HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED?
Everybody knows the feeling – sometimes all motivation seems to be gone, you can’t come up with new ideas or suffer from an “art block”. There are several ways that can help getting rid of the art block, and getting your motivation back.
Here are some suggestions that might help you. Everybody is different, so take some time to find out what works for you best. Some people need relaxation and a break, others get going again by challenges.
The best way to stay motivated is to stay inspired. There are so many sources of inspiration – this can be your favorite animal, a nice landscape or scenery, a TV show, movie or book, a certain song or some lyrics, artwork drawn by other people, animated characters or actors you like, funny situations you experienced, a dream you had, themes (like Halloween or Holidays)… When something inspires me, possible picture ideas come to me almost from alone.
Art Block… every artist experienced it at some point. No matter what you try, it feels like you can’t draw anymore, everything you being just fails and all creativity seems blocked. Don’t worry, this happens to other creative people as well, and it will go away again. You will have to find out what helps you best to get rid of it, so here are just a few suggestions:
- Take a break
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Some things cannot be forced. Get some rest, treat yourself well with some nice things, and try again when you feel better.
- Draw something for yourself
No pressure, no deadline, no requirements, just something for you that you personally enjoy. Maybe there was something you always wanted to draw? This would be a good time.
- Take a look at artwork
…you did before and that you liked. You ARE able to create great art, and it’s nothing that you suddenly lost.
…can be a cure for an art block. As mentioned above, look at things that inspire and give you motivation.
Often that already brings back the “flow”.
- Variety / Challenges
Maybe you’re just stuck and don’t feel challenged enough any more. Try something new! As listed above, some people regain motivation by taking new challenges, learning something new or improving.
- Check your goals
Maybe you put too high demands on yourself. If you felt a lot of “failure” and disappointment recently, check your goals again if they’re maybe too high at this time. Avoid disappointment and make smaller goals that you can achieve. This might bring you back to a more positive feeling. You can raise the level of your goals again once you’re back on track.
- Look at works in progress
It sometimes helps to look at works in progress (WIP), pictures that show step-by-step how an artist did a picture. It’s not only highly interesting and educational, it also shows you the effort and time a picture takes. Especially if you have the feeling that you will ‘never be able to do such a picture (again)’ – yes, you can. Don’t be impatient, don’t rush it, take your time.
SET YOUR OWN GOALS – BE REASONABLE
It is always important to improve and to set personal goals. If you’re not seeking challenges, you’re not going to improve. However, choose your goals reasonably. Achieving a goal brings the nice feeling of success and motivation. Failing to reach a goal brings the opposite, frustration and disappointment. Don’t choose goals that you don’t have an influence on (for example how many comments you will get on a picture) or that are too unrealistic to reach, because this will likely end in disappointment.
For example, don’t make specific plans/resolutions like “I’ll get 1000 followers this year” or “I will win a prize in this art show”. No matter how hard you try, there are many factors that you don’t have an influence on, and it can easily happen that you won’t reach these goals and then feel like you “failed” (maybe even without acknowledging the success you had).
Instead of setting very high goals like “I will draw every single day”, plan something long-term like “do (at least) two sketches per week”. If you do more than that – awesome, you even exceeded your goal (and can set it higher if you want). If you set your challenge too high from the beginning, it often happens that you do it for one or two weeks, and then realize you cannot keep up with it (maybe due to job or free time). Also set long-term goals, like I want to fill a sketch book over the year, or improve your skills on anatomy or drawing backgrounds this year.
Every success will add to your motivation, while every disappointment / feeling of “failure” will badly impact it.
If one of your goals is to become more known and expand your follower list, this will sure require work, like posting content (more or less) frequently. Keep your posts interesting and varying. Finished art, new or older, work in progress, sketches, photos.
