Part 2 – Your Environment
In the previous post (How To Break Creative Block Pt 1) we covered exercises, best practices, and materials to help you fight off creative block. Today I want to cover the place where you create. Whether it’s a studio, a house, an apartment, or refrigerator box in the alley, the place you create should be a haven for creative growth.
Ever walk into an art gallery or a beautiful place and suddenly want to draw? That’s called inspiration my friends, and it can be a great weapon against Creative Block.
As a visually creative person, we tend to be a bit voyeuristic. We see something that makes our spirit click and then have this weird thing that happens; suddenly our heart is racing, blood is pumping, our hands may shake, body temperature may rise as well. Ancient Greeks compared it to ecstasy because it feels a lot like the rush you get from intense physical attraction or being in love. Your brain becomes hyper alert from the rush and forgets its skill level and sends the message to the rest of you, “I can do that. Let’s do that!”. Suddenly you’re in a creative fervor. This happens out in the world a lot but you need to do it at home or in the studio too. You need to grow inspiration, cultivate it, farm it.
So how do you farm inspiration? It seems so random to most. Well, first thing you need to do is fix your environment. The place where you create should make you want to create. Think of it as Feng Shui but instead of building harmony, your magnifying creative energy. My studio/office is filled with an ever changing collection of art, statues, toys and books. All these things are related to projects I have worked on, want to work on, or made me strive to improve my work. Anything that makes you want to create, surround yourself with. Most importantly, I don’t have much of my own art on display. In fact other than storing paintings in the open, I really don’t display my own work. The reason for this is simple: I was there when I created that painting. My own art does not inspire me. The two pieces I painted on display are there because I achieved something technical with those pieces and until I’m confident I can repeat it regularly and can say it’s permanently part of my skillset, I’ll keep them on display as a reminder of what I am capable of. Fill your office with the things that are inspiring you.
Google Images is a great source for getting reference for a project but what I really like are books. I have thousands of them. One of my favorite things, is my collection of sketchbooks. I love getting sketchbooks from other artists so I can see their creative thought process. Often they include thumbnails or failed compositions. These are a gold mine to me! I can see how someone else worked through their problem and apply those lessons to my own work. I have a collection of anatomy books, “How to Draw [BLANK]” books, Pinup Art, Monsters, Dragons, books on movie production and prop design, books collecting art from some of my favorite artists, etc.. Don’t forget comic books. Here are a few links to books in my collection I really enjoy:
Suggested Books on the Creative Process:
Books About Some Of My Favorite Artists:
Books on Movie and Production Design:
Good Anatomy Books
My studio is an almost perfect creative environment for me. I have the collection of aforementioned books, but I also have toys and art. I try to add or rotate things out regularly to keep it fresh. There are toys from Robotech, Star Wars, Voltron, Transformers, Front Mission, various anime and manga properties, and more. I have things that remind me of childhood and innocence. I have things that remind me of moments and experiences in my life that were amazing and in a couple cases, tragic. I also have a few personal things here and there that remind me to be a better person. All of these things serve the purpose of keeping my creative juices flowing. Here are some of examples of toys I have used for inspiration or reference:
Lee Kohse is a professional artist in the Entertainment Industry and his art can be found in private collections and art galleries around the world. He has worked as a licensing artist for Lucasfilm and Dreamworks since 2006. You can watch Lee stream art live from his studio several nights a week on Twitch (www.twitch.tv/kohseart) or catch him at Comic and Entertainment Conventions talking about the business of being an artist.