Sometimes, people correlate “real” art with doing things in a time-consuming way. I disagree with this philosophy and rejoice in “creative hacks”: shortcuts that help you to achieve the effects you want with less time and less trouble! Today, I’d like to show you eight of my favorite creative hacks. Hopefully you can employ at least a couple of these for your next project. After all, the easier a project is, the more likely you are to take it on!
1. Use a Pencil Sharpener to Make a Nice Chalk Tip
If you have incorporated chalkboards into your home décor, you probably want to outfit them with artistic lettering and illustrations. Unfortunately, that’s difficult to achieve with the blunt ends of chalk. What’s an artist to do? Sharpen the chalk!
Buy a cheapie sharpener at the store that has two holes: one small and one large-ish. Once you get home, you can put the chalk in the larger hole in order to sharpen it. The sharpened tip will allow you to draw precise lines and maintain control over your strokes!
2. Use a Lightbox and Notebook Paper to Write in Cards
No matter how hard you try, it’s fairly impossible to freehand write perfectly straight messages in cards. My lettering always creeps upward or slopes downward! If you have the same problem, try putting your card against a piece of notebook paper on a light box. You’ll be able to write a perfectly straight message every time without having to draw any pencil guidelines!
3. Keep a Pencil Shavings Container and a Simple Sharpener
Closed-container pencil sharpeners are neat and tidy, but they fill up with shavings very quickly. This can make them difficult to use because you can’t see what you’re doing! For that reason, I keep my no-frills sharpener in a little tupperware container. I hold the sharpener over the container as I sharpen my pencils, and the shavings fall into the container. When the container gets too full, I empty it!
4. Keep Your Favorite Lettering/Calligraphy Exemplars at Hand
Day after day, you’re pelted with information coming from your phone, your computer, the television, and other people. Considering the volume of things we have to remember, it’s a miracle that we retain anything! So — you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t remember every character of your favorite calligraphy or lettering alphabets. Make (or print) exemplars of the alphabets you like to use, and keep them close! That way, when you’re ready to letter on an envelope or a bullet journal, you have an exemplar ready to reference.
5. Invest in a Paper Cutter
For a long time, I refused to purchase a paper cutter because — well, why spend $50 (or whatever) on a paper cutter when I had a perfectly good $5 set of scissors that could get the job done? After I bought my paper cutter, though, I found myself using it for everything! Shipping labels, cards, invitations, artwork to hang in my home, mats for DIY framing … my paper cutter has more than paid for itself. It makes super clean, quick cuts that scissors just can’t live up to.
6. Repurpose an Old Book into a Sketchbook
I love sketchbook journals, and I think that they can benefit anyone! You can try out new art and lettering techniques in a sketchbook, explore thoughts, and glue down mementos. While you could invest in a blank book that’s specifically intended for art, the truth is that you can make a sketchbook out of anything. Keep an eye out at thrift stores for a book that has a size you appreciate, or just pull one off of the shelf at home! It doesn’t really matter what the book is about: you’ll cover its pages with color, illustrations, lettering, and decoupaged graphics anyway.
7. Make Your Own Envelopes
Envelopes are cheap, so this creative hack won’t necessarily save you money. It will, however, pave the way for some pretty amazing mail art! Any time you come across a piece of paper that appeals to you, save it. When you’ve got the time and the motivation, you can use that paper to make an envelope! You can find all sizes of different envelope templates in The Letter Writer’s Complete Resource.
8. Scour Thrift Stores and Garage Sales for Art Supplies
Art supplies tend to be expensive, but take heart! There are many people who decide to take up artistic endeavors, then they let their aspirations fall by the wayside. Those people usually end up donating their supplies to a thrift shop or selling them at garage sales. My mom was an avid garage-saler when I was little, which meant that all of my art supplies were second hand — and I still have and use some of them, from sketchbooks to watercolor palettes to brushes and colored pencils! Having access to a lot of tools, regardless of their quality, encouraged me to experiment.
So, there you have it: my eight favorite “creative hacks”! I’m curious to hear from you: what creative hacks do you have up your sleeve? Everyone has tips and tricks that make art creation easier, neater, or more enjoyable! I’d love to hear your input in the comments — I’m always looking for new ideas. 🙂
Thanks very much for reading TPK, and I hope that you are enjoying your October to the fullest!