Time to Beat that Creative Block
We’ve all felt it, that sensation of an idea swirling in our head and the inability to get it out. Sitting, staring into space as the clock continuously clicks over to the next minute. How do we deal with it?
What can artists do to move past creative blocks and beat the clock?
As a graphic design teacher at Nossi College of Art, I see students that often encounter creative blocks. As an artist I have personally experienced blocks in my own creative flow, especially as the deadline draws near. How do we, as artists, keep our right brain functioning in a world that is predominantly controlled by the left? How do we maintain that passion that caused us to take this career path?
Working on projects can be fun and exciting as well as occasionally frustrating. They are fun and exciting when the ideas are flowing and you get caught up in the creative excitement of the moment. It can also be frustrating when the ideas get clogged, or have to be changed mid-stream, by that particular boss or customer that wants to suddenly go in a different direction.
So what can be done to unblock the creative dam?
After many years as a successful graphic designer, I have this advice for artists… Start by shaking things up and stepping out of your comfort zone. Trying new things is a great way to remove those temporary creative blocks.
I recently completed a canvas painting appropriately titled “Finding Direction”. It took getting back to my fine art roots to get my creative juices freely flowing again. For many years I had worked exclusively on the computer and found that it was cathartic to change things up and work with oil and canvas again. It feels different working in different mediums.
Ernest Hemingway was one of the greatest writers of all time. His creative process still holds true today and applies well to artists of all kinds.
Don’t Over Think It
“…I learned not to think about anything I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day.”
A really simple concept, yet one we are all guilty of forgetting. We forget to turn off. Artists have a tendency to fixate on their work and then miss the clarity of simply walking away for a few moments. Give yourself a break, breath, relax, walk around and then come back to it fresh.
Get Good Editors (Critics)
Well, maybe we aren’t looking for editors, but some good, sound, constructive criticism can often be helpful. Many times someone else can see the very thing you are missing. Have other people objectively look at your work and be willing to hear their feedback.
“When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written. If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing you were writing before you could go on with it the next day.
Maybe not reading per se, but looking at the work of others can many times open up those creative juices we all rely on. Take a moment and look at what your peers and other artists are doing. It could just be what gets you going.
Get Out Among People
“It was easier to think if I was walking or doing something or seeing people doing something that they understood.”
There are too many times that we lock ourselves away for days, just creating. We ride that creative flow and completely forget that there is a world of inspiration just waiting out there. Get out among people, most importantly, among your peers. Allow yourself the time to be around people that understand why you walk up and feel that texture so you can recreate it. Attending events such as SIGGRAPH are a great way to get out and rub elbows with other digital artists. But just getting outside for a few moments, or even just to the break room, maybe what you need.
Remember Your Success
“I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now.’”
When we’re stuck on a project, we get discouraged. It happens to everyone. Don’t get down. Remember what’s worked for you in the past. What did you do? What made it successful? Remember you’ve done it before. You can do it again!
By Beth Rogers
Nossi College of Art
Beth Rogers holds several degrees including a BS in graphic design and a Master of Fine Arts. She currently runs her own company Jazz’d Creative. In the past, Beth has had the opportunity to work with a strong client list, including O’Charley’s Commissary, The Southeastern Produce Council, Premier 1492, Jack Daniel's Distillery, Bacardi, Corsair Artisan and many other local and national companies.
As a long-time resident of Nashville, the music industry had a large influence on her and she has taken her experiences from that to new heights by creating work for numerous artists. Since beginning her current career path, Ms. Rogers has been a Software Demonstrator at Siggraph (International Computer/Graphics Convention), Designer of numerous print ads featured in national and industry publications, Technical Editor for numerous software-related books, contributing writer and designer for Create Magazine and is also serving as an adjunct instructor for Nossi College of Art Computer Graphics.