I hit a bit of an artist block in the past couple of weeks. Not sure when it raised its ugly unproductive head, but it did, and very apparently so that I’d be reading and re-reading work scripts and absolutely nothing of any interest would take shape in my head. I was stuck.
And in a freelance profession where income is directly proportional to output rather than “hours spent at the desk,” creative constipation is no joke.
But I seem to have gotten over it and I’m back in full swing, but not without proper remedy. And so, my friends, I present to you Johnny’s Five-Step program to Getting Your Life Back.
Consume – Most artistic blocks i.e, obstruction of output is usually caused by a lack of creative input or inspiration. It’s a universal law — you can’t make something from nothing. So plunge your head into other people’s work, other books, other stories, films, new music, and let it all seep in. Enjoy it. Don’t think of it as work, and appreciate it for what it is. Art.
Commune – But perhaps more important than surrounding yourself with media is surrounding yourself with people. For comic artists, a hermit-like lifestyle is pretty much the norm; but it’s easier to go stir-crazy than most people think, so meet up with friends, visit family, or just simply go out into the world and take your hat off. Spoiler: the sky is blue.
Control – Fight the urge to go back or stay at the desk until you “get through” a block. It’s not a physical object. It’s not a boss at the end of a video game level. Your head is hungry. Feed it. Your mind is tired. Let it rest.
Compose – It can take a day, it can take a week, but when ideas start flowing freely again, it’s incredibly easy to tell which is forced and which isn’t. Think your process through. In my case, I like to go back to my illustration and sequential basics, and more often than not, the rest just takes shape for me.
Commit – If you’re something I like to call a human being, any creative endeavor will come with a healthy amount of self doubt. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay to suck. The important thing is that with every pen stroke and every new panel, you try to suck a little less. Accept that what you put on paper was the very best you could do at the time, but drive yourself to get better.
There you have it, guys. The Five (unintentional) C’s of how to get over a case of artist’s block. Of course I realize that not all artists are alike, and this could work only for me, but if you ever feel like your creative output needs a refresher, you might want to consider at least giving this a try.
One Response to “On Artist’s Block”
April 23rd, 2011 at 6:32 pm
Nice kuya John, I’ve been having artist block for years (no BS), and this article provides hope to my lonely artistic soul!