Does it seem like you can’t come up with a good idea? Maybe you just have no motivation to draw. This is the dreaded ‘Artist’s Block’ and don’t worry-all artists experience it at some point in their life. Sometimes it only happens for a day or two, sometimes for a month. The most important thing you can do is try to break out of it before it turns into a long dry spell. I’ve compiled a few ways that have helped me come out of an artist’s block, and will hopefully help others experiencing the same issue.
Use a prompt generator
The Seventh Sanctum has a generator for just about anything to do with magic and more. It is super fun to take a random character from their General Person Generator and draw it. I’m pretty sure you can spend an hour or two on their site and still not look at all of their generators. It hasn’t been updated in a while, but all the generators still work perfectly fine. Hey, if something doesn’t need fixing, why fix it?
ArtPrompts is made just for artists who need drawing prompts. They have generators for characters, creatures, enviroments, objects, and situations.
For those who need a story to draw, The Writer’s Plot Generator is meant for, well, writers but it is helpful for artists too. I always need to come up with a little story behind a piece before I am able to draw. Why was that person there? Who are they? Why are they posed like that? Sometimes just thinking about all the possibilities can get you so motivated that you have to draw what you’ve come up with.
I love Feng Zhu Design School’s tutorials. It’s really quite amazing to see a master like Feng Zhu work. Seeing his work always inspires me to become better and always leaves me with plenty of great ideas to try out myself. Personally, learning new things has been the best way to overcome artist’s block for me. Looking at tutorials makes me feel like I am leveling up in life. Who doesn’t want to level up their life? A lot of the reason I have struggled with Artist’s Block before is that I often feel like I am a bad artist or I am not improving enough. Tutorials make both of those issues go away!
Just look on YouTube for more tutorials, there are thousands by many different artists of all different styles.
Draw from life
If you draw mostly from photos, you aren’t fully learning how to draw objects realistically. You may not notice any difference yourself, but one of my professors could tell if someone drew from a photo rather than drawing from life. Draw something from life, you don’t need to have a model. You could draw your phone sitting on your laptop or go with the classic fruit still life. One of my favorite still lifes was when my professor took vegetables and hung them up on a string. Just putting the vegetables in a different situation than you normally see them is really inspiring by itself.
Redo an Old Piece
Looking at old work really shows how far you’ve come. If you can’t come up with any new ideas right now, try an old idea to see how far you’ve come. Here’s an example I did in 2014 to show how far I came from my middle school manga artist days. If I ever feel like I am not improving, I just have to look at my old artwork to see how much I have improved.
View more art
The most important thing to do for an artist struggling with coming up with new ideas is to expand their visual library. Your visual library is all of the work you’ve seen and whether you know it or not, influences you.
- Deviantart is a great place to view a lot of art. I especially love their recommendations algorithm now that they’ve updated it.
- Reddit’s Art Subreddit is a great place to view all sorts of art from around the world.
- Behance is a place for professional artists to post their portfolios. You have to be approved to join the site, so you will find only the best art here.
- Pinterest is basically a search engine with a way to make lists of the things you find. Be sure to follow my Art Inspiration boards for a Daily Dose of artist block banishing inspiration!
One last recommendation, it is okay to take a break. If you are getting too frustrated, don’t be afraid to set the pencil down and try another activity. It isn’t going to hurt to take a break for a day or two. Just make sure that you always resume to drawing after a couple of days. You don’t want a break to turn into a stop. That would be sad. Sometimes you have to keep trucking along even when nothing is turning out alright. It’s fine-you don’t have to show anyone. Just keep drawing and one day you will realize how far you have come.
I hope that these suggestions can help if you get into a rut with your art. Do you have any tried and true ways to get out of artist’s block? Comment below with your suggestions.