As an artist finding creativity and inspiration can sometimes prove to be the hardest battle I fight. When I am inspired, no small obstacle gets in the way of my finishing a project. I am motivated, excited, and thinking clearly. It’s like a light comes on inside of me. When I am uninspired, I feel like I am meandering like a lost puppy through my free time. So how does a girl keep her creative juices charged? Here are 5 strategies I use to keep myself going. Maybe you can use them too. 🙂
1) Experience other people’s work
Find other people whose work makes you feel something. Anything. Find something that you think is brilliant, ugly, dark, gives you chills, or is transcending. Then pick apart why these things have such an effect. What is it about this one piece that is so darn effective? Once you can answer that, you can borrow this tool from the artist. Artists do it everyday. Often times I find myself looking at other art forms as well and then finding a way to incorporate similar effects in to the medium I am choosing to work in. Sometimes I find that the subject matter really speaks to me. Armed with ideas that excite me, I am able to put them together in a way that I think would be best.
Now, I have to say there is a distinct difference between plagiarism and finding inspiration in another artists work. Simply creating a replica of another work would be plagiarizing. Using your own hand to re-create the image is not. Consider this:
“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” – Henry Ward Beecher
The truth of the matter is that you could attempt to copy another artists work but that moment that you mess up ever so slightly is what makes that work yours. Embrace your imperfections.
2) Make a mind map
Mind maps are one of my favorite ways to find inspiration. They can lead you to unexpected corners of your own mind. Start with one key idea. It can be a quote, a word, a picture, or a philosophy. Put your key idea in the middle of a piece of paper, then draw a line connecting it to your next idea. Your next idea should be a thought you associate with your key idea. Then you can draw a line off of your new idea to a third thought. You can take this as far you want to. In the end you should have a spider web of thought bubbles. Somewhere in this mess a gleaming jewel of an idea will stand out. Maybe even a few ideas. Then I take them to my work space and turn my ideas in to tangible works.
3) Stay balanced
Keeping your life balanced and healthy is really important. Sometimes while I am immersed in a project I start neglecting day-to-day activities that are good for me. forcing yourself to step away from your work and do other things to take care of yourself and your family is a good thing. Making sure I go for a walk, take a shower, and eat well are essential to making sure my brain and body are in top condition for continuing the creative process. Aside from keeping me healthy, it also keeps me from burning out. Further more, taking time away from what I am working on can sometimes allow me to find new insights. Taking a step back and a breath of fresh air can be an excellent ticket to inspiration city!
4) Learn a new technique
Learning a new technique is always enough to get me pumped up about a project. The great news is that there are a ton ways to learn too! You can sign up for a class no matter what your skill level is. There is always something new to learn. You could look up an online video on your craft to watch how someone else does it. You could find a “How-To” article. Maybe you could find a group within your community that focuses on art or similar crafts as you. The possibilities are endless. Once armed with your new skill, go out and practice and apply it to as many things as you can think of!
5) Use symbolism
When I am having trouble finding an image that inspires me, I make one of my own up. I do this by finding a concept or philosophy that I really love. For example, the concept of fate. This is when you really need to nail down your view on the subject. Figure out how you would explain this concept to someone. Figure out what images represent this explanation the best. When I am doing this, I try to think about how I would explain something to another person who doesn’t speak the same language as me. Next, figure out how these images and bits of your concept fit together and arrange them visually. The imagery becomes a literal translation of what you have to say on a certain subject. Some very interesting ideas can come out of such an exercise!
Hopefully you find one or more of these helpful when you are stuck. Feel free to post your own ideas for getting motivated!