Follow along as Leyla Newman recounts her transition from IT to a career in graphic design! Throughout her journey, she’s discovered the value of self-expression and therapy in her art. Read further to learn her inspiring method on keeping creativity alive and how she achieves an ideal workflow with her DreamBox organizational system:
1. Tell us about your creative journey! What inspired you to pursue graphic design and card making?
My first exposure to art was through my mother. She studied at the School of Visual Arts and eventually became an art director for a large international bank. She also achieved her dream of becoming a member of the American Watercolor Society and Salmagundi Club in NYC.
My mother encouraged and nurtured my creativity from an early age. I have particularly fond memories of summers in Cape Cod, where she would lay out her artboards and tools on the kitchen table. Her magical India ink-filled pens were always my favorite. I still own some of her original pens and other tools, which makes using them today even more special.
Although I attended the School of Visual Arts studying Graphic Design/Media Communications, I didn't pursue an art career. Instead, I got a job at CompuServe, launching my career in IT. My background in graphic design led me to teach adult learners to use graphics software like Adobe Illustrator. After having my second son, I got into real estate, where I then started using my graphic design and technical skills to create logos, design websites, and marketing materials for myself and my colleagues.
It wasn't until I moved to England in 2013 that I was introduced to Stampin' Up and card making with stamped designs. I had been exploring ways that I could teach others that anyone can be creative. Stamping just seemed to be a perfect solution.
2. We’d love to hear about your craft space transformation! What did your space look like before, and what sort of challenges did you face keeping supplies organized?
Even though I was lucky enough to have a spare room to call my studio, it was hard trying to figure out ways to organize everything the way I wanted. My husband was so supportive and worked hard to make the space work for me. We tried several configurations, and even after he built cabinets in for me, it didn't solve one of the main issues.
I constantly went from one cupboard or drawer to another to grab ink pads, refills, markers, acrylic blocks, a heat gun, embossing powder, cardstock - oh my! It was crazy. After a while, I didn't want to bother anymore - I lost my mojo! I felt like I spent more time looking for stuff than actually using them.
3. How did you first hear about Create Room?
I learned about the DreamBox after I moved to the UK. I met Morag (Create Room employee) online in a local community group and since we both had the US in common we decided to meet up for lunch. She told me about her work and brought me some information and pictures of the DreamBox. We talked about how I might organize my products in the box but I just couldn’t “see” it. As we were chatting about it again one day she sent me pictures of Amy Tangerine’s DreamBox and that’s when it all started to click. I was finally able to see how I could store some of my products. But the real magic happened when I actually received the box. Everything just fell into place better than I could have imagined!
4. How did the DreamBox solve the setbacks you faced with your old space?
Sitting in front of the DreamBox itself is transformational. It's like an immersive experience. I don't know if it's because it's almost like its own self-contained space or something else, but it's just an incredible feeling. It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it themselves.
Many people say that you can't be creative if you're not messy. I can't work in a cluttered space. It drives me insane to have things spilling over a work surface or have things falling on the floor. A disorganized space only makes me feel like chaos around me and does not add any positivity to my creative process - it has the opposite effect on me. The design of the DreamBox makes it easy to keep things neatly organized and within easy reach so things don't get out of hand. It is what inspires me to create every day!
5. How has the DreamBox helped you pursue art and create room for all the things you love most?
My studio has built-in cabinets and workspaces that are standing height only. The DreamBox originally started as a place to create cards and do some illustrations in my sketchbook. Now it's become my primary workspace for just about everything. More often than not, I start my digital illustrations in a vector-based program, or even in Procreate, on my iPad and only transfer the designs when I'm ready to finalize my work. I love working at the DreamBox, so much that I never want to work anywhere else.
From the day that I got my DreamBox organized, it has ultimately improved my workflow. I don't feel myself losing stride in my creativity because I don’t have to stop to find something. Because everything is "ready to go" at any given moment, I find myself spending more time doing the things I love.
6. You’ve emphasized that art is a visual representation of your inner self. What advice do you have for our readers on expressing their inner selves through art?
While I was at the School of Visual Arts, I took some courses in Art Therapy. Creating art, even in its simplest form, is like therapy. It's an expression of your inner self - what you're feeling or thinking. It can help us cope with something we might be going through. The act of creating is an ideal space for self-reflection and exploring one's inner self. It can help you obtain self-acceptance and build confidence by developing friendships with like-minded people.
So many times, I have heard people say, "I wish I could be creative like you" or "I don't have a creative bone in my body." I believe we are all born creative. As children, we are all drawn to art and coloring, scribbling, and doodling, often to communicate something we are feeling. Explore that inner child and sit in that space once a day, every day. It is a calming and balancing place where you live in the moment as you immerse yourself in the process of creating. It will bring peace and joy to your life - something I think we need more of, especially today!
Wondering where Leyla got her beautiful crafting setup?
You can find more of Leyla's artwork and designs on her website here.