Maybe you believe you have to be a creative ‘type’ to make artwork. Some people might be born naturally creative, but most often in comes from hours, weeks, even years of practice. Here’s how to keep your creative mind buzzing.
Go out and see things. You don’t have to go visit the most beautiful scenery in the world, but wherever you are, whatever you are doing, really look at things. Notice them, look at them in a different way, let them take hold of your imagination. Look at the views, the people around you, architectural details, events unfolding in front of you. Anything can spark an idea. To get you started, I recommend Keri Smith’s books. They’re fun with simple creative exercise to help you start seeing the world in a different way. I enjoyed How to be an Explorer of the World (2008) and The Wander Society (2016).
Once you begin noticing things, start to collect. Again, you don’t have to go to exotic scenes for inspiration, just go out on your street and see what you can find. Pick up, keep it, put it in a box or a scrapbook. If you find something that doesn’t give you the spark of an idea, can you use it as a material? Can you collage it, paint on it, write on it? If you don’t want to make a physical scrapbook, use the Internet. Store pictures that you like on Pinterest and soon you will have a personal archive of things that are interesting and mean something to you. When you need inspiration you will have an amazing resource.
Other creatives are often the best source of ideas, connection and advice. Creative friendships where you can bounce ideas off one another are an amazing way of boosting your creativity and improving your work. If you don’t know any creatives try taking a class or joining a local meet-up. It’s way easier to find people who likes the same things as you with social media. Search for Facebook groups local to you, or make long distance friendships.
Daily sketching or journaling helps get you into the habit of regularly generating ideas. Recently I’ve been filling sketchbooks every 1-2 months. As they say, practice makes perfect, and according to author Malcolm Gladwell it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill (Outliers, 2008). Don’t worry if you’re work isn’t perfect right away! Sometimes the simple act of doing something that is familiar can help you improve. Practice being creative, being disciplined in your work and letting your creativity flow.
Experiment. Experiment. Experiment. It is only by experimentation and practice that you will learn the types of colours and materials that suit you and develop your own style. Get over the fear of being wrong and get all your thoughts down on paper in whatever form they take. I suggest keeping everything, I often keep pieces I dislike and find them useful years down the line. You never know when an idea might pop up again.
Sometimes, the most important thing is simply starting. It’s a process of development. It won’t come together right away, but the important thing is that you are taking action. You are learning. Creativity does not magically appear under the right conditions. It comes through practice, it comes once we open our eyes and put pen to paper.
So, what are you waiting for?