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Sustainable creative practice


Image attribution: koldunova_anna, Adobe Stock

This page contains a reflective activity you can do at any time. The table below suggests ways to think about your creative practice. It outlines how you can support and inspire your work no matter what style or mediums you use. This activity can be applied to any creative arts or design practices.

Remember that 'sustainable' means being able to do something for a long time. In this context, sustainable creative practice means developing methods and processes that help you to keep making creative work, while developing your skills and forging relationships and communities to help others develop their practices too. Aspects of creative practice can link to many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) including:

  • Goal 3. Good health and wellbeing
  • Goal 4. Quality education
  • Goal 8. Decent work and economic growth
  • Goal 11. Sustainable cities and communities


Visit these resources to learn why the arts are important for the SDGs:

Arts guiding the way to the SDGs

Arts and the SDGs

Why arts and culture are important for the global goals

What art can do for the UN Sustainable Development Goals


Reflective activity

You might recognise yourself at one of the stages shown in the table rows, such as 'Introductory practice' or 'Emerging practice'.  You can work through the columns and check if your methods and processes incorporate elements suggested here. Even if you don't identify yourself at the bottom row of 'Sustainable practice', you are still working towards a practice that you can take forward into the future.

Structuring this information in a 'rubric' styled table can show you what's ahead and motivate you to work towards a more established and sustainable creative practice. 

What you can do:

  1. Make a list of things you can do now to develop your practice based upon the information in the table.
  2. Make a wish-list of where you'd like your practice to be in 5 years.  
  3. Save this work and remember to check in and review it regularly.

You can also refer to the Higg materials sustainability index to choose the most environmentally friendly materials for your creative works.

Developing a sustainable creative practice

  Create Work together Reflect and document Build communities

Introductory practice

Explore emotions, thoughts and ideas. Experiment with different mediums, tools, concepts and creative modes. Find a mentor who you can work with on creative projects.  Start a diary, a sketchbook, blog or other space to record your thoughts and reactions. Speak to other artists and designers about creative projects. Discuss your projects with your closest peers and other supporters. 
Emerging practice Expand your set of skills to include methods and processes that bring out your creativity and build a body of work.  Work with a mentor and use their projects in your own way and for your needs. Find other artists, source their work. Credit the authors and makers, communicate progress and celebrate completion of your projects. Test and perfect lots of ways to share your work, and your process in novel places and to new people.
Established practice Discover meaning and fulfillment in your practice. Give voice your own authentic style. Work with other artists and creatives on projects. Contribute to the plans and execution of projects. Describe your work and your practice. Write an artist statement and regularly review and update it. Record, rework, revise and release your current work. Establish a relationship with a mentee who you can guide and support. You will be inspired watching them develop their practice.
Sustainable practice Start your own creative projects where you can experiment with different processes, methods and meanings.  Bring creatives from different practices together. Forge partnerships and work with other artists on new projects. Interrogate your own creative practice. Share your experiences and reflect on feedback. Offer insight to other artists, where they request it.  Campaign to increase access and equity for all who want to receive an education in the arts.

This table inspired by Tyler Denmead's Sustainable Creative Practice Rubric.