Having a creative mind is a wonderful thing, it can also suck. There are days, even weeks, when the ideas flow so well that I cannot sleep. There are other days when I have stacks of materials in front of me and nothing happens. I have so many friends who are some form of artist, who create wonderful things, and they all go through each side of the process. So how do I deal with each of these circumstances?
Let’s start with the stage where you have too many ideas. When they are flowing so fast that you cannot keep up, when putting a design together in your head means you cannot sleep.
An idea rarely leaps into your brain fully formed, it can occasionally, but mostly it is a seed. You let that seed grow by playing around with it in your brain for a while, it is once that idea is seedling that you might need to start working on it properly.
Sketching the idea down is usually the first thing I do if it is complicated. An idea for a beaded stylised fox may sound amazing in my head, but how will it actually look when I start to make it. Some changes and sketches later I usually have a design I can work with. Then it is figuring out the logistics, yes I know that design is going to look amazing, but at the moment those fox legs are very thin, how am I am going to make it stable? Plastic or cardboard between the stiff beading fabric and the suedette backing should solve that problem. All of this is noted down and played with. I tend to notice that those first few sketches give me a real idea of where the problems will actually lay.
Picking the colours is another thing. I have had amazing ideas on the design of a necklace, but it is really the colour and textures that make it pop. It is at this point I start to play with my materials, and my tools. Colour wheels might come into play, I may have out every size, shape, texture and finish of black bead I own on the table and be slowly culling them as I go.
My technique to keep my ideas flowing is to get them down onto paper in some form. I find that if I hold an idea in my head, I cannot make at present, it plays around in my brain and seems not to let other thoughts through. Putting them on paper seems to stop that problem and allow ideas to come again. This might not work for you, but thinking about how you create, what helps you design and create and what is a stumbling block might just help you.
So that is when you have creative flow, what do you do when you have creative block. Well one of the first things to do is to head on over and have a look at those designs or ideas you will have put down in that time when ideas are easy. There are reasons you might not have made them yet, materials, you have not decided on a colour scheme, there is something you just need to tweak. Start by looking into how to solve that problem.
Play with tools, there are times when I have had total creators block, and I am looking for inspiration. One of the tools that really helps inspire me is playing with a colour wheel. I might have a bead I have never used, 5 minutes of playing with colour matches on the colour wheel and ideas will suddenly start to pop in, even if you are not a fan of them, they start as a great foundation.
Chose one material you or item you have that you have not used yet and work round that. Having an item in front of you can really start that process flowing again. I had some hot pink feathers left over from a costume that we had been making. Stuck for ideas one day I was rummaging through materials and these popped up. Some more sorting through and I found some acid green beads that I had never had inspiration for. 3 hours later and I had an amazing Mardi Gras style necklace, with feather dangles, crystals and all of the sparkle. Not my usual style but I loved it. Those materials had been sitting around for months unused, but it was creative block that actually produced something.
I also look at other art, it can be anything from a beautiful piece of architecture, someone’s tattoo, or a painting someone has done. I have been in a complete creative rut and have wandered off in to the depths of Instagram, or wandered around a new place and small ideas have started to grown. Giving our brain something new to work with helps to expand your creative process. Now this is only what works for me, and often for a few people I know, but change helps us to grow, so it is worth using as an artist.
My most important piece of advice is not to worry when you are stuck, you either have writers block, you do not know what to paint, you have no idea what to make for an item of jewellery or you cannot finish that dress. Creative block sucks, but is not forever, just remember those days when ideas flow like water, look back on something you may not have finished, or put aside because of a problem, do something new, hey just take a break and the next day, or the day after, or the day after that, you will be creating something amazing again.