Every artist has had a moment where it seems to be a challenge to come up with new inspirational ideas. In these desperate times, it can be difficult to find something that can help to bring back the creative flow. Wondering how to get inspiration for art? You might have a favorite place or idea you fall back on, but perhaps you need a little more inspiration. Hopefully, with our help below, you can get back to doing what you enjoy, which is creating art!
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Is Inspiration Important for Artists?
- 2 Different Types of Inspiration
- 3 Exploring Art Forms for Inspiration
- 4 Tips and Techniques for Finding Inspiration for Art
- 5 How to Stay Inspired
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
Why Is Inspiration Important for Artists?
If you are an artist or designer, you cannot work without having some form of inspiration. For some, coming up with inspirational ideas comes naturally, but it can be difficult for others. However, everyone has a slump every so often, and all that is needed is some form of motivation. This is exactly what inspiration is, a form of stimulation to help spark creativity. Artists need new and original ideas for their art.
The benefits of feeling inspired in our daily lives can help to release creativity, and in the process, it can also boost productivity and makes you feel good. Those who feel inspired more often also tend to be more motivated, confident, and focused. Inspiration might seem like it is unpredictable, but it is simply a way our minds process information we already know. Sometimes, you are under a lot of stress, and you will notice inspiration is further away in these times. Take the stress away, and your mind is free to wander and come up with original ideas.
So, instead of inspiration being unpredictable or spontaneous, it can be something that is encouraged by intentional actions. There are numerous ways you can find artistic inspiration, and it can be as simple as taking a walk in nature.
Where does inspiration come from? Many artists will say that it comes from many different places. Sometimes, it can be from something physical like a person, place, or object. Other times it can come from more of an emotional place, such as loss, love, or beauty. A person can be inspired by their personal experiences of a specific moment, memories, and emotions that go with it. Let us now look at how to get inspiration for art.
Different Types of Inspiration
As we have seen, inspiration and creativity are tightly interwoven. You can search and find art inspiration ideas, which should then help to improve creativity. There are many ways to find artistic inspiration, some you can easily do every day at home, while others require a bit more effort. Below are some art inspiration ideas you can find in everyday activities.
Discovering Inspiration from Daily Life
Finding inspiration for art can be done by simple things at home, or you can draw inspiration from going out into the world. Artistic inspiration can also be achieved more easily by things you like doing. However, it can also pay to try new things and explore something out of your comfort zone.
Let us have a look at a few art inspiration ideas.
Getting Inspiration from Outside the Studio
Maybe you are the type of person who simply loves people-watching and taking in the wonders of everyday life. You can go to a coffee shop and watch people for hours, so why not take your sketchbook with you? Observe the world around you, it does not have to be a coffee shop, it can be at the local park, or on the subway. You never know what interesting and exciting environments and characters you might find. The focus is more on capturing the essence of a scene or person than it is on actual details.
You do not only have to observe but speak to people, where you can listen to and share ideas. New ideas can be created just by being in a social environment. This can be done with friends whom you can relax with, try joining other social groups to broaden your perspective. If you can, go even further and travel, this is an ideal way of gaining inspiration. You do not have to go far, however, an overseas journey would be most exciting and inspiring.
Listening to Music
This is something you can easily do at home or on your way to work. If it seems that things are getting too repetitive or it is becoming difficult to come up with fresh ideas, listening to music is a simple way of helping you to disengage from the world. The right music can even help reduce anxiety and improve focus. Gentle music or more classical music are popular choices and can help you to focus more.
However, simply listening to your favorite songs, you can use the emotions to help inspire you.
Reading a Book
This is another way to help you move away from the predictability of daily life. Books are also a great source of information and can be a way to discover new perspectives and learn about other cultures. Reading is the perfect way to stimulate the imagination and is an ideal way to inspire creativity.
Participating in Physical Activity
You need to get up and exercise if you want to stay healthy in both mind and body. Physical activities like walking, running, going to the gym, playing tennis, or any other activity can help you to relax and give your mind the time it needs to process thoughts, which can lead to new ideas and improved creativity.
It can be as simple as going for a hike and allowing nature to help inspire you.
