If you’ve hit that proverbial wall, don’t freak out. All creatives at some stage will go through a bout of creative block. Read on to discover 10 tips on how to break through when it strikes:
Flick through your visual diary or TLC sketchbook.
I carry mine with me wherever I go. This means I can quickly get my ideas down on paper the moment they occur and before they vanish. I now have a great source of quick sketches and written notes to help jump start my brain whenever I get stuck.
Make your studio space a fun area for you to be in.
Having an interesting place in which to work will make you feel more creative. Your studio space should reflect you and your personality. Hang posters, drawings, inspirational quotes, materials, fabrics ‒ basically anything you like on the walls and ceilings for you to look at and be inspired by.
Maybe you’re more minimalist in style? Then a quick tidy up of the space around you will open your mind to new ideas. Personally, I keep a shelf completely bare in my studio. This gives me the opportunity to think about what else I can bring into my life and my work.
Explore other media.
It can be very easy to get stuck using the same tools and media over and over again. Many artists get into a comfortable and familiar routine with their work. If you experience creative block it’s time to try something new. Go play with the kids’ Lego, perhaps use an alternative material you have at hand, such as painting with Gladwrap or food, rather than a paintbrush. Playing with, and using strange and usual media, forces you to think outside the norm.
Do the exact opposite of what you should be doing.
Painting on canvas with acrylics? How about creating something three-dimensional with clay instead, or vice-versa. If your work is quite small, try working at a much larger scale. This change of state and/or physical dimensions will challenge your current way of thinking.
Take a break.
Go for a walk. Grab your backpack, sketchbook, camera or mobile phone and just walk for a bit through the city or the countryside. You never know, you could discover an interesting texture that you want to capture with your camera, or you might meet someone new and interesting to talk to on your walk. Personally I find grabbing my gym gear and going for a run or hitting the gym gives me renewed energy and focus. Getting some exercise and fresh air gets the blood pumping and the rhythmic nature of exercise allows your brain to relax.
Talk your ideas through with a friend.
Showing another person your work or talking about your ideas often provides clarity and a fresh perspective. Just be aware that other people’s opinions may be negative and not at all what you expect. Ask them for some constructive criticism. You will soon know if they understand what it is you are trying to do. TLC’s tutors and mentors are always happy to provide you with feedback if you need it. Talking through your ideas forces you to explain the thought process behind your work.
View your work from a different angle.
Turn your artwork upside down, screw it up, stand back and view it from a distance. Viewing your work from the same angle and in the same way, all the time, seriously limits your visual understanding of your work. Mistakes often become much more obvious when viewed in a mirror or upside down.
Go to sleep.
Creative block often hits people because they are tired. There’s only one solution for this, and that’s to hit the hay. Go grab a pillow and catch some zz’s. In the morning you will see things in a new light. Mentally put your subconscious to work on your problem before you close your eyes and by morning it might have the solution for you!
Find yourself a muse.
Lots of artists have a muse. Painter Édouard Manet had Victorine Meurent, an artist and popular model of the day, sculptress Camille Claudel had Auguste Rodin. An artistic muse is a person who inspires an artist to create. It could be someone that they love to draw, a supportive partner, fun-loving son or daughter, or even a special furry friend.
Eat some cheese.
(All good inspiration comes from eating cheese…) But seriously, go have something to eat. It’s important that you feed your body, as well as your brain, so it has the necessary fuel needed to come up with great ideas.
Do you have any other ideas on how to get through creative block?