12 Tips to Find Inspiration to Make Art when we Are Stuck

12 Tips to Find Inspiration to Make Art when we Are Stuck

Usually, we find inspiration to make art when we are not looking for it. We are in the shower or preparing dinner and ideas pop into our heads. We walk through nature or in a city and are inspired by what we see or experience.

Then we are so in the flow that we do not need extra inspiration. At other times we have to consciously search for it because we want to create but just don’t know how and what. We’re stuck.

To get that process going, I’ll give you 12 tips in this article.

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Find inspiration to make art

We can consciously direct the process of getting inspired by listening to music, reading books, taking pictures, making lists to brainstorm, and challenging ourselves.

Get inspired

Resistance, hemisphere, diameter 28 cm.

In the article The Inspiration, Process, and Results of my Abstract Ceramics I describe the process of getting inspired during my ceramics career. It seemed as if inspiration came out of the blue, every time I was ready to start a new series of work.

Yet it is nonsense to think that artists always have inspiration. On the other hand, artists are more aware of the possibilities to be inspired. We will direct that process both consciously and unconsciously.

And by artists, I don’t just mean professionals, but also amateurs and hobbyists. For me, anyone who is creative is an artist.

Where to get inspiration

Look at other art

Art is not just paintings but also sculptures and architecture. Visit a lot of museums and exhibitions. Look at every building or statue you come across on your walks through a city. Browse through books or on the internet, like the Google Arts & Culture project.

Try to delay your reaction to what you see. We tend to immediately classify everything as beautiful or ugly with the risk that we close off part of our experience.

Related: 17 Excellent Tips to Enjoy Art for Free

Nature

Nature has been a great source of inspiration for many artists. That could be a landscape that was drawn or painted. The structure of trees and plants. The shape of seed pods.

The architect of the Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi, was clearly inspired by the plant world, which you can recognize in the ornaments as well as in the ceilings.

DeFalla performance
Bruja, made after attending a dance performance

Dance and music

Art includes not only visual art but also music, dance and theatre. Sound and movement can inspire you to make music or dance yourself. It is also interesting to convert sounds or movement into a drawing or painting. And vice versa.

People

Someone may make a comment that triggers you. Or someone can look in a certain way that is a great inspiration to make art.

And a very important aspect: if you are stuck, draw a figure. Figure drawing has always been important in the development of artists. So consider that as study material.

Even a graphic designer or typographer benefits a lot from figure drawing, I know from experience. You learn to consider relationships between shapes and to see perspective and directions.

Collect ideas

With a scrapbook or bulletin board, it’s easy to save ideas you come across. You can paste or pin magazine photos, folders, or notes that you make yourself so that you always have some examples at hand if you are stuck.

Sit down and start

Sometimes we think too much. It helps if you just sit at your work table or stand in front of your easel and draw lines or areas. There’s nothing worse than a blank piece of paper staring at you.

Take loads of pictures

Take pictures of everything you come across. Of people, landscapes, buildings, but also structures. Shoot within a theme, such as movement, composition, colour, or repetition. Limiting yourself in this way can yield whole new insights.

Course by Barbro Aberg

Courses

Take a course. The subject of the course doesn’t even matter that much. It can be profession-related but also something completely different.

Even if we think it’s familiar material, we always learn something new if we stay open to it.

To this day I follow all kinds of courses. Last year, for example, it was about the sustainable design of an ecological vegetable garden and a 30-day challenge to become a Canva Star.

This year I just completed a course on healthy living and am now doing an iPhone-photography course.

Literature and poetry

Written texts can be a great source of inspiration. Because of the content, but also because of the way it is written. Some poems have a beautiful meter or repeating pattern.

Dada was an art movement that encompassed visual arts, graphic design, poetry and theatre with mixtures that were magnificent. 

1 Drawing a day, 2019
One drawing a day, 2019

Challenge

A competition or a challenge helps a lot to get a creative flow going. This can be a challenge from someone else, such as the weekend challenges on Instagram. Or you can set yourself up for a challenge.

In 2019 I made a drawing every day. My intention was to break free from the idea that everything I made had to meet super high standards. What a liberation that was. Some drawings were ugly, others were very satisfying because I tried something new.

In 2020 I took a photo every day and posted it on Instagram. Even then I was not always satisfied with the result, but it was more about the action than the outcome.

Related: 365 Project

Brainstorming and making lists

Making lists forces you to keep going. If you don’t think too much and keep writing, you will always come up with new ideas.

It also helps to sit down with someone and brainstorm together about all kinds of topics.

Journal

Keep a written or drawn diary. Most creatives have a notebook in which thoughts are noted. Both analogue and digital.

If you don’t want to go out with a notebook, there are various apps, such as Evernote, in which you can write down thoughts.

Inspiration to make art

When I was still exhibiting and organizing open studio days, one of the most frequently asked questions was where I got my inspiration from. Often followed by the comment “I could never do such a thing”.

My answer was usually that art is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. It’s similar to Thomas Edison’s quote: Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

The best advice is to get started and then the inspiration will come.

What is your source of inspiration? Tell me in the comment box down below.

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4 thoughts on “12 Tips to Find Inspiration to Make Art when we Are Stuck”

  1. Ever since the pandemic started I realized that I need to create more and consume less. I was mostly about consuming and creating very little. I am happy to say that I’m now (2 years in) much more of a creator. Whether it’s poems or paintings, they all help me express myself and create something for others to (hopefully) find joy in.

    I think we can all be creators and our soul yearns for this. We just sometimes forget what’s truly important and get caught up in life’s daily issues. But if we take a bit of time to centre ourselves we can realize that creating art (any kind) helps us understand who we are. Without understanding who we are, we won’t truly live our best life.

    Reply
    • I am inclined to say, the virus was a blessing for you then, Grace. Well done! This sounds so much nicer and more positive than the complaining of some I also hear. Turning our feelings into art is indeed a marvellous way to express ourselves and give lightness to the sometimes glum time we are in.

      And I really love your philosophical statement to try to live your best life through art. Absolutely great! Thanks for your comment and keep up the good work. 🙂

      Reply
  2. I like this. I really like this.

    Most times we miss the idea of starting something first, and then the inspiration comes afterwards. We waste so much time seeking a muse that we just get caught up and sometimes it ends in frustration.

    I’ve often found that viewing other people’s work can be pretty inspiring for me. In trying to analyze it I see so much I could learn and pick up from.

    I also very much agree that nature is one of the biggest sources of inspiration an artist could ever have. I love the way you listed these and gradually explained them all.

    Really good stuff Hannie.

    Cheers,
    Femi.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for the compliment, Femi, I feel flattered. 🙂
      And yes, other people’s work can be really inspiring. It doesn’t even have to be creative work, it is in any kind of profession true.
      Nature is absolutely wonderful. Both for inspiration to create and for relaxation, which we also need in these trying times!
      Thanks for your comment and keep on enjoying being creative.

      Reply

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