Watching a Movie
Another simple way to help find inspiration is to watch a movie. Just like reading a book, it helps you to take your mind off of everyday problems and can cause you to question and think about things. The movie itself or the characters in it might even provide some ideas you never thought of before. This can also be a great socializing idea with friends and family.
Exploring Art Forms for Inspiration
As an artist, numerous things can be done to find artistic inspiration. The above methods are more general, but now we will look at a few more ideas that are more focused on the art world and what you can do to find inspiration.
Subject Matter or Theme
Some artists are inspired by how they approach their artwork. Some first select the subject matter for their art project, which provides a good starting point. You can do this by choosing something that interests you, or it can be something you feel deeply about, and you wish to express this. Once the subject matter is chosen, many artists only then choose the medium they wish to use, depending on how they feel. Sometimes, an artist does not even consider the subject matter first, and this only becomes apparent while they are working on the artwork as they progress, it reveals itself. The piece they are working on can seem completely abstract and will only have true meaning once it is completed.
Maybe an artist has somewhat of an idea to begin with, but as they progress, the idea can change and develop into something completely different.
Many artists are affected by life events, from wars and personal tragedies to other life experiences. Over the years, many famous artists have produced artworks that closely relate to the times and events in their lives. Artists can find inspiration from everything that is happening around them. They can express their fears and hopes and create art that reflects their experiences and feelings.
Using Your Imagination
To create art, you can take things from around you, but you can also come up with new and creative ideas by using your imagination. By using your imagination, you can see things differently and make connections that might not be obvious to others. Artists can use imagination to come up with ideas that are based on observation or experiences but take a bit more interpretation on the viewer’s part to make sense. This can include various art styles from imaginative art, cubism, abstract art, expressionism, or surrealism, among others.
Simply put, you do not have to stick to one art style, there are so many you can explore to find inspiration.
Studying Other Artist’s Work
Every artist has and follows a favorite artist of their own, and you can help to reignite your inspiration and creativity by studying their works more closely. This can be an artist who has inspired you from the past, such as Claude Monet, or it can be a more current artist you enjoy at the moment. You should ask yourself why you enjoy their work and style, and you should consider how you can bring that into your own work. You might even want to try studying a few other styles and types of art, to get a new perspective and ideas.
Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge artwork by Claude Monet; Claude Monet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Many artists copy another artist’s work they like, which can be a part of learning and gaining inspiration. However, you can be inspired without resorting to copying or imitating the artwork directly. You can discover what makes the art piece stand out to you, is it the colors, the subject matter, or the concept behind the art piece? Understanding what draws you to another art piece can be the starting point for creating your ideas. You can then build on this and create something unique.
Visit an Art Gallery or Museum
Visiting art galleries or museums are great places where you can find inspiration. You should be able to find a variety of art types from paintings to sculptures, each from a different culture or time. You can look for new painting styles, for example, Avant-garde or baroque styles. In general, you will be broadening your horizons.
Some museums even allow artists to come and paint on certain days, using the displayed paintings as a reference.
Art Books and Magazines
There are many art books and magazines you can look through to find inspiration. You can buy books and magazines or find some at a library or museum. Some people prefer touching and reading a real book, which is different from reading on a Kindle screen. Although, you should be able to find art books online as well. There are also many art-type magazines you can subscribe to, as a hardcopy or online.
Online Art Portfolios
Many artists have built up a following online by creating their own portfolios. Art inspiration ideas can easily be found by following and reading these art portfolios. By observing these individual artists, you can discover new techniques, or even compare your work to find new inspiration.
Nobody enjoys criticism, but there is something to be said for constructive feedback. You can use critique as a way to see your work in a new light, and it can be a way to explore new avenues of thinking. You can also gain a better understanding of what you might be doing wrong.
In the process, you may find better ways to create better and more unique art pieces.
Bring Out Old Artwork
Get out your old artwork pieces and have another look, you will see how far you have progressed and maybe discover how you can improve even more. Sometimes, just seeing something you have done before might inspire you to explore new ideas. This is why it is so important to keep all of your previous artworks, even the ones you think you failed at or seem incomplete. These can become the inspiration needed for a future project.
