013 How to find your style with Meg McCaskill
Today I am chatting with the beautiful, the kind, the lovely Megan McCaskill. She has a beautiful accent, a beautiful heart and beautiful journals to match. It was a completely spontaneous interview chat thing just as I was heading off to the train station for my mom but I hope that you create as we chat. I love Meg, I know that you are going to love her.
Meg is a 20-something English grad turned digital marketer who’s obsessed with all things paper: journaling, reading, arts and crafts. She loves to share her art journals and owns way too many notebooks. She’s one of those weird people who likes the smell of books and you’ll probably find her in an antique shop.
I think it’s a bit of both because you do obviously have that element of practising and like working with what you like. But I think if you just let go of your expectations then it’ll shine through naturally.
Hello, you beautiful artist. This podcast episode is a little bit different. It is absolutely unscripted, it’s an attempt at me letting go even more and planning even less and absolutely embracing imperfection. Today I am chatting with the beautiful, the kind, the lovely Megan McCaskell. She has a beautiful accent and a beautiful heart and beautiful journals to match. It was a completely spontaneous interview chat thing. It was just as I was heading off to the train station. For my mom but I hope that you create as you chat. I love Meg, I know that you are going to love her. If you don’t know anything about her. She is @megjournals on Instagram. She’s a 20 something English grad and digital marketer, and Megan’s obsessed with all things paper journaling, reading, arts and crafts. She loves to share her art journals and owns way too many notebooks, and Meg is one of those weird people who likes the smell of paper, and you’ll probably find her in an antique bookshop. I hope that you play this episode or while you create, I hope that you allow us to keep your company and I hope that you make a beautiful, beautiful mess.
Hey Meg, welcome to the podcast.
Thanks for having me at such short notice.
So, for you listening. I messaged Meg and I was just like, Hey, do you want to podcast like right now. And here we are. And so this is going to be a super casual discussion. And I’m going to find out all of Meg’s secrets and all of her creative tips and we are just going to have fun and talk about art. So Meg, maybe you can start by introducing yourself?
Sure. So, yeah, my name is Meg obviously. And I run @megjournals over on Instagram, and you might have seen me, I’m not assuming that you’re gonna have seen me. But yeah, so I kind of dabble in like art journaling, junk journaling. Recently I’ve started a sketchbook again. So yeah, I just like sharing anything creative that I do really.
And you have an adorable accent.
Yeah, Northern England.
I could not tell you the difference between all the different parts of England.
So if you want to know the north/south divide, ask someone to say ‘bath’ because if they say bath, they’re Northern. If they say bath, they’re Southern.
That kind of applies to me because I say ‘bath’ and I’m very southern.
So South, like not England anymore. Anyway, okay, so tell me what the difference is because you spoke about journaling and sketch booking and your junk journals, what is the difference for you?
Um, so for me, I think between art journaling and junk journaling, for my junk journaling, that tends to be from using a journal that is made out of like recycled or upcycled papers. Normally vintage because I quite like vintage papers. And then art journaling. I don’t know, I see that as for me, it’s less personal. It’s more sort of if I’m doing it with a quote, or like just playing around with an idea more abstract. And then pure journaling, I would say is, for me, a lot more personal. And then my sketchbook I use that more to like practice skills because I used to do like fine art and stuff, like at school and college. So that’s kind of where that part has come from really.
When you like, say you feeling creative, how do you decide which one you go into? Do you stay in the same one for a few weeks? Or how does it go?
See for me, like my hobby is I’m very, like, all or nothing. So I have my art. And I like to read and I like to write, and I tend to just seem to just go through like a season where I’ll just be completely in my junk journal, or I’ll just be completely reading books, and then in a minute I’m just completely in my sketchbook. I don’t think I’ve touched my journal in like a few weeks. I just seem to let get completely engrossed in that, and then move on to something else. That tends to be how I work.
Yeah, I mean, I’m currently completely in love with your sketchbook and I was telling you before we hit record that you inspired me to dig out my old illustration moleskin. And it actually had the date in it. It’s from 2017. So that’s quite, you know, that’s quite old. But I’ve started drawing again and they’re all terrible, but at the end of the journal, they’re not going to be terrible. And that’s kind of the point.
