Inspiration and Artistic Progress

Well, here we are, after a hell of a long time without videos. Not especially great considering I was never that consistent, but hey, at least it’s something. I’m gonna try out this new format for my videos, which involves a semi-lengthy script, and I thought it would be a good idea to post the scripts, in a sort of article format, here on my website. This one is about inspiration. If it’s any good it’ll probably be hell to follow up on, but I talk about art and the artist mindset really often, and am constantly consuming more content, and hopefully these new videos will serve as valuable resources for people who don’t want to spend hours on YouTube, and also a good way to document my progress, both in technical skill, and in thought process and mindset. Anyway, I’ll let you get to reading. All the links will be at the bottom of the article, and if you want to listen while you read, the audio from the video is right here. Or if you prefer, watch the video.

Inspiration and Artistic Progress:

*Disclaimer: While the general lessons in this video can be applied to any creative field, it is intended to help those specifically pursuing visual arts as a career, or at the very least those who want to actively improve their skills. If you're already an experienced professional, you probably won't get much out of this, but I would love your opinion and feedback.

Today we're talking about: Inspiration

Or rather being uninspired.

Artist's Block, Creative Block, Creative Exhaustion,
whatever you want to call it.

I want to start by saying:  
I know.
This topic has been covered already.
Almost literally every artist on this platform has made a video on "how to get over artist's block".

While I will list some tips, this is more of an exploration of my current understanding of how inspiration works, and how I think about staying inspired, and improving as an artist. This is just as much for me as it is for you. It’s all my opinion, and basically a collective interpretation of all the sources that I've been informed by on this topic. With that said, let's get things started.

Creative block can be caused by many things, but it's symptoms are what you'll be running into first.
Namely: lack of inspiration and a lack of creative output.

Maybe you can't think of anything to draw. Maybe you can think of lot's of things to draw, but aren't confident in your ability to bring them to life. Maybe you're just tired, or lazy, or busy. Maybe the process itself has become frustrating. 

Whatever it is, you're not making art.

You can probably label your reasons pretty simply:
lack of time, energy, or both.

If you have the energy, you're probably already making time to do art, but if you're watching this, you're probably searching for motivation, not time, so let's talk about that.

Let's get the simple stuff out of the way.
Early on, your creativity can be hindered pretty easily by fear. If you're brand new, you probably have a million ideas buzzing around of things to draw, but don't want to start because it's just so damn hard to make the picture look like what's in your head. 

There's an important thing to understand if you're at this phase: Nothing ever turns out like what's in your head.

But, if you get good enough, you can get pretty damn close. So step one to being inspired: get good. If you want to improve fast there are a few things you should to do.

  1. Study the Masters
            find a style or a group of artists you like and copy their work. Try to imagine what they were thinking, and try to learn more than just copy. Don't post this stuff online. It might be your best work, when you're starting out it usually is, but it's still someone elses work.

  2. Study from life
            Everything that has ever been drawn has been inspired by, if not directly copied from real life, and life drawing itself is an important skill.

  3. Join a community
            Post your artwork somewhere where other, more experienced artists can view it and comment. Make yourself useful by giving critiques to others as well, but make sure you study up a little first.

  4. Accept critiques
          '‘It's just my style” is never a valid response. Read your critiques and use them to improve. Make sure to actually change your work based on them. Even if you don't post the changes, fixing your mistakes teaches you how to do things right the first time.

  5. Make art
            Just pick on of your ideas and do it .

Don't slack on 3 and 4, a community will provide you with  ongoing motivation, and getting critiques is one of the most effective ways to improve.
    If you're not just starting out, you've probably experienced moments of inspiration before. Maybe you've even completed an entire piece in a burst of creativity. These moments feel magical, since they allow you to start something almost completely free of fear. If you want to be inspired more often, there are some things you can try:

  1. Carry a journal
                Bring a notebook or sketchbook with you wherever you go. New ideas don't wait for you to be sitting at your desk, and your memory isn't as good as you think it is. Once you keep record of your ideas like this, next time you don't know what to draw you'll have at least a few pages of options to choose from.

  2. Use someone else’s idea
                There's a million ways to find an idea without thinking of it yourself. Use a generator, make a piece based on some music, or do concept art for a book you read.
      Fill your creative bank account and your visual library

  3. Fill your creative bank account and your visual library
                 If you haven't heard these terms before, I'll stick the links to the videos explaining them in the card in the top right, and in the description. ( at the bottom

  4. Be ambitious
                Don't hold back on an idea because you think you aren't good enough. Every piece is a chance to overcome obstacles and improve. 

  5. Make things easy
                Set up your tablet and open your software, or clear you desk and take out your sketchbook before you go to bed. That way when you wake up, there's no excuse not to start.

  6. Fake it 'til you make it
                Unless you've tried this before it sounds dumb, but ditch the sweatpants for a day and try putting on something you'd wear for an interview. Change up your posture. If you draw in a comfy chair sit at a desk.  If your desk is messy, clean it up. Make yourself feel like a professional, and you'll start acting like one.

  7. Take care of yourself
                drink water, take breaks, be as healthy as you can. Your physical and mental state affect your creativity more than anything else. Try to keep a balanced a life as well. Explore your area, hang out with friends, and have other hobbies and interests if you can. I think it was Noah Bradley who said, "If you want to make interesting art, you should try to become an interesting person."

Sometimes though, inspiration disappears halfway through a project, or maybe doesn't show up at all for a while. It's these times when inspiration seems hopelessly far away, and when you might start questioning your choice to become an artist. You can get trapped in this state for a few hours, or a few months, and this mood can hinder your artistic growth, and even spread into other areas of your life. Ultimately, it's up to you to search for what you love about art, and motivate yourself to continue working, with or without inspiration.

Jake Parker | Your Creative Bank Account
Sinix | Visual Library

Martin Brunswick

Developing artist from Boston, MA.