It’s been called by a couple of names — art block, artist’s block, creative block, and many others, especially in the creative domain. They all refer to those brief stints when you have no creative ideas and can’t seem to get anything done.
It can affect the best of anyone starting a small business or taking up freelancing. Writers would often talk about a lull in ideas, and artists found themselves lacking in imagination and inspiration. What caused this horrific phenomenon?
The art block.
Fear no more. In this article, we’re going to delve into this dreaded concept of the art block, what causes it, and how you can slip out of this annoying creative rut.
Ready? Let’s dive in…
What is an Art Block?
If you’re reading this, I’m sure no further explanation is necessary here. But, it probably resembles the feeling of blah.
Your career as a professional artist, whether digital or traditional, depends mainly on how well you can get your creative engine moving. Of course, that is not to downplay the role of using the right graphic design tools, but what’s a tool without the right hands and a creative mind?
We’ll get to tools and creativity in a moment, but for now, we should talk about one interference that could impede both.
Artist block or art block is when you’ve run out of motivation or can’t find inspiration to continue working. For example, perhaps you’re trying to design a logo for a client, or have gotten to the middle of one creative project, only to feel stuck with no means of drawing prompts to continue.
Art block can come in different forms, can last for as long as you allow it (more on this later), and can happen to anyone, irrespective of their art supplies or skill level.
And, it’s not the end of the road, as you’ll find out soon…
What Causes Art Block?
There are many reasons why you can get an art block. Sometimes they are related, and sometimes, it could be the result of a combination of causes. Let’s explore the most common ones:
1. Stress or Physical Exhaustion
Undoubtedly, the life around you has an essential effect on your feelings, which ultimately determines how well your creativity flows.
Excellent artists recognize the importance of being in a positive environment and maintaining a positive mindset. Feeling positive helps generate the artwork or graphic design ideas they need.
A negative environment or mindset not only prevents your mind from making new ideas, but the toll it takes on you could disrupt an existing idea. The same thing happens when you’re physically exhausted – it could interrupt your creativity process or make you stop thinking entirely.
2. Lack of Motivation
Like many things in life, motivation fluctuates. You could be fired up with exciting ideas one day but lack inspiration the next.
If you find yourself in the graphic design scene without the right reasons, you may struggle with this problem even more. It can happen to anybody, depending on their current state of mind.
3. Too Many Ideas
Yes, it happens.
Sometimes, you can end up with so many ideas that you don’t know which one to work on. Although this is not a problem in itself, the indecision that accompanies it can be overwhelming. This is known as “decision fatigue” and can block your artistic inspiration.
4. Inadequate Skills
Getting better at what you do requires you to start and practice continuously. However, before this happens, we all go through a phase where we lack the skills for creating the ideas we develop.
This art block is straightforward but not always easy to get out of. We’ll go more in-depth in some of the tactics you can use to overcome this, but seeking someone to teach you or watching YouTube tutorial videos on the subject matter are all things you can do to further hone your craft.
In most cases, you’re experiencing art block out of fear. It could be fear of criticism, imperfection, or thinking, “what if no one likes my design?”
Usually, fear bounces off other reasons. For example, having inadequate skills will play into your fear of not being competent.
Fear clouds your judgment and certainly blocks inspiration and the creative process.
Slightly related to the last point — self-doubt is when you feel like you don’t deserve something great or you’re not good enough.
This is usually not true and could result from excessively comparing yourself to other artists, a particular fear, a lack of inspiration, or because you feel guilty about a previous piece of work.
Most of us are professionals at making excuses instead of just getting right to work.
As I began writing this article, I decided it would be good to read something. You know, clear out some of the opened tabs and perhaps get some inspiration, right? Before I knew it, I had already opened more tabs on fashion trends, exciting recipes, and other “picked-for-you” suggestions.
Unfortunately, that’s what procrastination does. Everything seems interesting except the exact thing you should be doing. We all know it robs us of the ideas we’re excited about. So unless you snap out of it, you’ll get nothing done…
10 Tips to Knock Down your Art Block
Now that you know some of the main reasons for artist block, it’s time to combat it.
Whether you’re having trouble coming up with an idea or you just can’t seem to continue working, use these tips to overcome artist’s block, challenge the state of affairs, and start creating once again.
