Do you sometimes get stuck in your creative practice? As an entrepreneur and pattern designer, I’m hard at work developing a series of pattern “collections” for my professional portfolio. And sometimes my creative ideas run dry!
Read my recent blog Finding Inspiration for My First Pattern Collection if you’d like to dive deeper into what pattern design collections are all about.
Stay right here if creative blocks happen to you too and if you'd like to learn my favorite tips to bust through those dry spells.
No matter if you are a pattern designer like me or practice art in a different form, it happens to all of us, right?
I'm excited to share my top 7 tips for boosting your creativity with you. These really work for me. Use them as a "menu" to choose from. Try them all out and see which ones work best for you.
Tip #1: Go Outside
I love pattern design because it combines drawing and sketching skills with computer skills. However, the amount of time on the computer can add up and we all need to remember to take a break from time to time.
Step away from your computer or your studio table and take a walk. The fresh air will do you good and don’t forget to take your camera or smartphone with you. You’ll likely see something that catches your eye. Capture it for future inspiration.
As we transition into fall, here are some photos from a recent walk with early fall foliage and the typical late summer fog we get in the Bay Area!
Tip #2: Work in a Different Space
Sitting in a different spot in your studio or simply re-orienting your computer desk can give you a completely different perspective. The light will hit your workspace differently. You’ll be looking out a different window. The view will be different. Everything will feel fresh and new.
If you almost always work in your studio or at your computer desk, move somewhere else. When I’m in a rut, I’ll move from my computer desk upstairs to the breakfast nook in the kitchen. The light is completely different especially in the morning.
Here are a few pictures of recent work as the light streamed through the windows. It’s beautiful. Feel free to just sit in a new space and enjoy the experience of different surroundings for a while.
Tip #3: Try Something New
If you love to paint, try sketching for a change of pace. If you do pattern design, try watercolor painting for a few days. Leaning into something that’s different from what you normally do gets your brain working in new ways. Trying something new is very inspiring.
For example, at the beginning of the year, I took a gouache class online with Lisa Congdon. I’d never used gouache before and bought a really cheap set to get started. It was really fun and here are some of the patterns that I created during the class.
Exploring new media will help you explore color and scale in new ways. You can apply this new knowledge to your surface pattern design work or regular creative practice.
Tip #4: Always Have a Sketchbook Handy
Ideas and inspiration can strike at any time and in any place. Don't you find that ideas strike while you are in the shower or when you are traveling? Keep a sketchbook nearby so you can capture new ideas at a moment's notice.
This is especially helpful when you are in a different location for a few days or even for just an afternoon. When your regular routine changes, even slightly, new thoughts, ideas and creative inspiration happen naturally.
Tip #5: Do Something Simple
We put so much pressure on ourselves to create things that are “perfect” all the time. To relieve that pressure, practice something really simple. When was the last time you created a new color palette with your paints?
It's very relaxing to paint each color in a small square horizontally and then create new variations below by adding more water or another color. Your mind can essentially relax and go blank for a while which provides needed rest.
Alternatively, practice drawing something over and over again. This is a great warm-up exercise and you never know where it will lead. Here is a short animation that I created from a whole bunch of really simple apple sketches.
Tip #6: Turn Your Devices OFF!
We are overloaded all day long with emails, Instagram, Facebook, and various other alerts that pop up on our phones or computer screens. It’s very important to recharge your personal batteries by turning off all this noise.
Explore meditation or just get yourself a cup of tea and take a break. It’s surprising how new ideas will pop up when we sit quietly for a little while. Having that open and empty space for your mind is critical. It's important to do NOTHING periodically but often that's really hard to do!
Tip #7: Don’t Beat Yourself Up!
This is the recommendation I’m most passionate about. We all have those voices inside our head saying: “I didn’t accomplish anything today” or “I didn’t meet that goal this week” or “That pattern isn’t any good”. Creativity comes in spurts and downtime is just as important as leaning into periods of intense creativity. The ebb and flow is natural!
It's so important not to beat ourselves up and to give ourselves grace when our mind is signaling that it needs a break. The creative ideas WILL return. They are asking for some space and we need to listen.
I hope you’ll try these tips the next time you are feeling stuck. Take that break, go for that walk, try something new and see what works best for you!
I’m currently hard at work preparing to launch my monthly pattern design membership. If you’re interested in learning more, please join the waiting list. I’ll keep you posted with more details as the launch date gets closer.
Join me tomorrow on Facebook for my weekly Wednesday chat at noon PST. I'll be answering a bunch of questions from my tribe about art, creativity and pattern design.
And remember, It’s Never Too Late To Create.
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