I’ve been getting a lot of questions via my Facebook page asking about being a self taught artist, using different materials, and where to find ideas.
To answer some of these questions I’m making a series posts about my work and some of the techniques I use. Todays post is about creativity, and how to always be developing it.
Creativity is the foundation or any type of creative work, but what is it? I have had friends tell me that I am lucky to be a creative ‘type,’ as if creativity is something that certain people are born with and others aren’t. Sure, maybe some people are more naturally creative than others, but often, creativity comes from hours, weeks, even years of practice.
Sometimes I feel creative and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’d much rather scroll through social media. But I do think there are things you can do to develop your creativity and get your creative buzz going even when you just don’t feel like it.
You have to go out and see things. I don’t mean that you have to go see most beautiful scenery in the world. I mean that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, really look at things. Even the everyday things. Notice them, look at them in a different way, let them take hold of your imagination. If you’re on a bus look out the window, if you’re in the supermarket notice the people around you. Sometimes you see little architectural details and colour schemes, other times you hear a conversation and a scene unfolding. Anything can spark an idea.
To get you started, I really recommend Keri Smith’s books, they’re really fun with simple creative exercise to help you start creating and see the world in a different way. I particularly enjoyed How to be an Explorer of the World and The Wander Society.
Once you begin to notice some interesting things, start to collect. Again, you don’t have to go to exotic scenes for inspiration, just go out on your street and see what you can find. Pick up, keep it, put it in a box or a scrapbook. If you find something that doesn’t give you the spark of an idea, can you use it as a material? Can you collage it, paint it, write on it?
If you don’t want to make a physical scrapbook, use the Internet. Store pictures that you like on Pinterest or Tumblr, refer back to it when you want some inspiration, and soon you will have a personal archive of things that are interesting and mean something to you, and when you need inspiration you will have an amazing resource.
Other creatives are often the very best source of inspiration and advice. Creative friendships where you can bounce ideas off one another are one of the very best ways of improving your work. My friends have helped me develop my work so much and are literally invaluable.
Daily sketching or journaling has helped me to generate regular ideas. Recently, I’ve been filling up sketchbooks every one to two months. As they say, practice makes perfect, and according to the author Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Don’t worry if you’re work isn’t perfect right away!
Sometimes the simple act of doing something that is familiar can help you to create good work. Practice being creative, being disciplines in your work, not getting distracted, letting your creativity flow.
Experiment. Experiment. Experiment. It is only by experimentation and practice that you will learn the types of colours and materials that suit you and develop your own style. Get over the fear of being wrong. I often don’t realise my ideas because art materials are expensive. Why would I want to waste money on a piece of work that I’m not sure I’ll get right? But it is only through practice and experimentation that I will ever become really good at my skill. Sometimes, the most important thing is simply starting.
It’s a process of development. It won’t come together right away, but the important thing is that you are taking action. You are learning. Creativity does not magically appear under the right conditions. It comes through practice, it comes once we open our eyes and put pen to paper.
So, what are you waiting for?
Photo credit: Oliver J Cooper.
Model: Hannah Rose Shaw.