3 Ways to Boost Your Creativity & Make Better Art

Lack of creativity is one of the biggest obstacles that artists encounter.

You get all set up and ready to paint, and then you’re just met with that blank canvas. You try a few ideas, and they just don’t work out. Maybe you try making that same landscape with the castle in the distance and the character in the foreground, but it just seems plain and uninspired.

I’ve encountered this myself hundreds of times.

So I’ve come up with these three strategies for boosting creativity and making better art.

1. Simplify your surroundings

A blank white desk with a desk and a notebook for creativity

This one slips by a lot of people but for me it’s one of the first things I take care of before starting work.

Look around you. Are there empty soda cans? Old banana peels? Coffee mugs? Maybe you have wires leading all over the place, or pencil shavings, loose paintbrushes. Whatever it is: clean it up.

A simple, clean space will greatly encourage creativity. Our creative minds thrive in empty space, where there’s not clutter getting in the way.

Put away anything you don’t need for your process. Maybe find a few inspiring objects like plants or posters of great art and keep them within sight but out of your way.

Do this, and ideas will start flowing right away, I guarantee it.

By the way, this applies to your digital space also. Shut down other programs, close out of chrome tabs. Keep your desktop free of piles of random files (quick hack: I put all of my random temporary files in a single folder on my Desktop, then go back and sort them out or delete them later).

And seriously, turn off your phone.

2. Gather inspiration

A reference board of alien robot and squid ideas to inspire creativity

Yeah, you might be inspired by playing Halo or watching Jurassic Park, but I’m talking about quick things you can do for 10 minutes before you start creating art.

Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Take a walk outside or in nature
  2. Look through your photos for ideas
  3. Listen to some music (I always get inspired by fantasy film and game scores)
  4. Look at artwork from artists you love

As for the last one, let me address something really quick.

I know a lot of artists, especially beginning artists, tend to be quite critical of themselves. They look at great artwork and they get depressed, because they could never create something like that.

Trust me, I’ve been there. I went for years without looking at other artwork because it made me feel so bad.

But I soon learned I had to get over that. The simple truth is, you’re not going to get much better without looking to other artists for inspiration. Imitating and getting inspired by great artwork is one of the fastest ways to improve (for more on this, check out my master study post).

Don’t deprive yourself of a chance to learn because you’re too proud. Force yourself to absorb other great artwork every day. You’ll actually start to enjoy it soon enough!

3. Focus on the process, not the product

A digital artwork workspace with a laptop and a drawing tablet

Ok, but isn’t the whole point of making art to have something awesome that you can hang up and show your friends?

Sorry, but if that’s your mindset, you’re killing your creative mind.

Great ideas and effortless execution come from a flow state. You can’t get into a flow state if you’re just focused on how good you want things to look. It means being totally present in the process. It means completely letting go of expectations and letting the art be your guide.

If you find this difficult, you’re definitely not alone. Some of us (again, myself included) become obsessed with being great at art, and forget what we really enjoy about the process sometimes. But if you do this too much, you’re going to see diminishing returns pretty quickly.

Don’t kill your creativity with perfectionism. Just let the art happen.

If you don’t know exactly how to do this, check out my autodrawing video.

But don’t take me at my word. Try some of these and see how it works for you. Leave a comment or shoot me an email and let me know how it goes.

Catch you later,

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