Connecting With Fellow Artists
You should consider connecting with artists within your community. Talking to fellow artists can help you to come up with new ideas and to form friendships in the process. Getting a new perspective on your art can also inspire you. You can also consider getting a mentor to help you with developing your art style. There are also numerous online communities you can join to view other artists’ work and to get feedback on your own work. These communities are great places to find exciting new resources and to also discover new inspirational ideas. There are always a variety of different art styles to look at, so there is no end to the ideas you can pick up.
You can have a look at online communities, such as deviantArt or WetCanvas. Many of these types of communities also have art challenges, which can be a great way to find artistic inspiration.
Tips and Techniques for Finding Inspiration for Art
You cannot wait for inspiration to hit you; you need to make some effort if you want to see results and progress in your artwork. So, if you are feeling a bit uninspired at the moment, consider these few tips and techniques to get things moving again.
- Do you paint all the time in the same location? Consider working somewhere else for a bit. Sometimes, the only thing needed for inspiration is a change of scenery. You can work in another room, go outside, or even go to the beach.
- Take up a new class or go to a workshop to discover new techniques. You can discover new skills and the class can help you with other ideas.
- Drawing or painting the same old thing? Change your subject and draw something different. Go for abstract instead of still life and gain a new perspective and inspiration.
- Explore different forms of art. This means you can look at different styles of drawing or painting, but you can also find inspiration in sculptures, dancing, music, theater, or movies.
- Experimenting with other art forms is also helpful in finding inspiration for art. Instead of simply looking, you can try new mediums, such as clay sculpting, or using a variety of other materials and art supplies.
- Meditation is ideal to help reduce stress, which can also provide you with a clearer mental state. You can then find inspiration more easily.
- Mind mapping and brainstorming are great ways to organize your thoughts and can encourage creative thinking.
- Creating vision boards can help you to understand what you want. You can then understand yourself better and inspire new ideas.
- Writing and journaling can be a way to convert our thoughts into words and help us make sense of our ideas. It is also great for self-reflection.
- Creating a Pinterest board can help with artistic inspiration. This visual search engine has numerous members from whom you can get new ideas.
- Art can simply become a means of getting a paycheck. You should take a step back and consider what first inspired you. Explore your motivations and get back to creating art because you love what you do.
How to Stay Inspired
It is one thing to get inspiration for an art project, but what about the next time? How can you stay inspired? After a while, when you are constantly working at something and you feel like there are just no more good ideas left, it is okay to just step away and put what you are busy with aside for a bit. Relax your mind and focus on other things, and you might find that ideas will come naturally again.
Let us see what you can do to help keep the inspiration alive.
Creating Every Day
To help keep the creative ideas flowing, you should develop a habit of creating art every day. You can set apart a time during the day to practice or try something new. This routine becomes a habit, and creating art will start to become more natural. Doing this can help you to overcome procrastination and overcome art blocks. It is not only inspiration you have to consider but there is also dedication and motivation that also plays a role.
There are many different kinds of art list prompts you can find online. Many of these prompts can be found in art communities, where you can also share your ideas and view others. There is nothing like a challenge to get a bit of inspiration. You can also create a list of prompts yourself, so that in the future, if you do not have ideas, you can take out the list for something to create.
Collecting photos or pictures can also help as prompts.
Sometimes, you might feel like giving up because of making too many mistakes. However, all artists make mistakes and the only thing separating them is perseverance or keeping on creating no matter how many failures. You always learn something from failure, in many cases, something does not have to be completely perfect to become something good.
Play and Have Fun
Instead of placing pressure on yourself to make something amazing, allow yourself to create without any expectations or pressure to perform. For example, set up outside and have fun creating some abstract splatter art. Not only will this be fun, but it is also a way to release stress, and you might even create something amazing without any effort.
Collaborate With Artists
Consider working with another artist or group of artists to help come up with new ideas. Sharing ideas and working together can be fun and interesting. You can come up with many more unique ideas when brainstorming together. Remember to be respectful towards all ideas and to truly make it a collaborative effort. You can see how others think and come up with ideas you would never have even considered.
This is also a great way to realize that you are not alone and that everyone struggles with the same things you do.
