When inspiration... fizzles

I was on a tear, making things left and right, and then it happened.


Nope, nada, zilch. I cannot think of what to create/design next and I spent way too much time over the weekend staring at a blank Illustrator file. Besides Pinterest and here, where do you all go for inspiration when you’re stuck in a rut?


Congratulations! You get to learn a huge life lesson much earlier than I did.

Inspiration rarely comes to you, instead you have to go to it. Get a notebook and start jotting down things as they come to you. Nothing coming to you? Jot down word salad and doodles. It’s the exercise more than what you come up with.
Whole books have been written on this, I just gave you the very shortest version.


Great advice! Also expand your horizons, push some limits, challenge your comfort zone. Learn a new tool, try a new technique. Give your subconscious more ammo!


Also just go into the world and do stuff. You need external fuel.

@shogun, you got that comic handy?


Okay, bouncing back off @timjedwards explore corners of AI, I promise you that will give you ideas.


Mark is spot on. The way to be creative is to create! Power through it.

First, give yourself permission to create total crap. It’s hard to be creative when that nasty little voice in the back of your head is whispering poison like “What made you think you were an artist? That sucks. YOU suck!” Defuse that nonsense by kicking expectations to the side. When that voice says, “that sucks,” you can reply: “It’s supposed to, now shut up.”

In the end, what you make may be unexpected genius, or it might be the most glorious eyesore the world has ever seen. But either way, it’s all good, because you’re back in the creative flow.

As for inspiration, it’s literally all around you.

Turn on the TV, flip through random stations, and write down a list of random things that catch your eye. Write them on scraps of paper. Now pick two of them at random and combine them. That’s your project. Make it. Paula Deen riding a murder hornet? It’s fate. Do it. Doesn’t matter if it’s absurd or kitschy or hideously ugly… in fact, that’s to be commended! Because when it’s done, you’ll have something to laugh over with your peers, and more importantly, you’ll have broken through your creative slump.

Go to your kitchen, and pick a random utensil. Now make a design for jewelry based on that shape. Almost anything arranged in a kaleidoscope or snowflake pattern can be gorgeous, and who knows? Maybe your spatula earrings or slotted spoon bracelet will become a best seller.

Artists inspire one another. Flip through the catalogs of famous artists — all of whom had that little voice whispering, “you suck!” in their ear — and let them spark your own creativity. Bonus points if it’s an artist with a style completely different than your own. What if you wrapped Gustav Klimt’s gold leaf work around a vase? How could you turn Starry Night into a layered shadowbox? And how could you turn that shadowbox into a piece of jewelry?

Remix your own work. Pick a piece you like (or a piece you dislike!) and change one key element. If it uses round shapes, figure out how you could make it with triangular shapes. If it uses muted earth tones, redesign it with brilliant hues. If it’s a minimalist design, reimagine it with layers of ornamentation.

Look around your house. Is there a practical project you’ve been meaning to build? Do it, but add a little flair to it. It may start as a humble sock drawer organizer, but soon you’ll have a freakin’ work of art cradling your socks.

It’s all about momentum. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, an artist who creates keeps creating. Get moving! :grin:


I find that deadlines work wonders. :smile:
(Missing them can cause even more ideas to flow…like why the heck didn’t I try this seven iterations ago?!) :roll_eyes:


Get you some black and gold acrylic and then get the two tone black and gold acrylic and go nuts for the Tigers!

My main drive is problem solving. Most of my stuff is of a practical nature, And a lot of it is driven by what materials I have. Maybe look at your materials collection and see what you could do. Or pick a material that you haven’t used before and do something with that.


Wow @Doppler, way to flesh out my skeleton of a thought! :clap:


@evansd2 You mean this one: https://theoatmeal.com/comics/creativity_breathing


Sketch and doodle. Explore engraving. try to nail your kerfs in various materials. Mentally step away, and an idea will jump out at you. Try something way harder than you think you can handle. Relax!

As a mechanical designer I frequently get ideas while I am driving or in some other way being off task.


I would also recommend picking a material you have never tried and making something with it. It doesn’t have to be complex. Let the material inspire you.

Conversely, set a limit on yourself. Open a favorite book to a random page and create something based on that page.


Release the dogs of war, and let them find avenues you didn’t know existed. Something closely related to the force… it is strong in these people.


Are there any materials you’ve not tried, yet? Leather, acrylic, slate, cork, …and new finishing treatments? Laser foil, oil based paints, …led lights? The list is pretty much endless.


I like to look at Etsy Laser templates and design files for sale. I often buy a file then add my flare to it.https://www.etsy.com/search?q=laser%20templates


I’ve been going through the exact same thing. Had no inspiration, nor any desire to just make stuff that I already had designs for.
Then I had to interview a couple that run a school for esoteric arts… Yeah, I know, strange. But the husband is also an artist and makes amazing things. His Mr. Coffee has been transformed into a three foot tall work of art that still makes coffee.
He also made less familiar things, one being a spiritual energy device…basically a square box with a series of copper wire coils inside…but he made them into true works of art. I have no idea how they are supposed to work, but they were beautiful. So, that’s my current inspiration. Something strange that will sit on a shelf here, but it’s certain to be a conversation starter!


Have a notepad right next to your bed, and before you sleep, ask yourself to make something in your dreams. I realise it sounds weird. Most of my designs come from dreams.


I am right there with you. I am no artist, but I like making things. The problem is, I want to make either functional things or gingerbread. Since it isn’t Christmas, and since my family’s birthday season is done (truly they all have birthdays from September to March), I’m at a loss myself. Although I don’t really come up with the fabulous things I see here, I do like looking at them, I think of myself as a knock-off artist. If I see something I like, I’ll try and make that but with my own spin on it. So, I’ve just been printing ear savers and trying to think of something to do. I’m sure something will come to me eventually (or someone will post something I want to copy ha ha)


I can’t help you with the gingerbread but don’t tell me your pantry, all your drawers and closets are all Glowforge arranged.


You are correct haha. The only thing stopping me is how expensive the materials are compared to what I can just buy something plastic. But you are right the fun is creating and I probably will do that. But luckily for me work has been busy as ever, so I haven’t had much time to think about it.