Artists Block

   OK OK OK…So I let the work slip a tiny bit over the holidays. With that obvious gross understatement hanging there, I resolve that it’s a new year and time to knuckle back down and get that Making-a-Living thing going again. Go figure, the deadlines that were there before haven’t vanished and the only change is that now they loom ever closer with fangs dripping the venom of failure. They must be faced again with great vigor and determination. 

No problem. I am a highly disciplined experienced freelancer, right? Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it, right? Anyway these self lead pep rally’s sound great…until I sit at the drawing table. Staring back at me from the blank page with evil intent and strong determination is the much feared and totally evil Artists’ Block. Having fought this dragon before I defiantly take up my shield and sword and confidently stride out onto the field of battle.

I make a mental list of previous advice and methods and begin ticking them off one by one.

  Plan A – Diversion.

“If the creative juices are not flowing perhaps it’s because you are thinking about it too hard. Divert your mind with other activities and all will be well.” Wait… isn’t that how I got into this situation in the first place? Plan A quickly goes down in flames.

 Plan B – PsychoBabble…

 “Fear of not being able to do it is making you feel you’ve lost your inspiration. You must face the fear and by opposing, end it.” Fear? seriously? Am I alone in fearing unemployment, bankruptcy and starvation? I don’t think so. I know I can create, I’ve just taken too long of a vacation. The psychobabble matches I would use to lite a fire under my butt must have fallen in the egg nog once too often. they’re a bit past soggy.

  Plan C – through M are variations on a theme. 

” Read something inspiring”, “visit museums”, all these are calling for me to break it up by getting out or otherwise continuing unproductive activities. How does this score on the old Help-o-meter? Not at all. Possible success rate? See the answer to Plan A – Pure Flammage.

So what DOES work? As smultzy of a cop out as it sounds you truthfully have to create your own methods to get past the blocks. If you go online and check out all of the pages on beating artists’ block there are lots of useful answers there and one or more will undoubtedly appeal to you. Most of my favorite methods come from some of those great websites.  



One of the methods that paid off for me is to copy the Masters. I totally admire the magnificence of Dutch Masters or the Mona Lisa but for me it’s Rick Griffin. I learned how to draw by copying Ricks’ Murphy cartoons in Surfer Magazine. His work went from those cartoons to being a HUGE influence in the sixties poster and album cover fields.

Once I view his work again creativity usually starts to flow. I’m instantly back in the day, in school creating segmented waves with rounded white foam being carved by longboard riding bushy-bushy blonde surfers. Instead of paying attention to Sister Catherine’s chemistry class, I’m learning how to create wild calligraphy/art deco looking lettering on a Live At The Fillmore poster. As a matter of fact one of the projects backed up right now is an homage to Rick that hopefully will emerge as saleable work for me. Tying to draw from Rick’s work, imitating the master, kicks starts my creative juices flowing. Apologies to Sister Catherine.

          Another highly useful method I use is creating a creative environment. Ok, picture this. This is my creative scene. The lights are indirect and soft. The music is decidedly sixties with maybe a jazz slant. The scent of Nag Champa incence fills the room and mixes gently with the ambience. Herbal Enhancements are traditional though optional. It certianly does increase at least the perception that you are creative. Whether it truly does or not doesn’t really matter, does it? if you think you are….you are.

     The real life cure for pernicious artists block is to view artwork as a job like it is. Art is what you create for yourself. Artwork is just that – work. Art or artwork…pick one and as Nike says…..

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