I’m sure most of us, photographers and other visual artists, have come across the artist’s block: not knowing what to create, tired of one’s own work that looks so mediocre compared to others, struggling with executing an idea, thinking of an idea etc. How to overcome this?
This happens to everyone, including myself, and all the fantastic artist’s you have come to admire. Here’s my advice coming from experience: don’t think about creating. Give yourself the opportunity to recover and do other things. Think about other things or don’t think at all. Go for a short hike, read a book, go have a drink with friends, listen to music, do something that you enjoy doing, without any thoughts on the thing you’re struggling with. What I’ve experienced is that the best ideas always come when I’m not focusing on it. When I’m doing something completely different. Creativity is the ability to create relations with other seemingly unrelated things. If you then happen to find the intersection between seemingly different skill or knowledge areas, then you have found something that’s almost always unique. But then you NEED to do other things first, think about other things or just empty the mind.
For example: I’ve been doing pure black and white photography for years and I never did any toning. Until very recently when I started to get into split toning. Now I’m completely addicted to it and I find that my artistic expression has become more effective, emotional and personal. How did I make that change? I was watching movies, a lot of movies, just to relax and because I love a good movie. And even though it wasn’t the first time I saw a movie with a specific color grading, at some point it just hit me how much specifically color graded scenes in a movie, contributed to the meaning of the scene. It was a simple eye-opener. And from there I started working on something similar to color grading but then for photography. And subsequently I’ve developed a new method for subtly split toned images that I haven’t yet seen anywhere else (which of course is not a guarantee it is completely unique).
I recently read a relevant article on Nautilus how much time some famous scientists, writers and other artists spent on a daily basis on their scientific and artistic work: roughly around 20 hours per week. Charles Darwin for example would only work 4 hours a day and the rest of the day was spent on hiking, resting, good food and other things.