Artist Spotlight

How Kristin Tweedale Finds Creative Inspiration Through Community

Kristin is a feminist scrapbooker, writer, and podcaster living in East Lansing, Michigan. Originally from the NYC suburbs, you’ll often find her perfecting her pizza recipe, or checking on the heirloom tomatoes in the garden. You can listen to her every Monday morning on the Crafty Ass Female podcast, or let her drop into your inbox with her rukristin’s love notes newsletter with hot tips on being a badass creative soul.

How do you live a creative life?

There are so many honest and authentic ways that I could answer this. But I think the best way for me to answer it would be to say, I wake up each day and I try a little to be a little bit more creative than I was the day before.

Sometimes that means I have to work a little bit harder, sometimes that means I have to work a little bit smarter. Once in a while, it means I have to throw everything out and start all over again (I have a truly love/hate relationship with this part).

Part of living a creative life for me is to be a whole body creative. I’m creative when I’m in my studio at my standing desk. I’m creative when I’m sitting at my laptop and writing. I’m creative when I’m in the kitchen making something amazing to eat.

A big part of my life is dealing with two overlapping neurological disorders that cause daily headaches. So when I’m trying to live a creative life, I’m forced to live within these boundaries. I have spent a lot of time finding ways to make this work for my creative process.

There are days where I need to be kinder to myself because I know that I’m not going to be functioning at 100%. So the more that I can make creativity a part of my entire life, and allow myself the rest that I need, the easier it is for everything else in life to fall into place.

Why do you love art journaling?

Art journaling gives me permission to throw all of the “rules” out – both for journaling and art.  Not that I’m a big believer in rules to begin with, but for some reason sitting down to start an art journaling project makes me feel unencumbered.

Do you put your life into your art journal? Or is it focused on technique?

My life is in all of my art journals. Most of my art journals are very scrapbook-based. But I also love playing around with techniques. I’ve been scrapbooking for more than 15 years, and I’ve got scrapbooks in every size. But the thing is, when most people look at a lot of the stuff that I’ve created, they’re like, ‘that’s not scrapbooking?!’ and I’m like, ‘umm, it’s pictures of me and my stories in a book with pretty paper, so of course it is’.

That’s not to say I don’t love taking a class or two to learn some new techniques so that I can incorporate them in my scrapbooks. I also really love creating DIY mini scrapbooks (like the one in my tutorial) so that I can practice techniques as well. It’s a great excuse to make another scrapbook.

Describe your art journaling process?

Open up a journaling book.  Stare at the blank page for an indeterminate amount of time.  Tell myself that there is no right or wrong way to do this.  Paint/Mist/Stamp/Create a background.  I usually don’t start with any specific idea.

What is your biggest barrier to creating?

Honestly? PMS related self-doubt. Most of the time, I’m pretty good when it comes to creating. I’ve got a morning routine down that’s helped me with my overall creating jitters. I wake up and I create in a small notebook — a two-page spread, each morning — before moving on to other tasks. It has made my creative productivity and efficiency go through the roof.

How do you get over that hurdle?

For the actual PMS related self-doubt, I keep a calendar. I write down that these are the 203 days that I’m not going to feel very good and creative about my art and I let myself be okay with that. During that time, I will create from step-by-step tutorials, watch videos, or skip out on most of my creating completely and give my creative muscles a rest. I know I’ll get my groove back.

What has been your biggest lesson when it comes to creating art?

Just start. It might wind up completely different from what you imagined and that might be amazing. It could also wind up being exactly as you thought it out in your head and that could be even more incredible. But you’ll have absolutely no idea until you get started.

And even more, the fun part isn’t finishing, it’s actually making the art that gets you there. So getting started is just getting started.

You are known as a feminist scrapbooker – can you tell us more about what that means?

Traditionally, scrapbooking has been relegated to the “momosphere.”  It was a thing that you did with pictures of your kids at their birthday parties, sporting events, and life milestones.  Scrapbooking existed for the benefit of others.  That’s all well and good (truly), but there are many women with many diverse experiences.  Calling myself a feminist scrapbooker means that I believe that all women’s stories should be told, not just the ones that fit the traditional scrapbooking mold.  So much of what I write and believe is encouraging women to tell their own story, and perhaps even more important to learn why and how that story matters.  In doing that, you will improve on telling other people’s stories as well.

