How to Get New Ideas For Lettering When You Feel Like Your Creativity Has Dried Up

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How to Get New Ideas For Lettering When You Feel Like Your Creativity Has Dried Up

Every letterer wants to get better. We all have ideals, maybe heroes, and we all aspire to approaching their level of skills. Bridging the gap, so we can finally match perfect ideas with flawless execution.

We all know that work is the only answer to getting better at what we like. Yet, it sounds much less obvious when it comes to growing and maintain creativity.

Sounds like a cliché, but creativity does come from diversified sources of inspiration. The reason why you’re dry on ideas even though you feel like your intake of inspiration is steady, is because you always look at the same place. You’re looking at the same kind of art, most likely from the same artists, on the same platforms, and it’s having the same effect as when you eat the same kind of food every day: you get bored.

It doesn’t mean you don’t like it anymore. It doesn’t mean there nothing more for you to intake from this source. It means you have to diversify. Your mind gets numb and desensitized as it consumes the exact same thing over and over. You need to give it something new to make it excited and active again.

As we grow as artist, we become more and more self conscious about what we produce. The Internet and how easy it is to share our work doesn't help: we want to become big, we want visibility, but we fear to be judged and compared to others, therefore it makes us create for the result. It hurts creativity big time, because you’re much more inclined to follow trends and do what people currently respond to, instead of exploring things you really enjoy.

If you want to fight this, you need to go back to where you were when you started.

When you start something new, you're exactly like a child: you get into the game because you have fallen in love with it. You have entirely new and fresh eyes, and you start doing exactly what you like, with zero fear of judgment: it’s playtime.

Search through your early work: your first reflex will be to cringe at the lack of skills you had back then. But if you get past this natural impulse of vanity, you may realize how diverse and creative you allowed yourself to be. Yet, you probably were nowhere near the level of skills required to do it well, but the great thing is you didn't care. Your only concern was to explore everything you liked and you did it with a touching ingenuity that made you immensely creative.

This is gold. Unfortunately, we all lose this state of mind extremely quickly.

What can you do then? Is it a lost cause? No it's not. There are many ways to let go of your creative anxiety and reconnect with what made you get into the game in the first place.

A great way to « rediscover » this state is to search through your old work and dig up pieces you made when you just started, and revisit them with your newly acquired skills. You have the best of both worlds: beginner’s creativity, veteran’s expertise.

Another favor you can do for your creativity, is doing the things you love. It might sound like weird advice, but your creativity is tightly linked to everything you do.

Starkade Series by James White (Signalnoise), an 80’s pop-culture inspired artwork
Starkade Series by James White (Signalnoise), an 80’s pop-culture inspired artwork

Take James White from Signalnoise: this amazing artist literally embodies the 80’s culture. That’s because he grew up in the 80's and loved this era. He's been heavily influenced by pop culture: music, movies, fashion, games; and this is what has activates his creativity.

If your main source of inspiration is Pinterest, and you’re dry on inspiration, ditch Pinterest for a month and do something you love every day. Watch a classic movie, listen to a classic album, play your favorite sport or video game with your buddies, go on a fancy wine tasting, take a hike, whatever makes you happy. Reconnect with something you really enjoy, because believe it or not, it is linked at some level with your art and your style. The feelings and emotions you’ll experience as you do this will activate your creativity in new ways. Senses that you usually don’t put to use to create a new piece will be solicited, and will deliver new kinds of messages to your brain.

Listening to music creates images in your head. Enjoying an ice cold beer creates images in your head. Going on a week end trip in a neighbooring country creates images in your head. Do those things. Do what makes you feel good. And no it's not a license to slack off; it's an encouragement to get a change of air so you can renew your ideas by waking up your senses. Doing things you love and differs from your everyday life activates your senses and fuels your creativity.

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