really believe that making that time in your life, whether it’s like going on a five minute walk or a 10 minute walk and re energizing your happiness and the sunshine to meditating. It’s the same for creativity, where doodling and creating a visual journal or something can really spark that therapeutic joy in your day. And maybe it’s the best thing that you could have done for yourself that day.

 

Emily Merrell  

Yeah, I think that’s such a great reminder that does not who we are that we need to have some sort of validation for everything that we create.

 

Ali Hall  

Yeah, I know, I struggled with the same question at times, I still struggle with that. Because I think for me, I like to be a bit more in control of what I am making and have a purpose for who I’m making it for. And I yeah, just going back to that question, it’s, it’s funny to reflect on him because you’re like, but why? And if you continue to ask why, and take some time to reflect on our mindset around that you go back to things and they’re like, Oh, if I just actually give myself permission to play, it’s the same thing of what I used to do when I was a little kid, like my inner child, I never questioned that. I could just be and enjoy and embrace, seeing where my mind goes, and the imagination that I have a hand and I think as adults, we forget that. And it feels so foreign. To go back to that we begin being like, Oh, I’m not creative. But I just don’t see myself as an artist, like, you do not have to be an artist to be creative. Everyone is creative. Creativity is actually like thinking and re visualizing how you’re going to solve problems or new challenges. And I would say drawing is an art form to be able to do so. But it’s not because you’re specifically an artist, like it doesn’t mean that you’re not creative in that way. So yeah, it’s it’s funny to think about that as an adult and realize how disconnected we can be and realize how disconnected we can be from ourselves because of

 

Emily Merrell  

Yeah, you you nailed that so beautifully. I think there’s this aspect of fear of failure stops us from even starting. And that, you know, we won’t define ourselves or we won’t say I’m not creative, or I’m, I’m not an artist, because if I did put out a picture, and I showed it to you, and paint by numbers class or something that I could say, that was bad, or people perceive judgment that it was bad that I’m protected, protecting my ego. And, well, I’m not an artist, I’m not like you Ali, I’m not a creative. Other than, than just accepting, like, Yeah, I had a lot of fun doing that. Definitely have stuff to work on. But it was,

 

Ali Hall  

yeah, definitely like embracing the process of making. And that was a challenge for me with the art that I was creating during this time and COVID, as I wanted to find an art form, that I didn’t start judging myself in the moment while I was making, and I didn’t know what the outcome would be. And so I came across this medium called alcohol inks, which is a payment that has a bit of like alcohol within it. And as it hits the surface of like yupo paper, which is just like thick paper that’s not as porous, and the pigment will just dry and the alcohol evaporates, but you don’t know how it will turn out. And so it can be spontaneous and fun and beautifully colored with all different kinds of hues to choose from and pigments. So it was just this really fun moment to learn something new to try and not be afraid of failure and just see where it would take me and not judge yourself in the process. And so I still am dabbling in this art form today. And abstract art is actually my favorite type of art to create, because it really pushes the boundaries of sensory perception and how we think about shape and color form and texture, rather than something that’s very realistic and has to be precise. So I would say for those that are interested in getting into like creativity and painting more specifically, look for things that might be a little bit more fluid and formed. So abstract art is a great place to start. If you’re trying to understand how to get into a creative flow,

 

Emily Merrell  

that you stole the question right from me, it’s, you know, I think that’s one of the things as an aspiring, I wouldn’t even call myself creative. Someone who wants to play someone who wants to play again, how do you even approach the art store? Or where do we what would be one of the first things that you ordered to get going and I love what you said about the abstract? I completely agree that that is such a more or less, less of a judgmental art form to go down.

 

Ali Hall  

Yeah, great question. With art stores. Those are like candy stores. For me like I could spend three and a half hours on a Michaels alone, or Blick store. But I would say you can start online from like Amazon to going in person to an actual art store. And the best like basics to start with would be of course, a sketchbook or a journal. And it can be any time that you are feeling really inspired to try out. And then pencils, you could try colored pencils, and then maybe paint so like paint acrylics are so forgiving, they are my favorite kind of paint, because they dry fast. And you can also layer them and play around with how you’re applying the paint, you can add textures to them, you can reduce them down with water. So I think both pencils to paints would be a good first place to start. And if you’re like, Hey, that’s a little bit too much for me right now. A pen or pencil or anything, you have a home and some paper just to like start doodling and get an embrace, like the art of drawing is a great beginning. So one thing you could do, let’s say today, if you were to take an action stuff, you could go on a 15 minute walk and a visualization walk. And as you’re walking out, just be in your mindset like be in your mind. Think about what’s around you how the sun is with you’re hearing any noises from birds and then when you come back, draw all the things that you can remember and draw how you’re feeling. But on some music, give yourself five or 10 minutes to just doodle. And that’s one way you can think about ideas to how you felt and just be connected to your body and your space for that day and

 

Emily Merrell  

I love that I think that’s a great thing it I think it’s a double whammy to you go outside you get your nature you get your sunlight, and you can get inspired to start drawing. I yeah, I love all these tips. And I think it’s so exciting to to start a new medium and reconnect with our childlike wonder. And it’s funny that you mentioned doodling because I felt like when we were when you think back to middle school or high school and if you doodled you were in trouble for doodling, or teachers would kind of smack the doodle out of you so to speak. And, and now this is something we’re trying to do to reconnect to our inner child again.

