How to Feed Off Your Own Creativity

Creativity doesn’t come from nothing. The creative mind requires input to create output. I’ve written about how to find inspiration to create, as well as how to find your style as an artist, and in both posts I encourage artists to look to the outside world for inspiration. It’s an easy place to get the input you need to kick start your creativity, but today I want to talk about how to find inspiration through your own creative world.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating through the inspiration you get from the outside world, but when you are dedicated to finding your true voice as an artist and want to push yourself as far as you can, then learning how to feed off your own creativity is a great practice.

Once you take in enough input from the world around you to get a sense of who you are as a creator, it’s time to let that energy build inside of you and see how you can grow in isolation. Like a closed terrarium; you have everything you need to creatively flourish within. If you have studied the masters, learned basic art techniques and the principles of art and design, and have gotten a sense of your art style, then you may be ready to practice your creativity in isolation.

Here’s how you can do it:

1.Disconnect from other creator’s work.

I did this when I needed an art cleanse for my mental health, but this is beneficial even when you are in a healthy mental state. Mute/unfollow other creators on social media. The reason I want you to do this is because we can’t help be influenced by the work we consume. If you want to see how you can feed off your own creativity, you have to stop “eating” other content.

Stop consuming the work of other creators in your field. It doesn’t have to be forever. Maybe it will be for a few weeks or a couple of months. It all depends on how you’re feeling. The point is to make your artistic voice easier to hear.

2.Use what you have available.

If you feel you have taken in enough input from the outside world, then you likely have a crap ton of art supplies at your disposal by now. I want you to use what you currently have before even thinking about stepping into a store or researching new products. Again, like a terrarium, you have all you need around you.

Use the watercolors you have stashed in a drawer. Flip through half used sketch books and repurpose the paper. Try that acrylic set you got for Christmas that you still haven’t opened. There is a lot of creative potential hidden in what we already have. If you feel uninspired, go through the motions anyway. Or-

3.Create using prompts/step out of your comfort zone.

I don’t want you to spend too much time online when trying to feed off your own creativity, but prompts can be a really helpful catalyst. If you have supplies that don’t inspire you, do a quick Google search for creative prompts. Or make your own. The goal is to do something you don’t usually do. Paint a landscape, sit in your living room and draw your surroundings. Use one color and experiment with shadows and highlights. Take what you have around you and look at it with a new perspective. Explore how you can manipulate your current style using different mediums or colors.

Don’t look at how other artists do it. All you need when working from a prompt is text. An idea. Paint a red banana. Can you picture it? That image in your mind is yours to feed off of.

4.Create often and complete the creative cycle.

The creative process is a cycle. The more you can work through that cycle, the more work you can create. Input–>incubation–>creation–>rest. Do this weekly. Do this every day. Do this multiple times a day with small 15 minute prompts. Do this as much as you can. The hard part in the beginning will be finding input in isolation–but it might not be as hard as you think.

Have you ever tried to remake a piece of your art? Can you replicate it exactly? Probably not, unless you are a perfectionist. Even if we make the same exact piece of art every day, there will be changes from piece to piece. Change is inevitable and this works in your favor when feeding off your own creativity. Start with your current art style, make art inspired by that, do it often, and you will inevitably see evolution.

5.Capture even the roughest of ideas.

This can be as simple as capturing ideas in a journal, doing light sketching, collecting sources of inspiration like color swatches or testing new techniques and saving the practice work. You can’t predict when inspiration will strike. When you capture ideas and put them away for a later date, they can act as a starting point for your next work. You can stash them in a drawer for a dull day, or you can start pinning your ideas to a wall and look at them frequently. Or try both and see what works best for you.

Capture all of your ideas. It doesn’t matter how incomplete or rough they are. They can help you later.

6.Lastly, look back at your older work.

To feed off your own creativity, you need to look back at your older creations. When you create often and capture all of your ideas, you are going to have a butt-ton of stuff you can look through to spark new inspiration. Don’t let judgmental thoughts invade this exercise. I don’t care if the work sucked. Look at the techniques you used, the color palette, the subject matter, and more. Pull ideas from the past. Recreate the work with your current skills. Interpret the work and figure out what you were trying to say. Can you refine the message? Do you have a different perspective to approach the work now?

When you look back at older work, you go through a creative recycling process. Old ideas get transformed into something new. If you keep working through the creative process (input–>incubation–>creation–>rest) by only using your own work and ideas from the past as input, you will start to see your voice and style develop even more.

