Ways to Get Inspired and Overcome Art Block

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Going off of my last video of tips on starting and finishing your sketchbook, let's continue on this new year celebration chain of tackling common artist problems! This is ALL about finding inspiration and fighting that pesky artist's block!

Given how often the two topics blend together, you can take this list and apply it to wherever you need it, as it's not in any particular order for either topic. Okay, let's go:

Know It's Okay: to not always be inspired. Sometimes we draw blanks, get overwhelmed, or experience other issues, and that's common, you're not alone. Remind yourself that it's temporary and definitely possible to get through.

Don't Try to Create Anything Specific: Remove the expectation that you're creating something big and special. Don't worry about perfection. There is no perfection anyway, it's an impossible feat, so throw it out the window! ;)

Accept and Be Open to Failure: Like the above, you don't want to go in with such heavy handed expectations. Take away that pressure to always create masterpieces, as that could hinder your willpower to create. Seeing that blank canvas can be intimidating, and if you feel you always have to create something good, it could prevent you from creating at all. Consider purposely making failures, making bad art, and see what comes of it.

Don't Wait For Ideas to Come: Ideas and inspiration are all around you all the time. Just sitting there and passively waiting to see the light is taking up time that you could spend creating! Don't be passive, be active. Actively seek out and look for inspiration. And if you're not sure how, then keep reading on for ideas ;)

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Various Media: Absorb and take in the media around you. Books, movies, TV shows, music, art, and more. Even commercials between shows, news broadcasts, podcasts, math textbooks even. Stuff you love and stuff you hate, you can take that passion and transfer that into creative juices.

Search and Join Challenges: Be it online or in real life, find challenges or themes to participate in. This can be by yourself in in groups. A community might help motivate you and speaking to others might give you ideas. Some examples are #Inktober, #Sketchtember, 3 marker challenge, 1 minute challenge, zodiac themes, etc. A quick Google search of "art challenges" and you'll find more than plenty!

Make a Folder: Whatever device you use (or connect them together), make a folder specifically for works or things you find inspiring. Collect artworks, posters, images, gifs, music--what have you all in one place. If you're ever feeling stuck, go give that folder a look-see!

Experiment: Try out different tools, mediums, techniques, and even styles! Normally draw in an anime style? Try western comics, realism, caricature! Maybe pick up writing instead of drawing. Even if you're not good, it's all about changing things up and seeing what happens. Think of it as a chance to explore, gain new experiences, and learn.

Look Over Old Artwork: There's a reason I love saving my old works, and this is one of them! If you need a pick-me-up on how you're doing skill wise, looking over your history is a great way to encourage yourself and show you how far you've come. Not only that, but it's also a chance to revisit old ideas. Have a concept you never did anything with? Now's your chance to play with it!

Go for a Walk: Experience a change of scenery. Even if it's as far as a different room. But better yet, try getting outside. Walk your neighborhood, visit your local park, or travel around city streets. Find those old favorite spots, find new favorite spots. Look around new corners and see them with fresh eyes. 

Carry a Notepad: or small sketchbook with you, so when you are inspired in the moment, you can write it down or quickly sketch a thumbnail for later. It doesn't even have to be coherent or related to art, could be random passing thoughts or your surroundings. Keep it private so there's no pressure to perform!

If you need more sketchbook related tips, check out my recent blog post on how to start and finish sketchbooks!

Plein Air: Remember my blog post with tips about plein air? Now's the time to take it into action! You don't need to have inspiration, don't think, just draw or paint what you see around you. Spend a few pages and sketch out your surroundings, get loose!

Bring a Camera: Whether it's a dedicated camera or a camera on your phone, take it with you wherever you go! Take pictures of things you find interesting, of things you don't find interesting. Take selfies. Take pictures of friends and family. Make a folder to browse through later, you never know what may spark your interest! This is espeically great for if you don't have time or limited time for plein air, save them for future projects!

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Make Bad Art: Purposely try to make the worst art possible. Don't only go in with low expectations, go in with a mission! Use tools you hate too to get that extra passion going!

Comfort Zone: Explore going both in and out of your comfort zone. Feeling stuck? Nothing wrong with sticking with the usual. Want to try something different? Try something different! And stick with the rules: no expectations! Go in knowing that it's okay if it's not your best work.

Tutorials: Try out old or new tutorials by other artists. It doesn't have to be done by any professionals, sometimes simple ones or ones done by friends can be fun. (Just be sure to go in with an open mind!) Research them and actually practice them!

Collaborate: Try making pieces together with someone you know, someone new, or creating alongside others! Join in groups or participate in events.

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Critiques: Review old or request new critiques. Even better if you exchange critiques with others. Give a little back in return for getting helped yourself :) You could even spark up a critique buddy system or group!

Don't Compare: yourself to others! Like I said in my '5 Mistakes Beginner Artists Make' video, if it makes you feel negative, then avoid doing it. Use other artists as a form of healthy inspiration and encouragement.

Keep the Mind and Body Healthy: Mindfulness, while not always easy, is important. (I recommend Google searching for more information.) Meditation can be helpful too. Take a bath, eat healthy, exercise--a healthy body and mind can help curb things like art block and other negative things.

My friend Amanda made a fantastic video covering this topic, which I HIGHLY recommend watching. You can see it here!

Make Your Environment Yours: Clean your desk, hang up inspiring artworks on your walls or desk, get your favorite drink/snack, light a candle, wear comfortable clothing, play inspiring music/podcasts/what-have-you, grab your favorite utensils, etc. It doesn't need to be fancy, make it work for you and your needs!

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Identify: See if you can identify where, when, and why these blocks come up, if there's a pattern of times or things that cause it. If so, is there anything you can do to change it? Be it the way you think about things or stepping away from a toxic situation.

Talk to Someone: If the blocks are especially bad, or at all related to your mental health, try talking to a friend, family member, therapist, or someone you trust!

Don't Stress to Create: If in the end, all you can garner up is random swirls on the page, then that's something! Taking breaks is totally valid as well, sometimes we just need that time off. You will find that inspiration, don't worry. 

Have any tips of your own? Methods that work for you? Feel free to leave them in the comments below! I'd love to read them :D

Hopefully you found some of these tips helpful!

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