Yeah, I think it’s all like practice, isn’t it? Because obviously, not all the art you create, you’re going to like, but it’s through doing that, that you then make that one piece that you’re really proud of? And then that you get that joy. And you think right now I’m gonna go through like, not suffer, but it’s like you have to do that to get to that point.
Exactly. So at what point in your current sketchbook did you get to that point?
Three pages from the end. But now I’m really inspired to start the next one. So yeah. Cuz I find like, if I’m looking through it, and I don’t like the drawings, there’s normally like a concept or a technique that I like that I’ll think, oh, maybe I’ll try that again or I’ve like, learned from it and I’ll think, right? How can I practice and get better at this or try a different angle? So there’s always something you can get from it. It’s not just like, oh, that’s rubbish.
Yeah. Do you think that you – I’ve been thinking about – I actually have a journal here. And I thought about having a journal where I write down the exact techniques that I liked from other things that I was doing. So usually, it’s just a feeling that I have, oh, I really enjoy the way I used that paint on that page, but it’s like a feeling so I want to start documenting the exact things that I love. So I want to write, like, ooh, I loved that ?. Or I love this. Have you ever done something like that?
And I think for me, it was kind of ingrained in me at school because the sketchbooks that we kept at school, I wouldn’t call them a traditional sketchbook because you used to have to create your piece. And then you used to have to do like annotations and write through everything you had done for every piece, which obviously, I don’t do now, but I feel like I’m still always thinking about that, even if I’m not necessarily writing it down. So we used to, like you literally had to run through like, what techniques you’d used, who you’ve maybe been inspired by, what you were going to do to take that further.
That’s so interesting. Would you ever do that again, for yourself?
I don’t know. I guess I can see the benefit of it. Obviously, I was doing it to get the grade because if you didn’t, if you didn’t like explain the art that you were making, it was almost like there were saying it wasn’t valid, which I think is definitely not true. But yeah, I think maybe if you’re wanting to create like a series of pieces or like a bigger piece then I can see that being really helpful because we always used to have to write about what we’d done in our sketchbook because we were basically like, on the track to making a final piece that like summarised everything that we’ve been exploring in our sketchbooks.
Yeah, no pressure with that.
Um, okay, let’s talk about your art school background. I really like the idea that there was a lesson that they taught you that now you’re just like, no, not gonna do that. Were there any other lessons that you feel like don’t apply in the ‘real’ art world?
Well no, because I think it’s just – a lot of it was just very structured, which I thought for creative subject was a bit weird, but then you were being marked, so how else would they mark you? But we used to do like, for each project, you’d go on, I don’t know, Pinterest, or just online and you’d find two or three artists that you liked that we’re working, maybe somehow with the theme or what they used to do with the topic that you were working on. And then you would sort of copy that work in a way and, and sort of mesh it all together into your own interpretation, which I think definitely applies in the real art world because we’re always taking inspiration from different places, and sort of melding it together into our own little like, art bubble, I guess. Like our own personality.
Yeah, exactly. I was chatting to Johannah. And it was so interesting hearing about how she takes her real life and how she turns that into art and, and that for her is her inspiration. Tell me more about your inspiration. What makes you excited? And what gets you creating on your page?
Oh, good question. Um, I tend to feel like because I’ve been creative, like all my life, like, there’s literally pictures of me when I was like three trying to hold a pencil and draw that if I’m not doing that, then I feel like something’s missing. I don’t know, I wouldn’t say I have like specific inspiration. It’s more just like, I have a desire to make things and to maybe voice myself that way because I’m quite introverted in the real world. So for me, making art or writing is my kind of like outlet and how I express myself. And then obviously, I just use whatever I like. So I like florals and vintage and that’s just how, like my artistic voice comes across I guess.
Let’s talk about your artistic voice.
I thought I knew that I was like gonna latch on to that aren’t you? Artistic voice is a weird one because I feel like it’s kind of linked in a way to when people say I really want to like find my style, how do I how do I find that style as if there’s like a sort of trophy that we’re reaching for. And once I’ve got that, then everything will be fine. But as I’ve been like doing my sketchbooks and journals throughout the years, like when I look back, everything is so different. So I almost feel like you’re gonna have a different artistic voice for every like, season of your life – like how you’re doing get messy, where you’re exploring different themes based on maybe where you are at that point in your life. If you’re like experiencing change or you know, whatever is happening in your life. Then you’re gonna have a different voice and a different perspective that you’re coming from.
