New Tool: The Art of Thriving


A guide to thriving in creative work as a freelancer, contract worker, or self-employed Designer.

By The Royal Danish Academy, made possible with the support from Velliv Foundation.

Are you struggling with work-life balance? 

Do you find it difficult to find peace between tasks because you’re afraid that new ones won’t come? Do you miss having more creativity in your work?

The Art of Thriving is an approach to creative work with the potential to create well-being and mental health while supporting your creative process. The methods are research-based and build on art and nature therapy, which is about activating the senses and involving the body and nature to create calm, openness, and deeper contact with oneself. In this way, the tools make it possible to achieve moments of well-being during the working day and concrete results in the theme or project you are working on. The guide is based on a research project in which 32 self-employed designers tested the methods in a workshop and explored their work situation through an artistic process.

If your life as a self-employed person or freelancer brings you a great sense of freedom and joy but is also lonely and uncertain at times, you could, for example, explore what can help you cope with the uncertainty during difficult periods. If you are feeling time and financial pressures, your questions could be about where the money is coming from, what direction you can take, or how to create more work balance. By exploring your work situation through artistic methods, you can access a feeling of inner peace and openness that can open the door to new sides of yourself and new perspectives on the situation. 

A guide to building well-being through your creative work

Here, we present the methods to highlight what you can do to deal with challenges and build well-being directly in your practical work. The methods can be used individually, or you can use them together with others, e.g., as dialog tools in co-creation, with clients, or as project management tools. The toolbox aims to help you find alternative ways of working and develop them based on your knowledge, behavior, and core tasks. We also hope that the methods can inspire conversations and community around mental health in our industry. 

Content of the guide 

The introduction to Artful inquiry is an investigative process framework to dive into a burning question or situation. This helps you to tailor the methods to your needs. The process builds on Jung’s four psychological functions: intuition, sensations, the mental, and our emotions, which together can be described as our original ways of knowing. The introduction features portraits of solo self-employed designers giving insights into their history, experiences with Artful inquiry, and how the methods have helped them.

The toolkit introduces three art- and nature-based methods that have proven to be easily accessible and effective in building well-being directly in practical, creative processes. They all build on existing research in the field of art and nature therapy.
– The other hand
– Fülge – power animal
– Medicine walk

The art of thriving – a research project

The Art of Thriving is a research project conducted by Silje kamille Alberthe Friis and Annegrete Mølhave, The Royal Academy of Architecture, Design and Conservation, in collaboration with the Danish Association of Architects and Designers and Design denmark. Velliv Foreningen funds the project. The project ran from 2022-23.

Downloads – Please note that the TOOLKIT and information are in Danish

Download the TOOLKIT
Download information about the method
Download ‘portraits’ of some of the designers taking part in the research project