What are some practical ways that art journalers can be feminist in what they make?

Be authentic to yourself. Create without fear of judgement or norms.  As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

Elaborate on the power of telling your story?

You are the best person to tell your story. You know things about your life and your experiences that no one else could ever know. Being able to do something that no one else can do is a super powerful thing.

✨ Free class for creatives ✨

In How to Start Art Journaling, we’ll walk you through the art of art journaling, including how to start doing (🙌) and make your very first art journal page (even if you’ve never even opened an art journal before).

What is your favourite art journal page you’ve ever made? Why is it your favourite?

I don’t know if I have a favorite page. But I do have a favorite album. I made a DIY binder ring album of a solo-travel trip to Chicago. The pages were made out of photos, memorabilia, and some of my favorite paper bits. It’s my favorite because I stuck as much story and as many photos as I possibly could into this very cool mini scrapbook album.

I made it about seven years ago, and it is still my favorite album today. I take it out as often as I can and flip through it. It’s got some really nifty little hidden pockets and other cool constructed elements throughout.

What are your must-have supplies? What is your journal of choice?

Anything spiral bound with thick, sturdy paper.  I need stamps and waterproof Staz-On ink, colorants of some kind like markers or watercolors or other ink.

Have you ever actively disliked a page you’ve made? What did you do with it?

Constantly? Like literally all the time. Here are several things I have done:

  • Left it alone, because I didn’t care anymore
  • Tore it out and threw it away
  • Made it better with art + creativity
  • Ripped it apart/burned it
  • Tore it out and turned that into other art

Have you ever been through artist block? What did you do to overcome it?

Yes! Of course. It’s a normal part of the creative process. I think that there are a bunch of things that you can do to get through it and depending on the type of person you are, some will work better than others.

My personal favorite things to do are to brainstorm and to play video games to clear my head. But I’ve got lots more awesome advice in this episode of my podcast Crafty Ass Female: Crafter’s Block + Creative Ruts.

Considering this is how I feel every time I get started….sometimes I just power through and make things.  Sometimes I really don’t like what I make, and that’s great!  I don’t feel pressure to love everything I make or make it perfect the first time.  There will always be another canvas, another journaling page or another piece of paper for me to try again.

What’s the best art advice you’ve ever received?

You are an artist. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

What tips do you have for beginners?

You don’t need anything to get started – there are no prerequisites.  Start buying fun supplies one thing at a time.  Learn how to use them and practice.  Doodle, create tests and don’t feel like everything you create needs to be a masterpiece.  Then find a cool new thing and try it.  Layer your competencies until you’ve created your own unique style.

What does community do for your creating?

I think community is essential for creating. Without community, you can’t bounce ideas off each other. Ideas have no place to originate in the first place.

One of my favorite ways to be inspired is to find a common starting point and see the different iterations of different people as they were all inspired by that same starting point. Communities and creating based off of prompts/tutorials inside of communities offer that exact inspiration.

I love that you get to learn more about everyone as a person and as an artist. You can see how their personhood informs their art and how their art informs their personhood. It’s a deeper connection to both people and their art.

Who would you like to celebrate in the Get Messy community?

I would love to celebrate some of my favorite ladies who have been around here with me for a while. Katie Smith and Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd. Two ladies who both share their lives and their souls through their art, their crafts, (and their scrapbooks).

How do you tell your story through art journaling?

I tend to think of it more in this way – anything I create is a part of my story.  I use art journaling as a reflection of my current feelings or mood.  For me, art journaling is a very ‘meta’ way of telling my story.  I call it that because it is often indirect…it’s a reflection of my story.  Looking at one of my art journaling pages isn’t going to tell you a lot of my story, but in the context of everything else I create it fits in perfectly.

Kristin Tweedale

Kristin is a feminist scrapbooker, writer, and podcaster living in East Lansing, Michigan. Originally from the NYC suburbs, you’ll often find her perfecting her pizza recipe, or checking on the heirloom tomatoes in the garden. You can listen to her every Monday morning on the Crafty Ass Female podcast, or let her drop into your inbox with her rukristin’s love notes newsletter with hot tips on being a badass creative soul.

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