3 Strategies for Staying Creative and Productive As an Artist

By John Beckley in Art Business Advice > Motivation

Most people would agree that working as an artist is quite different from working in an office or going to a full-time job.

As an artist, you are consistently pushed to keep producing work, to act as your own marketing department and to continue feeling the creative flow every day. If you can’t keep up and continue making creative pieces, your career suffers—maybe forcing you to take on other, less creative work to make ends meet.

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For some artists, this constant pressure really lights a fire to succeed. For others, however, if you are feeling blocked or uncreative, it can sometimes cause stress and discouragement.

It took a long time for me to develop strategies that I could use to keep producing work and to stay on track even when I wasn’t feeling particularly productive. But when I did, it made all the difference.

Here are three methods that have helped me harness my creativity and stay actively working to keep making a living with my art:

1. Harness the creative times through notes

Sometimes I feel that I am most creative when I’m outside of my studio.

I have moments that I would love to capture in my art, or pieces of inspiration that strike me when I’m out in the world. Even the most benign things like sitting in a park or picking up some groceries can be an immense source of creativity and ideas.

So now anytime one of these creative moods or a creative idea strikes me, I immediately record it in my iPhone.

Writing down your inspiration, doing a quick sketch, or having a voice recording of a great idea can be the perfect backlog of inspiration for the days where you are feeling extremely cut off creatively.

2. Paint the ideas that come easily

If you’re struggling with a piece that just won’t work, switch to something that’s going to be easy to produce relatively quickly even if it’s a simple sketch of a current event, an old idea you had, or something just for fun.

You might be surprised at how quickly your mind gets creative again as you start painting something new. And, I find that with almost every new piece I start on, I end up thinking of two or even three other paintings that would carry on the series.

In fact, building one painting into a series of paintings is a great way to start amassing a large collection of work. Just make sure that you have enough art supplies on hand to handle all the inspiration!

3. Use the power of music

Music is one of the biggest creative tools that I use every day, in part because I used to work in the music industry. And the music that I listen to as I’m painting often has a huge influence on the end result. With the right playlist, I’ll find myself adding a comedic touch to one of my pieces, or really getting into the sadness found in a particular artwork.

If you need to get into a particular mindset to paint something, consider picking out great music to join you in the studio. Keep that music going until you have completed the painting and you’ll be surprised at how much more emotion is present in your work.

In a similar way, letting your mind wander to new music or sounds you’ve never even considered listening to can also really help build some amazing inspiration for art.

So the next time you’re struggling to stay creative, I hope you try one of the strategies above. They’ve all helped me in the past, and I know they can help you too!

For more from John Beckley, including a look at his amazing paintings (and tons of video tutorials) please visit his website at www.johnbeckley.com.

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