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How to Deal with Creative Block

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Read Time: 4 mins

Even the most accomplished Illustrators and Designers will come up against a block at one time or another. In the following article I'll share with you my personal experiences with Creative Block and a few tips and tricks I've learnt to keep it under control.

My Creative Block started without warning and spanned over an entire year. It felt like a form of fatigue and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find the motivation and inspiration that I once had. It was a year of ups and downs, of days when I felt that I had my mojo back and days when I considered moving to the country to run a farm (seriously, I did!).

For freelancers Creative Block is probably one of the worst things that could happen. You feel as though you don't have the ideas and skills that will keep food on the table, and in turn those feelings can make you feel pretty lousy. Here's a few tips to keep "The Block" at bay.

Illustrations courtesy of Sean Kelly (aka Bucket'o'Thought)

Don't Force Yourself to be Creative

If you have work that needs to be finished on time, this is a tricky one. Finish your tasks to the best of your abilities and avoid starting any personal work unless you're completely relaxed. You can sometimes judge your work harder than the client does. Work to the brief and move on to the next job, don't obsess that it's not an award winning masterpiece, this will only make the block worse.

Look Backwards For Ideas

Looking at your portfolio is a good way to come up with ideas, sometimes good ideas can be put to the side when you're full of inspiration. By looking over your old work you can also reassure yourself that while you may not have the motivation to draw at this moment, your skills are moving in the right direction and they will be there when you're inspired again.

Learn Something New

If you're stuck for Illustration and Design ideas, why not turn your attention to learning something new? If you're an illustrator you could try your hand at Animation, Web Design, 3D, Patterns or Screen Printing. New skills bring new ideas and can invigorate your old workflow.

Stay Away from Image Sharing Sites

When you have Creative Block, trying to find inspiration in the work of others is a great way to make yourself feel bad! I've tried this myself. After looking at what my colleagues were up to and how fast they were producing new work, I felt horrible. It was as if I had a broken leg and all my friends were out playing. Save the browsing and bookmarking for later.

Help Others

Helping others is a nice way to stay active within the creative community. You can do this by participating in forums and blog comments, sharing advice on twitter or by joining a brainstorming session with a friend.

Clean out your Portfolio

Think of your Creative Block as a fantastic opportunity to shorten your to-do list. Take this time to clean out your portfolio and put your website, blog and/or social networking sites in order. You should also use this time to back-up your hard drive, clear out your old folders and check that all your hardware and software is in order. Who wants a crashed out computer as soon as they feel like working again?

Comments or Questions?

Have you had Creative Block before? If so, how did you overcome it? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

Community Project Update:

Vectortuts+ loves Illustration and discovering new talent, so we're running a new community project that combines both, the Vectortuts+ Totem Project. The best thing is, you can be a part of it!

Hurry! Vectortuts+ Totem Collection 3 will be posted soon, you only have a bit of time to upload your artwork for this round.

Vectortuts+ Totem, Collection 1 and Collection 2 was a great success and we've already had some fantastic artwork submitted for Collection 3. This is a reminder that it's not too late to add your own. For more information on how to participate in the Totem Project, and to see the artwork from past collections, simply visit Community: Totem Project.

If you have any questions about how to submit artwork, would like to comment on the Flickr Submissions or want to suggest ideas for future projects, you can do so via our Twitter @Vectortuts our Facebook Group, or leave a comment at the end of this post.

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