As a digital designer, 2020 and 2021 has come with some major drawbacks. I have had to be content with a much smaller return than projected for my normal yearly goals. As my business caters to events where people are gathered together, this can be expected given the difficult circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t experiencing at least some artist block. The lack of business is hard to keep motivation up! In this blog, I wanted to share some helpful tips on how to get more inspiration. It’s just as important to be able to keep that newfound inspiration as well! Whether you are a painter, designer, songwriter, copywriter, or whatever expertise you find your joy in - this list is a helpful tool for anyone who needs a boost of creativity.
You will quickly learn from this list that most of the time the path to creativity is simply by taking great care of yourself! And let’s not underestimate the power of encouragement! When possible, surround yourself with friends and family that offer encouragement often. Encouragement (and even sometimes criticism) often gets my brain thinking and eager to work on something new.
10. Resources and/or Books - When I speak of resources I mean books, databases, encyclopedias, research papers, collections of images, or any other source that gets you thinking. You can even have resources you have created yourself like lists of your favorite fonts, a collection of background images that you use for social media, or a list of songs that inspire you. Even though resources don’t sound like a ton of fun, I often find myself with new ideas after I study them. Resources help me think outside the box!
9. Go Somewhere New - I probably don’t have to tell you how important it is to change up your surroundings every once in a while! Try spending the day at someone else's house, take your laptop to your backyard, or even move to a different room occasionally. New surroundings can help keep your ideas fresh.
8. Relaxation Time - You may be surprised how refreshed you can feel after a good meditation or yoga session. But relaxation doesn’t have to come in the form of a formal class. Indulge in a warm bath, take a nap, or go for a slow stroll in the middle of the day. This is especially important if you are stuck on a particular problem at work. I can’t tell you how many times I have solved a hard problem after a good nap.
7. Practicing or Enjoying a Hobby - When I say hobby, I mean hobby! A true hobby should be one that provides joy, not something that you feel anxious after. Whether your hobby is fishing, singing, or knitting - you are sure to come up with some new ideas and inspiration after a good hour or two of practicing something you love.
6. Coffee Shops - This list will now start shifting to physical places. One of the best places to clear my mind and help me focus are coffee shops. Whether you are sitting by a window inside or have grabbed a table outside the shop, coffee shops are excellent places to help you take your own work seriously. This may be because other people are working around you as well. I find this to be a useful tip - if other people are working around me - it makes me feel the need to be productive as well.
5. Libraries - Libraries are an excellent hidden gem when it comes to destinations that help me get in the zone. Not only can you browse many of those resources I was talking about before, but you can often find a comfortable table and chair to place your work or laptop on. Like in a coffee shop, you often see other people studying and working, which can help you get in the zone.
4. Museums - You probably have never thought of this one. Living across the river from New York City, I realize I’m lucky to have hundreds of museums at my disposal. But I also have noticed that nearly ALL museums (including ones outside of the city) have some sort of “down time” area. Sometimes it’s in the lobby, cafeteria, courtyard, or randomly placed sitting areas. Surprisingly, many individual rooms that have exhibits have wonderful areas where you can sit and work for hours at a time. Honestly and weirdly enough, a yearly pass to a favorite museum may be the best investment into your business.
3. Lobbies - I truly believe other people have much more knowledge about this hidden secret compared to me. Have you ever walked into a hotel (even one you have stayed at) and thought “wow, this is an excellent area to sit and work!”? You often look around the lobby and see that many other people have had the same exact thought. I am willing to bet that 50% of those people aren’t even staying at the hotel! I think this is a well known tactic by many businessmen and women to stay motivated, focused, and clear headed. It’s similar in the way that other people around you are also focused on their work. Lobbies can include hotel, company, food halls, shopping centers, and sometimes (depending on how relaxed the place is) apartment complex lobbies.
2. Traveling / Off Time - No, you don’t have to take your work to the beach! But if that’s what you want to do - go for it! By traveling and down time I am talking about those times spent with friends or family that create beautiful memories. Whether you travel somewhere gorgeous or hectic - any sort of new experience can be great for your brain and imagination. Take a break from work and allow yourself to have some much deserved relaxation time.
1. Nature - My absolute FAVORITE place to find inspiration is in nature! I can not recommend it enough. If you hate everything about nature, maybe switch this one out to whatever your happy place is. Nature to me comes in many forms. Somedays I’m happy going to a small park. Other days a botanical garden is more enticing. Take a hike, sit by the beach, or go on a short car or train ride into the country. There’s so many ways to enjoy nature. Living in a highly populated metropolitan area (and growing up in the exact opposite) I can surprisingly still find nature all around me. In fact, I often open my windows and hear hundreds of birds chirping throughout the day. If you live across from a construction zone (been there, done that!) it’s even more important to take a short walk to your nearest park or any of the other areas that I have mentioned above. Spending time in nature can be for your own time or you can bring your work for a new environment. Parks that have wifi are great for this. Tether your phone when you can when you are at a botanical garden, beach, or in the middle of the woods.
So nothing I have mentioned here is breakthrough knowledge. However, it’s great to have all of these ideas listed out in one place without our brain getting in the way. If you’re just starting out with your own business or a new job, try some of these ideas to stay motivated! If you are like me and experiencing a bit of a drought - change it up and do something new! I’ll be honest…. the reason I have been experiencing artist block here lately is because I haven’t done any of these things in the last few weeks. Or not enough of them, anyway. Though this list is super simple by nature, these ideas are truly my best kept secrets as an artist!