Perhaps it’s a good time to remind you that even the most experienced artists go through artist block – so you shouldn’t spend too much time feeling down.
Although it can be frustrating, just breathe, calm down, and know that you can get through it.
2. Take Action
There is great power in thinking big, but you also have to act. Some of the art blocks you’ve experienced are just waiting for you to make the first move or draw the first shape.
It happens even when I’m writing, and disappears as soon as I’ve created an outline. The next time you feel an art block, set aside your fears and do just one thing. Don’t let perfectionism get in the way.
3. Set Effective Deadlines
Remember that task you got done in three days?
Well, remember when you had a longer deadline – say, a month – and yet you still didn’t complete it until the last second? When used wisely, deadlines are a perfect motivation to get rid of procrastination.
However, for deadlines to be effective, they have to reflect the time you need for the tasks. Managing multiple tasks requires that you don’t add more time than you need, and certainly, not less than would be needed to do a good job.
4. Get a Better Environment
There’s no doubt that the right environment will affect how you work in a good way. Your creative space can serve as the perfect source of inspiration, but there have to be conscious efforts to do it right.
Set up your space to have the art supply you need and make sure it’s comfortable. Being able to lay your hands on the gears you need when you need them will help to avoid distractions and frustrations that could lead to artist’s block.
Sometimes, it may help to treat yourself to new gears and supplies for a kick-start. For example, as a writer, I have often been guilty of finding different keyboards that sound and feel different to type on to get my productivity going. You may find that applies to your work too.
Another aspect of this is to rearrange your space. It’s a simple hack you can repeat multiple times, but it gives you a fresh perspective to help with inspiration and the creative process.
5. Take a Break
Physical and mental exhaustion plays a huge part in an artist’s block. And even if you’re not exhausted, stepping back can do you a world of good. This is even more effective because it can come in different forms.
You can stretch your limbs, go out for fresh air, marvel at nature, grab a healthy snack, read a book, listen to new music or story, or even sleep. Sleep Advisor recommends taking a power nap between 1 pm to 3 pm, of around 20-25 minutes, to wake up feeling refreshed and energized. Not only will you return feeling better when you take a break, but you may also come across creative ideas to work with.
6. Learn More
When your skill grows, it’s easier to feel inspired to work. Being better at what you do enhances your confidence and dispels doubt and fear.
Learning is fun, and you feel happy when you learn something new. Remember to make mistakes along the way; they never hurt!
7. Look at Works You Love
Many people, including myself, find that looking at my favorite works helps get me inspired. Again, this is easy, and all you need is to keep an open mind.
8. Get the Right Help
It’s okay to ask for help when you need it.
If you can draw out the reasons for your art block, consulting a person or tool that can help should be the next consideration. You could even collaborate online, or get an accountability partner who helps you with procrastination.
You can find drawing prompts, take part in art challenges, or other exercises that can help your creativity.
Another great way is to look into different tools and software that can help. For example, if your primary role requires you to write, you may turn to an AI writing tool to help you through.
Poor health takes a toll on you.
But, on the other hand, taking care of yourself and being in good shape is an underrated solution to a couple of issues – including art block.
Working on yourself keeps you inspired to work on your designs or art. Aside from feeling energized, your body and mind would get the signal and start drawing inspiration from the feeling almost immediately.
10. Keep Records
No, I’m not asking you to document how long your art block lasts – unless you need that for something else…?
The records that are more relevant here are those of inspiration. When inspirations come, albeit beautiful and interesting, you could lose it immediately if you don’t get to work.
This is why you should write things down. Whether it’s a fun idea you could use in your drawings, shapes that would fit your next artwork or a life quote that inspires you.
Kicking Down that Art Block is Frustrating…
…but completely normal.
We aren’t wired to be productive 100% of the time, and you shouldn’t put too much pressure to feel creative all the time either.
First, identify what can be causing the creative block, and then try out different methods for helping you get out of the rut. Most times, all you need is a change of mindset, and at other times, the help you need to challenge the block is lying all around you.
Now that you’re ready to kick down the dreaded artist’s block, Twine is the perfect place to start.
Ready to get hired? At Twine, we have dozens of top-quality jobs being posted each and every day. From design to marketing, development to copywriting – there’s a job ready for your skills. Join the marketplace of diverse creative talent here.