ArtFire Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sometimes you just can’t get it right. You work on a project for hours, but you just can’t seem to make it work. Or worse, you just can’t seem to get started on something. You know you want to craft, but you don’t know what.

This is something I call ‘artisan block’ and it happens to us all. It can be especially difficult if you’re an online seller, and designing handmade goods is part of your livelihood. But don’t despair, and most importantly, don’t give up. Listed below are some tips from my personal experience to help with artisan block.

Tip #1

When I’m looking for my artisan muse, I take a long, relaxing walk. Try doing something to get you physically active and clear your mind. It will calm any frustrations, and get you away from the workshop.

Tip #2

Try just diving in. Choose your medium and start. Go with what feels right. This doesn’t always result in a masterpiece, but it generally is a lot of fun and relieves frustration. And sometimes, just sometimes, you can get something brilliant.

Tip #3

Browse other artists’ work. It can be intimidating, but it can also show you what they’re up too. Visit a museum or just surf the internet to see what other artisans are doing; it can be inspiring and insightful.

Tip #4

Try a different medium. It may feel wrong to temporarily give up your chosen art form, but when you expand into other areas, you have the capability to express yourself in different ways. I’m not asking you to give up your original medium forever, just try something different for a while. If you like painting, try pottery. If you make jewelry, try sewing. It will broaden your horizons and allow you to better appreciate your favored medium when you’re done.

Tip #5

Sleep on it. Watch a movie. Go out with friends. Just do something to separate you from the piece. Don’t look at it—don’t even think about it—just sit back and relax your creativity. Then, after some time has pasted, revisit your craft studio. The inspiration will come to you when the time is right.

Tip #6

Put on some inspirational or unusual music. I prefer tribal music. Sew, bead, draw, paint, or sculpt to the music. Let the music guide your art. Allow yourself to let loose and go wild. There are few things as artistically stimulating as music.

Tip #7

Think of a book or movie you felt touched by. Let the movie inspire your artwork. Paint a picture about something about the story that inspires you. Try crafting a piece of jewelry or pottery from the book or movie. Make a sculpture about the scene. Take whatever it was that moved you and make it your own. It doesn’t matter that the idea isn’t original, you’re changing it with your art and making it unique. After all, every idea comes from somewhere.

Tip #8

Never underestimate the power of snacking. How can you do art on an empty stomach? When you feel stuck on a project and need to find your muse, look no further than your refrigerator. I’m not telling you to overdo it, but a healthy snack break from your artwork many provide the inspiration you need.

I hope these suggestions helped. Remember, the world needs crafters, so kick that artisan block and keep on crafting!