Healthy Creativity tips for students from CCAD faculty and staff

people hiking in nature


Let’s face it, college is a challenging and often stressful time for students. Now, COVID-19 is making it even more nerve-racking. There are the myriad responsibilities and challenges of classes, work, family, and maintaining a social life while physically distant. Just as important for artists and designers is to focus on physical and mental wellness by finding the time to relax, be inspired, and create.

So if you don’t have healthy habits already, now is the time to establish solid health and wellness practices that will carry on well after graduation. Columbus College of Art & Design faculty and staff understand how important health and wellness are in a creative practice—both their students’ practices and their own practices. Here are some of their tips for being at your creative best while balancing life’s demands.

Embrace balance

“To be at their creative best, it’s not only important but incredibly necessary for students to find a balanced life,” says Jim Lutz, Professor of Advertising & Graphic Design.

julie abijanac lifting weights

“In order to have a balanced and healthy life, I exercise every day,” says Darren Lee Miller, Chair and Associate Professor, Photography. “To me, that’s about space for meditation. For mental and physical health, it’s important to carve out 30 or 45 minutes a day to focus on breathing, to get out and notice things, and to be away from a screen.

“My only piece of advice to students or anyone about how to be healthy and strike a balance between all of the intensity of work that is required to maintain a creative practice is to love yourself and believe that you are worth consideration, that you deserve rest, good food, and clean water and air.”

“For me having balance is just knowing what’s going on around me but allowing myself to enjoy life,” shares Julie Abijanac, Professor, Fine Arts.

Take steps to be healthy

“The advice I would give to students to have a healthy life is to put yourself first, Danielle Julian Norton, Professor of Fine Arts advises. “Taking care of yourself, knowing yourself, and listening to yourself. Knowing your own limits and what makes you feel safe or not safe, and trusting your gut.”

“I think if I had to give students a piece of advice on how to live a healthy life, I guess I would tell them to really look at their whole life and see what small changes that they can make for the better. That it’s not all or nothing. Just make one small change and when that works make another small change. I really try to live by that,” shares Suzanne Cotton, Chair and Professor of Fashion Design.

Laurenn McCubbin, Chair and Associate Professor of Illustration and Comics & Narrative Practice advises students, “You being healthy is important. Get lots of sleep, drink lots of water. Quit smoking. Go outside every now and again. Eat something that isn’t fried. Also, read a book.”

steven hubbard on bench with book

“The best advice I could give for some trying to have a healthy lifestyle, especially as an artist, is to avoid negativity at all costs,” advises Steve Hubbard, Associate Professor of Animation. “We love to complain as artists and it’s really easy for someone to get into that cycle of complaining. Try to stay away from negativity at all costs and fill your life with positivity.”

Get help when you need it

Provost Julie Taggart says, “The main thing that I've seen that concerns me is stress affecting students' ability to get to class or get work done or to maintain a routine that's healthy and allows them to sleep and eat right. There are a lot of resources here for students to combat stress. Stay in communication with your teachers and try to prioritize your health.”

Parting words

“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” counsels Kelly DeVore, Chair and Associate Professor of Interior Architecture & Design. “We want you to try and fail and try again, and that’s okay. That’s healthy.”

“Don’t forget the things that you do that make you happy and try to fit them into your everyday life as much as possible,” advises Jeremy Baker, Assistant Professor of Animation.

kelly devore doing yoga

To learn more about CCAD’s healthy creativity initiative, click here. Recently, CCAD President Melanie Corn and artist Ryan “Yanoe” Sarfati sat down to discuss the importance of a balanced life. View their conversation