Marc Nair is a poet and photographer, he came to talk at our school about how he gets inspiration for his art. His methods are so good I think they can even be applied for when an artist has art block. Art block is when you lack motivation to make art, inspiration for art, or lack of creative purpose. When you have art block you find yourself unable to draw, or find everything you do draw terrible for a short to long period of time. This can apply to other types of art as well, such as poetry or painting.
His first method of conquering art block is to make art about yourself. There’s nothing you know better than yourself, and making art about yourself may even help you go deeper on who you are. I’ve done the same for when I couldn’t think of anything to draw. I’ve drawn self portraits in whatever outfit I was wearing. Drawing or writing about yourself can also be channeled as vent art. Vent art is when you make art to let out a feeling. Usually a vent art is a negative emotion like sadness or anger, sometimes even directed at yourself. Making art about yourself can help you learn more about yourself and escape art block. But there is only so much art you can make about yourself before you find yourself bored and wanting more.
The second method of breaking free of art block when drawing yourself just isn’t enough, is to take photos and imagine the story behind the photo. Imagining a story behind a photo would be to write a poem about it, draw the story, and to get inspiration for your art from the natural world. It’s letting the photo impact the art. Marc Nair really liked this method because he liked the freedom he felt in poetry with being able to think of the possibility of the story within the photo. He also liked it because taking an interesting photograph can require chance, challenge, and anticipation. Chance being the possibility of the photo happening, the challenge being finding the photo opportunity, and anticipation having the camera out and ready. My favorite quote from him is that “real life is weirder than anything we can imagine,” and it’s about how our imagination has limits for how much we can create.
The third method of destroying art block with your bare hands is collaborating with others. Someone else always has different ideas and perspectives than you, if you make art with them you can learn from their ideas and get new inspiration. What Marc Nair did was write a poem about a friend’s painting, and then write a new poem and they would make a painting about it and they would continue the exchange cycle. It was all about the dialogue between the poetry and the artwork. Due this method having another person involved in the art, the guilt of not doing your half and disappointing them can also help you get motivated. I really liked the idea of this and might try it myself.
The fourth method of crushing art block into pieces is to make art in a different style. Marc Nair talked about writing poetry in a different style of writing, but I think for the artwork I do it would be more like drawing a different style of art or using a new medium of art supplies. Even using a new medium could be as simple as trying out a new brand of markers. For a while I’ve even just experimented with glitter. This method takes you out of your comfort zone, it lets you experiment and explore. But most importantly it lets you have fun, which is what art is all about.
Out of all these methods my favourite is experimentation with different mediums of art materials. I do this one quite often jumping from ink washes, watercolor, sketching, markers, glitter, you name it! Although I always drift back to my favourite which is alcohol markers. Having art block is a serious struggle that artists go through but with these tips hopefully we can all conquer art block!