9 Ways to Boost Your Artistic Creativity

I need a boost in my creativity not only in my craft but also in other areas. Aletta de Wal’s article on 9 Ways to Boost Your Artistic Creativity gives some useful suggestions. I summarise his points and added my comments in italics.

On the lip of the weir

Image by Steve-h via Flickr

1. Keep an art-related idea journal

Keep a notebook/journal to capture ideas, sketches and references to use later. Writers call this a “swipe file.” Find things that inspire you, and save them to inspire you later on. You never know what will be useful down the road. It will save you time rediscovering things you have already worked through, and give you a wellspring of creative ideas for times when the well seems dry.

2. Put up an art ideas bulletin board

Post anything that come to you, pictures, quotations, ads—whatever flies through your mind or catches your eye.

[For those who love the virtual world, I would suggest going to Pinterest.]

3. Create an idea treasure chest

Collect images from magazines, quotes, postcards, etc. This can be anything that will stimulate future work. Store them in a way that makes them easy to get at.

[I suggest a SMASH book or a file box for mobility.]

4. Pay attention to your energy levels

When you are freshest, do the most important art projects or art marketing tasks that demand your highest creativity. Save the more mundane jobs for when your creative tank is low. Sometimes you need to take a complete break from art to let new ideas incubate.

5. Split your art projects into smaller pieces

Always break big, overwhelming projects down into smaller bits. It’s usually easy to maintain your enthusiasm when you’re working on small pieces rather than the whole.

6. Quit (or modify) art projects that are boring

Look for the kernel of excitement that provoked you to begin the project, and re-work it into something new. Find the smallest speck of interest or quality in what you have created, and start another piece of art with those aspects instead.

If that doesn’t work, it may be freeing to just throw the piece away. If you can do this, you know you are learning to curate your work and to release attachments to things that are holding you back.

7. Do something other than art for a little while

Distract yourself temporarily, and see if some time away allows you to recapture your excitement for the project. If you can’t get enthused, put the project away for even longer, or just move on.

[I suggest to grow a plant or make a terrarium or start an aquarium.]

8. Adjust the results you’re aiming for

Maybe you’ve created something that isn’t quite right. Or it’s not the final version of what you want to submit. Consider it a practice piece and remove the pressure of it being the final version.

Since it’s just practice, consider what would happen if you tried to wreck it. Even if you don’t actually do that to the piece, you will come up with interesting ideas that don’t come when you are treating the art piece as too precious.

9. Find other artists and teachers to work with.

Isolation can make common problems seem bigger than they are, or make you feel like you’re the only one with these troubling issues. But the truth is, every other artist goes through the same thing, and can empathize with your situation, or even help you work through it. So connect with others in similar situations and learn from them.


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