Throughout the hustle and bustle every day, we must remember to slow down and take in our surroundings. Illustrator Jorey Hurley discovered how important this was to her when she started her blog after she had been laid off. Every night she drew something that she noticed earlier that day, which put her more in tune with herself and the world around her. Read on for more about how that ritual lead to her journal, Extraordinary Ordinary Moments, as well as a sneak peek into the beautiful illustrations that will help us all appreciate the beautiful, the quirky, the surprising, and the overlooked:
Years ago, I found myself looking for work. It was during a recession, and I had been laid off. I was looking for freelance projects, but I’m not good at networking, and the only people I knew in my field were across the country, since we had just moved from New York to San Francisco. I was complaining about all of this to a friend, and she said something along the lines of “Why don’t you start a daily blog? Isn’t that a way to promote your work? Anyway, you’re good at doing things every day.” I took her advice. I started making a new drawing every evening after I put the kids to bed. I kept it simple and drew something I had noticed earlier that day, or I riffed on a favorite pattern or color. Then I posted it online to create an evergreen portfolio for myself. Well, my project worked! When I started drawing daily, I hadn’t yet landed even one freelance job. Now, years later, I have several published books, a steady flow of illustration and design projects, and fine art prints of my work hanging up across six continents.
Along the way, as my career grew, my drawing project changed, and that’s why I made this journal. Even after though I didn’t really need to add something fresh to my portfolio every day, I kept doing it. And even after it became difficult to justify after I’d spent the whole day drawing for a client or a book deadline, I still looked forward to it.
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I realized eventually that my love of this ritual—and it has indeed become a ritual—isn’t actually about the drawing. It’s about the noticing and the celebrating. I now go through my day collecting little moments and tucking them away for later. Maybe it’s something I saw out the car window, something I stared at while it bubbled on my stovetop, or (most likely) something I cleaned up. Any given point in a completely uneventful, ordinary day might yield up some little beauty, so long as I have the wherewithal to notice it and take the time to realize what’s great about it. It’s kind of like alchemy: Take the lead of everyday life and turn a tiny bit of it into gold. Not that there isn’t still a lot of lead, but it’s a powerful feeling to pluck out a few flecks every day. You’ve got to have your eyes peeled for a little sparkle all the time, but once you start looking, you’ll see it everywhere.
For me, the most comfortable way to really examine something that catches my fancy is to draw it, but that’s not true for everyone. Maybe you like to write or take pictures, or you meditate, scrapbook, or make song playlists. This ritual isn’t about the how—it’s about the what. There’s a lot of blank space in this book for whatever suits you. I’ve included suggestions about stuff you might start to notice, and illustrations from my own practice to get your wheels turning, although what strikes you as beautiful (or comforting, ingenious, or anything else) will be different—maybe very different. When I say “something,” you might think of someone or somewhere. A croissant eases my commute, but maybe you love seeing your neighbor on the bus. A monogrammed tote is my eternal symbol of preppy, but you might think of your alma mater. Or when my illustration is a very literal representation, you might conjure a more abstract idea; a bee flies, but so does time. And while I always carry my handbag with me, it might be an emotion or memory for you. There’s plenty of wiggle room for how you use this journal, but I recommend that you stick to the following:
- Focus on things and experiences that you have already seen or done, rather than what you want to see or do in the future.
- Choose a set time of day for your ritual. That’s kind of the nature of a ritual.
- Sweeten the experience a little. Sit somewhere comfortable and have a cup of tea or coffee or a glass of wine while you do it. You’ll look forward to it even before you get hooked on the process itself.
- Keep it quick. Goodness knows you don’t need another chore!
Enough talk. It’s time to make my ritual into your own. Get out there and start noticing the wonderful, surprising, and interesting things already all around you. Your life is beautiful.
And take an inside look at some of the journal’s pages:
Images and excerpt courtesy of Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright 2016 by Jorey Hurley.