Exactly. Do you think – so you think that your voice just comes out naturally? Or do you think that you work on it actively?
I think it’s a bit of both because you do obviously have that element of like, practising and like, working with what you like. But I think if you just let go of your expectations, then it’ll shine through naturally.
Yes. I love that. I love the idea of just like letting go letting it speak for itself. And then, you know, just kind of like sitting back and seeing what it’s saying. Because it’s like your journal. It’s kind of a discussion that you’re having with your journal. You’re like talking to it and then it’s telling you things back.
Yeah, especially cuz like my sketchbook pages. I did one the other day and I don’t know why I just got my paintbrush. I just dipped into blue paint, started painting and I thought, Oh, I don’t like that. my sketchbook told me I don’t like that. So I changed the page. And I started a new one. And I thought, right I don’t like that colour palette that like, I don’t know. Yeah, it’s like having a little conversation with the sketchbook and it’s like figuring yourself out really, isn’t it? In a way, yeah.
Yeah, what was the colour palette?
I tend to find when I use warmer colours, I’m more drawn to the page. And then as soon as I start using maybe blues or purples, that’s what tends to be the sticking point. So maybe understanding what colours you like even might help you sort of make pages that maybe you’d like more in a way.
Yeah, definitely. I think that colour is a very big part of easily finding things that you like or easily finding your style. I know, I was actually thinking about it today in my journal. I was going through old journals and I was like, okay, so I have basically three colours that I use. I am petrified of colour I like, basically brown, like not brown, like old book colour.
That is mine. Yeah.
Yeah. And I would never use red like maybe lumo red and definitely no green. Like there’s so many colours that I won’t use.
Yeah, when I think of you, I think of like, pale pink, pale blue. But then that’s your artistic voice. I see something like that. And I think ‘ah, that’s Caylee’.
Those are my exact three colours.
Some people see brown and think oh, that’s Meg. Mustard yellow – that’s Meg.
Yes. I see you as you like yellow – yeah, I don’t know. So, what do you, what other ways, do you think that people could easily put themselves onto the page?
Put themselves onto the page? What do you mean?
So like, me putting dusty pink on the page, I feel like hey, that’s me. I don’t even need, you know, it could literally just be that colour. And that looks like me to me.
Oh okay, so maybe exploring what you like in terms of motifs or materials, because I know quite a lot of people, they’ll have like a signature material that they’ll use, whether it’s watercolour, whether it’s collage, obviously, that doesn’t mean you have to be restricted to that, but maybe taking the time to really learn and sort of hone your craft with one material might help to boost your confidence and think, oh, I can I can do that pretty well. That’s like my kind of thing.
Yep, I think so. I think that’s really cool. Like you were saying earlier that you really focus on one thing and you like, go all in. I’m very similar to you in that way. I was chatting to Karen and she was, we were just talking about how having a whole bunch of different influences also helps your style. And it’s so interesting how there’s so many ways to the same endpoint, right? Like, you want to find your style, focusing on one thing, and then going to the next thing over a long period of time is one way to do it. And also trying 50 things at the same time is a way to do it. But I think that the common denominator for all of this is just make more art. Hello. Very simple.
Yeah – create more, consume less almost. Yeah.
Exactly. Exactly. Tell me, how do you make sure to focus on that because you’ve got like a really nice Instagram following you know, people really like what you posting and everyone’s engaged. How do you make sure that you’re not sitting on Instagram all day.
I love that you think I don’t sit on Instagram all day? No, I’m joking.
You have a life though, right? You eat and –
Having a full time job prevents me from that yeah. It is very easy to get sucked in – I won’t lie. I think you’ve just got to be disciplined and set yourself boundaries and just like, like not say, don’t go on it because that’s just gonna fail. But, you know, set yourself a time maybe to go on it or you can set like timers on your phone that it alerts you when you’ve been on it for too long. And just know that you are getting inspiration say but you’re not getting any further with yourself. Because I like that saying, I’m paraphrasing, but it’s something like you need to be doing something now to get you where you want to be, not to get you something in the minute? I don’t know what that quote is.
