Finding Your Creative Community for Women Over Forty

Success and business require stamina and maturity, according to the famous author and coach Marie Forleo. I've spent four years reviving my design career, young-minded and feeling quite alone in my search for a community of like-minded creative women over forty. 

If you’re a woman in design, I recommend you sit down with a large glass of wine before you decide to research “famous graphic designers.” Fair warning, there are not many female artists out there let alone in their 40's and older. So, where do women designers and artists, over forty, go for support to relaunch a fizzled design career? According to Google, I have no idea. 

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I'm one of those older women that are looking to jump back into design. I took a brief – okay, long - hiatus to start and maintain a family. I had children later in life and used my creativity for them like staying up late crafting birthday invitations and organizing photography displays for their rooms, all while putting any “me” projects on hold. Now I am in my late forties and have recently relaunched my design career with not very many women to look up to. 

I have grown as a multidisciplinary artist but am currently experiencing a transformation of confidence in my artwork while trying to build a social following and get my current work out there. After discovering the lack of information to support creative women in their forties getting re-started, I realized I could be my own case study!

Things to remember as a late-blooming artist

Let me share a few things with you that I’ve learned over the last four years. 

  1. First of all; “YOU” matter.  
  2. That number attached to your name in any top ten list is just that - “a number.” It does not determine your creative capabilities, your gender role, or your placement. 
  3. The cliche you hear, “just start.” Well, that’s true. You just need to start. 
  4. Completely absorb yourself with any kind of creative outlet you can find. Don’t limit yourself to only that one niche. Think about those things you used to do when you were in school, doodling on your binder. Quite often it’s those very things in our subconscious that we dismiss because we are literally told, women don’t do those things, or they just don’t make you money. 

Recently, I found Dina Rodriguez, a woman who left the mundane 9 to 5 to freelance as a Hand Letterer, on a podcast interview with Logo Geek and I was hooked. It was the inspiration I needed to get out there. She asked the very question I wondered, “where are all these women designers?” and it was that question that started this community Women of Illustration.

See where I’m going with all this? Just start, absorb everything creative, listen to designers of all walks of life, and it will lead to where you want to be. 

There's a saying in motherhood, “it takes a village,” and that's true. But it also takes a village of creative women to support one another. We come from all walks of life and have endured many creative avenues, but there is one similarity, we are women creatives whose voices need to be heard no matter our age. 

So where are all the female artists over forty at?

This brings us back to the dreaded online search.  Where are all the women over forty who are rebooting a design career? I know you’re out there. I delved deeper into my research, and to my surprise, I found these gems which proves age does not determine your success!

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Helen Downie, a London-based artist, began painting at 48. The self-taught artist rose to fame in only two short years. She encountered a battle with cancer and detox from alcohol in 2013; she remembered a happy time when she was drawing as a child and rediscovered a hidden passion. In an interview with Quartz, Helen recounts, “When I started painting, I felt very angry and that I would never catch up.” 

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Lisa Congdon, based in Portland, Oregon, is an illustrator and author, who found her success in illustration in her late thirties. She spent the first part of her career path in public education and used art as a release from a stressful day. She never thought her art would amount to anything but had several “aha” moments that shed some light on a career she never thought was possible. You need to check out her new book “A Glorious Freedom - Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives,” celebrating talented women and redefining what it means to gain wisdom and maturity. 

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Alice Wellinger, Austria based artist, began her creative career, working as a graphic designer but after becoming a mother, she started to write and illustrate books for young readers. Her Instagram is full of beautiful pieces that pulls you into a surreal reality, in which she draws her inspiration from everyday life and childhood memories.                                                

Women artists need to speak up! 

We need to close the gap on finding answers. There are many talented creative women out there who are hiding, let your voices be heard. I would love to hear from you by leaving a comment below so I can get to know your story. Help me build a community of creative, strong women over forty. Yay, for stamina and maturity! 


THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY ONE OF OUR AMAZING VOLUNTEERS

Traci Rehill
Illustrator & Lettering Artist
Vancouver, Canada
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