CREATIVE BLOCKS...THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND HOW TO KICK IT IN THE A** October 08, 2015 14:15

It's been a while since my last post.  I've been working on being more consistent with this, but sometimes, as my dad says, "sh*t happens".  

I came back from Europe a little over a year ago FULL of ideas and inspiration.  There was a collection, an amazing photoshoot, and a ton of unique products to be super proud of, but when it came time to move on to the next round of designs, I had a block.  

As an artist, this is not unfamiliar territory as many following suit may well understand.  We all have ups and downs with our creative flow and the cards were just not in my favor this time.  Little did I know that this block would last...ummm......well, about a year (AAAHH!!) due to the addition of some major life changes occurring directly after, but fortunately I was able to redirect some of this unproductive time into other channels.

Here's what I did (and you can do) to kick the block.

1.  Attend A Conference

If you can at all afford it, I highly, HIGHLY recommend attending a conference in your field for a multitude of reasons.  You will not only gain a TON of new information that you can put to use, but if you make yourself available, you can meet some incredibly talented and inspiring people.  The creative conferences I attend are full of highly motivated entrepreneurs and I find myself almost instantly inspired and full of ideas within a few minutes of conversation.  This can also lead to networking later which is huge.

 

2.  Submerge Yourself In Knowledge

Blogs, books, podcasts, Ebooks, newsletters, etc...all of these hold valuable information that could switch that block off at any moment.  Sometimes it takes hearing one sentence for me to think, "that is EFFING genius, I'm going to go apply that right now".  While the creative part of me had given up, I found that reading books on small business was extremely helpful.  One of my favorites I've read and re-read is "The $100 Startup" by Chris Guillebeau.

 

3.  Invite People That You Admire You To Lunch

This method never fails me, and I discovered it on accident.  Meeting up with my crafty friends is not a chore obviously, I do it for fun, but there's an unexpected side benefit of having these fun meetups.  The conversation always starts out with normal life catch up, but every single time we fall back onto talking about our businesses.  Hearing what other people are getting after and achieving makes me want to run home and WERK!!  It's also a good opportunity to bounce ideas off of someone.  Maybe they don't necessarily have a business per se, but any kind of ambitious friend or acquaintance you respect should have the same effect.

 

4.  Plagiarize

What?  No not like that, I don't want you to get arrested...  

When I am trying to come up with new patterns and I'm hearing crickets for days on end, I'll grab a magazine or pull up a website with some pattern design, and just start sketching something I see.  For me, this serves as a way to get my hand moving and my brain back in the game, even though it's going in the trash shortly after.  It's a starting point that I can jump off of which can spark new ideas.

 

5.  Learn A New Trade  

When you're burnt out, sometimes the worst thing you can do is force yourself into something.  Picking up a new skill or hobby can be a sweet escape.  In some cases, you may even be able to apply it to your original endeavor.  For instance, I started Spanish lessons so all my future blogs will be in terrible white girl Spanglish...jk.  :)

 

6.  Enter Something With A Deadline

Personally, I have a problem with getting really overwhelmed when I'm working on 17 parts of 17 different projects (which is most of my life).  When it comes to projects with a deadline, I'm 100% more on top of it.  It makes the path to get there really finite, and I know exactly how much time I have to reach my goal.  This could apply to anything from applying for an art show, a gallery submission, or telling someone you'll have the project done by X date so you're held accountable.

 

7.  Get Drunk With Your Art Supplies

Well not THAT drunk, I mean you still have to be able to pick up the paintbrush... Grab a glass of wine, blast some DeadMau5 (ok ok maybe not) and just chill the eff out!  Have fun, don't take it seriously and see what you create. 

 

8.  Creep On Your Competition  

I don't know about you, but as much as I love seeing what talented artists around me are creating, the worst feeling of all is seeing someone kick a** while I'm having a block and have nothing to show.  AKA 'craft-jealousy'.  Especially when I've been following these companies for a while and watched them as they've grown.  I find that if I'm stuck, I'll go check out what other similar artists are creating and within 2 seconds my brain is in competitive mode and wants to make stuff!

 

9.  Find A Mentor

Having someone you can call or email when you're at a loss for ideas is an amazing thing. They've been there, they've done it, and they can help.  Get one.

 

10.  Keep A Visual Journal

I used to have a folder on my desktop in my computer labeled, "Dani's Cute Book".  It was a place where I stored any photo or image that grabbed my attention.  It could be because of the color, a pattern, etc.  When I'd run out of ideas this was the first place I'd look.  I also had a physical folder with magazine page rip outs, but that's like so 90's now...