Talent Isn't Everything: The Underrated Joy of Creating for Fun

Creating outside the realm of expectations is incredibly liberating.

Talent Isn't Everything: The Underrated Joy of Creating for Fun
An open hand covered with vibrant, multi-colored paint, displaying a blend of red, blue, yellow, and green hues with swirls and marbling effects against a blurred blue background.
Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

As designers, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle of monetising our skills.

We pour immense energy into promoting our abilities, securing paid client work, and proving our worth in a competitive industry. But in the quest to build our careers, it's also important we don't lose sight of what drew us to design in the first place: the pure, simple joy of creating visuals just for the sake of it.

Before the clients and the pressure to build an image, all that mattered was the excitement of bringing our visual ideas to life. Remember doodling for hours as a kid? Making handmade birthday cards for friends? Crafting characters and worlds from scratch? As beginners, we designed out of sheer delight, with no thought of profit.

While professional incentives motivate us to strengthen our skills, it's crucial that we also tap into that intrinsic creative drive. Carving out time to design solely for ourselves, on our own terms, keeps our passions fuelled and inspires our best client work. Once in a while, let's unplug from external pressures and create for no reason but the joy of designing.

Talent isn't everything—by regularly reconnecting with the wide-eyed excitement of a beginner, we can become even better designers.

The Satisfaction of Intrinsic Motivation

When we take on client work, the motivation is often extrinsic—we do it for the money, praise, exposure, or other external rewards it will bring. Of course, those incentives are important for sustaining ourselves as working designers. However, research shows that intrinsic motivation (engaging in an activity simply because it's enjoyable and satisfying) is vital for our long-term creativity and well-being.

"Creating something just for the pure personal joy of it taps into that intrinsic drive."

Without worrying about deliverables or deadlines, we can design solely to indulge our own creative spirit. The satisfaction comes from within, not from any outside outcome. We get to work on our own terms, at our own pace, and follow our visual passions.

When we maintain space in our lives for this mode of creating, it helps fuel and sustain our inspiration. The delight of bringing quirky ideas to life recharges our creative batteries for client work. We prevent burnout by balancing external obligations with our internal passions.

So don't underestimate the power of making time to design just for you. Let your visual imagination run free. Sketch or compose whatever captivates you in the moment. While professional rewards have their place, it's the intrinsic joy of designing that drives our deepest creative fulfilment.

Unplug from External Pressures

As working designers, a lot of what we do is subject to external pressures, such as managing client expectations, creating a "brand" that people will judge, and gaining likes and follows to demonstrate our value. While those professional obligations have value, they can also bog us down and stifle creativity.

That's why it's so important to unplug from the pressures and design for no one but yourself sometimes. No clients to please, no social media validation to chase—just you and your creative vision. You get to let your mind wander freely, visualising whatever truly excites you with no filter.

"Creating outside the realm of expectations is incredibly liberating."

Without worrying about audience appeal or marketability, you can tap into visual passions and experimental urges you might normally suppress. Follow curiosity down new creative rabbit holes, make gloriously messy designs, and flex your skills in ways you don't often get to.

Creating outside the realm of expectations is incredibly liberating. You might surprise yourself with ideas you absolutely love but never would have pursued for a client. The work may not generate money directly, but it nourishes your creative spirit in invaluable ways.

So don't underestimate the power of unplugging periodically to design just for you. With no rules or pressures distorting the process, you can refocus on making your most authentic visual work.

Sparks New Inspiration

Over time, even the work we're passionate about can start to feel monotonous. Client projects begin blending together, we fall into repetitive ruts, and that sense of fresh inspiration fades.

Creating just for the joy of it re-sparks our visual creativity! Without business objectives constraining us, we're free to experiment and explore as we please.

Challenge yourself with new mediums like 3D modelling or generative art. Style experiments by designing with unusual colour palettes or layouts. Visualise creatures from your imagination or futuristic worlds. The possibilities are endless!

Not every idea will pan out, but even creative detours get your mind whirring in new ways. And when we step back into client work, we bring renewed energy and visual techniques we can apply with fresh vision.

So if you feel visually uninspired, take a break to create and design just for you. Nourish your mind with the freedom to make new mistakes and follow random creative tangents. You’ll return with renewed passion and perspective.

Fosters Visual Play and Resourcefulness

When working for clients, we often rely on fancy design tools and software to execute our visions. However, limitations can spark invaluable creativity and resourceful thinking.

When you're designing just for fun, you may not have access to expensive programmes and technology. This constraint pushes you to be more resourceful—raid your recycling bin for materials, use everyday objects as makeshift tools, or repurpose found items into art supplies.

Allowing yourself to play unencumbered by expectations of perfection also bolsters your imagination. You can let loose, make gloriously messy designs, and take creative risks without fear of judgement.

Experimenting with what you have builds confidence in your ability to create something from nothing. And that resourcefulness translates to professional work by enhancing your problem-solving abilities when challenges arise.

So embrace the joy of working scrappily!

"Let go of perfectionist tendencies, improvise with what's on hand, and tap into free-flowing creativity."

The resourcefulness you build will serve you for a lifetime.


While we all need to make a living, regularly carve out time for designing simply for the joy and intrinsic motivation. Client work will always be there, but your inner creative spirit needs nourishment too.

Let go of external pressures and reconnect with the wide-eyed excitement you felt as a beginner. Design to indulge your imagination, not just to please others. Follow experimental urges without left-brain judgement.

Immerse yourself in visual play, take the pressure off perfection, and improvise with everyday materials. Nourish your mind with the excitement of bringing visual ideas to life.

Staying grounded in doing what you love fuels inspiration that elevates your client's work. Never lose touch with the core passion that makes you a designer. Keep discovering, learning, and tapping into childlike wonder through designing for its own beautiful sake.

You'll build resourcefulness and creative resilience that last a lifetime. So make time for yourself and your vision. The pure joy of designing is what it's all about.