Are you creative? A Quilter's Journey to becoming an Artist

Are you creative? A Quilter's Journey to becoming an Artist

Are you creative? 

Would you call yourself a creative person? 

I hope your answer is yes, though I’ve been teaching long enough and have worked with thousands of quilters from all around the world, and a common phrase I hear is, “Oh, I’m not creative.” “I’m no artist.” “I’m a good quilter, but not super creative...”

Even if you don’t feel like you’re creative or artistic -- I promise you, you are.

There is no such thing as a non-creative person. It’s an oxymoron. To be human is to be creative. 

I want you to pause for a moment and reflect on your feelings about yourself as a creative. 

Would you describe yourself as a creative? As an artist?

Did the word artist make you tense up a bit? Does it feel way too audacious? 

Perhaps math and science were always your strong suite, so you never considered yourself artistic. Or maybe someone criticized your artwork when you were young, comparing it to someone elses or saying that you did it wrong. This is an all too common story and can be devastating.

You might be thinking, yeah, but Shannon, you haven’t seen me draw! I’ve met a lot of creative people -- I’m not creative like them...

Let me ask you this: have you ever met a non-creative child? 

I used to teach elementary, and I can tell you, I’ve never met a child who wasn’t creative-- who wasn’t an artist. Some were more hesitant than others-- but every child I’ve ever met was an artist in some way. 

So if you are with me on that, what does that tell you about adults? 

Everyone of us was once a little creative human-- a tiny artist. 

Creativity is a muscle. Some people have been using this muscle consistently since they were children, and are wildly creative adults. Some of us stopped using that muscle long ago and it has atrophied-- we think, who are we to make something original or dare call ourselves a creative person. That is for other people-- the artists. I’m not one of those people. 

Even if you haven’t used that muscle in decades, it’s still there. It may take some time to loosen up, but it is still there. The more you use that muscle, the stronger it becomes. 

I love this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic (one of my favorite books on creative living). 

“If you’re alive, you’re a creative person. You and I and everyone you know are descended from tens of thousands of years of makers. Decorators, tinkerers, storytellers, dancers, explorers, fiddlers, drummers, builders, growers, problem-solvers, and embellishers—these are our common ancestors.”

I want you to really take this in. Creativity is in your blood, it’s in your DNA, you are made of it. You have full permission to claim that, to explore it without fear of judgment, and to express it in whatever form you want. 

Your inner artist goes by some other names as well: intuition, essence, soul, the piece of divinity that lives inside of each one of us; those are some of her other faces. 

Your inner artist is just the part of your soul that holds a paintbrush, a pencil, or a sewing needle.

This doesn’t mean that you need to create quilt equivalents of the Mona Lisa -- what you actually make doesn’t really matter -- the journey to making it is the whole stinking point. 

The journey to uncovering that artist that lives inside of you will transform every other area of your life, it will open up your eyes to all the beauty and magic surrounding you, it will connect you to the creative heartbeat of our universe. 

That process is pure magic. It’s alchemical. And it’s the whole point. 

So the end result of what your quilts look like is interesting information that leads you to know how you might want to change things or what you might want to make next. 

It’s of course rewarding to make beautiful things, but the process of making them, of dipping your hand into your well of creativity to see what you pull out; of plugging into the beauty and inspiration around you -- that is what is most important. 

SO, stop trying to deny it, my dear-- you are a creative. 

You are an artist. 

Dig deep within for the audacity to claim the title. Say it outloud. Put it on a name tag and wear it.


Repeat after me: "I am creative. I am an artist. There is work to be made that only I can make."


If you're interested in exploring your own creativity and uncovering your inner artist, I think you'll LOVE Meander. We are an international group of quilters doing just that: exploring our own creativity, developing our own unique quilt-making style, mastering color, taking lots of fun and unusual workshops, and connecting with like minded quilters from all around the world! Enrollment is opening soon, so click here to learn more about Meander!

We'd love to hear from you! Do you consider yourself an artist/creative? What stood out to you the most from what we talked about here? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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I consider myself 1/2 creative. I can look at a pattern or something I see on line and make it the way it’s presented. I have the most satisfaction though in adapting the idea and “making it my own.” I love doing that with needle and thread.

Toni S.

Thank you for sharing these beautiful and encouraging sentiments!

Ellen Harris

I love this. I am an artist, a seamstress, a musician, a caterer, a designer, decorator, a teacher, and many other things. People often tell me they aren’t as creative, or could never be as creative….my response is always what you’ve written.
Thank you for sharing this. We all need encouragement to try new things, to go back and figure out the trouble spots, and to just plain get started, whether it’s fixing up a vehicle, or making a new recipe. I am far from perfect in anything, but I am happier working on something than sitting and doing nothing.

Kris Holder

I believe everyone has creativity, however, it manifests itself in different ways. To say we can all be artistic is the equivalent of someone who is a math genius saying that math is “easy”. For many it is not. Yes we can do some math, but for many of us it is challenging. Ditto for being artistic, creative, etc. I have tried every method I can find to learn to draw and my art still looks like a grade 1 did it. My creativity manifests itself in being able to do and improvise the technical side of quilting/sewing. My strength is not free motion quilting, or any kind of art sewn to items. I can copy simple things, but I do not create out of nothing very well. Believe me, I’ve tried for years. While your post is very upbeat and positive, it leaves the impression that everyone is just artistic and can somehow put art onto our work. That would cause a catastrophe for me at best! Every piece we make is from us, and therefore reflects our being, but I’ll leave the artistic creativity to those who find it easy. For me it is not. Case in point, I took a class on your book and understood immediately how to put scraps tog, however, I wanted a simple animal in black to put onto the scrap background I had made. I couldn’t draw the simple animal! I tried several times and it looked ridiculous. Loved the scrapy background and it looked great. I had to ask someone to draw it for me. This was very frustrating and I hope it helps you understand that not all of us have that ability. I would much rather spend my time doing a technique I love, rather than frustrate myself. Some of us have it and some of us don’t. Those of us who don’t can appreciate our strengths and enjoy others’ creations and creativity as inspiration.


I am a very creative person and was hoping this group would offer some techniques or classes but quite honestly I am a bit disappointed with meander. I signed up for a year in November and there really hasnt been much but zoom meetings

Suzie Parker

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