Staying focused, creative, open, disciplined, and flexible is a tall order, especially if you're working long hours, alone, in the studio. Whether you do art full time or are squeezing it in between day jobs, the pressure to produce can be debilitating. To help you work through some of your very understandable jitters, we've gone through The Creative Independent's artist's interviews and collected some practical advice about how to get unstuck.
Artspace is collaborating with The Creative Independent, a resource for artists with a deep archive of interviews, wisdom, and how-to guides, to bring you key learnings from visual artists about the creative process. These quotes are excerpted from articles originally published on The Creative Independent.
HOW TO DEAL WITH CREATIVE BLOCK
Tip #1: Do Multiple Projects at Once
“I do get creative blocks now and then, but then, I have other things. I do like to have a few balls rolling at once. It’s innate. I work better when I can pinball between mediums a little. Also, as non-musicians, I have a band, Bauch Bien Po, with two artist friends. It’s a really ridiculous band, and we just make really stupid fun music, and we don’t take ourselves seriously at all. We started it when I was in Austria. We made a YouTube channel with a couple of our videos. We just like making fun songs that are actually quite political although sung entirely in German. It’s completely meaningless, but when I’m blocked and I don’t know what to work on, I make a video or song or something, and it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s fun and it puts me in my place.” - Laleh Khorramian, visual artist
Tip #2: "Just Try"
“I have a practice called 'just try.' That’s my practice. I literally just try. For as serious as I am—and I take feelings seriously, I take people seriously, I take all of this seriously—I am in a deep practice of trying to go easy on myself when it comes to creative output and literally I have a theory of working every day. I think that this is an important part of a lot of things. Anything mind and body oriented, I’ve noticed that if you do it every day, it gets easier. It somehow becomes less traumatic in a way. It creates this feeling." - Sarah Kinlaw, musician, dancer, and curator
Tip #3: Creativity Comes With Healing
“Healing, for me, means aligning. It means aligning with a source, with your own rhythm, with your destiny and your vision. Often we are afraid. We’re just full of fears, full of doubts, full of insecurities, and we’re unable to manifest our vision because we are broken inside. When you’re broken you give birth to broken dreams. So healing is how to allow a flow of infinite creative energy to move through you, with you, and for it to work as you. How can you be yourself, a body in service of the infinite? That’s what healing is for me, right now. It changes as I grow, as I bloom. My healing will transform and my idea of it will transform. But for now that’s how I think about it.” - Tabita Rezaire, visual artist and healer
Tip #4: Experiment With Your Tools
"Sometimes, I just start from my computer with my tools, discovering through experiments. For example, when I started using Cinema 4D, I didn’t know anything about the software. But just watching the videos on YouTube, of the people who do tutorials, and trying by myself, sometimes these new forms just burst through. The process is usually a mix of watching, experimenting, and having an impulse, or a vision of something." - Camille Baudelaire, visual artist and graphic designer
#5: Have Confidence In Your Ideas!
"The best thing I got from the people I grew up with, especially from my mom, is the confidence to create anything I wanted. I have a natural confidence with art that I don’t have with, say, soccer, and I think that’s why I made a big decision to stop playing sports and keep going with art. It felt like the easy way out, which is a funny thing to say because art is hard. I’m also very stubborn, secretly. I didn’t get good grades in art school because I did whatever the fuck I was going to do, no matter who told me what. I’ve had boyfriends who were like, “You need to learn to speak more articulately about your work.” People have tried to change me. I might agree on the outside, but on the inside I’m thinking, 'No, fuck you. You don’t know what you’re saying. I know what I’m doing.' I got that attitude from my mom. It’s served me well." - Petra Cortright, Visual Artist
HOW TO STAY FOCUSED IN THE STUDIO
Tip #1: Be Conscious About Your Social Media Use
“Social Media can destroy your creativity. People don’t spend as much time focusing on doing research work or they’re not consuming enough to make them feel like they’ve had enough brain food. They’re just comparing themselves to other people all day long or feeling like they’re not actually moving forward in any way. I always see that happening to my friends, and I just want to shake them and be like, 'Stop. Get off of your phone. This is what’s happening to you...' Most of my friends that want to be creative and are suffering from creative blocks are people who are consumed with their ego and displaying the ego and comparing themselves to other egos in the world and not actually focusing on the work involved in creating.” - Yumna Al-Arashi, visual artist
Tip #2: Develop a Routine
"I think it really helps to have a routine. I need to work on that. I box, so going to boxing and exercising and just letting my head go away from all that really helps. Just having something else that is outside of what you are doing, something that’s consistent, I think is really important." - Alexandra Climent, visual artist and woodworker
Tip #3: Make Your Studio Feel Like Home
“I can work anywhere, but my studio is kind of like a temple. It’s called a temple. I work there and I teach workshops there. When people come there... I want them to feel like it’s their home. I have tea. I have food. They can talk to other women there when they come in. I don’t want them to feel like they’re in a studio.” - Delphine Diallo, photographer
Tip #4: If You Can Afford It, Hire People to Help You Out
"I hired an under-painter and then he ended up getting better than me. Then I had to get as good as him. Then we were going back and forth for a while. Somebody else came in who was better than both of us. She changed our palette. We learn every time. Hiring better people ups my game. It’s like playing with better tennis players. We’ve been together, this one person and I, since 1997. He’s like my studio manager." - Marilyn Minter, visual artist
Tip #5: You Don't Have to Work in a Studio! Just Go With Whatever Works
"This is one of the things that I think is interesting about practicing in a nomadic way. For years, when I would come home to Jamaica during these long breaks, I didn’t have a 'studio.' This is how I functioned. Nomadically. I’d work from my bedroom in my mother’s house and organize a photo shoot, and then go to my Alma Mater and say, “Hey, can I borrow this space for a day to do this project?” And then collaborate with a tailor who would sew all the garments for me. Then I’d figure out who the models were beforehand and take them to the tailor who would do the fittings. I was just orchestrating all these things from wherever I happened to be." - Ebony G. Patterson, visual artist