I’ll have to look that up.
I’ll have to too. I know that here’s like that: Do something today that your future self will be proud of.
That might be it – something along those lines.
I’m sure there are a few of them. But I mean, it makes sense. It’s the same reason why we can’t just eat junk food every day.
Yeah, yeah. Focusing more on like, the action rather than just the inspiration. Like you were saying – a while ago, I think. The whole point of inspiration, if you don’t do anything from it, there’s no point. You’ve got to act on that. And then really see how you can explore it in your own art kind of thing.
Yes, so let’s talk about that because that’s quite – I didn’t expect it – but that was quite a controversial thing that I said I got a few people quite upset about that. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I don’t know. It’s basically my whole life. I don’t believe in inspiration. I think that the only thing that’s that is inspiration is something that leads to action. So, like when I said Meg inspired me with her sketchbook, I mean that I took her idea and I started drawing in my sketchbook, not: ooh, I felt warm and fuzzy. What do you think about inspiration?
Um, I kind of agreed with you when I when I saw you say it, because if it’s just sitting on a shelf not doing anything, then it’s not really like it’s not really fueling your like, artistic career, your, I don’t know, but you need to translate the inspiration into your artistic voice, whether it’s exploring it and thinking, no, I don’t like that or trying it and liking parts of it or even liking the whole idea of it and like running with that. I think the inspiration can work in both ways to learn what you do and don’t like, for your own art. Because yeah, I think you just got to put it into practice really.
Exactly. I like the point of seeing it and also saying no to it. That’s still doing something with it instead of just leaving it lying around, and that’s not really serving any kind of purpose.
So what are you inspired by?
Um, I really like vintage stuff. I like the vintage illustrations. Even that, like the colour palette really, that like aged book paper like you were saying or like, the muted tones – all tends to be from that kind of when you walk into the antique store that’s normally the sorts of colour palettes you might see. Yeah.
And do you find like anything in your life, that’s not necessarily art, does that find its way into your sketchbook or your journal? Your junk journal?
It does not. I mean, I do, obviously keep ephemera from like my daily life. But that goes in my junk journal normally, just because I associate that with sort of like collecting all the different random things I come across. But then I do sort of work from my sketchbook to my junk journal and vice versa. So sometimes I’ll be playing with an idea in my sketchbook and then that’ll inspire like, ah, I want to make like a junk journal spread out of that. Or maybe I’ve got some ephemera, and I might want to try doing like a different illustration style from that. And then work in my sketchbook so it kind of like, goes both ways.
I really like that. Do you have an idea book?
I don’t, no. I think all my books are essentially idea books really. They all kind of work together. I used to like the idea of having everything in one book. But I think having different purposes for different books is really handy for working different ideas out. For me anyway.
Yeah, I mean for me too. I think that that’s like my eternal struggle is wanting to segment all my different creative paths and also just wanting to have one journal for everything because I can never freakin find the one that I want to use in the moment. I don’t know about you, like do you have? Are you always able to find them?
I mean, I only ever have, how many have I got at the moment? I’ve only got three, maybe four going at the minute. So it’s not that hard to find them. But if I happen to have like, I normally carry one of them in my bag, whichever one I grab. Then if I’m out and about, and I want to do something, I’ll just do it in that particular book. I won’t stress about the fact that Oh, no, I’ve not got my sketchbook I’ll just do it on a napkin and put it in my journal or do it onto the page in my junk journal. Do you know I mean, I’m not rigid with the actual books. But yeah, I do also wish I had just one nice commonplace chunky book. But I think that’s just never going to happen for me. So rather than spending my whole art life, like, wanting to have that, like, I’ll just accept that this is the way that I work. And just just get on with it and just create really.
Exactly. Yeah, I think. Recently, I’ve also been okay with leaving some pages at the end of a journal. If it’s no longer serving me, I feel like I used to feel super guilty if I had pages left and I would want to force myself to finish it. And then it would never, I would never really be happy with it. And so now I just, you know, YOLO, whatever.
But the same applies for if you haven’t finished it, and you come back two years later or a month later, and carry on, because I know some people like don’t want to go back into like their old art. But I’ve started recently, I’ve got an old journal, and I’m just going in and like, adding to the pages and just changing them. And, and like, it’s not, I’m not sad about the fact that I won’t be able to look back on them pages because those pages are kind of serving my art now, in the way that I’m working for it kind of thing, if that makes sense.
