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Use Art Challenges To Find Creative Inspiration (Tips For Artists & Writers)

Articles, How To Find Creative Inspiration

Overcoming a creative block and finding inspiration can be a real challenge, there are many methods for finding the way out of a creative rut and in this article, we’ll take a look at how art challenges can be used to find creative inspiration. This isn’t only limited to drawing challenges or painting challenges either, we’ll also take a detailed look at some writing challenges for writers to find creative inspiration.

In recent years, mainly due to the mass connectivity afforded to us via social media and a healthy dose of positive peer pressure, creatives all around the world have been using art challenges as a way to boost productivity, level up their skills, develop positive habits and increase creativity. This is why they’ve become so popular, and numerous, and for as long as we have social media, I’m sure they’re here to stay.

Back to the subject of art challenges, some of the points we’ll look at throughout this article will be:

  • What is an art challenge?
  • Benefits of taking part in art challenges
  • How to find the best art challenges [Top 6 challenges for artists and writers]
  • Essential tools and equipment
  • Using an art challenge to inspire a new project

What is an art challenge?

An art challenge, or a writing challenge for that matter, is an event set up with the intent of encouraging creatives to step out of their comfort zone to do what they do best; creating.

Most art challenges will have rules and parameters in place to serve as an outline and a guide for the process. Most also have a social media community aspect to them.

Benefits of taking part in art challenges

There are so many benefits of taking part in art or writing challenges that they could be an article of their own, maybe one day we’ll get to that article and dig deeper. For the sake of this non-exhaustive list, however, let’s just examine 3 key benefits.

Overcome decision fatigue

It can be a challenge in itself at times to decide what to create, let alone how to go about getting it created; timeframes, medium, surface, concepts, etc, etc, etc… The beauty of taking part in an art challenge is that you don’t need to make any major decisions. The parameters are already set, all you need to do is work within those and find that elusive inspiration along the way.

Develop positive habits

It can be so easy to catch that snippet of spare time and think “ahh, I wonder what’s happening on [insert relevant social media channel], I’ll have a quick scroll of the news feed…” The next thing you know, spare time is gone and you didn’t create anything, and other than learning what a few people are having for dinner and who’s gone where on holiday, chances are your auto-pilot scrolling of social media was fruitless.

In contrast, however, by taking part in an art challenge you’ll get a major kickstart in developing a new, positive habit. It’s a lot like exercise, you can’t suddenly pluck the necessary time for going to the gym from nowhere, but if you build the habit incrementally, it will soon become part of your normal routine and before too long, you’ll be doing it automatically and without having to ‘make time’.

Connect with a community

One of the most effective ways to find inspiration is to connect with a community of other creatives. Creativity breeds creativity and as well as the encouragement you’ll find, a healthy sense of competition can also work wonders for overcoming creative blocks. Even if you take an art challenge out of the equation, we humans are social creatures and social media does offer a wealth of opportunities for connecting and networking with other creatives. Take advantage of the socialness of social media and leverage the communities out there to get inspired and encouraged.

How to find the best art challenges [Top 6 challenges for artists and writers]

There are so many different art challenges out there nowadays and the list is constantly growing. The best way to find art challenges new or old is to simply Google the term, or turn to social media. Be attentive to what other artists and writers are posting, many are usually taking part in some challenge or another.

Something worth remembering too is that you can use these challenges as inspiration or just take the points you like to create something new, you don’t have to wait for the exact timeline of the challenge either, although that will be the best way to get the community encouragement, you are ‘allowed’ to do Inktober in January, nothing bad will happen.

For the sake of keeping this list at a manageable size, I’ve chosen 3 of each of my favourite challenges for artists and writers.

Inktober

Inktober is a month-long drawing challenge that was set up for improving skills and developing positive drawing habits. Every October there is a list of prompts to inspire each daily ink drawing. The community aspects of this challenge are mostly achieved through Instagram by using the appropriate hashtags, and by posting in the Facebook group. There is now a year-long version of this challenge, with a new prompt posted each week.

Jawa trading with Tusken Raider - Ink Drawing - Star Wars Art - Illustration -
23. Leak – A Jawa can sell a bucket of sand to a Tusken, even with a leak…

Character Design Challenge

Each month a theme is announced and an international community of artists of all levels get to work in designing a character based on the theme. There’s a Facebook group that allows some participants to share their results and you can also post your characters on Instagram and use the appropriate hashtags in order to be found by others taking part.

