For a few days before writing this article, making art daily has felt more like a tiresome chore than anything else. All artists go through phases like this occasionally, when making art just seems pointless or when you want to make art but the ideas and enthusiasm just aren’t there. It’s perfectly normal for this sort of thing to happen every now and then.
But, what can help with this?
Simple. Be part of the audience for a while. Find something vaguely interesting and then watch, read or play it. Have fun.
There are several benefits to doing this. The first is that you might be able to take inspiration from whatever you are enjoying and the second is that enjoying another creative work will remind you of why you make art.
Seeing something awesome will remind you of what it feels like to be inspired, amused, thrilled etc.. by something that someone has created. It will remind you that, yes, there is a reason why making art matters. It will also remind you of the feelings you experienced whenever you created some of your best pieces of art.
In addition to this, being part of the audience will also give you space to think and daydream freely, as opposed to staring at a blank page/screen/canvas and frantically thinking “Oh god, I need to paint something!! But WHAT??“.
This relaxed trance-like state of thinking and daydreaming is an essential part of being a creative person. Letting your mind wander freely can help you to think of more interesting ideas or, at the very least, it will help you get out of the nervous or frustrated mood that might be causing you to be uninspired or unenthusiastic.
Finally, creative works that leave a lot to the imagination (eg: novels, indie games with pixellated graphics etc...) can be absolutely perfect for this kind of thing. Because your imagination has to “fill in the gaps”, it actually gets a little bit of a workout. Looking at one of these creative works can help your imagination get back into a more productive state, for the simple reason that you’re actually using it and having fun at the same time.
To give you an example, the day before I wrote this article, I bought an interesting-looking indie computer game called “Hotline Miami”. Although I don’t know when or if I’ll review it properly, one of the interesting things about this game is that it uses 1980s/90s-style pixel art graphics and a rather basic top-down perspective.
The game’s cartoonishly bizarre and psychedelic graphics are the sort of thing that instantly shows you how artistic decisions can affect the emotional tone of a creative work. Likewise, the surreal morally-ambiguous story of the game leaves a lot to the player’s imagination and the frantic, strategic, ultra-violent, repetitive action segments of the game can help to bring about the trance-like relaxed state that I mentioned earlier.
Although I didn’t make any art directly after playing it for the first time, I was able to use it to get inspired to make some 1980s-style art that will probably appear here within the next few weeks.
So, yes, being part of the audience for something else can be surprisingly useful if you are feeling uninspired or unenthusiastic about making art.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