Find Inspiration and Boost Your Visual Library (5 Tips)

  Have you ever stared at a blank screen and had no idea how to start? Do you sometimes sit over your WIP and questioned everything about it without the slightest idea what to do next?

You're not alone.

  Feeling “artistically dry” signifies that your inspirational palette is exhausted. A mental hurdle appears, telling us we are not good enough and questioning our talent. It’s a vicious circle of expectations, disappointment and a loss of self-confidence.Here is how to break out of it, whether you’re stuck before you’ve even started or struggling to find inspiration halfway through your piece.

#1 Do something new

Lacking inspiration means it’s time to refuel your visual library. And that won’t happen unless you do something new. Explore an unfamiliar part of town, take a pottery class or go on a blind date.

Try our curated exercises & push yourself to new challenges

#2 Leave your comfort zone

If you’re a character artist, why not try creating an environment? Explore a new discipline that doesn’t hold emotional baggage and lots of preconceived notions of what the result should look like.

You will be a lot less critical of your work and give yourself permission to just create. Oftentimes, this is how our best work is made. Try something you’ve never done before...and see the magic happen.

Watch: "The Importance of Throwaways" (hint: they are not pieces you should ditch)

#3 Look at the world through an artist's eyes 

Yes, it’s a cliche. But it works. Train your eyes to become sensitive to art concepts like basic object shapes, contrast, colors or lighting. Suddenly, things that seemed mundane like your old couch will come alive with new textures and color palettes you can explore in your art.

Get back to the basics: explore Art Fundamentals

#4 Set manageable goals

A blank screen implies endless possibilities, which can be overbearing. To avoid feeling intimidated, set yourself a realistic goal. Don’t aim for a grand landscape; instead, decide to draw a tree or explore the surface texture of a rock. Eventually, these puzzle pieces will come together and you can work towards larger ideas.

Read: "5 Tips to help you draw more today"

#5 Become unstuck

[caption id="attachment_212812" align="alignleft" width="450"]Chase "Chase, The Dreamer" by Tim von Rueden[/caption]

Has your creativity run dry halfway through a piece? You are sitting there questioning your abilities and talent and are about to throw in the towel. At this point, do not quit. 

"Never abandon a piece!," says Tim von Rueden, CG Cookie's lead concept artist. "If you need a break, lay the piece aside for a few days, but always come back to it. With a fresh pair of eyes, you will be able to give it extra polish and complete it."

 Make it a habit to always finish a piece and add that satisfying feeling of closure to your mental bank.

"I finished one of my drawings, Chase, after years on the back burner," says Tim. "The satisfaction I got from completing it was so worth the effort."

Watch Tim von Rueden talk about finding inspiration (WARNING: involves weird cabbage)

#6 Impress yourself

Let’s face it: most (if not all) creative obstacles are in our heads. We tell ourselves we have no talent and that we should give up. 

Turn it around and praise yourself for every partial success and every time you feel inspired. This will create a positive momentum and mental confidence that you can tap into later. Remember: you talk to nobody else as often as you talk to yourself, so make sure it’s positive talk - and the rest will follow.

What else has worked for you? Let us know in the comments. For more inspiration, try using one of our downloadable resources for your next piece.

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  • chesterbelloc

    Kickass post, Pavla! A pleasure to read!

  • Thomas Robb (captainrex)

    VERY helpful to me, thank you!

    Cheers, Rex

  • Addyson H. (addysonh)

    I enjoyed this article. It has very good advice!

  • daniel-ramadhan

    ... let me think

  • christopher matthew (christophermatthew)

    thanks for that, it was so inspiring

  • anarchymedes

    “Artistically dry???” What's that? :-0 In my entire life I've had a lot of problems with the how and the when; I've had the "who's gonna pay" and "is it legal" problems; I've had a "nobody gives a monkey's" and "don't be ridiculous" problems. When I was young, I was too lazy to master many skills required in order to say what I want to say; later, I was too busy, and now I'm increasingly too tired and burned out.
    But I've never, ever, ever, ever had any problem with "what to say." It's been ripping me apart, turning me into a ticking bomb under my poor bosses; I've changed jobs, cities, countries, and relationships like gloves because of it; at last, I've (more or less) learned to hide it (even if it causes me health issues). Tell me, is that what it means to be "artistically dry?" Not knowing what to say? Having nothing to say? Being "ordinary" or "normal?" How does one do it? :-)

  • mcwakey


  • gfjarvis3

    I have definitely struggled with every aspect of the subject covered in this article, at one time or another. In reading this I found myself nodding in agreement with the problems and solutions outlined. Within the last several months I embarked on the task of developing my confidence and skills. Pushing myself to complete older projects and set new and challenging goals. Your post helps to reinforce my desire to continue along this path. Thank you.

  • Michael McGowen (mike-mcgowen)

    I think I struggle with at all of the above on at least a weekly basis. I'm a freelance graphic designer and ex-professional musician that specializes in logo design, and I'm also learning and even refreshing my memory on so much software that sometimes I feel like my brain is going to explode! Inkscape, Blender, Scribus, C++, Python... even HTML 5 to build my digital portfolio. And I'm 60 years old! At least I force myself to take at least a five minute break every two hours to breath deeply and decompress. It helps, and so do the tips from the above post. Thank you, and stay blessed.

  • zeeshan arshad (zeeshanarshad779)

    i am on work on it
    i am also a freelancer designs logo and website that are user interactive
    when i was reading this i found myself in it
    share ur views about my site
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