Character Design Challenge - Mushroom Warrior - Fantasy Art Illustration Drawing - Japanese Inspired Art
The prompt for this sketch was – Mushroom Warrior

Studying The Masters

The Studying The Masters community was founded as a place for artists, as students of the Old Masters to improve in skill and to also encourage each other to keep learning and growing, regardless of experience level. As well as a journey inside the masters’ minds, it’s also a great place to learn some general art tips and some noteworthy art history too.

NaNoWriMo

Quite possibly the most-known of the writers’ challenges, the goal for NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, is to end the month of November with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. This international communal writing event has been at the centre of practice for many great writers and you’ll also find real-life places hosting events related to it in certain areas.

As a side note, there is also NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month for those of you who prefer to write poetry to novels.

StoryADay

Spoiler alert! The title is exactly what this creative writing challenge entails. The goal, every day during May and/or September to write a short story. This challenge is a great way to force your own hand at getting something on the page, also promoting positive writing habits in the process thereof.

As with the previous challenge, there is also a PoemADay variant of this challenge.

52 Week Short Story Challenge

If a short story each day seems too daunting, then this creative writing challenge may be more up your street. Of the 3 writing challenges, this one is certainly my favourite.

This challenge was born from a quote from author and screenwriter Ray Bradbury:

The best hygiene for beginning writers or intermediate writers is to write a hell of a lot of short stories. If you can write one short story a week — it doesn’t matter what the quality is to start, but at least you’re practicing, and at the end of the year you have 52 short stories, and I defy you to write 52 bad ones. Can’t be done. At the end of 30 weeks or 40 weeks or at the end of the year, all of a sudden a story will come that’s just wonderful.

Ray Bradbury

With no real rules or limitations and no requirements to publish what you do create, this personal writing challenge can be the perfect opportunity to get yourself writing and enjoying the craft with no obligations. Also, as with all the other challenges, there are online groups that can be found if you do want that community spirit and encouragement.

Bonus Idea – Create your own challenge

If none of those art or writing challenges appeals to you, or if you like different aspects of each, a smart option may be to create your own personal challenge and use that to find creative inspiration instead.

You could choose to keep it as a personal challenge, or package it up and promote it online and who knows, it may well be the next Inktober or NaNoWriMo.

Essential tools and equipment

One tool that can be used to great effect for artists and writers alike is Pinterest. Pinterest is in my opinion the greatest platform not only for finding inspiration but for categorising it and organising it in whichever way best suits your workflow.

I recently wrote an article about how to create inspiration boards and how to use Pinterest to find creative inspiration.

The most crucial tools

For artists – Pencil and paper.

For writers – Pencil and paper.

Whilst that may seem either basic or extreme, the truth is that at the root of your creativity you can express yourself with just those tools, anything more than that is a bonus and an advantage.

Using an art challenge to inspire a new project

The theme of this article is using art challenges to find inspiration, and there’s no better way to put that to use than a brand new project to sink your teeth into. Using myself and my own experience as somewhat of a case study, let’s take a look at my recent Inktober Star Wars Art Project – Life As A Jawa.

Jawa Survival Skills - Sun Compass - Ink Drawing - Star Wars Art - Illustration - Desert Survival
16. Compass – The latest in Jawa navigation technology, the stick compass…

I started the project with some clear goals in mind, I wanted to hit every daily prompt throughout the month, improve my storytelling both visually and in writing, putting thought into the captions, I also wanted to explore Jawas and create a body of sketches to serve as a foundation for some further exploration in more detail.

Overall I feel that I achieved the goals that I set myself and ultimately, I found a lot of creative inspiration for future projects, one of which I’m now in the planning stages for, striking while the iron is still hot.

Having goals set before I started helped me a lot with the art challenge, but even without clear goals, once you get stuck into a challenge and the creativity starts flowing, you’ll begin to spot plenty of opportunities for new projects and ideas.

What are your thoughts?

What do you think of art and writing challenges, do you think they’re helpful for finding creative inspiration?

Do you regularly take part in any particular challenges?

Which is your favourite challenge, have you created your own challenge?

Please feel free to leave a comment, or get in touch with me via email with your thoughts.

Explore The Art Of Storytelling.

Another great way to get inspired is to Join The Journey with me in exploring the art of storytelling; discovering new worlds, stories and techniques for capturing a narrative, creating moments and bringing stories to life.

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7 Jawa facts every Star Wars fan SHOULD know

Articles, Star Wars Art, Uncategorized

Hello and welcome, or more appropriately in Jawaese; M’um m’aloo!