It does. It does. I love that.
So because I heard somebody – I can’t remember who it was – and they told me that they just like, they just burn their journals. And I thought I wouldn’t want to get rid of them. But at the same time, I feel like I don’t want to maybe have them just not being looked at just collecting dust. So if I can use bits from my old journals in my new journals, like, I’ve torn pages out and rip things off, because I think I really like that. I want to use that in this journal now. And then I just do that. I’m not that precious about it.
That’s pretty freakin cool. I know ? encourages people to burn their journals. I think that there’s definitely power to it. I could not burn it. But I’ve definitely recycled journals before and I think that’s my other major dilemma is that I can never decide if I want to keep a journal or just store it in recycling.
Hmm. I guess it depends what you think you might get out of it if you do recycle it. Yeah.
I mean, I don’t really look back at my journals. I do like to scroll back in my Instagram feed and look at old things that I’ve made in photo form because I think if I look back at my old journals, then I don’t know, it’s, you know, in a journal, there might be one nice page for every six or 10 bad ones. And I’m saying bad with a quotes because, you know, no art is bad, but I don’t know, I like seeing the highlights reel, like I like going through my Instagram feed and seeing like, the best of what I’ve made to remind me, remind myself that I, that I’m not as bad as I probably think I am.
Yeah, I get that. But I think as well, like, it sort of almost seeing the bad pages is kind of motivation as well, because you’ll have probably, like, improved from that. So sometimes I look back and I say, oh, my goodness, like, that’s not good. But I can see how much better I am now and how much I’ve improved. So that’s kind of motivated me to be like: okay, well, in another two years, my art might be even better. Do you know what I mean?
When you look back, do you feel like the art still looks like you?
No. Which is lit? Well, I can, yes, um, but mostly No. Like I can, I can see that I did it. There’s bits of me in it. But sometimes like, I’ve gone through definite like style changes to sort of come to where I am now quite happy with the style that I have. But yeah, it was definitely necessary to explore all those different like, parts of my artistic style in a way to get to that point. Yeah.
Yeah absolutely. And I mean, we’re definitely going to change two years from now we’re going to look back at this and it’s going to be completely different. So what do you do now if you find like, if you create a page that you don’t like?
Turn it over. I’ve learned to just – I’ll just turn it over, there’s another page. I think that’s the only way I’ve managed to, like, after 23 years complete a sketchbook, or even a journal, because I don’t even think I have completed journals because there’s always pages at the back, I just get bored and move on to the next one. But I’m learning to accept what’s on the page. Take from it what I’ve learned, or, you know, bits that I like, and then move on. And, you know, try it again or do something else. That’s it. That’s the best way because there’s always more pages. You know, there’s no like journal police or sketchbook police coming after you saying, oh, my goodness, what have you done on this page?
Oh no, you’ll see – next time you do that I am the journal police. I’ll come knocking on your door. No. So you just turn the page? Do you go back and try and redo the pages?
Sometimes I do cover things up. And then obviously, the old ones I’ll go back and like maybe recycle them, but I’m not trying to cover them up. I’m trying to repurpose them. So I’m not covering it with something completely different, in like shame. It’s more working with it. Maybe when, you know, if you like, come back to it, after you’ve stressed about how bad it is or whatever. Coming back and like working it into something else, not not necessarily to cover it up. That’s not my aim. My aim would be how can I make this better? Well just play, explore that kind of thing.
Yeah, yeah. What do you think your biggest struggle has been with creating art and how do you overcome it?
Um, in general for me, because when I was like, in college, doing fine art, I really wanted to do that full time. I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than something creative like that. And I had a lot of pushback of don’t do that, because you’ll, you won’t get a job you, you know, there’s no point. Just don’t do it. So I went and did something practical, which I do still love. But I’m definitely that challenge of like, people seeing it as something valid because I have people in more in real life really. Like, why are you just sitting there sticking something in a book? What’s the point in that? Like, what are you getting from that? Because they’ll say like, I’m playing a video game, and I can see my progress. And for some reason they think that, that’s more progress than maybe the progress of your art, but it’s really hard to explain to someone else why you’re doing what you’re doing, sometimes, especially if they’re not very creative in any way.