However, be careful – this “urge” of having to post something new all the time can become very destroying. Due to the large number of new pictures and posts rushing through every day, you may get the feeling that you “have to” post new art every few days to be seen or you’ll be forgotten. This is not true! Every artwork you create is unique, and it is valuable for a longer time than just for the first moment you post it. Don’t be ashamed of posting older art once in a while, or not posting anything new because you’re maybe not feeling well enough to create something. You should never have the feeling that you “have to please somebody’s demand” to see new artwork.
A nice useful tool is PostyBirb for example. An app that helps you to schedule your posts or post your artwork on several galleries at a time. This saves a lot of time that you can invest in something else.
BE INSPIRED – DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF
It is wonderful to have goals and role models that you admire, that inspire you, that you look up to and want to learn from. It’s great to admire styles, and the wish to “draw that level of art one day”. However, don’t compare yourself too much with other artists.
Don’t ask yourself – why does that artist get more favorites or watchers than me? Don’t ask yourself what you’re doing “wrong” when you compare yourself to others who are more popular. Ask yourself, what are your personal goals, where does your artwork maybe need improving, where do you want to take your art, what do you enjoy doing?
It’s fine to ask yourself – why is someone’s art popular? Do they have a certain (outstanding) skill, for example expressions, detailed backgrounds or realistic fur structure? Or maybe it’s the frequent level they’re posting their art / comics? This can give you motivation to work on your own skills and practise.
Especially beginner artists may sometimes think “I will never be able to draw like that artist”. Never forget that everybody started small, and that most artists took a lot of pratise and time to get where they are now. Great art should always be a motivation and inspiration, rather than disappointment because you haven’t reached a certain level yet.
NUMBERS AREN’T EVERYTHING
Let’s face it, every artist is happy to receive a lot of feedback, favorites or watches for their artwork, as it’s always a form of appreciation. However the number of favorites aren’t everything. Don’t feel bad because a picture did not reach the level of favorites that you hoped for. It’s fine to hope for many favorites, but try to not hunt for it and sit there hitting reload and wait for it to rise (or expect a certain number and then feel bad when it’s less). Sometimes artwork you put a lot of effort in and that took you days gets less favorites than a quick funny sketch or a stupid gif – that’s the internet. And face it, not every number of favorites makes sense.
If you usually have a certain average number of favorites and then suddenly only get a lot less, this can have various reaons. Maybe for example you indeed messed something up, like the anatomy of your picture is just not as appealing as it is in your other artwork. Or you chose a topic or character that’s simply not as popular, even though your quality was as good as always. Or you simply chose a bad time for posting it (when most people were asleep and maybe missed the posting).
Checking your phone for new messages, browsing a website, looking up what to cook tonight, just quickly checking a game on your phone… it’s so easy to get distracted. If there is no pressure, that sure is no problem. However, if you want to work productively – or especially when you’re already having low motivation but want to get back to drawing – avoid distraction!
Make yourself comfortable, grab a drink, sit down at your desk or computer, and put away the phone or mute it. Set yourself a working time (for example 3 hours), and don’t stop for random other distracting stuff until then (pet cuddles are always allowed ;) ). Afterwards, grant yourself a break, check those games or messengers, go move and stretch a little.
The less motivated I am, the easier it gets to get distracted, like your mind is looking for reasons to avoid work. Work against that (if you want to get back to drawing / be productive).
BE KIND TO YOURSELF – LOVE WHAT YOU DO
I think it’s very important to be kind to yourself and love what you’re doing, because it will show in your art. How can you make somebody like your art, if you’re not even happy with it yourself? Of course, I also sometimes end up with pictures that I am not happy with. Upload them anyways (and deal with the feedback)? Or just go on and draw/sketch more, until you actually bring something on paper that you’re happy with.
