As I mentioned in my article about creative burnout – art is, at it’s very core, about change. This isn’t just something to remember when you’re feeling burnt out or blocked though, it’s something you should bear in mind even when you’re feeling very creative. In fact, it’s something you should think about especially when you’re feeling very creative.
If you’re anything like me, you probably occasionally fall into a creative rut without even knowing it. You know, when you end up producing pretty much the same thing over and over again and, yes, it feels great… for a while.
In fact when you’re stuck in a creative rut without knowing it, you’ll probably even start thinking things like “I’m a creative machine” or “Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…”. Maybe songs like this might even be stuck on repeat in your mind too.
There’s nothing wrong with this – especially if you’re starting a new project or you’re really fascinated by the project you’re working on. But, eventually, you’re either going to feel burnt out or bored to death by your own art.
In short, your project and your art has become stagnant. It happens to everyone and, don’t worry, it isn’t permanent.
The way to avoid this is to just let your art evolve in it’s own way and at it’s own pace. This probably varies from artist to artist- for example: my art,comics and fiction tends to evolve both very slowly and surprisingly quickly.
As I get more and more practice, the quality of my drawings gradually gets better and this is something I only ever notice when I look at my old drawings and suddenly think ‘That drawing looks terrible! WHY was I so proud of it a year ago?’. So, practicing as regularly as possible is a good way to ensure that your art keeps evolving.
If you don’t believe me, then just compare one of your current drawings/paintings/comic pages to one you made when you were just starting out. If you’ve been making art for even a few months, then you’ll probably still notice at least a few small improvements.
However, letting your art evolve doesn’t necessarily mean that you should radically change your art style every day or leave all of your comics projects unfinished. But, even when you’ve found your own distinctive art style – it will still gradually change and evolve over time if you practice regularly. Likewise, choosing a new genre (provided that it’s one that you’re interested in) for your next comics project can be a good way to challenge yourself and help your creativity evolve too.
However, when it comes to letting your art evolve, practice is only half of the story. The other half is luck. Well, not quite luck, but something very similar – random thoughts and ideas….
Follow Your Random Ideas!
Occasionally, I’ll suddenly get a new idea about what to do with my art. These usually appear completely spontaneously and they’re usually worth following- for example, my most recent ones were ‘Maybe I should draw my “Damania” comics on A4-size paper rather than A5-size paper? It’ll improve the picture quality and resolution’ and ‘I could do a series of blog posts about how to draw things’.
In fact, even this blog came into existence because of one of these random ideas I had a few months ago.
Occasionally, I’ll get ideas which I feel either aren’t worth following or ideas which I’m not quite skilled enough yet to create. After a while, you can usually tell which ideas are worth dedicating yourself to, which ideas are worth ignoring completely, which ideas are worth at least experimenting with and which ones are worth putting to one side until you’re more experienced.
But, on the whole, when you get a random idea – it’ll feel fantastic. It’ll feel like a new part of your life has suddenly opened up and is waiting for you. You’ll feel enthusiastic and you’ll feel even more creative than usual.
If a creative idea, any creative idea, provokes these feeling in you THEN FOLLOW IT! (As you can see from the capital letters and bold text, I’m being as earnestly, fanatically and zealously serious as conspiracy theorist comment on a news site .)
Yes, following your random idea might be a bit more difficult than what you’re working on at the moment. It’ll probably be more time-consuming too. But stick with it and, after a while, it’ll feel as natural and easy as what you were working on before you had the idea.
Or, at the very least, experiment with it. Try it out for a day or two. See if it works. Unlike other types of experimentation, you’ll lose nothing (apart from maybe a small amount of time) if it doesn’t work out.
Seriously, if you get one of these ideas, don’t waste it.
Ok, How Do I Find One Of These Ideas?
You don’t. Like in every cliched joke about Soviet Russia, the idea finds you.
I’m not going to get into the philosophy of this, but these ideas really do seem to appear from nowhere. Whether they come from the subconscious mind or from anything more spiritual or supernatural is a question which I’ll leave you to work out the answers to for yourself (because I don’t know them).
But, saying all of this, there are ways to make yourself more receptive to these random ideas. The best way is to daydream a lot, geek out about your creative work and to read a lot about other creative people as well as reading widely in general.
But, even so, these random ideas still have their own logic and – as the name suggests- appear unpredictably and at random. So, when one appears, follow it!
Anyway, I hope that this article has been useful to you 🙂