Going back to your analogy about the video game you should just say like each page is a level, look how many levels I’ve done.
Yeah. I like that. Yeah.
I had someone tell me today like just say, what is the point in doing this? It’s such a weird question to me. I don’t even know how to like answer it. There’s no point just because it’s pretty and I want to.
Yeah, cuz I just feel like, I have like, it’s just part of me like I am creative. That’s just who I am. And to feel like you have to justify yourself, I’m like, Well, it’s just what I do, I just sit down and just do some collage or do some painting and relieve stress. You know, it’s, I think it’s quite good for your mental health really, or it is for mine anyway.
Definitely. I think that that’s like the number one reason why I’m not depressed at the moment. I mean, there’s also been studies done on journaling and how it’s, it’s objectively beneficial, like you and I both know, it’s, we can feel that it’s beneficial, right. But they’ve done studies where there was one study where they, people going in for a big surgery, they asked half the group to journal every day going up to the surgery. And that group was more successful, which I just find crazy. That is like that’s like a physical health benefit of journaling. And that’s not even art journaling, that’s just writing.
Yeah. So imagine what if they did on an art journal page.
Imagine if they just put a little bit of paint on one of their pages. They would have been, like, cured forever and never get sick again.
Yeah, I think it does just come back to like that, like, I just use creativity. It’s like, my, my voice for the world in a weird way. Because, like I was saying, I’m not necessarily very outspoken, but you know, especially with my Instagram, being able to share my art through that, and have that speak for me. I think is quite powerful. And like, I found a little community, and we all like sticking things in books. And yeah, it’s great. Especially as because I am literally so shy. So for me to have done all this from posting pictures, I think it’s crazy. And I think it’s really boosted my confidence as well. Like, if you asked me to do this, like, two years ago, I probably said no.
I mean, it’s the same for me. Like every single podcast interview I do. I’m petrified. Like, I’m still nervous about it. And I think journaling has taught me you know what, you just got to do it. And then it’ll be like, there’s something in it at the end. And there’s something beautiful there and you just if you just show up. If you show up once, magic happens. If you show up 10 times compounded magic happens, if you keep showing up then it’s just like an explosion of magic. And, and I’ve found that I’m able to apply that lesson from journaling to all the other areas of my life.
Yeah, I agree. I think definitely with like, it’s like, just throwing yourself maybe in the deep end and doing it. So like with me, throw myself back into my sketching and doing that, in the same way that I was like, hey, let’s podcast, I’ll throw myself into that. And just anything in life because, you know, sometimes if you don’t ask you don’t get. So yeah, if you’re nott willing to explore, you’re maybe not going to get the benefit from it. You’re just going to sit looking at something nice and thinking I wish I could do that. Because I always say like, I wish I could play the piano. And it’s a stupid thing to say really, because what’s stopping me from like going and taking piano lessons and learning to play the piano, but I sit and go Ah, I wish I could do that. But if you don’t try, then, you know, you might be a bad piano player for like a year. And then you’ll become like Mozart or something, you know?
Yeah, just one year and then you’re Mozart.
No, but like, the same with like journaling, or art in general, like, if you’re just sitting there going, like, Oh, I wish I could make I wish I could do that and say, well, what’s stopping you from having a go and trying? And you know, you might even have fun even if it’s not necessarily the outcome that you want. The joy that you’ll get from it might be far better than the finished piece. Yeah, I think the process is always far more important than the finished piece. The finished piece is, just like a bonus.
Exactly. And I think, I love there what you were saying about, like, you go into it with all these expectations. You go into it and think like, I’m going to be the next Picasso, you know, and then you come out with something even better than that.
The next Picasso Yes. I definitely think you’ve got to not lower your expectations because I do think it is good to be ambitious but be kind to yourself, I think is the message really. When you’re finding your style or working with your inspiration, just be kind and know that, you know, you’ll, you’ll get there if you want to get somewhere, but don’t go with the aim of like, you’re aiming for something in particular because I feel like you’ll always normally disappoint yourself.
Exactly. You kind of have to let go of the steering wheel a bit to let the art drive you around.
