When we’re creating we are the closest to the best versions of ourselves. We feel the most alive.—Ekaterina Popova
Ekaterina Popova is a painter and the founder of Create! magazine – an digital and print publication for artists, makers, and creative entrepreneurs. Her art has been featured in multiple publications including Stuido Visit Magazine, the cover of Ivory Tower Journal as well as on Creative Boom and The Jealous Curator. She lives with her boyfriend in Wilmington, DE.
What time do you get up?
I usually get up between 5-7 a.m.
What time do you go to sleep?
Is your creative work your full-time job?
Yes, I spend my time painting and working on Create! Magazine.
Do you wait for inspiration before you begin or do you begin regardless of inspiration?
I have to work everyday no matter what I feel like. I usually switch tasks based on my state of mind, unless there is a pending deadline and I have no other choice.
How many hours a day, on average, do you do your creative work?
It varies, but I try to dedicate at least 1-3 hours to creative work such as sketching or painting. I spend the rest of the time on research and professional work.
At what point are you done for the day?
I usually take a break in the evening and spend time with my boyfriend reading and listening to music.
Do you work primarily in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
I love working in the mornings and evenings. The afternoons are not the most productive time of day for me, so I usually run errands or exercise.
Do you have a daily routine for your creative work?
I try to be more disciplined with my schedule, but I usually just make sure I spend a few hours doing creative work whether it is in the morning or late at night. When I had a day job I would get up extra early and do watercolor sketches before my shift. These days I switch between working on my magazine or painting during the week.
How does it start?
I always start the day with coffee and reading inspirational material or meditating. Once I complete my morning routine I head to my studio and put on some music or a podcast and get to work. Some days I just sketch or paint whatever comes to mind and other days I have to spend hours on a project or get ready for an exhibition.
How does it end?
If I am in the zone it usually ends at lunch or dinner time. I set alarms if I have other responsibilities or meetings that day to keep me on task.
How has your creative process changed over the years?
This is my first full year of doing creative work full time. Before that I had to be disciplined enough to get up early and stay up late to get any painting or magazine work done. These days I still have to practice self control with my time, but my schedule is definitely a lot more flexible.
Do you have a dedicated work space?
I work from home but have a separate studio room.
If yes, do you have anything in your work space to encourage creativity?
I have a few art books in there as little reminders of my heroes. I am slowly bringing in more calming and inspiring items such as essential oil diffusers and crystals to clear the energy. The main thing for me is to have good lighting and music.
How do you stay focused in a world of the internet, social media, interruptions, and other distractions?
It is a constant struggle especially since my magazine is mostly online. I have to shut things off and put my phone away when I am painting, otherwise I will get sucked into a black hole of e-mails. I am not the best person to ask this question as it is one of my biggest struggles. It’s a constant battle between discovering amazing opportunities and connections online and wasting hours of what could be studio time.
How do you maintain your creative energy?
Running, eating healthy, taking breaks are all super important to me. I am a huge fan of naps and meditation as well. I start most mornings with a quick prayer or meditation to set a positive tone for the day. In general, I find that travel, even locally, is the best cure for any block. A change of scenery will always get my creative juices flowing.
What other activities do you engage in to encourage your creativity outside of your creative work time?
I read for at least 30 minutes everyday and run a few days a week. I also found that meeting up with creative people once a week keeps me fresh and inspired. It’s really easy to get caught up in your own head when you spend so much time alone with your work
The deeper stuff...To listen to the conversation with Ekaterina on The Creativity Habit podcast:
Every Monday a new interview.Conversations about art, creativity, and courage.