***

If you try working through this practice of creativity in isolation and you can’t seem to produce anything–then you may simply need more input from the outside world. There is no wrong way to create. Right now, I try to find about 75% of my creative input within isolation, but I can never completely cut myself off from the outside world. That would be no fun.

So what do you think? Are you ready to try and feed off your own creative energy?

Please leave questions and comments below while commenting is open or reach out to me directly through Instagram or email. I’d love to hear from you! Make sure to sign up for my email list below to never miss a blog post. New posts are published every Tuesday (…sometimes Wednesday). And if you’d like to see more content like this in the future, consider becoming a Patron of mine! (See details below.)

-Kelly

Do want to help me create more blog content? I want to keep providing content like this for free, but I need your help. If you enjoy my blog posts and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep helping artists like you. Plus, you get extra little perks!

Further Reading:

Art Thieves: Stop Stealing Digital Content

*This rant has been brought to you by too much coffee, and the desire to yell at someone on the internet. I don’t actually expect art thieves to read this and suddenly change their behaviors, but it sure does feel good to vent.

To Artists,

Sometimes the content we produce to promote our art and our businesses gets stolen and posted online without permission or credit to us. Any artist knows, it’s hard to carve out a place in the art world. The internet has made it easier to connect directly to our audience, but it has also brought our work closer to thieves.

It’s really frickin’ annoying when you see your content online without credit to you. I could write a post about how to safeguard yourself against art theft (ugh, watermarks), but I’m getting a little tired of the practice of only teaching victims how to protect themselves rather than teaching other people not to be a**holes.

So this is for the a**holes.

To the turd who stole my digital content,

You stole my art. Not cool.

But, I get it. The internet is fast paced, and maybe you don’t actually have any skill of your own to share. Any online presence you’re trying to build is likely going to take a butt-ton of content that you can’t produce on your own. What do you do? You turn to other creators and snipe their videos and photos.

It’s just an image, right? Or a video here and there. No biggy. Followers start coming in. You get compliments. Everything is great.

Who’s going to notice you are lying?

I promise. People will notice.

The art world is small.

Just this morning, I got a message from one of my followers with a link to one of my videos that was stolen. This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten a message like this and it won’t be the last. See, as an artist grows, it’s harder and harder to get away with taking their content.

Sure, if you can steal from the little guys you can get away with it for a while, but that’s a dick move. Never step on the little guys to boost yourself up. Have some class.

Your lack of skill is showing.

Let’s say someone was really interested in purchasing the piece pictured in the photo you stole. They message you. What do you say?

Or, maybe you aren’t aware that artists develop a distinct style over time and you post all sorts of different content. Any actual artist will be able to look at your content and see the disconnect.

Annnd then you get called out.

Let’s not forget what you’re doing is illegal.

I would like to live in a world where we don’t have to involve lawyers to protect our creative property, but because of people like you I can’t get my way.

There is a little something called “Copyright Law”. I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but in the United States it’s kind of a big deal. Artists have ownership of what they create. Including the photographs and videos they make.

The stolen content you posted can be flagged, reported, taken down, etc.. Your accounts can even be deactivated. If you continue to be an a**hole and piss off an artist who has a good lawyer, legal action can be taken.

Maybe just don’t steal stuff, k?

What’s the point of Stealing?

Money and attention without working for it, right? Cool. Good for you. Enjoy inflating your ego and profiting off of the work of others. But, also enjoy being universally hated by all creative professionals.

Again, I get it. Stealing stuff is a hustle just like creating art. We are all just trying to make it in this world. Some of us just have a little more integrity and aren’t too lazy to put in the work.

What you could do instead:

Here’s a wild idea. How about you just credit the artists? There are many successful online brands and accounts that profit off of actually helping other artists instead of just stealing their content.

As an artist, I can say I love when other people share my work. If you repost one of my videos on Instagram and include @messyeverafter in the caption, you are my best friend. You get to build your profile with entertaining content AND you helped give an artist more exposure.

Everyone is happy. No Copyright laws have been broken. Everyone wins. Whoa, right?

What have we learned today?
  1. Don’t steal.
  2. People will eventually catch you.
  3. Share artwork. Don’t steal it.
  4. Credit your artists. Always.
  5. Don’t be an a**hole.

kthxbye.

-Kelly

***

P.S. If you enjoy my blogs and gain any inspiration from the content I put out there, please consider becoming a Patron of Messy Ever After on Patreon. Pledging just $1 a month enables me to keep doing what I do. Plus, you get extra little perks like phone wallpapers!

Further Reading:

How to be a Better Professional in the Art World

8 Things You’ll Hear as an Artist