My Creative Life interview with Anika StarmerOn this creative path I’ve met and become friends with many wonderful, interesting people across the world. It’s high time I introduced you to some of them.

‘My Creative Life’ is an interview series where we get an insider view of artists and their lives from different disciplines and on different stages of their own journeys. My intention is to ask questions that are perhaps a bit different from the usual – the answers to which might spark ideas or simply reassure you as you follow your own artist path.



Today’s interview is with Anika Starmer, an artist and graphic designer I initially discovered on Instagram a few years back. I love her quirky and colourful drawings, and also the posts she shares of her two gorgeous dachshunds, Otto and Kasi! Anika’s work has steadily developed into these gorgeous patterns, created both by hand and digitally. 

Meet Anika….

{All emphasis is mine. And don’t forget you can highlight any part of the text to share it.}

The studio of Anika Starmer

Tell us a little bit about your creative work in the world {whether it’s your business or your pleasure, or both!}.

Primarily my art has been a hobby, but I’m planning to transition into selling and licensing my work in the future. For now, I enjoy sharing my work on Instagram and my blog, and getting to know other creatives online and in person.

What is your favourite thing about being an actively creative person?

I love the way I am more connected to the world in general because of my art. I pay attention to my surroundings in ways that I didn’t before I was actively creative. It’s such a wonderful gift to notice special things wherever I go.

Is there anything you wish were different? Have you learned a way to accommodate that?

The main part of my art practice that I’m changing is to work larger more often. I tend to spend a lot of time in sketchbooks because it’s convenient, but the effort to make space and time for working on big stand alone pieces has already been worth it. It’s so interesting to see how ideas change, simply by working at a different scale.

Anika Starmer

How else does your creativity express itself in your life? {Especially if you’re having a dry spell in your ‘main’ area.}

I practice what I jokingly call “creative cross training”. I enjoy working with different mediums which is usually enough to keep me interested and creating daily. I also love photography, and working with 3D materials like clay and wood when I want to branch out. Creating in a different way is a gold mine of inspiration for my main focus of drawing and painting.

Do you have any favourite resources, books or blogs around creativity you’d recommend for inspiration or support? {Including your own!}

I love Pinterest  for inspiration because of all the different kinds of images you can discover there, and the fact that you can gather images and make your own collections for inspiration.

Daisy Yellow by Tammy Garcia is a great blog about creating artwork on paper that has a ton of information about supplies and inspiration, with a supportive Facebook group where you can connect with other artists.

I love books like Playing with Surface Design by Courtney Cerruti. Some of my work happens to be in the gallery section of that book, and I love that there are so many different techniques and ideas shared in the projects Courtney put together.

Anika Starmer

What one easy and simple creative activity would you suggest to someone who feels like there’s no time for creativity in their life?

Get a small sketchbook and one pen or pencil. Keep it somewhere where you sometimes have a few minutes of free time: on your coffee table, your desk at work, next to your bed, or in your purse. Commit to yourself to take 5 or 10 minutes everyday to spend with your sketchbook. Choose something that’s fun for you: fill a page with a pattern, doodle weird creatures, do a blind contour drawing from life, etc. Before long, those few minutes a day will add up to a lovely and encouraging collection!

What’s your creative process like? Are you an all-in-one-intense-hit-then-collapse type or more of a slow and steady sort? Or something else?

I’m a little bit of both. I used to have times where I would create a lot, then the creative energy would dwindle, and I could go months and do nothing until inspiration happened to strike. This didn’t feel good, so I set out to create a daily pattern in 2012 and it was the best thing I ever did! Now I create something everyday, even if it’s just a quick doodle. Day to day I’m not always super productive on big-picture projects, but creating everyday helps keep me in the flow. As an added benefit, I never have those bad feelings about not having created for months at a time. I’ve found that it’s easier to dive into more involved projects when I’ve maintained my habit of daily creating, plus a lot of my “big” ideas come from the smaller daily creative efforts.

Anika Starmer

What does being actively creative bring to your life that you might not have expected? 

The biggest surprise I’ve gotten from creating, and more importantly, sharing my work is the community of artists I’ve connected with because of it. I’ve made some wonderful friends over the years! I first shared my art on Flickr in 2005. Now I mostly post my work on Instagram and my blog. I also like to try out new platforms, and the coolest thing happened recently on Periscope (a live broadcasting app). I’ve done a few live broadcasts on Periscope, but I also love to check out what other creatives are doing.

One day I was “hanging out” with some of my Periscope buddies on a broadcast, and by chance happened to find out that another woman in the chat was also from Maryland. Turns out she only lives 15 minutes from me which was such a crazy surprise! We’ve gotten together a couple of times already, and last time we made hand bound art journals and shared them via Periscope, so it was a full circle experience. By putting myself out there and saying hello, I’ve made friends online that have become friends in real life, which is so mind-bogglingly cool to me.


What best supports your creativity to thrive?

My knowledge of what it feels like when I don’t create for long periods of time is my best encouragement to create often. I feel worse and worse the longer I haven’t created anything. Making art is something I enjoy so much, and it can be so hard to snap out of it when months go by without some kind of creating, especially when negative emotions are part of the mix. There are many times when I don’t feel like creating, but I push myself to at least do something in my sketchbook for a few minutes. I always feel better once I get started, whether I stop after a quick doodle, or continue on as the creative energy builds.

Have you ever lost touch with your creative self for a long period, and if so how did you bring it back?

Yes, I have! I studied Graphic Design in college, and once I started working in a design studio, I had very little energy or interest to create for myself after work. My creative energy was poured into my design work, but since I was creating for others, there was a piece missing in my life. It was disheartening when my designs were changed in seemingly arbitrary ways, or thrown out all together without explanation.

Eventually I became consciously aware of my dissatisfaction with the design process. I decided to buy a new sketchbook and few black pens, just for me. I started drawing without any expectation, and I found that it was FUN. I loved the process of drawing anything I could imagine, and I loved being able to look through the sketchbook and admire what I’d created. From then on, I haven’t lost my creative self again! As I mentioned before, it took me a little while to establish a consistent habit of creating. That said, I couldn’t have gotten to where I am now if I hadn’t had the turning point where I realized that I can create for myself, make whatever I want, and above all, have fun with it!


Anika StarmerAnika is a freelance graphic designer with a commitment to a daily art practice that often focuses on surface design, although exploration of materials and subject matter plays a big part in the work she creates. When not designing or trying out new art supplies, you can find Anika walking in the woods of Maryland with her dogs, Otto and Kasi, digging in the dirt in her garden, swimming laps, or testing out recipes to find the perfect pizza crust.


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If you have any questions or comments for Anika, or have had an ahas reading her words, please do share in the comments!