Why “self-lifting”? Because I really couldn’t think of what else to call it.

Scraplifting was the phrase used when you copied someone’s scrapbook page layout for inspiration. “Card lifting” might be appropriate if you do the same for handmade cards, but in my mind it sounds like someone swiped my Visa, so it might not be the most pleasant connotation. Plus this goes for all kinds of creative projects, from scrapbooking to cardmaking to knitting or mixed-media or painting or writing.

So, for now let’s call it self-lifting. Until we have a better word.

Basically, self-lifting is copying from yourself—lifting ideas from your own past work. It’s mining your own creative experiences.

We’re encouraged to turn to magazines, how-to books and the Black Hole that is Pinterest for ideas. Those are great places to go and I regularly do a quick online search when I’m stuck for a technique. But when it comes to instant inspiration, I often find my best ideas come from a bit closer to home.

If I’m stuck, I look back on things I’ve made in the past. Sometimes I love the project. Sometimes I see—very clearly—what I don’t like. (Or what makes me cringe.)

But more frequently, I see ways I can take the bones of that project and give it a twist by using new materials or taking an easier approach. Sometimes a design I made 5 years ago suddenly has new potential, simply by substituting new products or an updated version of an old favorite. Often, I’ve graduated to a different or new take on a technique. For example, I always used to edge my paper with black inkpad, Now I use a cosmetic wedge and Plumeria Chalk ink. Wouldn’t that be fun to try on an old Sara-style card and see what it might look like?

Maybe it’s because there’s a sense of the familiar, along with the benefit of seeing something fresh after a period of time. When I work, I’m eyeballs-to-the-paper throughout the creating process. It’s only after I take a break from the project that I can look at the piece more objectively. Looking back through your older work can be a great reminder of those projects you made that made you proud. Some pieces bring back fond memories or remind you about a favorite supply or a technique you haven’t done for awhile.

Of course, it’s also fun to see how your style changes and stays the same. Even if you learn and grow and change dramatically, you’ll usually find elements that are super-true to who you are as an artist.

My process is to take a quick photo of cards I make before I send them off, and artwork that I give away. Of course I also have to take pictures of projects I teach or design for magazines. I usually store all of the digital photos in folders on my computer so I can flip through them without having to dig out stacks of magazines or printed pictures. You could also print out your photos—just on a home printer—and store them in an art journal or notebook.

Sara Naumann blog creativity Monday

I keep digital photos of past projects in files on my computer for quick access.

So before you send out that next card or gift that handmade project to someone, take a quick photo and file it under “inspiration”. I’m guessing you’ll find a lot of inspiration in your own collection of work.

Happy Monday!