 

Ali Hall  

It’s true. It’s funny, I, I noticed most of the time I’m doodling when I’m on the phone. Sometimes I’ll doodle while I’m listening into like, Zoom meetings for the day, my go to things to doodle, or like flowers or letter forms. And it’s been shown in like research and science that like when you’re when you’re doodling, it helps you focus. So you’ll remember what you’re writing down. But yeah, I actually still get in trouble the most back in the day in church, because I would draw on a lot of the booklets. And that was the way that I was kind of like, zoned out of it. But then coming back into it, the message would still stay. So that was kind of bring up a really funny memory for me, actually.

 

Emily Merrell  

Oh my gosh, doodling on couches, doodling on, on church pamphlets. You’re just distracting in destroying property left and right with your art forms, little bank ski or things see over. So, you know, I mentioned earlier, I’ve had the pleasure of attending a few of your amazing workshops, and the one that stood out to me, I loved the art one, but you did this flower making workshop and I, you’re one of those people that I’m like, Oh my gosh, you’re so talented in so many different in so many different realms, which is incredible. And you had talked about, I saw I’d always been that person that was super overwhelmed by flowers. If I went to the flower market, and betta flower market, I mean Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, I would grab the flowers, cut them and pop them in water. And that was how I made flowers, flower arrangements. Tada. Sometimes I’m mixed and matched. But it was there was no strategy and there was no plan behind it. And in your our workshop, I’ve you left me feeling more empowered about flowers I have felt in my entire life and ever. So I’m going to, can you share the secrets that you shared with me? That left me feeling so empowered? And you know exactly what I’m talking about?

 

Ali Hall  

Yes, definitely. So with flowers, it really comes down to how you’re feeling that day when you’re choosing them. So I always tell my students that when you’re thinking about your palette, think about like kind of bold and neutral and have like a pop of color, or just like choose flowers that are based off your mood that day. And the way I break it down is you have like thrillers fillers and fillers. So like thriller flowers are your like money dollars. Yes, yes, thrillers, fillers and fillers. I have learned this from like past floral design, teachers actually learn floral design in college. I did it as a break in the day after a three hour coding class. And then I went to a three hour floral design class. And I just felt so zen and happy because you’re playing with 3d objects and just material that and it’s a living form that I’ve never did before. So it’s just a cool thing to learn. And yes, so thrillers are like sunflowers, roses, your, your flowers that you want people to take a look at like your focal point. fillers and spillers like spillers are more so like eucalyptus things that can like overflow, fillers or like other like greenery pieces that can go into an arrangement like a wax flower, it’s like or even baby’s breath. They’re both both like smaller flowers. And so all combined together, you have this like nice, scaled and proportioned arrangement. And the key is really giving all three of those types a haircut, like just grooming down the dead leaves, taking off the extra foliage, and bringing it down to like the larger the flower it’s closer to the base of the base, or like the lip of the vase. And then the smaller is closer to the top. And then you have this like nice, compact arrangement when you’re doing like a regular floral vase arrangement.

 

Emily Merrell  

Oh, so it’s such a good every single time I go I say this The three things in my brain. I’m like, I gotta find my thrillers, my spillers and my fillers and and and then highly recommend your workshops and for the history that comes with it. And then like hidden tips, I learned how to keep tulips alive for I feel like my tulips stayed alive for like two weeks so much longer. Yeah, the little sugar a little a little penny, I think was one of the tips.

 

Ali Hall  

Yes, yeah, copper and then you can add like a drop of bleach and then so sugar and lukewarm water and then cut at an angle for the stuns.

 

Emily Merrell  

Yeah, I changed my and I saw her cutting with such ease and I was like how she doing that, too. pops up and she has chairs. And I was like, oh, okay, and I ordered gardening chairs and what a game changer.

 

Ali Hall  

Yeah, they are, they make a huge difference. And there’s so many kinds to like there’s ones for thicker stems like roses, or even more tropical based flowers. And then the ones that I’ve had I’ve had since I took my course, in college, actually, so they last a long time, and you can clean them with bleach, and also get them sharpened.

 

Emily Merrell  

Wow. So learn so much. Well, Ali, how can our listeners today learn more about design with Ali? Learn more about shopping your aspiration pieces attending a workshop? Maybe, you know, attending your I’m just gonna say what other events You’ve so many events coming up, you know, summer fall whenever all over?

