Ellen Thomas
4 min readMar 31, 2021

Creative Identity

There is not much I enjoy more than hearing someone tell me about their creative pursuits, be it an insanely intricate breakfast they made at the weekend, an RPG character, a figurine collection they are painting, a custom keyboard they are building or the podcast they started. Those are all creative things, we are all creative people.

In my case, it’s a side hustle creating jewellery inspired by concrete Architecture.

I have finally put my side hustle on my LinkedIn bio, the reason it has taken me so long is that I guess I felt like it wasn’t allowed because I do two completely different things. UX design and jewellery design.

This got me thinking about creative identity and where this story I created in my head, that I can’t be both things came from?

For a lot of people creative identity starts at school, I think Brene Brown’s blue horse story from her book The Gifts of Imperfection will resonate with a lot of people. Basically, you’re at school you get asked to draw a horse (or something else) and it doesn’t look like the horse in question. Maybe it’s because it’s not anatomically correct or maybe it’s blue when it should be brown. Then you get told (not in those exact words) you’re creative, too creative, not creative.

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

I think this quote is a good summary.

“There is no such things as creative people and none creative people. Only those that use their creativity and those that don't” Brene Brown

I was one of those people that was good at drawing at school and was labelled as creative.

After that, you make a series of educational choices. I personally studied fine art and DT (Design Technology as it used to be called) at GCSE, choices that were partially made for me due to a clash of subjects and the fact that I could only take one technology subject. From this point forward it always felt like education was choosing my creative identity for me.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I remember struggling at sixth form after being told to “pick a degree”. I (like I’m sure so many others) had so many ideas that in the end due to being unable to choose I went to do an art foundation course at college. I figured that way I could try a whole year of making stuff before I had to make my mind up. I eventually chose a BA in 3D design that lent towards hands-on making but I was really torn between that and set/costume design.

So then it began “So you’re a product designer right?”

Then when I moved into UX design it became “So you're a UX designer right?”

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

I’ve always really struggled with this, I didn’t want to be put in a box then and I still don’t want to be put in a box now.

To bring it back to where I started, this is why I’ve been reluctant to use my professional network to share my business. Which makes no sense because it’s a business and it belongs on LinkedIn. So until LinkedIn permits dual identities here I am a creative person who likes to make stuff.

Since I graduated in 2010 I’ve made/designed milk stools, lighting, products, immersive installations, jewellery, architectural models, the moon (see images for reference), a series of LED light communications for a printer, apps, websites and voice interactions.

A Distant View III London, 2017 United Visual Artists
A Distant View III — United Visual Artists

I know that makes it hard to summarise what I do but I’m ok with that. I like learning new things, I like new challenges and I’m not done with trying new stuff.

I am a UX designer, a jewellery designer, a founder, a content creator, and a whole load of other things! But deep down I still feel like I’m a person who likes to make things.

I would encourage you whoever you are to think of yourself as a creative person, creativity takes so many forms and I would love to hear about what creative pursuits bring you joy.

If you want to be spammed with pictures of concrete or you see a building and think of me you can find me on Instagram @adornmentarchive and the Jewellery website here.

Thanks for reading


Ellen Thomas

UX Designer at Zebra Technologies. Design geek, pattern lover and Northern girl living in London, who believes design has the power to make the world better.