When it comes to Star Wars and the different creatures and species of the galaxy far, far away; Jawas are one of the most mysterious, curiosity-arousing and secretive of all the races in the universe.

These rodent-like natives to the desert planet of Tatooine certainly hold a surprising amount of mystery and there is no question bigger than “What do Jawas look like under the hood?” but once you start digging, that’s not the only unknown part of their culture.

With this article, however, it seemed worthwhile to dig into 7 Jawa facts every Star Wars fan should know, and if you didn’t already, here’s 7 quick-fire facts that you can use to show off your deeper knowledge of Jawas, Star Wars and the mysteries of the universe…

  1. No one knows what Jawas look like without robes
  2. Jawas use scent as part of their communication
  3. Each year there is a gathering of the Jawa clans
  4. Sandcrawlers are not made by Jawas, they are scavenged vehicles
  5. Jawas live mostly in desert fortresses, not in Sandcrawlers
  6. “Utinni” is an exclamation of surprise
  7. Jawas rarely carry any weapons
Slab of tiramisu on plate restaurant illustrated recipe italian

Illustrated Recipes – How To Use Them To Find Creative Inspiration

Articles, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Why illustrate a recipe?

Illustrated recipes have managed to become a staple of both the culinary and illustration worlds, not only providing a platform for creatives with a passion for food and drawing, but also offering a limitless source of creative inspiration for artists and writers alike, and while we mention it, chefs too.

In this article we’ll examine some creative uses for illustrated recipes outside of finding inspiration, how we can use Pinterest to find inspiration, walk through an 8 step process for illustrating a recipe, dig into how illustrated recipes can be used by writers to overcome a writer’s block and finally I’ll be giving away my long-coveted Tiramisu recipe in the form of a free download of my illustrated recipe made for this article.

  • Creative uses for illustrated recipes
  • Using Pinterest as an illustrated cookbook of inspiration
  • 8 Steps for illustrating a recipe worth eating
  • How writers can use illustrated recipes to find creative inspiration
  • The Chef JGlover Tiramisu illustrated recipe [Free Download]
  • Where to find more creative inspiration
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Is There A Right Or Wrong Way To Look At Art? How To Look At Art [Studying The Masters]

Articles, Studying The Masters, Uncategorized

Is there a right or wrong way to look at art?

The short answer is no.

However, there are steps that can make the process more enjoyable, more enriching, and give you a much greater understanding of what the artist was trying to communicate.

A common problem that art viewers and gallery or museum visitors share is that they can feel like they’re looking at the artworks, but not really seeing them. This can be an isolating feeling and cause viewers to start doubting themselves.

The good news is that you don’t have to be an art scholar or possess any natural talents in order to really see art, and analyse the works that really catch your eye.

In order to develop as an artist, especially an artist intent on Studying the Masters; being able to effectively break down and analyse art is an essential skill for the toolbelt. Without understanding a little about what is going on in an artwork, it would be difficult to truly study it and learn from it.

This doesn’t only apply to artists though; if you are an observer, a casual viewer of art, then you will certainly find that developing a better understanding of how to analyse art will give you more of an appreciation for it.

In this article, we’ll discuss a method for analysing artworks using a series of questions; a systematic approach that can be followed as much or as little as you see fit.

After reading this and giving it a go, you will see for yourself that you do not need to be an art scholar in order to view art like an expert.

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Studying The Masters To Find Creative Inspiration

Articles, How To Find Creative Inspiration

There is an age old methodology for learning, increasing technical skill and finding creative inspiration that has proven by its use that it can effectively stand the test of time and consistently achieve great results. That methodology is studying the masters. In this article, we will look at how you can use the process of studying the masters as a way to find creative inspiration.

Masters studies have been informing and teaching artists not only for centuries, but for at least a millennium. If you were to sit down and write out an exhaustive list of all of your favourite artists from any time period, you can be certain that at some point in their lives, they have studied a master and learned something from that study that has informed their own work.

A great tool that you can use to aid you in your master studying journey is Pinterest, you can even using Pinterest to create a board for old master study inspiration. I recently wrote an article explaining how to create inspiration boards and how to use Pinterest to find creative inspiration.

Back to the subject of studying the masters, this method of learning and finding inspiration truly is one of the most accessible, rewarding and enlightening processes you could possibly undertake.

