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Getting inspired and generating idea’s … how do you do that?

Maybe you do not have any problems at all with getting idea’s, but it is something that often comes back in my practice as a teacher. “Miss, I have no idea what to make.” Or I hear: “I’m not doing anything today because I have no inspiration.” With my adolescent students at the last hour of the day, the latter usually just means: “I don’t feel like it.” :)

There are many different ways to gain inspiration. Below is a list of different ways to get the engine up and running again. Because I think that is the most important thing, generate a spark arises that will bring you back to work if you have stopped.

Below I have made a list of the different tactics I use to get inspiration or to get going again. Maybe there are things that work great for you (or not) or do you have any additions? Let me know in the comments at the bottom of this post.


Use the work of artists.

For example, draw a portrait à la Picasso, make shadows like Rembrandt, use color like Vincent van Gogh or Seurat. To name just a few very well-known (and cliché) examples.

You can take each artist as inspiration, try to find out what appeals to you in the work. Maybe you like the use of color? Or how the artist deals with his lines? You can of course recreate a work (which is a good way to learn), but be careful with sharing your work on the internet and social media with the copyright. Recreating for yourself to learn is no problem, but even better is getting an idea out and combining it with your own ideas. A good documentary about this is:




Doing something completely different.

Are you drawing and are you stuck? Try another technique. Draw it with your non-dominant hand, work with paint or chalk, or even do something completely different. Sports, learning a new language, find out something about a certain place or time in history that interests you. Thinking of an idea often involves putting different ideas together into a new idea. Sometimes something from a totally different area can be a combination that you had not thought of before but might just the missing link.


Pay attention to details and be a bit patient

Do not try to solve everything in one day. Some ideas need some time to sink in. Keep it in mind and sometimes think about it. If you pay attention you sometimes encounter something, in the supermarket, on television, while you are in the shower, etc. These are those “Eureka” moments. Unfortunately, you do not always have time to do something with it right away, write the idea down immediately, because such ideas are often very clear in your mind at that moment, but they can also quickly fade again. And there is nothing more frustrating than that!Write it down so that you can use it later, if you have time to get to work.


Accept that you sometimes have to work through your lack of inspiration.

Sitting still and doing nothing has never worked for me. It is precisely by making things, whatever the thing, that the machine in my head gets going again. Getting inspiration and ideas is sometimes just a matter of working hard and persevering. The illusion of the artist who has a “gift” and can think of everything without too much effort is very stubborn and difficult to eradicate. And (I think) even an insult to the hard work that artists do. The reason that some artists are successful or get further with their work is that they do not give up when things are difficult or complicated, but go on, sometimes even if it even seems like it will become a total fiasco.



Work on multiple projects simultaneously

This has helped me a lot. I work on multiple projects alternately, so I do not get stuck immediately if one thing does not work. Then I switch over to another project and I work on it for a while. After a while I go back to the first project and because I have left it for a while and worked on something else, I look at my first project with fresh eyes and I know how I want to go on.


Remember that it does not necessarily have to work out all the time

The thought that something has to work can be so crippling that you get a block. I have quite a problem with this myself. When using expensive materials, good paint or, for example or expensive paper, the fear sometimes increases and I block.In the meantime I have taught myself to think: this is a test, just a sketch, if I can not make it work I will just try again. And also: “I have already bought this material, doing nothing with it is a waste!” Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not work either. That is also okay, then I use a cheap piece of paper and I still make the test on it.And even if it still fails, that is the time you often learn the most! I am always happy when something fails, but sometimes it takes a while before I feel that way!

Recently I dropped a work because I held it on the hook at the back to film it. The hook was not properly fixed and the ceramic tile fell on the ground and broke in three pieces! I w as so mad! But, I learned a big lesson, I will never hold it just on that little hook and in the future it will also provide an extra blob of glue to make sure it sticks!

Of course I feel so bummed out when something like this happens, but there are also some advantages: I will never again do things this way. And I learn from it, while solving the problem or mistake. Yes, it takes a lot of extra effort, time and sometimes materials, but the gain is in my skills. I grow and get a better grip on my material and subjects.

So do not see your project as an end point but as just a point on the route. Think of it as a checkpoint and continue your way. A creative person (tries) not to see failures, but in-betweens.


Search online

In addition to all the techniques I have described above, there are also places on the internet where I gather new ideas. I try not always to start with the internet to avoid the temptation of copying. But if I’m already going with some idea’s, it helps me to mix with the ideas I already have so that something new arises:

    • Pinterest
    • YouTube (via How to videos I often come across new techniques to try out)
    • Instagram


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