 

Ali Hall  

Yeah, thanks for asking. So my next event is going to be on Wednesday tonight. It’s actually through sixth degree society. It’s called How to tap into your creativity as a secret weapon for business success and life fulfillment. So we’re going to talk about all things creativity, I have a few fun exercises in there that we’ll go through. And then I also have an upcoming terrarium workshop later in June date is probably going to be closer to Father’s Day. And it’ll be invite a friend or invite your dad or brother or you know, whoever can go and attend. And then maybe this idea of creativity camps sometime in the summer where we do Wednesday, late night painting or drawing and you can start learning how to dabble into the creative world. But yes, you can go to my Instagram, I’m at design underscore with underscore alley. And that’s a li orange go to designwithali.com. Well,

 

Emily Merrell  

before we end our podcast, I love to end it with six fast questions so we can get to know you that much further. So my very, very first question for you is to hear an unknown Fun fact, even though we’ve heard so many fun facts tonight, but tell us an unknown fun fact about Alli. 

 

Ali Hall  

Ha, that’s a great question too. So an unknown fun fact about me as I’m actually learning how to build my own art studio. We recently cleared this corner out in our backyard and I’m looking into creative ways to make a little like studio shot for me so I can paint larger scale pieces and just have a she shed essentially, it’s just like my little oasis somewhere away from my tiny office space right now I share it. But yeah, that’s that’s been a really cool thing to be doing next.

 

Emily Merrell  

Oh, hi. Love it. And you can definitely show us I feel like there’ll be an event or workshop on how to build your own shed at some point. And then HDTV is gonna call you and your day job is going to be like, oh, yeah, so now you’re an HGTV star, you’re gonna have to, you’re gonna have to choose. You know, Ali, who would be a dream person you’d want to be connected with?

 

Ali Hall  

Yeah, I was thinking about this. At one point, my mom likes to ask table topic cards every so often during the holidays. And I think for me, it’s actually not even one person. It’s just like a group of entrepreneurial women. Like I can imagine you Britt Morin. And like Nicole Lathan is all having lunch and just hearing what you’re working on or things that are inspiring you that inspires me like I love learning from others and community and I just couldn’t imagine where I’d be without that in my life.

 

Emily Merrell  

Oh, I love that. Oh, that’s a good one. You put me on your table I that makes me really, really happy. Well over a bottle of wine at Brickell or would you introduce me to and our wine shipment just came on? Like, wow, I’ve spent more money on wine. endemic? Yeah, drink more wine clubs. And I have time to go to this is awesome. What show are you currently watching, if any,

 

Ali Hall  

my husband and I are watching a lot of cooking shows. That’s our guilty pleasure. So we just finished Vegas chef prize fight with Chef and Burrell so it’s just I love the creativity and food and are things that I would not have the patience to do but so inspired. Wow, that’s such an amazing technique, I would have never thought to like, smoke my plate and have all this reveal happen. And all the ways we’ve made combinations and art form. So it’s cool.

 

Emily Merrell  

I definitely need to revisit cooking shows because I forget how much you can learn exactly what you just said smoking your plate, or I remember watching Chef’s Table and just being like, how did you think to do any of this? In the stories they get them. They’re so great reminder, I’m gonna revisit chef chef shows and have a book you’re reading anything interesting.

 

Ali Hall  

You know, one of my bad habits. It’s like we’ll start a book and then stop. So I probably have 10 books or more that I have started and stopped. A lot of them are like recipe books. But one that I’ve been really getting into is actually becoming a Super Woman by Nicole Lapin. And she talks about just like how she went through burnout, how to like really They prioritize time in your life and just like, do things you want to be doing because you only have one life to live. So I highly recommend that book. I think it came out last year, maybe the year before.

 

Emily Merrell  

I haven’t heard of her before off the checkout. And then what is your favorite and or most used emoji

 

Ali Hall  

my most used emoji is the Tada like confetti one that’s usually expressing my excitement, almost everything I’m responding to. So I’ll use that one, not only in my personal life, but also like work life, too.

 

Emily Merrell  

I love that it’s so fun to hear what people’s emoji usage looks like. And you know, the more positive ones, there’s definitely the more negative ones that have been expressed in the past. So I like that, that yours is positive. And then my final question for you, which I think I know the answer to but to give you permission or inspired you to do the thing you wanted to do in your life.

 

Ali Hall  

Thank you. So plethora of people who have always inspired me. Of course, like me, I’ve given myself permission, but like a lot of things, things that come to mind, just like my grandpa and time with my grandpa to just be creative. Like he’s always said, I want to see your art in a gallery one day and like you have just so much creativity in your life. Please keep creating. And so those are the words that I think about often and you know, hope that I can continue to aspire and push the boundaries of what it could be for me and my design with Ali.

 

Emily Merrell  

I want to see your I want to see your art in the gallery. So we’ll definitely have to make that happens. Good aspiration to put out there. And Allie, thank you so much for joining us on today’s podcast. It was such a pleasure hearing your story.

 

Ali Hall  

Thank you so much for having me here. It’s amazing. It was actually my first ever podcast. So I love to

 

Emily Merrell  

you wouldn’t even be able to know you crush it. This is one of many podcasts by Alli who knows by. By this time next year, she might have her own podcast and be interviewing all the people that inspire her and including big artists. And so for listeners if you like today’s episode, please make sure to give us a like, share with friends and we’ll see you the next time on the sixth degree. Thanks again. Bye Al

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