Yeah, there’s um, there’s that university that did the study on happiness and they found that happiness was, wait let me just work it out. Expectations minus what happens. So like, if you go in with low expectations, then everything is awesome.
Yeah, I saw a thing where life is, what is it? 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. So I think, especially with your art as well, like, your art is going to be 10% what you actually do, and 90% how you react to that, what you get from it, how you grow and learn from it. And how you take that to your next. Whatever you’re doing.
Exactly. I think this whole episode is just going to be us: almost getting the quote exactly right. I need to find like what that happiness exact formula is because it’s definitely not something like it’s definitely not as ambiguous as I just explained it. Yeah, so you have a real ass job and a real life. How do you fit your art into it?
Well, I work full time in the week, so mostly at weekends. But I quite like to like chill in the evenings. And even if I’m doing something else, like, I’ll have my journal with me. So then even if I’m not using it, I don’t know, I just like to have it with me. And then that kind of keeps the habit going for the times when maybe I’m feeling like, like, I have enough energy to do something. But I think, not setting myself a schedule but again, it comes back to that I’m always creative. So if I’ve gone like a week where I’ve had a really hectic week and I’ve not had a chance to decompress in my journal, then like my mind’s like, right Meg, you’ve got to take an hour or so and just sit and you know, get everything out. Do what you need to do. And then you can carry on. Because I find it such a stress reliever. Like that really calms me down.
Absolutely. I think my husband often tells me, Listen, I think you need to go to your studio. That’s his very diplomatic way of saying that I’m being a dick.
So you carry your journal around? Do you have like a little kit or how do you cart it around with you?
I’ve got a little pencil case, but I tend to just carry like a few pens that I grab and maybe a pencil and then a glue stick. I did used to carry scissors but then I had my bag searched once and that didn’t look good that I had scissors on me. Yeah, security didn’t like that one. But I tried to not go with expectations because I always used to pack for like, days out or even a trip and I’d be like right I need all these different things. And then I’d get to the trip. And I like wouldn’t use any of it. I just be journaling with like the ephemera that I found round wherever I was going, I wouldn’t actually be using what I’d brought. So now I don’t take any of like any of the excessive stuff. And I just sort of let it happen how it happens if I have time to do, I do if I don’t, I don’t. I’m not setting that like pressure or expectation on myself.
Yeah, I just. I’ve been leaving the house nowadays. And so I’ve got a little travel kit with me. And I’ve basically just got like four types of black pens in my journal. And I’m trying to figure out how you know, I don’t know there’s something like there’s something is stopping me from full on creating like I have been in my studio. I feel like I’m in like this weird in-between where I’m not quite sure what to do so what I’m tending to do is to hand letter something and maybe rough illustration of a flower. It’s just like it’s interesting how we go through these seasons where we just focus on one thing.
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, like with my sketchbook I’ll even within it, like, I’ll be doing my sketchbook and it’s like, my new thing is gouache, I think it’s pronounced. And I’m playing with that. So now everything I’m doing is in gouache. And then like, the next day, everything I’m doing is in something completely different. But yeah, I think like experimenting with different things is how you’re going to find that one thing that you do, like, and then you can push yourself with that thing. So say your black pens, you obviously must like that, like line art, illustration style. So then if you’ve just got those four pens, it’s like you can push yourself. What can I do with just these four pens?
Exactly. Like I start getting freaking bored with them and then try a new technique.
I think there’s definitely a magic to restraining yourself and in creating within constraints.
Yeah, with limited supplies, definitely. Sometimes I’ll just set myself like three colours or, like, I’ll pack and intentionally pack limited supplies or grab limited supplies for my desk. And it’s like that’s, that’s all I’m going to use. And just like seeing how far you can push the materials you’ve got. And you’ll often find that you’ll come up with ideas and ways of using it that you wouldn’t have had if you had like everything at your disposal. Because you’d have probably done something different. So like documenting different ways that you can use, like your supplies even for again, knowing what you like, what you don’t like, what combinations work for you, because something might work but you might not like it. Because yeah, I always feel like sometimes there’s a pressure to – people will be going towards an artistic style, say, and I think this is this is the way I’ve got to do it, because it’s popular because lots of people do it this way. But like being confident in the fact that, like you like a certain thing, not necessarily because it’s like trendy, I think will also give you confidence as well.
