Between here and on Twitter, I've become this broken record of saying to believe in yourself as an artist, letting yourself have ups and downs, and finding creativity. But, I'm creating very little finished work at the moment. Looking at my Instagram, you might just see some tumbleweed. I even hit a point of genuinely worrying I am not an artist anymore, and if I will actually continue to draw. *Oh so dramatic Toto, you know that isn't true.* Except, I actually believed it. As I preached how to be a creative, the more I championed creativity, the less creative I felt. And, to top off my insecurities, I started to realize how self absorbed I've been.
As someone who is processing a lot, and a fumbling 20-something-year-old, it is easy to feel very self absorbed, because you have so much to learn about yourself. And as a creative, sometimes that desire to understand yourself is made even greater.
Creativity is bound in your identity. If you are lost, high chances, your art will look a little lost. So, what does this rambling, confused, creatively stunted artist have to say to help you? Well, I am proud to say, I'm finally feeling that creativity again.
Experience other artists' creativity.
Creativity can't come from thin air. You need resources, both emotionally, and physically to be able to create something. A great way to do that is being an observer. If you are in a state where the act of creating just isn't happening, maybe it's time to just collect bits and pieces to refuel yourself.
Find other artists.
Youtube, Soundcloud, Instagram, there is such a rich resource of inspiring artists.
I'd like to direct you to a few specific videos and podcasts that have been my current saviour from myself. The other day, I was sent this video by Stephen Silver. It addresses the abuse artists put themselves through, and really brought to my attention how I was stifling my own creativity due to mistreating and disrespecting my own art. Artists can judge their art so harshly, because there is such a depth to the knowledge in art. No one can learn every technical aspect to perfection in a lifetime.
The next is a podcast, Creative Pep Talk. Give him a listen. In particular though, I'd like to bring attention to his 199th episode. In it, he defines four different types of person, and how finding each type, and exposing yourself to their fuel and different perspectives can be paramount to helping your own personal downfalls that might be a factor in stifling you as an artist, or at least not achieving your goals and desires.
Finally, I want to lead you to Bobby Chiu's recent workshop he put on Youtube. In it, he addresses how we need to make use of others and our environment for creativity. As creatives, we need to take a step back and a step into the world to find our voice. Through others, we can find aspects of who we want to be creatively.
Find other passions.
Art is not sustainable as your only hobby. Yes, it is possible to spend a lot of time creating, but to create, you need resources for what you are creating. Your art, is a reflection, and response to your experience. Whether that is just a colour scheme, a mood, or an energy, it needs involvement in reality to draw upon.
Depression is fairly common, and the source of depression in often neglect of core parts of your health. Maybe that's how much daylight you get, how much you're moving around, socializing, or eating. Depression can easily stop a creative in their tracks. Having more varied routine, and life experiences are paramount in maintaining creativity. Your own state is important. If you constantly mistreat yourself, you can't expect yourself to create.
In that same vein, not letting yourself relax enough to absorb new material isn't helpful either. Sports, cooking, hiking, karaoke... whatever it is, having something separate from art lets it stay a passion and not become slave labour. That's not to say you can't spend tons of time creating, and using it as a career, but there needs to be something allowing you to fully walk away from it. Otherwise, it isn't maintainable long term.
Observe and empathize.
They say actors, writers and artists are prone to being the most perceptive. In their art, simple details are bountiful. A slouch to a shoulder, a tilt of the head, a droop of a leaf, being perceptive allows for both your own empathy, and your audience's. People want to be absorbed and relate to art. So, if you aren't letting yourself watch and see your surroundings, and project yourself in their experience, you are minimizing what you could create.
With that, also observe yourself. How do you do what you do? Even if it seems mundane, or ordinary, it is still expressive and relatable. How do you hold yourself? How do you relax? What is your eye drawn to, and why? It doesn't have to be deep. Even boredom, when expressed with nuance, can say a lot. And, through that self expression, you might just process feelings that need processing and expression.
Being an artist is so personal. Everything you create is an expression of you or your craft. It is easy to get stifled; it is easy to feel discouraged. But, I hope, that like me, even as you seemingly hit rock bottom, you can rekindle creativity. Because, at its core, creativity is there to help you. It is pure and genuine. Please create, I promise you, your creative voice has value.