Sugarbones: 5 Tips for Overcoming Art Block

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In Greek mythology, inspiration was said to be a gift granted by the Muses - the nine goddesses of the arts. These goddesses were born from the collision of Pegasus' hooves against the Isle of Helicon, conjuring enchanting springs that summoned them into existence. The myth tells us that these goddesses were sought after by the greatest musicians and artists of the time, who called for them through art, music & theatre, just for the chance to be bestowed with their gift of inspiration. 

With this myth in mind, we can tell art block is nothing new! Creatives have been struggling with blocks in inspiration throughout time, so there is something comforting in knowing you're not alone!

I'm sure the muses are now living a happy life of retirement with their Satyr friends, so summoning may not be an option ...BUT! As someone who has dealt with the frustration of art block many times, I hope to share some of my tips in hopes that they help you too.

Don't be so hard on yourself! Lack of inspiration is a common thing that everyone experiences and says nothing about you as an artist.

I can guarantee that almost every creative person on this planet has had bouts of art block and lack of inspiration. I find that it becomes easy to relate these frustrations to something wrong with you personally - and I can promise you it is not the case. 

We live in a world where people are encouraged to be productive, which can take a negative toll on our psyche when we aren't feeling up to it. Having an unproductive creative day is okay, and there is no rush to create your next big masterpiece right now! While art block is undoubtedly frustrating, try to be kind to yourself and not let it bring you down. Inspiration comes when we least expect it, so pressuring yourself will only lead to more stress. 

Remember that there will be times where you will be able to create without even giving your ideas a second thought, and also times of doubt where you can do nothing but stare at a blank canvas in rage. Remember that this is the cycle of creativity, and understand that this does not mean you've lost your spark! 

Social Media can stress you out by causing you to compare yourself to the workflow of others, or interfere with your natural wavelength! It is healthy to sign off every once in a while!

Browsing social media can be a double-edged sword! On one hand, seeing our favourite artists & creators producing content can help inspire us, but when you're feeling anxious about your own work I find it can also intimidate you, and put more stress on your inability to create yourself. 

Social media makes it very easy for us to compare ourselves to other creators. The majority of the accounts I follow are typically content related - fashion designers, fellow creative businesses, and artists I admire, so I am voluntarily seeing new work all the time. If I'm feeling stressed about my own creative flow, it becomes easy to compare myself in the sense that they are creating great things, while I'm stuck in a rut. With this in mind, I find it super healthy to close down apps like twitter & Instagram during the creative process and focus on my own little world. 

Also, on the note of social media, absorbing too much information & content can crowd our thoughts and make it harder to focus! Like a moth to a flame, I often pick up on bits of information or content I'd like to incorporate into my own work. Unfortunately, when too much is going on inside my head it also becomes hard to stream line one idea. This is why people commonly suggest you turn your phone off before bed - your mind is constantly processing new information, and it becomes hard to relax and let go.

Try not to worry about it too much! Go have fun and do something completely unrelated - something magical may happen!

Whenever I am feeling uninspired, or feeling the pressure to create, I try to indulge in my other hobbies and take my mind off it. For me personally, I find a lot of happiness in a good comic or a video game! These forms of visual stimulation are still appealing to my creative mind, but I'm not focusing on my artwork so my thought process is clear and I can explore what I love. There have been so many times that I have put down my pencil and cuddled up in bed, popped in a new game and have been inspired by the tiniest thing I've come across in my journey, taking me completely off guard.

I find that inspiration comes in many different forms, and can be evoked in ways that are much more fun than staring at a blank canvas. If you're into gardening, maybe the pattern of the flowers will inspire you, or you'll see a cute bug with a colour scheme that interests you! Maybe you'll see a plant and wonder what a creature who lives inside it might look like. If you're into reading, maybe a character will say something that strikes you, or the description of the scenery urges you to paint it! 

And hey! Even if nothing from your activity leads to any breakthroughs, at least you had fun!

Art games are a fun and effective way to create! Here's one of my favorites.

When I was in university, my friends and I would play art games to pass the time during boring lectures, or just because they were so dang fun. One of my favourite games we created was called Finish the Squiggle! This is a game you can play with your friends, or by yourself, and I'd like to invite you to give it a try because the results are hilarious.

The rules are simple: Draw a quick squiggle, and turn it into something!

Rocket science, I know! BUT! The quick, playful nature of this game is a great exercise for your mind, as well as for your ~ soul ~

Here are a couple of examples of some finish the squiggles I popped out just now.

Oh no pikachu what is wrong with you hunny

Here I used the dark pink to draw my squiggle, and filled in the design with light pink! The trick is to work fast, not worry too much about how silly or how off the anatomy is with your designs. Just from this little activity alone, I can see a few pieces I may want to proceed with - such as the mermaid or the little Capricorn! Try it out for yourself.

Oh - and I forgot the most important rule of all. NO SNAKES! NO SNAILS! Everything is a snail or a snake if you truly wish it to be (even our exes amiright). 

Ideas don't always have to be brand new! Try recycling some older ones!

My final tip is to consult and examine the creative who knows your art best - yourself!

Keeping sketchbooks, jotting down ideas, and saving unfinished works is very important in my artistic routine. I've never once finished a sketchbook, but I do have a mighty collection of half-filled ones that stretch back to high school + beyond ( we don't talk about beyond though, all of those pieces were inspired by emotional evanescence lyrics and have no place in my portfolio today )

I often pick up one of these books and reminisce through them - and it's not uncommon for me to immediately be reminded of the thoughts and influences that went into those notes + drawings! As creatives, I find we tend to come up with a lot of ideas over time but sometimes do not execute them, for one reason or another. Revisiting old work can take our old ideas, and envision them with the knowledge, style and skills we have today. 

Plus, creating something new based on ideas from your past is like old you giving new you a high five, which is pretty cute.

Thank you for reading! I hope that these tips helped you! 

♡ Good luck finding your Muse. 

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  • i needed to see step one so bad, and i never even knew it. thank you so much ❤️

    aly emi on
  • Hi! I just wanted to say that you’re my favorite creative currently and I hope you keep doing what you’re doing! I wish you well in all your future encounters! (also you posted this on my birthday which motived me to leave this comment lol)

    Alayna Stewart on
  • Awesome tips with a sprinkle of cute pics! I found them helpful for any type of “block” even tho I don’t work in the art world thanks sugarb and rilakkuma!!!

    Lilokiko on
  • Thanks so much for this…in currently in an art void , this is very helpful❤️

    Mina Cheyenne on
  • Yaaay loved this post so much! So useful <3
    Keep the good work girl!

    Cindy Chaps on

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