Thursday, 15 January 2015

How to beat an art block: 5 ways to bring back your creativity


Despite having a few jobs in my field, I had a major art block for the past 3 years that started a short while after I graduated. I went from drawing every day to doodling every two months (yikes!). I was still doing creative stuff at work, but it was driven by what other people wanted me to do, not what I wanted me to do. A few months ago I decided that I need to kick this art block in the butt! And that is exactly what I did. Here are some things that helped me, and might help you beat your creative block.

1. Why did you start drawing, why did you stop?

Everything I drew felt like garbage. It wasn't satisfying at all!
Growing up, I loved drawing and learning new skills. I would go through book after book to better myself as an artist, I would doodle all over my notes, I would stay through lunch in my art classroom drawing and painting.
Well, what changed? I went to school for Illustration directly after high school, and it was exhausting. Between taking transit to and from school, working extra hours to pay for school and then going home and doing homework, I would sleep. Even though I was constantly drawing, it was school projects that I didn't feel were for me. When I left school I put aside the sketchbook for a while, because I was just so drained.
Thinking back on this, I realized that art had become a chore. 3/4 of the work I did in my 4 years of school was for my professors and my peers, and when I look at this past work I can tell I wasn't enjoying it. Realizing that the art I created in school just wasn't me was my first step to encouraging myself to make art fun again.

2. Inspiration & your roots

Started a marker bookmark project for inspiration & fun.
Most of my daily drawings are still in marker!
We all find inspiration in the oddest of places. For me, I was cleaning and found my rather large collection of prismacolour markers. Markers and pen were my medium of choice before I got to college, where they discouraged the use of markers, opting for paint and ink instead. Just seeing all the pretty colours made me want to draw again (I now keep my markers right on my desk, so I always see them!), so I started looking for things I wanted to draw. I went to old art communities I used to visit regularly, such as deviantart and illustrationfriday. I checked out books from the library, and just started viewing art again. Immersing myself in creative hubs online and viewing other peoples wonderful art gave me the inspiration I needed to keep my art journey alive.

3. Draw everyday

Zentangles are fun and satisfying because they look so neat.
Now that you have rediscovered what you get out of art and found the inspiration to it, you have to keep the creative fire burning! Now you have to draw every day. Especially days where you don't feel up to it, draw something, doodle, or rework an old picture. At first it will be a challenge because you are just coming out of a creative block, but eventually it will become part of your life. To help me keep this up, I started a daily drawing challenge where I post a drawing a day on my tumblr page. Publicly announcing my challenge keeps me from slacking off.
Having trouble finding things to draw every day? Try these websites:

Zentangle, Phil McAndrew's list of stuff to draw, and wonderstrange 100 things to draw.

4. Grow & Learn as a creative person

I reworked an old illustration in illustrator with a tutsplus
tutorial. It opened up more creative projects for me!
Now that you are back to your creative self, maybe you want to explore different avenues and try something new with your art.
Joining classes at your local art centre or starting your own art community is a great way to introduce yourself to other creatives with different styles and new ideas.
There are also some great art instructional books out there, many of which can be found at your local library for free, or from bookstores (I like bookdepository, they usually have great prices)
There are plenty of free online tutorials that you can use to try new things. I use the online tutorials the most, because I want to learn more about adobe illustrator and indesign. My favourite tutorial website is tutsplus, they have tutorials ranging from crafts and DIY, to graphics programs all the way to music & audio, and thousands of free tutorials to choose from.
Go on youtube and watch instructional videos or simply watch people drawing or painting. Watching other people create things may give you insight into your own creative process.

5. Keeping it up with Projects, Projects and more Projects


Watercolour Leaves Pattern Wristlet Purses
My projects are my zazzle shop, this blog
and my daily drawing blog. All these things
help me maintain my creativity and keep a
positive outlook on life. 
 

Turn your doodles and daily drawings into something more. Start a series of artworks, an art blog, join an online community, start your own creative business or turn your art into products. Do something that gets your art reacquainted with the world. Starting your own projects can be extremely satisfying and keep you motivated and inspired to keep drawing, and they also help you set goals and schedules. With work and just life in general it can be hard to take the time out for yourself, but all these projects give you something to do for you, and make you set time out of your day to do them. Most importantly, showcasing your work in this way will help you appreciate your creative side and keep you from losing it again.



I have been art block free for nearly 4 months now, and I'm still going! Obviously there are still going to be times where you just don't feel like drawing.. but the key to making sure it doesn't turn into a full blown art block is just making sure you keep your creativity close and work through it.