9 Things You Can Do To Escape Creative Anxiety And Get Back To (Art)work
Image: Nava Lubelski
As creatives, we are used to making things from scratch, evolving existing structures, and coming up with new ideas on a regular basis. But as humans, we burn out. We may find ourselves racking our brains for ideas, waiting for those ah-ha moments of inspiration, or simply can not muster up the energy to make anything at all. No spark. Just darkness. It’s difficult to climb out of that funk especially when your problems are circumstantial, and you may not have the means, the money, or the space to make whatever it is you generally love to make. You may find yourself experiencing this weird blurry line between a desire to get started and a fear of the unknown. This is creative anxiety. You are not alone. We’ve all been there, I’m literally on the way out of my funk, and actually use many of the tips below to help get me to where I’m going. Back to (art)work.
Scale it back and try using your favourite medium on a much smaller scale. We all know it’s good practice to take a step back from your work in progress, so why not try shrinking everything down so you can see the ‘big' picture right there, zoomed out in front of you. Working small also allows us to pay closer attention to the details that really matter in relation to pulling the whole picture together. Take a look at these 25 Artists that are creating some mind blowing miniature art.
Image: Joe Fig
Try a different medium
Stepping away from what you’re used to leaves space to be filled with something new. Trying a new medium opens up this great artistic area to make some unforeseen mistakes that could really turn into something interesting. As the great Bob Ross used to say
"There are no mistakes, just happy little accidents.”
It's a perfect time to try that new medium that you may have had your eye on for while. Get a feel for how it works, what it feels like for you. You may find that you actually enjoy certain processes more than you originally anticipated, igniting some new ideas!
Go back to basics
Try going back to where you started. I started drawing cartoons when I was a kid, that then turned into drawing realistic portraits of my fave celebs. When I found myself in a creative funk I always resort to doodling faces on a random piece of paper. My work deviated from portraits along time ago, but I still love drawing faces. It’s now something I’m looking forward to revisiting in my next series of works.
Revisiting old faves allows us to reflect on the journey we've taken since then, and where we are now. This may re-spark something in you that you've forgotten about, bringing out new old favourites.
Shape new stories from your past experiences
Some people use art as a way to document personal life experiences. Work like this can really shape how we or others see ourselves. Sometime we’ve been represented by the things we’ve created and it doesn’t always stay true how we are in this current moment. Jennifer Louden wrote an interesting personal account about how she avoided using her past as an excuse for her new ways of being, while Samar Habib from ConsciousED describes an interesting experience with anxiety.
Image: Katharina Trudzinski
Do something else
Take some time to step away completely. Rest, travel, party it up, exercise, or whatever it is that you can do to shift gears. When you drill down too hard on one problem, it tends to amplify. Step back and do something else. If you’re anything like me almost everything I find enjoyable just happens to be art related, so if you’re looking for a good read that’s sort of a self-help but also art related, Danielle Krysa from The Jealous Curator has two pretty brilliant books about overcoming creative blocks and self-doubt. One's called Creative Block and the other's called Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk.
Break things into smaller pieces
Scott Berkun says it perfectly in his guide to creativity. He says
"What are the smallest meaningful pieces to work with? Work on a page. Can’t do a page? Work on a paragraph. Get down the smallest bit you feel you can manage, but do it. Like Guthrie said, take it easy, but take it. After you do one piece, find the strength to do the next one. If you can’t, go for a walk, call a friend, but then come back and try again. And on and on. One small piece at a time. If you’re lucky, once you’ve got a few pieces done, you’ll hit your stride and it won’t seem so bad. If not, just slug it out. At least you’ll be able to say tomorrow you did something today."
Image: Lauren Little
Make art a habit
If you do a little bit everyday as Scott Berkun suggests above, you’ll gradually turn your art making into a little habit that becomes harder and harder to break. Kelly Marie from Messy Every After suggests that making something no matter what state of mind your in is the key to turning yourself from a hobby artist to a career artist. Ya know, if that’s what you’re looking to become.
Although a little inspiration can go along way. When you do find a cool image, or hear something interesting, it will surely fire up some cells in that brain of yours to get the gears turning and your creative juices flowing. Finding something inspirational each day can have positive affects on increasing your desire to create. If you're ever looking for daily inspo, Pinterest is a good spot, and we've got you covered on Damn, That's Good, our daily inspiration blog for artists.
Reflect on why you’re doing it in the first place
What is art about for you anyway? Why did you begin creating it? Do you make art because you should, or because you want to? Rachael Anne Mare of Spunky Misfit Girl reminds us that our personal art is about taking risks, which can be scary. She perfectly explains that the things that scare us are the very things that compel us to make art in the first place. Write down all the things that you feel when you have the freedom to make your art. How does it feel when you’ve completed a piece? Write it down.
Before you know it, you'll have rebuilt your creative confidence.
Take a look at this Ted Talk in which David Kelley suggests rebuilding confidence in our creative minds.
If you found this article useful, share it around, that makes us happy. You can also sign up to the mailing list for posts like this. And, if you have any unanswered questions, you can send them to email@example.com and we'll do our best to answer them in an email or a post.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to share your art with us by submitting your work or tag #darkyellowdot on Instagram @darkyellowdot
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lauren was born in London, but grew up in Canada where she received her degrees with distinction in Fine Arts and Education. Now she's back, she continues her work in creative arts by making art and teaching it, while developing opportunities for early career artists by creating and running the online platform Dark Yellow Dot.