How mindful creativity can change your life
Hands up who did more than their fair share of dog-eared old jigsaws from the charity shop during lockdown? It was a pretty good activity for putting your phone away and just being in the moment, wasn’t it? Carrying such things back with us in to normal life is a great way to continue such mindfulness, and all the better if you can harness your inner creativity on something aesthetically pleasing. Enter James Edwards and Ashley Ling. They run Piece & Quiet, which aims to help people explore their mindful creativity through the simple pleasure of completing beautiful puzzles. BALANCE caught up with them to find out how they came up with the idea and what ‘mindful creativity’ actually is…
What was your inspiration for starting Piece & Quiet?
We launched the company after rediscovering an old passion for puzzles during lockdown. We’d both done lots of puzzles as children, but found that, over the years, with our busy working lives, we struggled to find the time to fit them in. As lockdown began, we found ourselves spending more and more time on our phones and in front of the TV screen. Then we started doing puzzles again and found that it was one of the few things we’d do where we’d put our phones away and properly switch off from the world. The puzzles provided a great distraction after work and really helped us relax during a time when the world was surrounded in so much uncertainty.
And it just grew from there?
Yes. Saturday mornings with a nice coffee and puzzle became a regular feature, but we quickly got bored of the traditional puzzle designs of landscapes and the countryside. This gave us the idea for Piece & Quiet, to bring fun, striking and modern art to the puzzle format. We began our search on Instagram and discovered an amazing illustrator called Sophie Charnley. We absolutely loved her bold and energetic style and were so pleased when she came on board to design our debut collection.
Completing a puzzle really allowed us to slow down, relax and be mindful
You describe your puzzles as promoting Mindful Creativity…
Our puzzles aim to promote the same mindfulness we found in completing them ourselves. People often think of mindfulness as just meditation, but we recognise it as being fully present in what you are doing, your thoughts and how you are feeling. Completing a puzzle really allowed us to slow down, relax and be mindful in a way that we’d previously struggled to be able to do. It made us put our phones down, forget about working life and really focus on taking a moment for ourselves.
And you see completing your puzzles as a creative act?
We all want to feel creative, but it can be difficult to find a creative outlet starting from a blank canvas. Puzzles provide a platform to be creative in a structured way and what better way to be creative than piecing together a stunning piece of art? There’s also a sense of accomplishment that comes with putting the last piece in – it’s rare to find a creative activity that is rounded off so perfectly. This creative process, partnered with the mindfulness benefits of puzzles, is what we call Mindful Creativity.
You really promote and showcase the talent of the artists you use…
We want to use Piece & Quiet as a platform for talented local artists to reach new audiences in new ways. We give our artists a share of each sale and include an ‘artist in the spotlight’ with the puzzle which contains an insight into the artist and the story behind the puzzle. We champion the art across our website and social media, aiming to bring new customers to purchase other work from our artists. We’ve recently been working on a really exciting partnership with an awesome brand who reached out to us after seeing Sophie’s art. They loved it so much, they’ve commissioned her to work on a project for them too, which is amazing to hear and exactly what we’re aiming for in the concept. Given how hard the creative industries have been hit during the pandemic, we think it’s a more important message than ever to shout about.
Tell us about your collection of puzzles.
Our debut collection featured ‘Indoor Jungle’, a plant lovers dream home, alongside ‘Lockdown Lowdown’ which is all about the many exciting things people were up to during lockdown – banana bread baking, yoga stretching, painting and the infamous Zoom quizzes. The final puzzle is called ‘Nature of the City’ and reminisces coming together with friends and enjoying a summers night in the park in the City. We wanted to reinvent the puzzle from a design perspective, so our puzzles come in a bright tube, with the pieces in a cute tote bag inside.
How have people responded?
We’ve had some amazing feedback, particularly from people discovering puzzles for the first time and are really experiencing the mental health benefits that come from taking a moment for yourself. We hope that it inspires our customers to keep taking mindful moments, whether that’s with a puzzle, a book or whatever works for them. We want to build a community that shares their positive experiences and help others discover the different ways they’ve found to improve their mental health. We’ve found puzzles to be our way of relaxing, but different things work for different people and we want to take people on the journey to finding a happier version of themselves.
You can see their full range and find out more about the artists they’re working with at www.pieceandquietpuzzles.co.uk