We’ve all been there. If you’re a creative like myself, I’m sure you’ve visited this place more often than you’d like to admit. Where, you ask? I’d like to welcome you to the dismal land of creative block.
As a designer, I hear the term “imposter syndrome” thrown around quite a bit, as it seems most people working in a creative field suffer from this at one time or another. In times of severe creative block, my mind can’t help but wander to this inner self-doubt, as I quickly begin to question my own talent. I’ll stare at my blank screen for what feels like hours, before I inevitably succumb to giving up and trying again later. Frustrating much?
After years of working in design and battling this aforementioned doubt, I only recently uncovered some habits that contribute to fighting creative block and aid in ignoring that small voice that whispers, “you’re not good enough.” The first came through a personal side project of creative expression via Instagram – once I began channeling my energy into a passion project, I noticed that I was drawing more and more creativity into my life. The benefit? My creative blockage at work has drastically improved. Encompassing my life with various artistic outlets helps keep my creative juices flowing, and helps my design brain refrain from “shutting off” for periods of time.
Below are 3 tips to help bust the block – try them out for yourself and thank me later!
My passion project came to me randomly one day. About a year after moving from NYC to LA, I began noticing how much color made up the city of angels, unlike the grey that blankets New York. Everywhere you look, there are bright-colored houses, graffiti, fun signs with interesting fonts and color contrasts, all accompanied by the perfect blue sky backdrop that shapes the LA atmosphere. I began photographing my surroundings, capturing cool angles and interesting crops. I intended to print the photos for a gallery wall in my apartment, but then another idea popped into my head: Instagram. If I had access to a continuous feed, I could collect countless photos and continue my new project beyond the walls of my home. Incorporating this Instagram project (shameless plug: @colorsof______) into my life not only brought me a daily dose of happiness, but it made me more cognisant of my surroundings. The world surely is a beautiful place when you stop to look around and reminding myself of that day by day has not only improved my creativity, but it’s improved my quality of life.
Consider an idea you’ve had in the past and think about what’s held you back from it. I took me three months to actually start posting my photos on a social feed, for fear of how they would be received. But one day I overcame my insecurity and realized that this project was for no one but myself. Once you let go of the excuses, you’ll reap the benefits of believing in your own talents.
No, no, I’m not advocating for more cocktails with friends (although I do love a good rooftop happy hour). While a third summer sangria is guaranteed to bring good vibes, how about inviting friends to attend an art event with you instead? Art is everywhere! Scan Facebook for fun events or make an effort to notice pinned up signs around your city. General Assembly also hosts open workshops where you can meet and learn from all sorts of creative masterminds. If you’re going for a more relaxed vibe, hit up a local flea market and find inspiration in the eclectic mix of items. Or, attend a wine & paint night class that seem to be all the rage as of late.
Each weekend here in Venice, there’s an Artists & Fleas popup that I try to drop by at least twice per month. Weaving through all of the vendors and marveling at their creations makes me feel more in touch with my own artistry. I always leave feeling refreshed, inspired, and grateful for the various forms of art in this world.
Social media, while it has it’s cons, is one of the best platforms for exploring new designers, artists, writers, travel bloggers, style icons, photographers, etc. Scrolling through a feed of your friend’s wedding photos, baby snapshots, or mischievous nights out can be a little lackluster (and downright annoying) after a while. Seek out aesthetically pleasing accounts to break up your feed and boost your mood. I would have to guess that about a third of the accounts I follow on Instagram belong to photographers, graphic designers, or curated art blogs. Whether it’s a typography account with the coolest handwritten typefaces, or a travel blog with epic landscape shots, a small daily dose of visual stimulation throughout your day can work wonders to reinvigorate the mind.
Perhaps an image sparks a new idea or line of thinking. Perhaps it inspires innovation on a project already in development. In my own experience, following NYC-based designer, Jessica Walsh, kindled my own desire to capture colorful moments through my passion project. Her use of color and unexpected art subjects inspired me to be more bold in my work. If you’re unsure of where to start, take a look at the Explore tab on Instagram or search a specific hashtag for some motivation.
The more you draw into your life, the more you project that same theme out into the world. If you surround yourself with positive people, you’re a more positive person. So why can’t the same stand for creativity? The methods I’ve worked into my life have given me an overall more artistic outlook on the world at large, which is definitely good for business.