Creativity is a cycle. It is okay to feel burnt out, to suddenly feel like you don’t want to make art or that your creative juices have run out. It’s a natural part of being an artist. Transitioning from college into a part or full-time art career is oftentimes a more difficult transition than many think. In addition to being under-educated by the collegiate system for working and practicing as a professional, school is just plain draining. While a large number of student artists will continue on their art practice, some may fall off the radar due to creativity burnout. Without the coping mechanisms to deal with a creative setback, getting back on the horse looks more like trying to wrangle a wild stallion.
When some people feel burnt out, they take a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or even a year or two off from making work. Decide for yourself how long of a break you need but also consider why you need a break. Did you just finish a large commission, project, or body of work? Did you just finish an exhibition or graduate from school? Give yourself a time frame. If you need a month off, take that month. After that month, check-in with yourself. Do you need more time, why or why not?
Talk to other artists! We’ve all been in this position! I recently came back from a 6-week residency. I’ve posted many blogs about the experience itself, tips for artists interested in residencies, and all of the projects I completed while I was there. I updated all things art business, created the Bad Fortune Cookie installation, and began my new line of shoe design. I also managed to create somewhere around 50 paintings. Upon returning, I was a bit burnt out.
Instead of not doing anything, I focused on sending out gallery proposals and grants. When I’m feeling less creative, I tend to focus on the business aspects of art. Simple breaks could be leaving the studio to go for a walk, taking a weekend off and heading up north, or simply switching the creative media you work in. Try taking a class in a new art form you are interested in taking. Sometimes change is all we need for recharging the batteries rather than actual time off. If you’re considering a residency, going on a residency will provide time and space to think about your art path, get into the groove of a new project, or finish up a work you have toyed with for a while. Becoming more active in the arts community will provide you with a plethora of artists, opportunities, non-profits, and galleries to get to know. When you feel less creative, meet people, attend openings and events, and see what’s happening nearby. You just might get inspired or meet someone to collaborate with.
Feeling like you need an artistic life overhaul? Read The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. Cameron’s methods for finding your spiritual path to creativity are reflective and require writing daily. I suggest working with the daily journals as they begin to bring in inspiration and remove creative blocks.