Overcoming Artist’s Block.

Today’s episode is an age-old battle: You vs. The Dreaded Artist’s/Writer’s/Creative’s Block. Hear from some of my favorite creatives as they share tips, tricks and woes of The Block.

AND join the dialogue— How do YOU deal with artist’s block? Any tips to share with the rest of us? Comment below!

Related Episode(s): Self-Discipline and Finding Your Balance

  • Loved the video!!! — For me, I am about HALF as creative during the day as I am at night. So, I would say, steer clear of daylight and tell your clients you’ll have it to them by morning! :)

  • Remind yourself that no one sees your mistakes and failures but yourself. Force yourself to make a scribble on the paper. It will turn into something you would have never expected.

  • i just have to make a mindless mess if i can’t draw. a repetitive (or not) pattern that i can do without thinking much about it. then i feel better for producing something, & usually it’s different & interesting.

  • i love the quote liz referenced! if i hit the wall creatively, i try to experience something completely out of the normal realm of my work. i might watch top gear or visit a gritty neighborhood or listen to some unusual music. i try to find things that are 180 degrees in the opposite direction of what i create. worst case scenario, i learn about something new.

  • p.s. i’m hopping a plane at the moment, so will read any following comments tonight when i arrive! eek! :)

  • I have an idea notebook for times like these. I put ideas in there all the time and when I feel uninspired, I flip through that and it usually gives me an idea I feel like tackling.

  • Going outside and wandering around for a while, always works for me. Oh, and getting really, really drunk, is always a winner for ideas.

  • How much do I adore these ladies? “eat carbs, eat sweets, have someone give you a hug..” God, Jen you are adorable and how much do I love your headband? Then Pia…..so lovely and adorable! And getting to meet Kate! Lovely….Thank all ladies! Thank you wonderful Erin!

  • Thank you all so much for sharing.

    I find that when I am having my own creative block, it is usually caused by me taking myself, and what I create, far too seriously. When my self-editing mode is this hyper-active, I try to create something silly, like covering things in glitter. I remind myself that play and exploration are crucial elements to the creative process, and that I should wish for “mistakes,” because it is the working through of such mistakes that some of my most wonderful pieces have occurred.

  • Here is a general comment:
    Wow, wow, wow, this is a wonderful idea, this is inspiring, motivating, and so interesting to here these artists and crafters for real. I am a fan. Design fo Mankind is a complete project, with videos, magazines, blog, etc. And the design is beautiful. If Desing fo Makind would be a cafe or a boutique, i would be in there everyday.

    — i hope you understand me well, English is certainly not my first langage :) —

  • I find a new recipe and let my mind wander slightly while I make it—that usually gets me out of the any particular funk I’m in…

  • Great video! For me it’s just face the reality that I am having a block and not panic. Simply knowing it’s only temporary and you will always get out of it… always. (And meanwhile just keep making stuff without thinking too much.)

  • Love the video…I really liked the part that says if you don’t get artist block are you really an artist? I was always struggling with the opposite of that. Thanks

  • such a great video! I think I’ll go eat some sugar and carbs…even though I’m not feeling a creative block right now. just in case. thanks for all the great advice!

  • *sigh* I wish I had some magical cure for Artist’s block. I’m sooooo glad to have this dialogue. Great ideas and inspiring! Maybe now I can pick up my camera and not feel that overwhelming sense of dread.

  • I agree with switching things up. If I really need to get something designed but can’t get the juices flowing I’ll pick up my guitar or find something fun to cook for dinner. Something that’s still creative, but in a completely different way, helps to harness those creative thoughts in other areas.

  • i think the advice to keep making things is spot on. even if it’s bad, just keep doing it and you’ll get back to the good stuff. also- make a list and really try to stick to it. i find that i sometimes get creative block when i have too many ideas and just feel too overwhelmed to make anything because there’s too many things i want to make. shut off the computer, make a list, and go down the list one by one.

  • I think the best thing to remember is that writing (or painting or …cooking) is your favorite thing to do.

    Treat every work as a diary entry not something that should be seen by the outside world. On observing writer’s block it always seems to me to stem from the pressure of what other’s will think of you. Forget it. You’re not nine and teacher is not looking over your shoulder. Be free.

  • Just want to say I love all the thoughtful comments as well, Erin. I value whatever creative people have to say and share, so thanks for sharing, guys and dolls n__n

  • Erin, I have the silliest grin upon my face right now. This video made my day!

    As for tips…
    Talk to a loved one. Take a walk, get some fresh air. Relax for a bit — run, bake, read, dance, swim, paint your nails, drink tea, whatever works for you. I usually do yoga… or sing really loudly to showtunes, off key.

    Let go of the problem and the solution will come to you. Odd, perhaps, but trust me; it always works. :)

  • Thanks for the weekly videos Erin & crew. I agree, push on through during artist’s block. This rough economy is affecting so many artists, and it can cause a lot of “fear and doubt” in your work. Don’t stop producing! Because when you eventually break through the other side, you’ll have something to show for yourself.

    Oh, and lastly… visit a museum, gallery, or check out an art book! There’s nothing like admiring the work of masters who have conquered artist’s block (and much more) through the ages.

