How to combat art block (6 Tips)

Updated: Apr 11, 2020

I've seen a lot of younger artists complaining about 'art block' so I decided to shed some light on the things I do to keep art block at bay.

Art block put simply is the lack of inspiration or desire to create. Increase how much exposure you have to inspire and expand your creative output to greatly limit the art block. My greatest tips are:

1. Don't wait

2. Live life

3. Get organised

4. Find inspiration

5. Step out of your comfort zone

6. Have fun with it

I'll go into more detail below.

1. Don't wait

It's not always easy to generate creative ideas, sometimes you may not feel like drawing or painting at all, but this doesn't mean that you cannot.

I often find myself that I find inspiration to continue a short time after I start sketching, most of the time it's all about shifting your mindset to actually making and doing is all it takes. Of course, this won't always be the case, but it's the best way to stay consistent with your creative process and ensures you're making something new every day.

Not only does this increase your skills as you're practicing your craft more than you would be, but it also helps build discipline as you'll grow to work on your art even when your feelings don't match.

2. Live life

If inspiration isn't in currently flowing in your blood you can oft find it out in the real world. Go out and experience. This is a sure-fire way of finding something to inspire. Go see a movie, spend time with friends, take a train or bus ride, go for a walk.

Life is a balancing act, working too long in your regular working space whether it be your bedroom or a studio you will run out of creativity eventually if you don't expose your brain to a new stimulus. It's natural to need new input every now and then, and it's also key to living a happy and memorable life. It's common to find inspiration through our phone or laptop screens, usually on social media or YouTube, but there are numerable problems with this that I won't go to delve too deep on here. These apps are designed to show you what they believe you want to see, meaning you limit your experience to the things you already know. You won't find this with the first-hand experience of the world. Go out and get inspired.

You will find something you want to re-create or re-imagine if you don't you can @ me and I'll give you your money back.

3. Get organised

This has been a huuuge thing for me these past few years. Get yourself a planner or journal, write notes, keep a schedule, create lists. This will give your mind the space to focus your energy on more creative elements as you won't have to concern yourself with memorising the tasks you need to complete. It may not sound that important at first, but try it for a few weeks and I guarantee you'll find some use from it.

I started with keeping to-do lists on my desk of the tasks I need to complete each day, keep it simple and prioritise the most important things first. This may not seem completely relevant to avoiding art block, but I believe half the trouble people find with becoming 'Art blocked' is that they don't remain consistently creative. There is always something to create, ideas are limitless, its part training your mind to generate these ideas, part finding external creative inspiration.

Nowadays, especially because I recently became self-employed, I prefer to schedule my days on a calendar. Once you've done this for a short time you'll know roughly how long each task takes and can effectively plan out your free time. Fill those gaps that you aren't utilising with creative tasks and you'll greatly reduce your art block.

Goya painting
"Creativity is fed by experience"

4. Find inspiration

This links back into the "Live life" argument. Creativity is fed by experience. You can find inspiration in the things that you love, whatever drives your passion will generate inspiration to create.

This can be found in art galleries if you're interested in fine art, in cinemas if you're interested in film and direction, or in a vast variety online. There are millions of artists living today creating incredible valuable art, go out and find it. Artstation, Deviantart, Youtube and Pinterest are all common places online to find incredible art easily. Use these resources to find something to inspire, save work from your favourite artists, follow their work and interact with them to find deeper insight.

Bonus Tips:

5. Step out of your comfort zone

Try a new medium. If you usually work in pencil, try painting. If you usually work digitally, try a traditional medium. By opening yourself up to trying new materials you open up new possibilities in the things that you can create, and how you can create them. Even when you move back to your original medium you'll have the experience of creating in a different way moving forward with you, giving you greater agency to create something new.

I typically do this every 3-4 months, typically because I feel the need to do so to keep stagnation at bay by learning something new if this is not something you do already I would definitely recommend doing so. It's definitely not easy, most art skills have similar elements that can be carried over, but as with learning any skill it will be challenging at times, but this challenge will not only help you grow much quicker but also feed creativity.

6. Have fun with it

Keep a sketchbook that you can doodle in! This is something I've come back to the past few months and it has been a massive boon to my creativity. Keep a private sketchbook you don't necessarily share with anyone. This allows you to fully explore the things you would like without the pressure of creating something 'perfect' that you will show online.

Simple sketches can often lead to bigger ideas, explore these ideas while they're in these juvenile stages by doodling. It's a fun way to explore your imagination and a perfect exercise for expanding imagination.

To conclude:

Expose yourself to inspiration as much as possible, be it online or out experiencing the 'real world'. Get creating as much as you can, it will help flex your imagination and other creative muscles.

If you found these tips helpful, I'd love to hear about it! You can let me know in the comments or contact me through the contact page.

Thanks for reading!

Additional resources:

I'll add a few books or additional resources that I've personally found useful that I would recommend you consider checking out.

  • The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles - purchase link

  • Sun Tzu The Art Of War: 2020 Updated Edition - purchase link

  • How to Be an Artist Without Losing Your Mind, Your Shirt, Or Your Creative Compass: A Practical Guide - purchase link

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