To Get Inspired Again, Look For An Atmosphere

2017 Artwork Get inspired by looking for an atmosphere article sketch

I’m not sure if I’ve already mentioned this technique for getting inspired, but I thought that I’d look at one of the weirder ways that you can vanquish artist’s block or writer’s block. Some parts of this method are slightly difficult to describe, but I’ll try my best.

One of the more common causes of feeling uninspired is the feeling that nothing you can make really feels “relevant” to you (for want of a better description). Likewise, another common cause of uninspiration can be feelings of unenthusiasm. This technique works best with these two types of uninspiration, but it might work with other types of uninspiration too.

Basically, instead of trying to think of a specific idea for a painting, a drawing, a comic and/or a story, you try to think about an interesting type of fictional location or an interesting genre instead. Go for a location type and/or a genre that really fascinates you. If you can’t think of one, then go for one that you think looks cool.

The important thing is that you find something that really interests you. It doesn’t matter how strange or unusual it is. In fact, the stranger it is, the better! But, if it doesn’t fascinate you (even temporarily), then this technique probably won’t work!

Once you’ve found a genre or type of setting that intrigues you, start researching it online. Immerse yourself in it. Do an image search for things of this type and just look at as many pictures as you can see. Look online for trailers to movies or “let’s play” videos of games that include the things that you’re looking for. If you have any books, movies, games, comics etc.. that include these things, then take a look at them again.

After immersing yourself in researching your chosen subject for a while, you’ll probably start to get a sense of the thing as a whole. This is really difficult to describe, but it’s almost like the subject in question either becomes a distinct emotion (for want of a better description), or you start associating a very specific – and hard to describe- combination of emotions with it.

For example, the emotions I associate with the cyberpunk genre (Blade Runner” in particular, but other things too) are a strange (and eternally changing) combination of warm familiarity, quick enthusiasm, a thrilling sense of edginess, gleeful focused fascination, heavy authoritative drama, pure coolness … and a few emotions that I don’t really have words for.

Once you’ve found your combination of emotions, just stay with it for a while. Bask in the atmosphere that it creates. Try to enhance the mood by listening to types of music that you associate with the thing you’ve been researching. Just lose yourself in the mood and in daydreams about the thing you’re researching.

Now that you’ve got your mood and you understand it fairly well, now start sketching or writing randomly (if you can’t think of characters or a story, then just write a description of somewhere). Try to get this mood out of you and onto the page. Try to immortalise it in images and/or words.

This random drawing/painting/writing can either be your finished painting, comic or story, or it can be a starting point for a more developed one. The important thing is that you will have actually created something (just doing this can help reduce any feelings of uninspiration quite a bit).

Thanks to all of your research, you’ll probably have at least a vague understanding of what this thing looks like as a whole. From looking at lots of images and video clips, you’ll have a general sense of the “visual language” of your chosen genre/setting, which will help you to create art, comics and/or fiction about it. Just remember though that, if you’re making art or comics, you should only copy general generic elements (and NOT specific details) from the many reference images you’ve looked at.

For example, general generic elements of the cyberpunk genre include things like lots of neon lighting, ominpresent advertising, rainy weather, crowded streets, tall angular buildings etc…

None of these details are specific to any one cyberpunk movie, comic, game, novel etc… They’re general visual features of the genre as a whole, rather than copyrighted details from any one thing.

After doing all of this, there’s a good chance that you’ll start to not only feel more inspired, but also start making interesting original art, stories, comics etc.. that have been inspired by the vast range of things that you’ve researched.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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