Shauna Sieger on designing what anxiety feels like and fostering creativity in a connected world.
In a world where we put our best cheese boards forward and choose to show highlight reels on Instagram, Communications Designer Shauna Sieger took a bold approach when starting to share her creative work online. Melbourne communications designer, creative and friend Shauna Sieger’s work explores a creative life peppered with an all too common feeling, anxiety.
Anxiety can be a difficult experience to verbalise and communicate. The word is often overused in scenarios. So when Shauna started sharing her designs to communicate what her anxiety felt like on Instagram, it resonated heavily with the many people who live a life managing anxiety.
For those who do suffer some form of anxiety, it’s rarely going to just disappear so talking about it with others and sharing tools and techniques is useful. We also live in a society where mental health is still stigmatised so being open about mental health on social media can be daunting, but the rewards are immense.
Connecting with others who have similar experiences, showing someone they are not alone and normalising open discussions about anxiety (and depression) is how we will move forward to having a healthier society. It’s one of the ways social media can be a force for good.
Speaking to Shauna on using design to express herself and her mental health, it’s clear she values her connections with those online and uses those connections as a tool for her creativity.
You’ve recently started sharing more of your personal work conveying the thoughts and feelings of anxiety which resonates strongly with myself and others who live life managing anxiety. Can you take us through how creating and publishing this work helps you?
The content I produce is driven from my desire to understand and normalise my own mental health. This is turn has has served as quite a therapeutic process for me. For many years I fought with the notion that I’m not ‘normal’ or that no one else gets it.
It was only until I started talking about it and having conversations with my close friends and family was I able to feel ok.
Letting my walls down and gave me the courage to talk about my thoughts and feelings. So I took it in my stride to use my platform on social media to lay it all out, thoughts, feelings and fear. In turn the work I have published on mental health was received strongly, which is a rewarding feeling. Not only am I feeling free to express my inner demons but I am also communicating to whoever may be experiencing these thoughts that we are ok.
When you’re experiencing anxiety, do you visualise it in the same ways you’re using visual design to communicate?
To be honest when I am in the state of ‘worry’ and/or OCD thoughts the only thing that is in my mind is the present thoughts. This can be a struggle to see a creative link personally, at thus point in time. In saying that the best way for me to convey my experiences is through verbal and written content. From that I reflect and take what I have experienced and create design from it.
Has there been times where you get anxious when publishing your work?
Not at all, to me it’s quite liberating. I really want to create a safe space with the work I publish, breaking down the walls of mental health through visual communication. If anything I feel strongly connected to publishing my experiences.
That’s a really positive use of social media. And when you are feeling anxious, how do you overcome those feelings? Any specific practises?
Self-talk is the biggest and most important element of my inner conscious. Taking care of myself, and reassuring that I am ok ~ this will pass. Listening to music has always catered to calming my intrusive thoughts too ~ especially jazz music of late.
Where does your inspiration for your personal work come from?
A lot of my personal work comes from experiences and/or feelings. This is driven by the need to let things flow from my mind and onto paper.
I am very much driven by minimal aesthetic which I strive to, trying to avoid unnecessary complications. I prefer to lead with simplicity then overachieving something and not accomplishing it. Studying design for nearly two years now, I am still challenging myself. I’m learning so much about the industry and my own skills. This has come with a lot of practice and I am still trying to learn how to harness it.
Do you feel being active on social media hinders or fosters you creativity?
Social media and more importantly Instagram, which is my chosen platform for publishing my work, can be restricting at times. On one hand it’s a great platform to connect with others and show your work (for free). On the other hand it’s restricting with video elements and you can lose pixel quality on images. Being a designer that can be frustrating at times. Ultimately though social media has been very much progressed my skill as a designer and has given me many opportunities I would never have received if I wasn’t active online.
Can you share any creative practises you have?
Experiment, get out of our comfort zone and keep trying new ways of creating. It doesn’t necessarily have to be digital. You can paint, make things with your hands, tweak it and do it again. That’s the beauty of the creative process - you never know where you will end up.
And what are you currently reading?
Factfullness by Hans Rosling.
If you are struggling with anxiety or feeling down there is lots of useful information available from Beyond Blue.You can get free support, advice and action from someone at 1300 224 636.