How to Find Artistic Inspiration If You’re A Visual Artist
Discover the best online places to search for inspiration and follow a few great ideas and tricks to keep your creative juices flowing.
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Lack of art inspiration can seem like a huge obstacle for creative people, so today we’re sharing tips on how to get inspired and back to work!
You’re sitting at your easel, sketching desk or your computer if you’re a digital artist, wondering what your next project might be. Sounds familiar? The truth is we all have thoughts, feelings, passions, which are an unlimited source of creative inspiration, however, when it comes to translating inspiration into artwork, things aren’t always smooth.
Today we’re sharing some universal tips for finding inspiration as well as some useful sources of inspiration that can be used by a lot of people in the creative industry.
Sources of inspiration
Of course, a good place to start is the work of other people from your industry that you admire. However, sticking only to these might limit your horizons and ultimately even lead you to plagiarise others. If you’re used to working with acrylic paintings why not check out some works of digital art? Consider broadening your vision with some of these cool sources of artistic inspiration.
The work of others
When you explore other people’s work remember to go as broad as possible. Unlike reading and traditional research, exploring different pieces of visual art doesn’t necessarily take up much time or even mental effort. Let yourself be overwhelmed by influences: it can be anything from classic still life painting to conceptual art, and even your kids’ watercolor paintings!
Portfolio platforms like Dribbble and Behance can also be amazing places to find art inspiration. You can try searching for anything that’s on your mind, whether it’s a subject matter, design industry, or type of project and you’re guaranteed to find numerous examples of amazing creative work.
Of course, you can find plenty of great digital art online, but if you can spare the time, I also recommend visiting your favorite gallery or museum. There’s something about seeing sculptures, paintings and drawings in this particular environment that urges you to become more thoughtful about the piece of work in front of you.
Remember, you’re neither the first nor last person in search of art inspiration. The internet is a great place to find heaps of information, including tips on what to do if you’re drained for creative ideas. On the other hand, reading about the experience of other artists, what inspires them, what their challenges are can also illuminate the solution to your creative barrier. Here are some cool blogs you can check out:
Whether you want some guidance on a particular art technique or a chance to discover some new artists, these are just a few great art blogs you might want to check out.
- Artsy: Although Artsy is a platform dedicated to contemporary artists, their art blog is a wonderful resource with thoughtful pieces on masterpieces from the 20th century, 19th century and older.
- Cass Art: If you’re after practical tips any artists should know, check out the blog section of this art store. Make sure to look up their interview with artists to see if these creative people can help you find the answers you are looking for.
- Booooooom: This platform is all about showcasing new art and artists, so if you want something that’s anything but classic this is the place to go!
- ARTnews: This website started out as a newspaper at the beginning of the 20th century, and print is certainly the design inspiration for their online editorial. Check it out for major news in the art scene, if you’re looking for art trends to inspire you.
- Google Arts and Culture: If you’re after an educational art history read, this art blog is a great place to check it out. Of course, Google wouldn’t be Google without additional cool features, including augmented reality visits to famous museums and galleries. It’s especially good if you’re unable to visit these in person due to COVID-19 restrictions!
There are some great design blogs out there that you can check out for both inspiration and tips on how to improve your work.
- Design Week: This is a highly professional design blog that brings stories from the industry, as well as tips, reviews, interviews and more. It’s a great place to delve deeper into the field of professional design as you search for creative inspiration.
- Creative Bloq: This eclectic blog is a great place to find design inspiration, as they mostly focus on easily digestible listicles that you can browse through instead of wasting time on social media.
- Adobe Create: This online magazine from Adobe deals with craft, culture, art and design. The great web design on this one makes it a pleasure to read with tons of impressive visuals and writing that’s suitable for designers as well as art enthusiasts.
- Dieline: This blog is a bit more specific than the rest as it focuses on packaging design. It’s a great little reminder that even commercial art can have a tremendous artistic value, so it’s really worth checking out.
- ManyPixels: Apart from our team of talented graphic designers producing work for our clients, we regularly update our blog section with articles on design inspiration, design trends and helpful design guides.
The natural world
From still life paintings to graphic design, the natural world is an endless source of inspiration for visual artists. Whether or not the natural world is the subject matter of your art, the colors, forms, rhythm and textures found in nature can inform almost any piece of creative art. In the world of graphic design, many basic principles of good design derive from our perception of the natural world.
Take a stroll through the park or go on a short camping trip. You might join the thousands if not millions of creative people before you who got their great art ideas from the world of nature. It even worked for a scientist like Newton!
Everyday tips for finding inspiration
Sometimes it’s not about actively seeking artistic inspiration, but instead introducing small changes into your daily routine that can help you get out of a creative rut. You probably won’t see the results right away, as is the case with seeing a beautiful subject and saying: “This is my painting!”
However, making these adjustments to your day-to-day can be helpful not just to “get the creative juices flowing”, but to work more effectively once you have your next project in mind. Be disciplined and mindful of your thoughts and feelings and I guarantee inspiration will follow.
You might think that journaling is a technique more suitable for other artists like writers or filmmakers. However, behind every piece of visual art, there is a certain thought process that can be expressed in words.
Write about your experiences, and later come back to them to examine and analyze them. Ultimately, just try to reproduce them as a piece of visual art, whether it’s an acrylic painting or a woodblock print.
Write down dreams, feelings, unfinished thoughts. In time, you’ll create a treasure chest of artistic inspiration that you can always go back to.
Start a sketchbook
The visual equivalent of a journal is, of course, a sketchbook. I’d even recommend getting a travel-sized one that you can take anywhere you go! Sketch interesting people, architecture and natural forms.
Again, the benefits of a sketchbook are multiple. Not only do they act as your “storage unit” for art inspiration, but they also help you practice your craft every day, whether you’re currently working on a big project or not.
Get off social media
Of course, social media channels can be great sources of inspiration, too. However, most of us tend to use it for personal rather than professional purposes, which means that more often than not the type of content you’re exposed to isn’t exactly thought-provoking or even relevant to your art.
Taking a break from social media for a longer period of time can feel challenging at first, but it can make a truly welcome detox for any artist. We often turn to social media when we’re bored, but allowing ourselves to get bored makes us people more creative, since we’re trying to satisfy our need for mental stimulation, according to this psychology study.
Read inspirational quotes from great graphic designers
You might not think that one profound sentence is enough to get you back to work. But you might be wrong!
The reason why great inspirational quotes stay remembered is that they often embody a deep truth that we sometimes overlook or ignore. We’ve compiled a list of 19 inspiring design quotes that are easily applicable to most visual artists.
Check them out and get reminded of the basic principles of good design, but also for timeless thoughts on imaginative work and why creating art matters.
Feeling inspired yet? Don’t worry, you’re definitely on the right track! Make sure to check out our article with more general tips on finding creative inspiration and don’t forget to take a gander at our portfolio!
Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.