Hello dear friends and good folk of the internet all around. For many it's the time of the year where the sun has developed stage fright and is rarely seen and darkness has it's time to shine. With the days growing short our work ethic is being tested in different ways than usual because dear reader, whether you are a mountain goat or mansion mole, outside or inside person, we all need light. Lack of said light can do funny things to our demeanor, one of which is a higher susceptibility to depression and a general feeling of melancholy.
One of the things that tend to happen to us artists when we are not feeling A+ (I never understood letter grading, it's so inaccurate!) is that we tend to become susceptible to things such as artist block. Now, of course this correlation is highly personal but whether it is due to the seasons changing or otherwise, art blocks for many are a thing yet professionals deny this up and down. What's the deal? And if it's true what the pro's say, how do you get to that place?
Defining 'Art Block'
Go figure, we start off by breaking the problem down and looking at it's individual parts. We've never done that before! Just in case you are new to this site, this is basically our mantra. Right, in order to give art block it's appropriate place we need to understand where it comes from. When creating work we tap into a lot of different parts; curiosity, motivation and discipline, 'psychic energy' - or focus, technical skill and so forth. All these parts have to move together as one allowing us to channel it into creative work. We can immediately see that 'Art Block' is therefor a ridiculous blanket statement, and in case it wasn't clear by now, blanket statements in general tend to be a very bad thing.
So, we need a better term. In order to do that we need to look at all the things that can go wrong; if you aren't finding inspiration on what to paint maybe curiosity is the problem and you got a curiosity block. Perhaps it's the technical skill which keeps holding you back from doing what you want to do and it's a technical block - If the problem persists please contact your admin. You know, maybe it's your focus, a focus block, otherwise known as being distracted or lacking discipline. You see where this is going. A long time ago I said that one of the key things you can't say as a concept artist when someone asks you why a certain thing is the way it is in one of your concepts is; 'I don't know'. The forbidden words!
Just the same, when someone asks why you have a 'art block' you can't go:
It's absolutely vital you understand yourself to the point where you know all the moving parts required for you to create art intimately. Maybe there is a part that needs to watch cartoons and because you haven't, you are blocked. Now whether or not you can train that part to be less needy or even relevant at all is a whole different story. Knowing yourself or knowing the problem is not the same as solving it. And therein lies the rub. Mistaking identifying the problem for solving it can land you in a whole heap of trouble.
Why it's not a thing
So, art block is a useless blanket statement and we have zero use for it. All the other blocks, when looked at in depth start to look a lot less intimidating. There are two main reasons why most professionals say that art block isn't a thing.
- They understand the complexity of the root of creativity and also understand that knowing yourself and breaking down the problem often shows a much simpler solution than was expected at first.
- There is no time for it.
Maybe I should've started with the second one, it's much easier to explain! The reality of that one is much more straight forward too. Clients don't want to wait for you to get into the zone to paint. A big part of the misconceptions that the general public have about art is related to the idea that artists can only function under perfect conditions. Artist rambling on about how 'the muses aren't talking!', or the 'chi not being aligned with the brush' is what gave the public this impression. Clearly those artists were not production artists because if you say that too often you might find yourself packing up your stuff. The show must go on, come hell or high water. You must paint, whether you are feeling good or bad. It really doesn't matter because the world will not wait for you to get ready. In that greater scheme you have to understand it's not about you, it's about what you do that matters.
Becoming the Demolisher
Go from incapable to unstoppable, from blocked to breaker, confused to confident. The feeling of artist block is merely a veil, a clever disguise, of the real problem that needs an easy out. That blanket feeling we are all so familiar with is nothing more than a initial unwillingness to identify the real problem. Ask yourself where in the creative process it goes wrong. Here are some quick tips that do no real justice to the complexity of the issues we're talking about but might serve as a springboard to a more viable solution:
- Is it curiosity? Start reading more. Look at documentaries, the more you know, the more your curiosity can draw from the quicker you will find a 'out'. A solution to the problem.
- Is it technical skills? Try to simplify the problem, a different camera angle, more reference, do studies.
- Is it confidence? Art confidence is no different from actual confidence. They draw from the same pool. Get a win in anything, a game, a big run, whatever works. Then learn how to channel that positive energy into your work. I simply say to myself, 'I got this'. Blast some music and use that momentum to get going.
- Is it motivation? How about the end of your career if you don't just get on with it. How about that for motivation. Art is ruthless and you have to be strong or get strong fast. Art has no quarrel with leaving you in the dust if you can't get it together but remember, it's always just you versus you. Find your triggers, find that energy, channel it and use it. You got this.
Now look at your art block wall and become this guy: