5 Simple Tips for Overcoming Artist’s Block

Creative ways to get your groove back that actually work!

By Anna Bailey

When creativity flows through your veins and inspiration rushes through you like a tidal wave of ideas, it’s a mountaintop experience for a working artist.

Afterall, the creative work we do is both sustenance to our souls and the vehicle to which we provide for our families. But sometimes even the most professional artists can find themselves in a creative rut. And in today’s world where our success can feel constantly gauged by our likes and views on social media, we can find ourselves catering to an outside source, rather than pulling from our true source within.

Artist’s Block can happen to any artist, and I dare say that each of us experience it once in our careers, if not several times.

It’s during these periods that we have to fight for the inspiration to keep going, finding the joy that began our journey. If you’re finding yourself in a rut that you can’t seem to jump out of, I have just a few simple ideas to get you started on the journey to pressing through the blockage of your creativity.

Every artist’s creative process is personal, so glean from what speaks to you, and let go of the rest.

1. Grass Roots

We all started somewhere.

Most of us became artists of our craft first and foremost, because it brought us joy. The art that we created made us feel something that intrigued us to come back for more again and again. 

This is where it started. We fell in love with creating because  we could feel and see the beauty unfolding. That feeling started pulsating through our veins, waking us up in the night with new ideas. We first created art because of how it made us feel. We weren’t yet thinking or worrying about how it pleased others. We were excited to explore all the possibilities, honing in on what clicked and spending countless hours building our skill because we wanted to.

This is the place I want you to transport yourself.

Take a time machine back to that time and watch the you that was so eager to delve into the magical place that brought you joy. Take note of what was making you feel that way. What made you first fall in love with your craft? Take notes so that you can pinpoint how you might be able to rekindle that first love in the present time of your work. Maybe it’s stripping back a bit, or creating pieces that are inspired by your first work.  This creative process will be completely personal to you.

2. Change of Scenery

Sometimes we need to shake things up a bit.

This can be an easier task for artists who can be mobile, such as writers, sketch artists, and painters. 

For those of us who require an entire workshop to complete our creative process, this just isn’t possible. We can, however, find ways to change the flow up a bit. 

Maybe we can carve out days in our schedule for the purpose of a fresh perspective. Go visit that coffee shop you’ve never been to on the opposite side of town. Take a walk in a different neighborhood. Visit a different beach or hiking trail.

A new change of scenery might spark an idea for something new in your work. Regardless of your craft, carry a little idea journal so that you always have a way to sketch out or jot something down.

3. Challenge Yourself

The further we get in our journey as working artists, the more tools we have accumulated to get our work done.

Many of us have shelves of tools to choose from, as well as walls of paint colors, brushes, etc. These plethora of resources at our fingertips are awesome, yet sometimes they can be hindering, too. 

It’s often not until we are forced to, through some circumstance, that we experiment with less. Interestingly, some of my best work has been birthed out of a need to innovate in order to keep moving forward.

One time, through water damage to some of my equipment and a transition of workshops, I had little tools to work with. It was during this time that I experimented more with paint and how I could push the boundaries. Not only did I create some really cool art I might not have ever explored, I also believe that it has impacted other aspects of my current art and the way that I push myself to see things outside the box.

That experience encouraged me to purposely restrain the business in my pieces, through working with monotones in many of my collections, while still being able to create pieces that have depth and visual intrigue.

4. Revisit the Greats

Another great way to spur on a new element of inspiration in your work is to study the greats that have come before us, going as far back as you’d like.

We have so many artists to choose from and in so many disciplines. 

Visit Art Museums. Stare into the works of Picasso, Rembrandt, Frida Kahlo, and the likes. 

Read the poetry of Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and Maya Angelou. 

Marvel at the architecture of the different eras. You never know what your creative brain might glean from this. 

Studying art in genres other than your own can be a great way to gain a new perspective in your own work.

I have personally been inspired by the art and architecture of the art deco era, which has become a very important element of many of my current collections. I am a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and his work, I could look at it for hours upon hours!

5. To Thine Ownself Be True

Finally, and one of the hardest, yet most important bits of advice I can give you as a working artist: Be true to yourself.

What does this even mean? I think the answer to this question is constantly evolving, because we are constantly evolving. And I don’t mean it to be a selfish pursuit in the negative sense. What I mean is, to rekindle the creative flow, we must ask ourselves if what we are creating is still an extension of ourselves, or if we are creating something purely to gain the likes and follows of others. 

For if we find the latter to be our current driving force, it will not be sustainable.

I know it’s complicated as working artists, because our work is both our passion and our livelihood. It can be a sticky mess at times, but it can also be a beautiful, unpredictable journey that takes us to places we never expected. 

As we evaluate our journey and our work, we can uncover the pieces of us that may have gone missing. These pieces might be the very thing that pulls us out of our mental block, and into a whole new creative journey in our work. 

So, let the adventure begin!

I have a few new ideas that will hopefully be coming to fruition soon, so be sure to follow along for all the behind the scenes and final pieces! See my current available work at baileybuilds.com.

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