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116: Big Emotions in Creative Living with Nicola Hamilton & LeeAndra Cianci of The Scaries

Updated: Dec 14, 2023



Big emotions in creative living. It’s a big, important topic equally necessary for those who are just starting out in industry, seasoned professionals and everyone in between. In this three-part miniseries dedicated to this topic, you’ll meet four incredible women who are challenging the status quo when it comes to being vulnerable about their journeys in creative living. And while struggling with creative confidence is not something unique to women, through my own experiences and the many conversations I’ve had with others about this topic, it does seem to impact women in profound and disproportionate ways.


I have been exploring the idea of creative confidence a lot in the past eight months, starting with moderating a roundtable discussion at RGD’s DesignThinkers 2021 conference. It was here where I (ironically) nervously facilitated conversation surrounding the topic of creative confidence. I learned how prevalent and universal the feelings of self doubt and imposter syndrome are in creative living. This led me on a journey of exploration, purely for the reason it was interesting to me and this resulted in an unplanned article for the RGD, released in January 2022 entitled ‘New Year, New-Found Confidence’, which shared my experiences with this topic and what I learned through vulnerable and heart-felt discussions with individuals at DesignThinkers.


After the article was released to the RGD community I was asked if I would speak about this topic at the 2022 RGD Creative Directions conference in February. It was here that I spent a lot of time thinking about and refining not only my observations and my experiences surrounding creative confidence, but also some concrete tools and techniques to help overcome some of the roadblocks holding us back from living our most brave creative lives.


It was around the same time that a really incredible opportunity presented itself. Domestika, a digital course provider and the largest online community for creatives (think LinkedIn Learning or Masterclass, but designed specifically for creative-identifying people) reached out to me. One thing led to another and I pitched them the idea that I could create a course focussed around this topic of boosting creative confidence. The course would be anchored on tools and techniques I was developing, alongside scholarly research about this topic, the important conversations I’d been having and my own creative confidence journey.


It would be rooted in vulnerability; a sort of meta-experience whereby I was using all of these tools and techniques to help me boost my own creative confidence for teaching in a format that is so foreign to me - on camera in a studio. I was approaching this not as an expert in the topic of creative confidence, but as someone who had found ways to reframe the challenges holding them back.


They said yes to my unconventional idea and that lit a fire under me and I began really diving deep and developing exercises that I workshopped with my undergrad students about different topics in creative confidence like imposter syndrome, acknowledging what we can control in creative work (spoiler: it’s only the process and not the outcome), as well as accepting — and even inviting — Failure into the process to walk alongside us. All in the hope that I would help current and future students, as well as myself, reframe the way we approach feelings of self-doubt that inevitably arise as part of the creative process.


For anyone who follows Talk Paper Scissors on Instagram, you may have seen a lengthy survey and an ask for help on a super secret project. The cat is now officially out of the bag and thanks to a diverse range of creative superstars who helped me refine my lessons and fill in gaps that I was unable to see through my own lens (you know who you are and I’m eternally grateful for you!), I am excited to share that I just returned from New York City where I spent three days filming original content for my first Domestika course. I can’t wait to share more with you when it’s released, but all is to say that big emotions in creative living are very top of mind for me right now, which is why I’m so excited to dive into this conversation today.


The last thing I will say about this right now is that a kind of Big Magic — as in the Liz Gilbert, mystical, unexplained, brilliant happenstance that is want to occur when we’re open to the mysteries of creative living — followed me around New York City. I completely believe that the universe left a little trail of Easter eggs for me to find while I was away and communicated in my love language (books!). I will save this strange and serendipitous story for another episode.


Getting back to today’s conversation I am so excited for you to be introduced to “The Scaries”. In this first episode in a mini series all about big emotions in creative living, you’ll hear what The Scaries is all about, how it evolved and the form it takes today. You’ll hear the voices behind The Scaries: Nicola Hamilton and LeeAndra Cianci. We talk about the emotional realities of creative living (including regular feelings of self doubt) and how the duo overcame burnout through their creative practice. We dive into imposter syndrome, fear and why giving our big feelings a voice is a huge step towards making them work for us and not against us.






About Out Guests:

The Scaries is a collaboration between illustrator LeeAndra Cianci and graphic designer Nicola Hamilton. As commercial artists, our mandate is to translate our client’s visions into the tangible, to amplify their voices, and to communicate their messaging. Acting as translators, over time, can render us out of sorts with our own unique styles, processes and instincts. Combine that with the hyper-connected age we’re living in—where we’re constantly comparing ourselves to our peers—and that’s a recipe for some serious self-doubt. The Scaries is an exploration of the emotional realities of making work and the emotional turmoil the process inflicts upon us.



LeeAndra Cianci is an editorial and commercial illustrator, whose client list includes The New York Times, Nike, The Globe and Mail and Toronto Life. Her work has been internationally recognized by the Society of Publication Designers, the Society for News Design, and the Canadian National Magazine Awards. She holds a Masters of Design from NSCAD University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Mount Allison University.





Nicola Hamilton is an independent art director and designer, whose work has been internationally recognized by the D&AD, the Society of Publication Designers, and the National Magazine Awards, among others. She was an art director at Studio Wyse, deputy art director at Chatelaine and associate art director at The Grid. She's a part-time design educator, president of the Association of Registered Graphic Designers, and founder of the forthcoming Issues Magazine Shop.






Music: Feeling Fine by Ketsa, licensed with permission from the Independent Music Licensing Collective - imlcollective.uk


Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle


Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo by Alex on Unsplash

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