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Art Block 101 - The Ultimate Survival Guide

Journal Entry: Wed Mar 4, 2015, 8:29 PM
Fellow deviants struggling with art block: fear no more! - I am here for you :heart:

Due to my unprecedentedly vast experience and deep analysis of this common phenomenon :iconyaomingmemeplz: I've decided to share the goods: in this journal I'll give you my theories about types, causes and all the solutions I know of for art blocks :3 I hope this helps! (I think it can be helpful even if you're not currently in a block!)

Art Block by Chiarochi

Alright, art block is something absolutely every single artist in the world goes through at some point in their artistic journey. It's basically a seemingly random period of time where you seem to have no motivation/inspiration/will to draw, and/or nothing you draw seems to look right.  
There are different types of art blocks, the main difference between them being the cause, and thus each type calls for a different solution/way to deal with. I believe the types are:

 Bullet; Red  Natural Art Block

The natural art block is characterized by a lack of inspiration and being unable to get anything right which occurs a while after a peek in productivity.

Cause: I believe this art block is part of a natural creative process in which we have periods of high productivity and periods of very low productivity (lack of inspiration) where, in turn, we become better at looking instead of creating - those periods are the so called art blocks: we see them as lack of inspiration but what is really going on is, we're in a period where our ability to see and understand art and the visual world is improving, and as you should know, the ability to really see things is extremely important in producing good art and improving at it.

I came to this realization because I noticed how I can see more in art when in an art block than I do when I'm productive, and every single time I had such an art block, I came out of it having magically improved even though I hadn't been practicing, so I'm certain I'm right about this. I've had this theory since forever and recently I found people who elaborated it much better than I did (couldn't find it T__T dang it) so I am not the only one who believes this :)

:dummy: How to deal with it:

Solution 1 (recommended): use this time to learn. Stop worrying about creating a masterpiece every time you hold a pencil.
- Look at awesome artists' works, and by that I mean really look, as in, analyse; try to comprehend/grasp what they've done, pay attention and try to derive lessons for it, for instance how they painted the nose on a certain piece.
- Copy and trace drawings/paintings you love (and then kill it with fire and never put it on the interwebs), stock pictures and/or movie scenes: it's not ok to claim a copy as your own but copying (more so than tracing) can be very very helpful, trust me.  I don't ever do this but I know how much I'm/was missing out. Most amazing artists started out doing just that. Copying helps you understand how things work while  generating muscle memory, much faster than if you were to figure everything out on your own. 
Here are some cool stock galleries.
- look for tutorials on dA of things you're not good at and practice those things (
Here's my tutorial collection.)
- look for art books!

Solution 2: forcibly interrupt the natural creative cycle by looking for sources of inspiration and trying hard.
- see solution for "external art block" bellow

Bullet; Red External Art Block

This type pf art block is characterized by a Lack of inspiration, lack of ideas and specially a lack of motivation to draw, but if you do manage to draw or doodle you can totally get good results.  

In this type of art block, what is causing it is either:
a) You have a lot in your mind at the moment - it could be any sort of personal problems or you simply are too busy at the moment. For instance, I stop drawing when I have a lot of things to do for school even if I'm not doing them; I feel guilty for not taking care of my responsibilities; 
b) Routine caught up with you and you're just not excited about anything lately - your sources of inspiration dried out. It can also be that you're bored with drawing the same kind of stuff over and over (like I do lol).
c) You reached a point in a project where you either lost interest, got bored, or got lazy because it's a part you don't personally like, or maybe it's a part that's difficult and/or time-consuming for you.

:dummy: How to deal with it: 

Solution for cause a: either be done with your responsibilities or schedule a time just for drawing, even if just half an hour.
Getting over this kind of block is really hard for me so I don't have any great insight. I imagine if you try to do some self-psychology and convince yourself you're not being awful for drawing and that you do have time for everything you can get over it, but I never tried hard enough to know for sure it would work. The solution bellow, however, can totally work for this issue as well, sometimes! It's probably quite personal tho.

Solution for cause b: Go look for inspiration! Here are all the strategies/sources I know that can help:

- Change medium;
- DRAW WHEN SLEEP-DEPRIVED and let your subconscious rock. like, seriously.
- Write cool dreams down when you wake up and try to make something out of them;
- Look at awesome artists' works (online or from art books);
- Travel or visit some cool new place in your town you haven't been to;
- Design a new character;
- Redesign a character - could be from a show, a book, a cartoon, an old char of yours, a friend's, an idol's (last two with permission);
- Look for new characters to draw (could be a friend's, an idol's, your own);
- Draw stuff you usually don't/learn something new;
- Come up with themes, like a quote, a phrase, a word, 3 words (google!);
- Look for contests;
- Get inspired by a movie;
- Get inspired by a song;
 - Get inspired by a show or cartoon or anime;
- Draw or paint a random shape and then try to make something out of it;
- Draw yourself in unusual ways;
- Draw friends and/or family;
- Redo an old drawing;
- Let go of fear of the new and experiment with different techniques and styles;
- Browse stock pictures of people, buildings, landscapes, animals, whatever, and get inspired;
- Look for challenges online! Actually, here you go: 100ThemeChallenge;…  you're welcome! (google for more tho);
- Make up your own challenges;
- Offer requests (I advise no strings attached lol peepol be crazeh) or art trades;
- Look for inspiration in everywhere you go, for instance observe what people wear, their expressions, plants etc;
- Research art, fashion and architecture from cultures completely different from yours for freshness and inspiration;
- Try to temporarily adopt a point of view completely different from yours: "what would it be like to be ....";
- Change the layout of your arting space;
- Draw mythical creatures;
- Look for inspiration in mythical stories and characters, for instance in Greek and Nordic mythology; 
- Draw crossovers or gender bends if you're into that;
- Do memes from dA; 
- Always have a sketchbook with you;
- Write down ideas you have, even if just concepts/ley words, you can combine them into something awesome later;
- Trying to hard sometimes is the problem, art goes well with spontaneously, not stress (I know this is hard to follow but basically it means, don't take it so seriously all the time and you'll be surprised at your results)
- Look for new exciting PS/SAI brushes/textures/patterns (careful with that tho it's addictive D'8).

