How to find inspiration for your art when you draw a blank

It happens to every artist. You open up your sketchbook, or your macbook, and you stretch your fingers out to begin work for the day. But, alas, you draw a complete blank.

This happens more often than you think, and I can assure you, it doesn’t just happen to you. There are countless times where I’ve stared blankly, at a blank screen, just waiting for the magic to happen.

It doesn’t have to be this way though. Whether you’re trying to find the right words, or looking for the right image to form in your mind, an artist has many different resources that they can pull from in order to get moving with their day’s work.

We’ve put together a list of some of the most valuable (and less-known) sources of inspiration below.

Magazines

These are a goldmine. Opening up a magazine means diving into brilliant writing, flicking through well laid out pages, and hundreds of big, beautiful images. This shock to the sense is just what’s needed to get you inspired. I guarantee that after flicking through a magazine you’ll be better placed to get started than you were before.

Online magazines can be really inspirational, too. Whether you’re trying to come up with a new visual, or writing a new piece of music, online magazines which have an artistic flair — No Majesty is a good example — can help get your creative juices flowing.

Go for a walk

It’s a classic. Just getting up and taking a walk can be hugely beneficial for creative work. I recommend not taking a phone with you, but just walking out into the open air and letting yourself think. This change of scenery can be perfect after you’ve been sitting inside for a long time.

Sometimes, when I’m stuck at my desk all day, typing away, I hit a block, and the best way to get me over this is to get up, go outside and take a long walk, listening out for anything that might pique my interest and get me thinking differently again.

Listen to some music

Listening to music is underrated when it comes to getting inspired for creative work. It’s not just sitting down and listening to a piece of music, it’s activating different senses, and getting you to think about different things; rhythms, instruments, and lyrics.

Listening to music can be particularly helpful when it’s a kind of music that you wouldn’t usually listen to – picking an unfamiliar genre can give your creative brain a boost, and you’ll broaden your tastes too!

Watch a film

Don’t think of it as procrastination, think of it as feeding your creative adventure. Films are an audiovisual experience that really gets your brain into gear, firing on all senses as you try and understand what’s happening in front of your eyes.

Much like with music, films are beneficial for getting inspired when they’re not exactly what you’re used to seeing. If you’re a crime drama fan, give something romantic a go perhaps. Whether it’s on the big screen or on your laptop at home, watching a film could be just the boost you need to get started on a new project.

Look back through your past work

Sometimes, just opening up some of your previous projects can be hugely inspirational for what you’re working on at the moment. After all, it’s your work, why wouldn’t it be able to inspire what you’re working on right now?

If you’re trying to write a story, take a quick look at some of the stuff that you’ve written before, or if you’re a musician trying to come up with a new melody, try going over some of your old songs that you haven’t played in a while. It might be just the trick.

Dive into the past work of others

Just like your own brush strokes can inspire your next masterpiece, so too can the work of other people inspire you to move forward in your next creative endeavour. As Lana Del Rey said about fashion, it’s “inspired by youth and nostalgia and draws inspiration from the best of the past”. Without knowing history, it’s much harder to build a strong foundation for something new.

Whatever field you’re in, and can be really helpful to look at the classic works, the all-time greats, and observe their methods. What made them so successful? What did they do in their day-to-day work that you can do too?

In the end, finding inspiration is all about taking in everything that’s around you. An idea for a new piece of work can be found anywhere, and when you find yourself in a rut, there’s plenty of resources for you to draw from so that you can get going again.