Sometimes, the hardest part about being an artist is the inevitable block that arrives unexpectedly. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve lost your momentum and creativity. Don’t worry, it happens at some point to everyone! Here are some tips to help it dissipate:
1. Set goals:
Force yourself to set a goal of creating ‘X’ number of items. Even if you have to copy a previous project, working in your chosen medium will get you back in the swing of things and get the inspiration flowing. Often times, exploration of past themes will motivate you to see things in a new way. This is how art series are often born; reinvigorating old ideas and viewing them in a new light. It’s okay to build off the past to create motivating steps towards the future.
2. Search for inspiration:
Sitting in front of a blank computer screen or canvas can be painful and nervous tension will only make your block harder to break. Inspiration doesn’t always arrive when it’s needed; sometimes we have to search for it. Going to a museum, visiting a gallery, meeting with friends, taking snapshots, using Google Image Search, or scanning Flickr and creating your own page of favorite images can get the ideas flowing.
3. Keep a journal:
Set a goal to jot down thoughts, ideas, or if you’re clueless about what to write about, make a list you had for breakfast or the first thing you thought of when you woke up; anything is better than nothing. Inspiration is everywhere! Doodle, make lists, just do something. Chances are, when you’re flipping back through the pages in a few few days / weeks / months, inspiration will strike.
4. Don’t worry:
Anxiety will further dampen any creativity. The more you worry, the worse the block will become. If you can’t seem to produce any work, view the period as a mini-vacation. Often, pulling yourself away from the work for awhile will often restore energy and focus. It’s ironic that often when you’re at your busiest, working hard at a job or task that doesn’t include your art, you can’t wait to get back to it. Yet, when you have all the free time in the world, the lack of stimulation can make it difficult to produce anything of real value.
5. Focus on one thing at a time:
It’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about how much needs to get done. A series isn’t built in a day, and for that matter, a riveting piece of art rarely is, either. Sometimes a task feels so overwhelming that it seems easier to not even start. Don’t sabotage yourself! I’m onto my third series this year because I never quit– I take a step back, assess the situation, take a short break, and launch right back into the work. You won’t get very far if your work is sitting in the corner half-finished, collecting dust. Start with the basics; make an initial sketch of concepts, create a mood board, focus on getting started. Each step forward is one step closer to completion.
6. Take a class:
A renewed perspective can have an amazing impact on the soul. Local art schools and colleges usually offer evening and / or non-accredited courses. Assignments from another person have the ability to jump-start the completion of an art project; the limited guidelines can help dissipate the open-endedness of possibilities that have the ability to create anxiety.
7. Use downtime to market yourself:
If you can’t make new art, use the time to market yourself more effectively. Research galleries and calls for artists online. Sometimes you can even email galleries about your work directly instead of sending postcards. Update your website and online portfolio. Connect with other artists and share your resources. Perhaps they can recommend galleries that are interested in work like yours, provide inspiration, and swap art calls. I’ve secured some of my best shows by staying in contact with fellow peers.
Is there anything you’d like to add? Anything that helps you fight the block?