  • i was just struggling with the same situation and im so glad i found this. it was really helpful :D

  • “Making piles of crap is better than making nothing.”
    Amen to that sister!
    (And I have the piles of crap to prove it!)
    The great thing is though, just like good fertilizer, something new and fab will in time grow out of all that crap.
    Persevere and keep your humor… that is all one can do.

  • Erin, I really love these videos. They’re just what I needed to find today. I don’t know how you do all the things that you do, but I’m really happy you started these on top of everything else!

  • Great stuff. I think there’s multiple reasons for artist’s block. At least that is how I experience it. Maybe it’s fear of not being good ehough (to your own standards, to the world’s standards, to your neighbour’s standards). Other times it just seems to come from lack of inspiration or getting stuck with a certain idea or material. The tips from the girls are great to deal with all these different ways of getting blocked! It’s just important to look at why you feel blocked I guess.

  • I’m the opposite. If I try and push through it and keep drawing, all I do is sit there and stew and end up in an even worse state of mind. I get frustrated with artist’s block, and frustration does not breed creativity!

    I usually just try and remove myself from the situation for a while. Whether it’s 5 mins to walk around the yard or flip through a magazine in my favourite chair, or completely leaving the house to take the dog for a walk (he’s usually quite willing to help me with this one), I usually return feeling refreshed and ready to roll.

    Sometimes artist’s block comes along when you’ve just been pushing yourself too hard – trying to fit too much in to every day. If you’ve got the space in your deadlines to take a day off to just recharge, I find this does wonders too.

    And don’t overthink it. You’ll just stress yourself out even further. Make yourself relax, and it won’t be long before the ideas and the art start rolling again.

  • I wish these videos had been around when I was in grad school!! although they’re probably more helpful now that I’m out, and trying to work without the structure of school to keep me going. such good, down to earth advice. the making piles of crap is better than making nothing comment is definitely spot on.

  • i don’t agree. making piles of crap is making piles of crap. it’s self-indulgent in a less than positive way. if you slow down and truly consider what you love, take care of yourself with good food and naps and whatever it is that makes you smile, and then return to creating, what you make will not be crap because it will be nourished from within. and worries come from. powering through your fear or your block by making, making, making might work some of the time but in another way it’s just as avoidant as not making anything at all. and it assumes that everyone works through their worries with their hands. some of us use our minds too ;)

  • I’m in a bad art block right now and this video is exactly what I needed to see! I’m in the process of sketching the piles of crap right now :). I’m very inspired and overflowing with ideas, but my high expectations and self ciritcism are working overtime, so when I sit down to draw, all I produce is tight, timid chicken scratch. I’m so glad to know that I’m not alone and that this doesn’t mean my skills are gone for good!

    Patience helps a lot too. I find that when I’m too impatient and want to see drastic improvement instantly, I’ll end up regressing even more and become even more discouraged! It’s interesting how the greatest of sketches can be some of the most spontaneous and unplanned too :)

  • Loved this vid!
    Whenever I experience Blockage I find that doing something quite opposite helps….My method is to get busy moving my body either through exercise, walks or my favorite… rigourous housework. I tune into some inspiring & creative podcasts and put on my fun & fancy dish gloves and get to work. I am constantly amazed at how many inspiring ideas come to me while cleaning and once everything is clean and organized I feel so charged and inspired to go and make stuff!

  • i loved this video as well. and i will go to my studio and make piles of crap right now.

    the concept of working though a block is new for me. i’ve always held the opposite perspective. that if the work doesn’t come- i will do nothing and wait for the dreams to overwhelm me again. i’ve been an artist all my life and my work has come and gone all my life. sometimes for a few months, sometimes for a year or so- but this time i’ve been blocked for 5 years. it’s been such a long time that I’m starting to doubt myself. Oddly, for the past 5 years i have continued to think in the same way- like an artist. I just haven’t been a happily fulfilled one.

    Evenso, i am going to try this and i am excited about it. A few things have changed- one of which is my level of patience. I actually have patience now. So, maybe this will work for me? Maybe my former view was wrong? or maybe it worked then but a different method is needed now? years ago, when i was in school for art, one of my professors gave me a hard time about not working through my blocks. it was weird. she affirmed me as one of her best students but then she made comments like, “students who get into art too young end-up not being artists later on.” At the moment this comment is haunting me. Maybe she was just trying to make herself feel better for not getting into art as early as I did? Oddly, she let me know that I intimidated her with the intensity of my focus. Weird. I’m a very different teacher. And generally i think these kinds of comments are bullshit. There is no hierarchy. Whenever I hear that so and so is the “greatest artist of the 20th century”(and of course it is never the same person) I dismiss it. seems like someone is making absolute, static statements in order to make sense of a chaotic world. Why not accept flux? ..now that I think about it. These statements are generally made a the beginning of a blockbuster museum shows, maybe its just a marketing thing.

  • thaks for this. ^.^ I’ve been struggling with artists block on and off for what seems like years now and It’s always nice to have some inspirational words, to help you out of that funk a little bit every now and then.

  • Thanks for the inspiration, I am no longer freaking out just drawing a purple tree and listening to Adele…I am going to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s that always makes this cloud of blah lift…

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