Exercise Your Skills
You can treat your creative skills like muscles that need to be exercised. You can help train your brain by doing a few simple exercises. For example, try to do a rapid 30-second drawing that must be done without you lifting the pencil off the surface of the page. You can also try to practice drawing perfect circles or drawing something with your non-dominant hand. This can also be another way of creating something every day.
Cleaning Your Workspace
Too much visual clutter can cause a certain amount of stress, which can be hindering you when it comes to creativity. All those pencils, papers, and other items just strewn about are all vying for your attention and can be discouraging. To help, clean up and create a more organized workspace.
Decluttering can help calm the mind and create space for more inspiration.
More Ideas to Stay Inspired
There are many artistic inspiration ideas you can use to stay inspired. You should try to incorporate inspiration into your daily life to help avoid creative blocks. Consider carrying a notebook wherever you go, to make sure that when inspiration hits, you can get it down straight away. Try to figure out your motivation, besides making money. For example, do you want to inspire hope, or make people happy? Have a look at a few more ideas for staying motivated.
- Consider rewarding yourself for doing great work, as this is a simple way of creating a feeling of personal pleasure.
- No rule dictates how to do art. You do not have to complete a piece in four hours, you can do it in shorter sessions, which can help you remain inspired.
- Set goals, as it is always helpful to have direction when you need to stay motivated.
- Surround yourself with inspirational things, from places and things to people.
- Keep learning and growing. Improve your skills and continue to explore new things.
- Cultivate a positive mindset. If you are positive about things, it can help you to overcome obstacles and keep you motivated.
Hopefully, we have guided you in the right direction if you have been feeling a little uninspired lately. As you can see, there are numerous ways of finding inspiration for art, but the most important thing is that inspiration does not necessarily just appear; you will also need to be proactive. So, instead of waiting for inspiration to hit, go out and find it yourself!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Need to Have Inspiration to Create Art?
Inspiration is the key to creating art, as you need to have a reason why you are drawing or painting whatever you are doing. Even if somebody tells you what to draw, not everybody’s attempts will be the same as we all see things differently. Even if you do not understand exactly what it is, something inspired you to create your art.
Can Inspiration Be Forced?
You cannot force inspiration, as this would be counterproductive. However, you can help to cultivate and develop it by seeking out art inspiration ideas. Participating in unique experiences, surrounding yourself with interesting people, and visiting new places will help inspiration to naturally follow.
What If I Cannot Find Inspiration?
You might feel that you have what is known as artist’s block, however, there are so many ideas that can help you find inspiration. You should just keep searching and trying new things until you find something that inspires you.
Nicolene Burger is a South African multi-media artist, working primarily in oil paint and performance art. She received her BA (Visual Arts) from Stellenbosch University in 2017. In 2018, Burger showed in Masan, South Korea as part of the Rhizome Artist Residency. She was selected to take part in the 2019 ICA Live Art Workshop, receiving training from art experts all around the world. In 2019 Burger opened her first solo exhibition of paintings titled, Painted Mantras, at GUS Gallery and facilitated a group collaboration project titled, Take Flight, selected to be part of Infecting the City Live Art Festival. At the moment, Nicolene is completing a practice-based master’s degree in Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town.
In 2020, Nicolene created a series of ZOOM performances with Lumkile Mzayiya called, Evoked?. These performances led her to create exclusive performances from her home in 2021 to accommodate the mid-pandemic audience. She also started focusing more on the sustainability of creative practices in the last 3 years and now offers creative coaching sessions to artists of all kinds. By sharing what she has learned from a 10-year practice, Burger hopes to relay more directly the sense of vulnerability with which she makes art and the core belief to her practice: Art is an immensely important and powerful bridge of communication that can offer understanding, healing and connection.
Nicolene writes our blog posts on art history with an emphasis on renowned artists and contemporary art. She also writes in the field of art industry. Her extensive artistic background and her studies in Fine and Studio Arts contribute to her expertise in the field.
Cite this Article
Nicolene, Burger, “How to Get Inspiration for Art – Find Inspiration for Art Ideas.” Art in Context. July 10, 2023. URL: https://artincontext.org/how-to-get-inspiration-for-art/
Burger, N. (2023, 10 July). How to Get Inspiration for Art – Find Inspiration for Art Ideas. Art in Context. https://artincontext.org/how-to-get-inspiration-for-art/