I’m a human being living in the real world, experiencing real emotions, having to work real hard, deal with unwanted stress and avoid distractions. However, I’m very grateful for having the ability to draw/write and turn my ideas and imagination into something tangible. I love being able to put out into the world what I visualize. Then again, I draw a creative blank every now and then – I feel uninspired and often hit a writer’s block, an artist’s block and every other kind of block known to man.
Inspiration is so important, something, someone or someplace to keep those juices flowing. It’s natural to experience highs and lows in the creative process. I’ve worked furiously without a break for weeks on end sometimes, while not being able to do anything creative for months at other times. So, what do I do when I’m feeling fizzled out and talentless? I take action and I find inspiration on my own!
Over the years, I have made a mental list of my favorite ‘go to’ activities that have helped me tide over creative blocks and helped me go back to my art and writing with renewed passion.
Here are my tried and tested, 8 secret ways to getting inspired:
- Make Mood Boards
I loved scrapbooking as a child but who needs that when you have your phone handy with apps like Evernote and Pinterest. I save every little picture, painting, quote I have liked in a nice little folder on my iphone titled Inspira. Inspiration can come from anywhere.
I look beyond other visual artists; photography, typography, fashion, film, graphic novels, children’s book illustrations, product packaging and signage, for instance. I always go back to refer to the subject matter, colours, compositions and structures – it never fails to ignite a spark.
- Carry your Gear
I never leave home without my DSLR camera, pencils and my trusty pocket-sized Moleskine sketchbook. Its handy for making quick sketches because who knows when that sudden creative impulse might strike. I love photographing people when I’m out – my biggest and best source of inspiration afterall. I also make all kinds of notes and lists on my phone that I refer back to.
- Read Read Read
I read all kinds of things everyday starting with my old school newspaper first thing in the morning to Murakami short stories, biographies, The Browser and several blogs. I love getting sucked into wiki wormholes.
But what really works for me is picking up any issue of a National Geographic magazine – it really gets the creative cappuccino frothing for me. That heady combination of people, cultures, places, nature and animals is all I need.
- Become a couch potato
I love putting my feet up on the recliner with my favorite dog sitting with me and binge-watching a good TV show with my husband. It’s something I look forward to doing over bowls of freshly popped corn and soda. It almost always sparks something off inside my head afterwards – so I make sure to listen to some music, go catch a movie or a play whenever I sense a cloud of creative drought approaching.
I make lots of notes and lists but I also find that putting my thoughts down helps me execute artistic ideas better. Its also one of the reasons I started this online art journal – it helps take my own thoughts forward. It helps with my process of discovery and fine-tunes the thought processes that go into an artwork; it helps connect my brain to my hands. Writing helps me dig deep to create. Because, lets face it – a picture is worth a thousand words but a short paragraph will open up a bridge to those thousand words.
- Step out
Traveling truly broadens your mind but when you cant really quit your 9 to 5 and hitchhike into a galaxy, its best to just step outdoors and smell the fresh air. Or, smoggy air whichever you have ready, free and unlimited access to. I always find time to visit art galleries because invariably a voice inside me says, ‘I can do that’ or ‘I want to be able to do that.’
My other favorite haunts for inspo? As much as I hate crowds, I love gawking at trees and people at parks, malls and on the metro.
- Break a Sweat
I get active, go for a walk, walk my dog, bike, run, workout, break a sweat, chase my dogs around to get that adrenaline pumping. You know the adage, ‘All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl.’ Speaking of play, I love puzzles, trivia quizzes, sudokus, crosswords you name it. Nothing like taking your grey cells for a jog is there?
- Learn something new
This is one secret I swear by to instantly pull me out of an artistic inertia. I either enroll in a formal class or start being the autodidact that I am. I try experimenting with new styles, colour pallettes and mediums besides the graphite, pen and inks that I normally use. In the past, I have learned Indian tribal art forms like Warli painting, Gond painting and dabbled with Watercolor, Pastels, Acrylics etc. It has helped me not feel confined in the way I create and the results have brought in new and eye-opening perspectives I never thought possible.
In conclusion, my biggest secret is to keep at it and not give up. Keep creating something you feel passionately about. Draw inspiration from your childhood, your personal experience, your loves, the causes you support – because from there stems truly beautiful art.
Have you ever faced a creative block? How did you find your inspiration? Spill the beans.