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Overcoming artist block

Artist block, the bane of every creatives existence. It is a situation that affects younger artists more so than grizzled types like myself. As an art teacher and mentor I have had to answer the question of how can I overcome artist block, or sometimes verbalized as "I don't know what to create". Here are some tips that I have found to be successful for knocking down that particular barrier.

Number 1, just make art. Yes, I know it sounds like a simple answer to the question, but it's true. The more you create the easier it becomes to be creative. Just make art, doodle, draw, carve, throw paint, try a new medium, but just make something, anything. If it's bad who cares? You don't have to show it to anyone, and if its great then yay. The process of just creating for the pure joy of making with no preconceived notion is freeing and is the best way I know how to break that artist block.

Number 2, do something else. Yes making art is an amazing career that can fill the soul, but everybody needs a break. A hobby is the perfect way to destress and think about something other than art. While your enjoying your hobby, you may find your mind starting to formulate new ideas for your art. Inspiration can come when we least expect it. So go for walk, plant some flowers, read a book, play a video game, but take a break.

Number 3, take care of yourself. If you aren't taking care of the vessel that makes the art how can you ever expect to overcome a block. Mental and physical health are essential to overcoming artist block. I know I'll sound like some sort of influencer or scam artist but exercise (not extra fries) really does help to generate those chemicals in the brain that keep us steady and grounded. I can say that for me it is also mind clearing, it takes all the noise that goes on in the brain and shuts it off so that the important things, like art, can regain their place in the gray matter. Also exercising consistently leads to just that being consistent, and being consistent will help you avoid the block in the first place.

Number 4, don't beat yourself up over it, don't harp on the block. The more you think about the artist block the bigger and more intimidating the block can appear. You are human, you are not a machine and guilt over being human does you no good. Take that from a catholic school kid (yes guilt was huge in catholic school) guilt is not going to help you get over it so don't dwell on it.

Number 5, realize it happens to everyone. Yes every artist has dealt with the dreaded artist block at some time in their artistic life. You know what? it didn't make them any less successful as an artist. It didn't derail their hopes and dreams or their artistic life. It just happened, they got over it and moved on (much like you should do with toxic ex's) Artist block is not going to stop you from making art and it doesn't make you any less of an artist. It just means you were human.

In conclusion give yourself some grace, take some time for yourself, take care of yourself, don't beat yourself up, pick up a hobby, try a new art technique, and let yourself make bad art. Dali once said "Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it" and that is probably the truest statement to combat artist block. It is that fear of it not being perfect that stops us and builds up the block.

Now go on and make bad work and if you have any advice on how you overcome artist block I'd love it if you would share them.

Sculpture of a hand holding a head on a pill bottle.
Make art.


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