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5 Ways to Jump Start Creativity

Heidi Shenk "business" "design" art daily life

How To Get Out of a Creative Rut

The past week has been slow in all senses of the word. The post-Valentine lull has arrived in my shop, I'm physically tired from the busy season and have been slow to start my days, the week has felt as though it's been creeping along, and I'm having trouble in the creative department.

This is not unusual. I have times like these throughout the year where I find myself needing to reboot. I might even have a mile long list of card ideas just waiting to be designed, but I just can't jump start my mind to get to the point of putting those ideas onto paper. When I'm stuck, I've found that there are a few things that help me to get out of that creative rut and become more productive again.

1 // Find a change of scenery. Usually this means that I pack up my tote with some sketchbooks, my idea book, and my pouch full of pens and markers and head to a coffee shop. I leave my computer behind, so I'm not likely to fall into a black hole, and I order a latte and a snack and just start sketching. Getting out of my studio and out of the house is a break from the norm that helps with productivity.

2 // Look for inspiration by visiting an art gallery. Sometimes when I'm in a creative rut, I need something to act as my brain's jumper cables. Being surrounded by art, reading the stories of the artists, and taking in different colors, textures, and ideas always leaves me feeling refreshed. This past Monday, I found myself in the American Art Museum in Washington, DC amidst O'Keefe, Miró, Picasso, Hockney, Lichtenstein, and Calder. I left the gallery feeling refreshed.

3 // Do something creative that isn't what you normally do. Sometimes I simply need a break. As much as I love illustration and design, doing the same thing over and over again can be monotonous. When I'm feeling a little this way, I turn to other outlets. I work on a craft project, bake something or try a new dinner recipe, play guitar or piano, or try a different art medium such as paint or pastel. Doing something different helps clear the mind and leaves me ready to come back to the task at hand.

4 // Get outside and explore your surroundings. Fresh air is one of the best ways to get the creative juices flowing. I might go hiking at a state park, go to the arboretum, or take a walk along the water. And you never know what you might see that will be inspiring in some way.

5 // Make plans to meet up with other creative people. Talking with others that are artistically minded is a huge creative booster. Hearing about projects others are taking on often helps to get my wheels spinning. My gold foil landscape prints came about after grabbing coffee with my cousin who is a painter. And I sometimes get ideas for designs while chatting with other card makers.

Is anyone else feeling a little stuck these days? Maybe it's just the winter weather bringing me down. Nothing like some good sunshine to boost my mood and productivity!


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