Yeah, that’s a big one. Do you feel like – do you think that that ability just comes with time? Or do you think that you’re able to nurture that even if you’re just beginning?
I think if you’re just beginning it’s probably going to be ideal because you’re not going to have a specific like, style that you’ve been working in. So you can obviously try all different things and you know, tick off Yep, I like doing that. No, I don’t like doing that. And like I wouldn’t be afraid to try anything, even if you think it’s like completely out of your comfort zone. Another quote is like it’s always like the magic happening outside your comfort zone, isn’t it?
Oh, yeah. So what are your – what would be your three tips for beginners?
Um, I would experiment. I would keep practising. And I would say, try not to get discouraged. Um, yeah.
I think that those are very good tips for even people far along in their artist journey. Right, so where can people go and find you online?
So I have my Instagram, which is @megjournals and YouTube as well. And basically, I’m just Meg Journals anywhere. So if you just type in Meg journals, I’ll probably appear so.
I’ve been loving your YouTube channel lately. I feel like you definitely need to upload more there please because I love all of it.
Yeah, I know I was doing the junk journal January uploads and then I think that just burnt me out a bit but yeah, I definitely want to get into uploading more videos.
That’s totally fair, okay one last question. Do you find like when you record your creating is that a very different experience to when you’re creating without a camera?
For me? Yes, like I, I feel – I’ve got better at it, but I feel more of a pressure. So for me what’s easier is if I record and just put like Netflix on or something, and then just try and forget about the camera and just journal as if I’m watching Netflix. Because if I try and create while talking in real time, that’s when I find myself getting really stressed out and being really aware of like, what’s going on. So knowing that I can just edit bits out and it doesn’t matter and I can just sit and watch the TV whilst I’m doing it, and then come back in later and say, like, do a little script and sound a lot more cohesive and sound like I actually know what I’m talking about when I describe what I was doing. That’s a lot better, because I just do, I do feel that pressure with creating and I mean, I even feel it posting to Instagram, really, because the post I did the other day with my sketchbook because I’ve created this little journaling place for myself. I felt so, yeah, I felt so afraid to share it because that’s not what people like were following me for. And, you know, you’ve got that big scary algorithm that’s going to punish you and stuff like that. So, but I just thought, you know, I’ll just share it. So yeah.
Yeah, that was a bit of bravery. How did everyone react?
Um, it did really well, which was really surprising. But it also gave me the confidence that maybe I can share things that aren’t necessarily journals. And that, you know, people do care about all the creative things that I do as well.
I mean, yeah, I know, I know exactly what you’re talking about, like, I have the same dialogue in my head. But as someone who’s not you and who is an outsider, I was like, hell yes, we want to see this. Why would you even ask?
Yeah, I think it can be intimidating sometimes if you’ve made I don’t know, like, I feel like I’ve made a name for myself kind of, with journals. So to have all the things, all the creative things posted, especially because I feel like my journals, I’d say they’re like, a pretty distinct style. So it’s like a sketchbook page popped up. People aren’t going to necessarily connect that to me. So it’s a bit scary to share something like a different part of me almost. So yeah.
It does make you a little bit vulnerable. But I can tell you 100% it looks exactly like you, I knew that it was yours. And I love it. I actually love it more than your other stuff even more than your other stuff. Which says a lot. But no, I’m loving this exploration of yours.
Oh, thank you.
It’s really beautiful. So thank you for chatting with me today, Meg. Thank you for saying yes when I sent you a quick message.
Thank you for having me.
It’s been such a delight chatting to you and it’s just, it’s lovely seeing what you create on Instagram. So, I’m very chuffed that I got to hear a little bit more about the way you think about these things.
I don’t know what you’re supposed to stay at the end.
Your podcast host, Caylee Grey
I’m Caylee Grey. Creator of Get Messy, official fairy freaking artmother and your pro excuse-squashing ninja.
In the Get Messy podcast I’ll be chatting to a selection of amazing, real-life humans just like you are who are dealing with the very same barriers … but overcoming them to create their art.
Together, we’ll explore what it REALLY means to be an artist. Practically. Warts and all. So that you can be an artist, today, now, even if you work a day job, have a million and one commitments and own a cat that likes sitting on your art.
No more excuses. Okay? Okay.