The passion that sustained me was melting away, leaving behind skills dried so deeply they had long-ago gone brittle.

The smallest winds of challenge could turn them to dust.

Thinking about what craft is, what it means to me, what my version of it looks like, what my skill set looks like, I realised it was one that barely fit together.

No, worse than that – it’s hardly a craft at all. It’s just mismatched skills. Each of which is set apart from one another, moving and not-moving, stale and more-stale.

I had nothing more than ideas picked up over a decade and tossed into a bucket I’d later treat as if it were a lucky-dip, hoping by chance that I could grasp the right option at the right time.

I love being a designer. But I have to say something that will only be understandable by those who have gone through it, and seem impossible to those who haven’t:

I haven’t got the same passion for it I once did.

On occasion it comes back. I find myself lost, looking at design pieces online, wondering how they were done, wanting to pluck out elements for myself.

But I don’t do it without break, like when I was a teenager.

My passion became my work, became my job, became boring.

All I was left with was that bucket. The one a now lost passion thew random skills and tricks into.

Then I started to think about craft.

And this brought change.

These thoughts found a drive long lost

In all this thinking about craft and what it means to me, what it means to my work, what meaning those I admire had found in it, what I had and what I wanted, I discovered something long-ago lost.

I discovered that by simply pivoting my view of my work from one fuelled by passion, to one driven by craft and mastery, I wanted to get to work.

I really wanted to get to work. I found myself stumbling through dusty ideas, trying to remember how new and interesting solutions are brought about.

I thought about this for hours.

I wondered how I could develop my aesthetic skills, my technical skills, who I could reach out to for help, how I could develop this new idea of craft, this idea that had grabbed me and shaken me and told me to wake up, to just show up on time, to move deliberately, to move slowly, I wondered what to do with all this stuff now in my head.

I washed dishes and thought about craft.

I fell asleep and thought about what that idea means.

I ate lunch and thought about what the process would be.

I read and could only think of the author’s craft.

I watched movies and thought the same.

I listened to podcasts and said “yes, me too.”

I talked to others. I watch them work. I saw them sketch and find inspiration and turn that inspiration into work that was beautiful and fun and funny and exciting. Then I begged myself to figure out how to get back that they-don’t-realise-what-they’ve-got place.

And then I breathed.

And then I heard a click.

And then I wondered what it was.
And then I heard it again.

It clicked. Whatever it is, it clicked.

Then it was different. I could see a way forward.

Thinking about how much and how long craft asks of us made me realise that I wasn’t yet hopeless. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but nor was I so lost that I couldn’t find my way.

If I were to think “I’m a passionate designer” I’d feel as if I were cheating somehow, as if I were faking it, hoping to make it.

But if I were to think “Design is my craft”, I suddenly feel empowered.

My passion might come and go without any effort on my behalf. But the mastery of my craft? That’s something that shows up when I do.

I can’t say when I’ll be passionate. I can’t say when I’ll be a master of my skills or a master of my craft.

But I can say when I’ll show up.

I can say this is my craft.

Does your work feel like your craft?