Extra: things I personally do because I'm damn weird:
- look at any textured wall and see THE UNIVERSE IN IT and then draw it.
- in the shower, when washing your hair: put all the hair that falls off onto the wall (it's wet so it'll stay in place). After the shower, look at it and see SILHOUETTES OMG tripping balls; and then draw what you see. 

Solution for cause c: I like working on 2 or 3 (usually 2) projects at a time because by switching between them I avoid getting bored or frustrated, and to me it's re-energizing too - it aaaaaaaaaalways works wonders! Another thing I do is taking breaks, I notice that when I take a break, specially after finishing the sketch, when I'm back at it I'm able to see things more clearly, including mistakes that I didn't notice before.  

Bullet; Red  Internal Art Block 

Characterized mainly by lack of motivation.

In this type of art block, what is causing it is either:
a) You're insecure and/or frustrated about your own art and skill. This usually comes hand in hand with comparing yourself to others and being intimidated by other people's skills to the point where you get sad and demotivated;
b): You're frustrated about your own art and skill because you feel like you haven't been improving at all, or not fast enough.

:dummy: How to Deal with it: 

Solution for cause a: snap out of this shit! This is a very important lesson for any artist because we're all prone to jealousy so HEAR ME OUT:
do not compare yourself to others - it's useless, counterproductive and harmful. Everybody is different, everybody is at a different place in their artistic journey and everybody has their own pace, therefore THERE IS no comparison. Get over it, please! Be proud of your work, look at how much you're improved!
This is specially important to understand because looking at different art styles and techniques is just so important! It brings new elements to your own art, it's inspiring, you can learn a lot from others! You cannot create art in a bubble and you're bound to be more productive and motivated if you're surrounded by awesome art! :heart: Also, remember that every single amazing artist you adore started out like everyone else does - from scratch, with little to no skill (:

Solution for cause b: Go learn/practice. Usually when people feel like their improvement is too slow is because they've made the very serious and common mistake of skipping the fundamentals of art. For instance: Go. Learn. Proper anatomy. Before. Jumping. Into. Anime. You will improve 200 times faster this way, I guarantee it. Other fundamentals are: Light/shadow, color and perspective. 
Sometimes the problem is that you keep drawing what you already know how to draw - you will never improve if you stay in your comfort zone, go learn new stuff, stuff you're not good at (look for tutorials, books, or go to Sycra's channel on youtube, just sayin)! Doing that is also going to inspire you :3 

And about drawing things you're not so good at: let go of the fear of "failing". I know the only reason I don't practice landscape is because I'm terrified of doing a terrible job and getting sad, and so fair this has been slowing me down a looooooooot. So let go of that fear, make mistakes, it's the only way to learn and no one is judging you, it's worth it!

There are these things called "creativity exercises". I'll look into that some day soon and If I find it's cool I'll include some here! :3

That's all folks :3

I really hope this is helpful :heart: feedback is appreciated (pls tell me if you think there's something bad about this, I know it's super long but I still want it to be effective!), feel free to share! I really wanted to do something like this because everything I found on dA about dealing with art block is good but incomplete, so I tried to include absolutely everything I knew could help!
If you can think of something that would be a good contribution for this, please let me know, I'll probably include your suggestion/idea (: 

Oh btw, here's a little feature :dummy:

These are art block related deviations I found that are cool and funny, check them out!

STUPID ART BLOCK by pistachioZombie Art Block by Snowbacon Art Block by Balloons504
Art Block by Cabycab Art Block by Pilot-Obvious Art Block by pettyartist
Art Block by Chrissytor Art block by Amathaze art block. by Vivian-Li

Stay productive babes! :flirty:

(Notice the irony in the fact that I'm writing this instead of following any of my advice lol)


SUP I'm Sally, I'm brazilian but I live in the US )o) I do both traditional and digital art and I have many styles I'M SORRY. Other than trying to art, I go to college and I have FAR too many hobbies (like srly D8) so instead of investing in one and being good at it, I suck at a bunch of stuff 8D but that's how I roll k (it's bad tho) My ambitions are changing the world and becoming amazing at arting someday :dummy:

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