Flicking the creative switch comes easier to some people than others. Here’s some habits that I use to help me build and improve my creative abilities.
Carry your Field Notes everywhere (or other sketchbook)
Field Notes is a brand of small, 48-page note books that fit in your pocket. I love them. (Side note, this is not sponsored by them. I legit use them all the time.)
The point is, carry a small booklet on you at all times. If you can carry your sketchbook, do it. In my job, it’s hard to carry a large sketchbook around, so I use Field Notes. By keeping them on me, I always have the opportunity to sketch an idea down on paper. You never know when an idea will hit you and you don’t want to be unprepared.
Carry your smartphone (almost) everywhere
If your sketchbook isn’t with you, your smartphone is the next best thing. I often take photos of scenes that inspire me on my drive to and from work. I will also email myself ideas for review later.
The reason is said “almost” is just a personal thing. I truly feel that our society is over connected. Smartphones suck the life out of you. A quick check of instagram, responding to an email, or checking in on that fight that’s going on in that Facebook group you’re part of, all of these suck hours out of your day. Hours you could spend making art.
So use it sparingly.
Play with the kids
I have two kids and I don’t always feel like I spend enough time with them because I work 40 hours a week in a job and then weekends making art.
Being around kids is great for your mental health... most of the time anyway. Kids have a different, mostly innocent view of the world. Being around this type of energy will help loosen up those mental processes in your brain. Laughing and playing with them creates serotonin, a feel-good chemical in the brain.
Kids are also fearless. If you can learn to adopt a fearless mentality, your art will benefit I guarantee it.
Picasso famously said that it took him 2 years to learn how to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.
I’ve spoke about collage lots. Collage is a great way to loosen up the creative mind. It helps the brain make random, seemingly unconnected connections. My advice is to hit up your local thrift store or second hand book shop and grab some books with big images in them. Then go home and get to work.
This is also a great project to do with the kids. So if you’re looking to spend some time with them, but would also like to work on your own skills, this is a great opportunity to stay creative.
Limits spark creativity. Creativity is about problem solving. The more limited the problem, the more special the answer will be. When I was a passionate photographer, I would do this often. I would often limit myself to just one lens and then go out for a walk for a few hours. The best limit I gave myself was shooting with a fixed lens at 200mm. Shooting things when you’re always zoomed out is tricky, but the results were amazing and it made me work hard for a good shot. I also got to learn more about the lens and the camera.
Set yourself limits. It might be a time limit (create a painting in 15mins) A size limit (canvas size of 4in square) A medium limit (only using chalk and a sidewalk) and so on.
Adopt one of these ideas for a week and let me know how it goes!