I think every artist out here has experienced it at least one time in their career: the so called artblock. A moment of total lack of inspiration that suddenly hits you, and leaves you unable to create. Most often the solution is to just wait. Most artblocks will solve automatically with time. But there are circumstances in which an artblock doesn't automatically disappear, or when you have deadlines to catch. In that case, you might be helped by some basic tips to conquer your artblock.
Over the years, I've experienced an artblock (or writersblock, as they call it for fiction writers) many, many times. Most of them were short, but the longest lasted over 2 years. Most of them solved on their own. But sometimes I just needed that little bit of extra help. Therefore, I made a list with a few tips and tricks to make your artblock go away. Hopefully it'll help you as well as it did me.
Beat your fear
Most artblocks come from fear. The fear of not being able to make such a great work. The fear of not being able to make something good before the deadline. The fear of disappointing your audience, or the fear not being able to live up to expectations. While the outside world might have expectations, the greatest limitation comes from the fear within. Fear is a paralyzing emotion that is known to kill creativity instantly and make people stick to routine. This is a natural reaction, designed to keep us save in the time that we still had to run for huge angry bears and such. It's totally useless when it comes to art, though.
As art is often the result of a moment of inspiration, many artists hold this fear of not being able to do this "trick" again or running out of ideas. It might help you to know that you're not the only one suffering from this. Not by far. Realize this. Furthermore realize that you're often your own worst critic. People, especially customers, came to you because they liked your stuff in general, and they couldn't do something like that their selves. Even though you might not be entirely content with the result, they probably will be. As customers often aren't artists themselves, they tend to hold lower standards towards art in general.
Do something new
I know it can be frustrating to be stuck with a certain artwork, but don't beat yourself up over it. If you're stuck with something, make it a habit to do something else. The change of mind will make you be able to look at all of your artwork with a new and fresh perspective later on. And sometimes an artwork just simply doesn't work.
If you're stuck on your type of art in general, don't be afraid to try something else entirely. It sometimes helps to change your drawing subjects... or try using an entirely new medium. It's enjoying to learn something new, and new mediums might make you view new aspects of art you didn't know yet, so it's not a waste of time.
Listen to music
No matter what music you like, music is a strong way to provoke feelings. Research shows that, in movies, music is of even greater influence than the images we see. So get your sound plugged in, and push that play button! Put up a song you played when feeling inspired. Or a song that reflects the content of what you want to draw or write. It will certainly help you to get in the mood. You haven't got any music that makes you feel inspired? Then go surf around for new music. Use the recommended videos on youtube. Or one of the many sites like last.fm that will suggest you new music based on your playlist and preferences.
Browse for inspiration
Can't find the idea you want to portray? Try using google for images that reflect either the object or the mood that you want to portray. Image sites like DeviantArt, tumblr and pinterest have very inspiring images for almost everything and anything you want to make. Don't be afraid to get inspired by other people's work. As long as you don't directly copy their work and claim it as your own, you're totally fine. Just keep in mind that it's nice that, if you use other people's work, it's polite to credit them.
Despite how the internet can be inspiring... it can be overwhelming at the same time. There's always an artist that is better than you, or an image that you could never do that well. And even though you might realizing the internet makes the competition worldwide, it can still be very discouraging at times. And then we're not even talking about the distraction the internet provides. E-mail, Facebook, Sites you have to check out, Skype contacts that talk to you. Same goes for your phone. Whatsapp messages piling up.
Sometimes it's good to take a break from the constant buzz that the internet provides. Get away from your computer, turn out your phone, and spend some time off. Taking a long walk or bike ride might help you to connect to your inner self again and get your creative juices flowing again.
Because a healthy body is of great help for a healthy mind. I'm not talking about running a marathon, but doing an occasional walk or bike ride might help you to feel healthy overall. Make sure you take care of your body well. Not only will this result in you having less worries about being sick, but it will also keep you safer from stress. Make sure you get that 8 hours sleep a day. Wake up and go to sleep at reasonable times, even though you might have deadlines. Sleeping will improve your working speed more than pulling an all nighter.
If you're feeling depressed or otherwise mentally unhealthy, don't be afraid to consult a doctor about it if you can't solve it on your own. No matter what people say, a depression is a serious illness that should not be taken too lightly.
Accept everybody has bad days
You can't be a star player all the time. Even the most skilled people have bad days. Don't beat yourself up over this, as it will only leave you depressed. Instead, go do something else and try again tomorrow. Most artblocks are only temporary and will solve their selves with time.
Fuel your creativity
Fuel your creativity with brainstorming and playing "what if" games.
Think up a concept and brain storm about it. Put it down on paper. Write everything that you relate to this concept, even though it might not be used for your artwork. Think about alternate history. Things like "What if dinosaurs would have never gone extinct?", "What if World War 2 never happened?", "What if I place character-X in the streets of New York during rush hour?". Exercises like that will force you to think about things that would never have happened, and therefore force you to think creative. When you got your creativity flowing, try to move the game into the direction in which you want your artwork to be. Here you go!
Talk with other artists
Talking with another artist might help you to reflect on your own work as well. There's nothing more inspiring than talking with other artists about their technique and their vision on certain subjects. Or exchanging story lines for your fiction. If you don't have any artistic friends or family, the internet has a solution. There are many networks for artists on the internet. Contact users that you like and talk with them. Or if that doesn't work out, take an art class in your neighborhood. You're guaranteed to meet artists there, and you'll learn something too.
A little science to help you
Doing art might seem like it takes you only one skill to get there, while in reality you need two.
1. The skill to observe. (visual skill)
2. The skill to make art (physical skill)
While in the perfect situation the level of these 2 skills will match, in reality they often don't
. Hence leading to either thinking your art is perfect and not improving because your visual skill doesn't match up to your drawing skill. Or thinking your art totally sucks because your physical skills don't match up to the process of evaluating art in your mind (the latter one often comes with lack of physical practice). Needless to say, the last situation will often lead towards an art block. But knowing how this actually works, might make things better. Because while you might think your artistic skills totally suck, you're actually really skilled at seeing art, and you're probably on the brink of a great improvement -- if you just find the will to push it.
This chart --taken from the internet-- shows it visually
Well, I hope this somewhat helped.
If you have any useful tips to share, do so. I'm more than happy to know more ways to beat that dreadful artblock