Sometimes there are just days when you feel bad, grumpy, maybe in pain, or maybe without any reason. Unless you have to (because there’s a deadline), be kind to yourself and grant yourself a break and try to make yourself feel better first before you force yourself to draw. Something that personally helped me a lot to feel more balanced and at peace with myself is meditation and jogging. Don’t be mad at yourself when something doesn’t work out. Accept it, listen to your body, your feelings, and use that mindfulness. Of course this will work differently for everybody, but for me, meditation definitely supported my creativity and positive attitude a lot.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
When you’re feeling bad, check if you maybe neglected important needs. Do a quick self check:
- Did I drink enough (water)?
- Did I eat / eat enough?
- Did I get enough rest / sleep?
- Did I get enough fresh air / daylight?
Sometimes it’s those little things you just forget, especially when working hard. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself. If you want your mind and body to work properly, you have to take care of it. I for myself noticed that physical exercise (like jogging or just going for a walk) helps me a lot to feel more balanced, accomplished and motivated.
THE RIGHT PLACE/AMBIANCE
For me, drawing is not only a technical thing, but also a matter of feeling, so my work place is very important to me. When spending a lot of time drawing, take the time to make yourself comfortable. Make sure you have a good chair to sit on (to prevent health issues like back pain), find out what makes working even more enjoyable – inspiring artwork/references on your wall, equipment that is fun to work with, a nice cup of tea or coffee, plants, some music in the background, mood lighting… Find out what adds to your creativity.
Sometimes a new place can bring back motivation, like going outside, drawing on vacation, making yourself comfortable at a new location, drawing at a coffee place with your friends.
Everybody likes rewards, not only animals. So especially when you’re working on a bigger or maybe difficult project, reward yourself with something nice after you finished it. This may be a nice dinner, your favorite snack, ice cream or a nice massage. Whatever you enjoy – knowing this will wait for you when you finish this project can increase motivation and will also help to regain the strength and power to go on again.
Or you can also use artwork / drawing as the reward for something else. For example I love to go out jogging, and then sit down at my computer and draw as a reward afterwards. The good feeling of having done some exercise makes me feel even more balanced and motivated (and the fresh air also clears your head).
VARIETY – TRY NEW THINGS
When you are always drawing the same things or style, this may end in a lack of motivation at some point, as it’s hard to improve or artistically challenge your mind. There is such a variety of material to work with – dare to try something new. If you’re a digital artist, try to work with real media or maybe sculpting. By trying something new, you will learn from that challenge. The same goes for the things that you draw of course, for example don’t just always draw pinups – draw dynamic poses.
“EVERYTHING I DRAW SUCKS”
If you’re having one of those phases when you feel like everything you draw sucks and no picture (or any creative work) turns out nice. Here are some questions you can ask yourself, some kind of check list:
- What’s your physical condition?
Maybe you’re feeling bad, sick, are in pain. Maybe not the drawing is the problem and your view on your art isn’t neutral, but you should try to make yourself feel better first. This can start with simple things: have you had enough food / water / sleep / fresh air?
- What’s your emotional condition?
Same like above, having emotional problems can cause this frustration, art block, feeling stuck. When I am feeling cranky, I am having a very hard time to draw.
➔ Is there a reason why you feel bad? If yes, try to get rid of the reason (e.g. a deadline you’re trying to push away, a fight with someone, an uncomfortable work space,…).
➔ You can’t find a reason why you feel bad (yes, there are those days), or it’s something you can’t change? Try to make yourself feel better by treating you well, spend time with people that make you feel good, take a break without being mad at yourself, or find balance through meditation or sport for example.
- If this is becoming a permanent feeling
If this feeling lasts longer than usual, and no matter what you do (and actually feel ok physically and emotionally), try to find out what exactly frustrates you about your art. The anatomy? Something technical? The lack of ideas? Being too static / not dynamic enough? Boring backgrounds? Try to put a finger on what bothers you, and then work on it. For example if you’re not happy with the anatomy of your art, draw and practice many different poses, also dynamic ones, dare to draw outside your comfort area, and try to improve it. Once you’re getting better, that bad feeling that nothing works out usually fades too.