A Chat on Living the Creative Life with Tess Guinery

A Chat on Living the Creative Life with Tess Guinery | DARLING

We first found the creative Tess Guinery how we find so many sparks of inspiration these days: we kept seeing her designs pop up in posts by Instagram leaders and friends.

We reached out to her to write a piece for The Dreamer in our recent Issue No. 18, but felt like her incredible success and fast growth of her design site deserved its own spot. So, below we introduce to you Tess on a more personal level and we hope that her unique path will enable you to recognize both the joy and opportunity available in your own.

Darling Magazine: Tell us in short the story of how you started TessGuinery.co and what it is that you do?

Tess: I was four months fresh to motherhood, romantically in love with my new bundle of baby love, an awkward fumble, hop and skip in the dark, a lot of passion, a lot of trial & error and a whole lot of guessing. I didn’t want to go back to the 9-5, the motherhood loving struck me deep and creativity was calling my name — this forced me to find another way. It wasn’t a smooth sail as I entered the freelance fall, but I’m glad I didn’t give the idea of giving up too much of a thought. What felt like a swim against the tides has lead me to these days, the days I know I’ll look back at and call the “good old days.” 

What is it that I actually do? I create. My certified piece of paper tells me I’m a graphic designer but I find myself doing all things creative for my day job: writing, styling, art direction, painting, type & logo design, branding, photography, poetry, communicating, creative teaching and travel! It’s actually a dream.

One thing I firmly believe is that there will never be a perfect time where everything aligns, the stars write a message in the sky and your world is a perfect oasis ready to take the #freelancefall into your creative dreams. My freelance fall came at the craziest time in my life. These past few months have truly proven that the sacrifice and risks eventually pay off and that you really can do what you love for a living and merge it all together to suit the things that are important to you! Go get it!

neon sign

DM: What’s your habit or pattern like day-to-day in order to constantly create content, especially as a mother?

Tess: The thing I love most about my work week is that it’s completely fluid. My week has no rules, no boundaries, no restraints; it’s mine to do what I wish with and schedule how I please, so this is how it works for us — at the beginning of every week we plan who’s working. When Caleb (my husband, who’s a stuntman) is in-between gigs, I’m full time designer. When he’s on a movie full time, then I’m full time mumma doing the crazy juggle — working some serious late nights and sneaking in some work when Peaches (our daughter) is having her day nap.

Some days I cry when it all seems too hard and other days I think to myself, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We could never say our life is boring. I LOVE the flexibility we have and I love how every week is different. I don’t know if any other mummas can relate, but the minute I had a baby my whole concept of time changed. I became proactively productive with less free time. I guess the value of time changes and you stop procrastinating and start creating. Your creative muscle learns to create on tap and on the whim. You find yourself being able to draw from it with very little prep. It’s a magical thing.

… the minute I had a baby my whole concept of time changed. I became proactively productive with less free time. I guess the value of time changes and you stop procrastinating and start creating.

DM: Do you ever feel like you are hitting a wall or running out of ideas? If so, what’s your antidote for that?

Tess: Definitely often. My surroundings are paramount to my productivity level of inspiration and ideas generating. If my studio is a mess, then my designs are disjointed and messy, too!

I’ve found that in creating a tranquil space around me it makes for more muse-ifying design results and maximizes my creative output. I try to make a point of having tangible, colourful and live elements around me when I’m working. I believe that in the creative process there is a good kind of “distraction,” such as to have yourself some good magazines close by, fresh cups of water, rocks, plants and music.

Taking 10 to distract yourself, creatively, will pay off and set you on your merry track to achieving a wonderful end result. Make creating an experience. I also make sure I see the ocean every day. I start my day at 6am — grab a coffee from my local and hang at the beach for some chill time, then clock in at 10:30am and begin a full day of design.

You gotta know what works for you and create yourself a little bit of fluid structure. Write lists, stay on top of your emails, and keep flow. This is a big one for me, as being in the back-log of a zillion emails is my downward spiral into the dark pit of disorganization and despair. When my emails aren’t tended to and piling up, everything else around me slowly follows and before I know it I’m sitting in a uninspiring virtual and cyber mess!

Everything is linked — stay on-top of the things that matter.

tess g stroller

DM: Why do you think design is important, or what draws you to design?

Tess: Design is something I’ve always been drawn to, almost like second nature. I’m heavily visual, I learn visually, I communicate visually and I do life visually, so I guess I’ve always been aesthetically aware.

My mum has very clear memories of me as a four-year-old designing the layout of my bedroom and taking photos of EVERYTHING at the age of 11 (even before social media began). I guess design is in my blood, and I like to think of the process as the process of “creation.” I feel most alive when I’m creating and most connected to God when I’m surrendered and using my hands, heart and mind to make things beautiful.

I guess that’s why I love my job so much; I literally never know which road it will take me down. It’s unknown, it’s curious, mysterious and it takes its own shape. Creativity’s wind sweeps you to wherever it wishes. I love adventure and, to me, the road of design is full of adventure. I have no place of arrival.

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DM: To sum up the brand/the person that is “Tess Guinery,” you are …

Tess: There’s this beautiful one-liner I fell in love with in biblical scripture that says, “Discover beauty in everyone.” This phrase defines everything I do. I want to discover the beauty in everyone and everything: The mundane, the morning ritual, the hibiscus tree I pass every day, the man I say hello to on the way to coffee, the logo I design for someone’s creative vision, the email I receive from a client, the places I visit, and the friends I treasure.

This is the rhythm of my heart, the skip in my step, the sum up of who I am and what I do.

Find more from Tess in our winter issue, as well as follow along her quest to spot beauty over on Instagram, where she’s currently posting with her family from South Africa!

Images via Tess Guinery

This post is brought to you by the Darling Team! To learn more about who we are, please visit our Meet Our Team page.

3 COMMENTS
  • Hannah March 10, 2017

    I feel so validated reading this!!! Especially when you describe what you do ” What is it that I actually do? I create. My certified piece of paper tells me I’m a graphic designer but I find myself doing all things creative for my day job: writing, styling, art direction, painting, type & logo design, branding, photography, poetry, communicating, creative teaching and travel! It’s actually a dream. ” I’ve wanted to launch a business for some time, but i bounce around from wanting to sell products to wanting to sell services, to wanting to teach things. Everybody says find your niche and streamline, so it is really encouraging seeing someone embrace all that they love to create, especially a momma! I have a two year old boy and am trying to figure out how to make the moving pieces work. I’m currently working on some free lance writing and photography projects, but I worked 3 years in catering, so I love to make things beautiful and find any excuse to celebrate! Great piece Darling Team!

    Hannah

    http://www.recovering-hope.blogspot.com

  • Natalie March 9, 2017

    Such an interesting interview and “Discover the beauty in everyone” is such a lovely ideal to live by!

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  • Her job sounds like a dream, and I really liked her tips for getting inspiration when out of ideas.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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