Some of the points covered throughout this article will be:

  • The definition of studying the masters
  • The history of old master art studies
  • The master study community
  • Tools and equipment necessary
  • How to choose an old master to study
  • Where to find the works of masters for studying
  • 8 Steps to study the art of an old master artist
  • How studying the masters can inform your personal artwork
  • Where to find more creative inspiration

Urban Sketching To Find Creative Inspiration [Using Google Maps For Virtual Travel]

Articles, How To Find Creative Inspiration

Overcoming a creative block and finding inspiration can be a real challenge, there are times when each and every creative will fall into such a rut but there is a series of techniques that can be used to break out of the block. In this article we will look at how you can use Urban Sketching as a way to find creative inspiration.

The way of the Urban Sketchers have been overlooked by many creatives and not given the attention and credence deserved by the humble, yet incredibly rewarding act of simply getting stuck into documenting your surroundings using whatever tools are at your disposal.

Another great tool that you can use to aid you in the virtual travel journey is Pinterest, you can even using Pinterest to create a board for Urban Sketching inspiration. I recently wrote an article explaining how to create inspiration boards and how to use Pinterest to find creative inspiration.

Back to the subject of Urban Sketching, we all know that for most of the world it hasn’t been quite so easy as grabbing your equipment and heading out over the past year, that being said though it shouldn’t be written off or viewed as a limitation, we have Google Maps.

Some of the points covered throughout this article will be:

  • The definition of Urban Sketching
  • The history of Urban Sketchers
  • The Urban Sketching community
  • Tools and equipment necessary
  • How to choose a location
  • How to use Google Maps
  • 4 Steps to begin an Urban Sketch
  • Where to find creative inspiration
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How To Use Pinterest To Find Creative Inspiration [Step-By-Step Tutorial]

Articles, How To Find Creative Inspiration

Overcoming a creative block can be a challenge, but whether you’re stuck in a creative rut or not, you can always use Pinterest to find creative inspiration and explore a world of ideas, imagination and possibilities. It is a great tool for artists, designers, writers, content marketers and more!

It’s easy to get inspired on Pinterest as it’s absolutely full to the brim with great examples of art, design, wall art, interior design, photography, drawings, paintings and ideas as well as diy tutorials and helpful step-by-step guides.

Pinterest actually sells itself on inspiration and it certainly lives up to that reputation as a ‘visual discovery engine for finding ideas’.

Speaking of inspiration, this article is part of a series of articles being written in advance of an upcoming ebook exploring the world of ideas and finding creative inspiration and the many places and ways in which to do so.

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Best Podcasts To Listen To While Working, Drawing Or Painting

Articles, Uncategorized

The idea behind this article is one that has been rattling around in my planned posts pool for quite some time. Every single time I grab the pencils, inks or paints, I simultaneously select a podcast to listen to while I work and get settled into the process.

Podcast statistics show that in 2020 there were over 850,000 active podcasts and over 30 million individual episodes, that statistic tells us that there is a lot of choice. In fact, in preparation for this post I ended up going down a vast network of rabbit holes and diving into some powerful podcast statistics.

Now you might be looking for a great podcast to listen to while you’re at work or being creative and have different tastes to mine, I have prepared this piece to appeal to a few different subjects; after all chances are that if you have ended up on my website, we have some shared interests. I’ve diligently filtered the over 850,000 active podcasts down to four of my favourite go to listens.

woman in tights laying on chair reading book in library

Best Type of Art Books for Beginners & Experienced Artists

Articles

Are you looking for the best art books?

Whether you’ve only just started feeling the itch to enter the world of artistry or you’ve been a part of that world for many years you have one specific area of common ground. This transcends the medium you use, whether you work traditionally or digitally. This common ground is shared by painters, sculptors, concept artists and all.

One certainty too is that art books can be a great way to overcome a creative block and find creative inspiration.

Art books.

The Renaissance Workshop

Articles, Uncategorized

If somebody was to ask you to name the most creative period of time in human history, an era where the arts excelled and gave inspiration and rise to innovation and invention, you would most like scream “The Renaissance” before they had finished the question.

Without a doubt, the Renaissance was one of the most profound moments of enlightenment, discovery and achievement in human history and cities like Florence were at the forefront of such growth and creativity.

This massive boom in the arts was no mere coincidence however, and one of the secrets of the Old Masters was the motivation and learning that they gained from ‘La Bottega’, or the workshop.

Raphael - The School of Athens - 1509-11 - Oil Painting - Florence - Ancient - Greece - Greek - Philosophers - Philosophy - Renaissance
Raphael – The School of Athens – 1509-11