5 tips for getting creative: Oh creativity where art thou?


Like many humans that have artistic passions, I juggle my love for illustration with the need to keep a roof over my head. My day job although creative is not exactly pawing over charcoal covered paper for 3 hours, so when I get home there can be a bit of a disconnect between wanting to draw and being able to. If this resonates with you, and you feel that you are spending more time trying to be creative rather than being creative (or simply have been struggling in your creative project recently) I have put together 5 tips that may help.

1) Set out time and space to be creative
For practicality reasons setting time aside for getting creative is for many a necessity, but what happens if between 7pm and 8:30 pm the creativity does not flow? Instead of focussing on drawing/painting/sculpting/dancing for a set time, instead focus on creative pursuits for a set time. This way instead of feeling personally aggrieved when there is no drive to put pen to paper, you can instead feel inspired by reading your favourite blogs or journals or listening to your favourite music, shifting the focus from demanding the creativity to flow into giving it the time and space to come forth.

2) Surround yourself with people with a shared creative interest
If you are finding it hard to find inspiration why not have a talk to someone (or many someones) who have the same creative background as you. The power of a community with a shared interest is something not to be under-estimated, acting as a bouncing board for your ideas and holding you to your responsibilities. We asked the guys behind ‘brunchclub’ a national networking community for bloggers that inspires, motivates and educates its members, what they think about the power of community for creatives:

“When we started #brunchclub we had no idea how many bloggers New Zealand had. So to find ourselves surrounded by 251 other bloggers has been insane and so so special. Every day we get to witness driven, creative people helping and inspiring others to pursue their interests. By hosting our events with a meal at it's heart we find people who are generally shy around strangers or lost in their creative path leave inspired and with new friends.”

In practical terms, it is good to reach out. This may mean joining a meetup, going to a creative event, enrolling in a class, joining a community like brunchclub or just calling your friends around for a cup of tea and chit chat.

3) Extend your creative practice
Boredom can spell the death of many things, from relationships to creative projects; instead of breaking up with your photography work it might be better to push the envelope a little. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, ‘We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down’. If your illustration work is not flowing, why not incorporate a new methodology, colour palette, artists model or even paper-stock. Slight changes to your practice can be enough to get the cogs turning and the creative fires burning again, all whilst building your artistic base for better work overall. What can you lose?

4) Collaborate
Here at The Print Room we are big on the power of collaboration, working with other humans to achieve bigger, better, more awesome things but admit that for artists/designers/illustrators and any other creative folk, that leaping into collaboration can be a little frightening. For whatever fear you may have, the results can make it all worth it. From seeing your own work from a different angle, to learning new skills and perspectives from those around you. Collaboration can be as simple as creating a work to a theme chosen by you and a friend, to creating a truly shared body of work between a much larger group of people. If you are not sure where to begin, the Helsinki Design Lab guide to creative collaboration is a very good place to start.

5) Share the half wins, the sketches, and the in-between bits
Not every single thing you do is going to be exactly as you envisaged, and the pressure of always creating perfect work can be a little suffocating. Instead of focussing on finishing, get into the habit of doing and sharing quick roughs. Commit to a five minute sketch-and-show, scan your sketchbook pages and share on your blog, or even share projects that have stalled with friends or colleagues. This is helpful for two reasons, firstly - it turns every half win into a win, its something worth sharing/discussing and viewing. Secondly it opens up conversation about your work, allowing you to find new jumping off points and refining your own thinking and relationship to your work.

Anya is a part time illustrator, designer, writer and communications wrangler - follow her on twitter