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How to Stay Motivated as an Artist

Sonal Panse,

Staying motivated as an artist is essential if you want to have a long and interesting art career. There is no set mantra, what works for one person may not necessarily work for another, and, moreover, what you find motivating at one given time may not inspire you at another. There may also be various dampening issues and circumstances quite beyond our control. That said, let us look at some of the basic ways that can help us stay refreshed -

Work on your art

This may seem really obvious, but it is actually quite amazing how often it falls to the wayside. 'I don't have the time' and 'I don't feel like it' are two regularly heard refrains. Well, if you want to be an artist, you have to make the time, and you can't sit around waiting for inspiration to strike; inspiration does indeed make a difference in art, but it is not an essential factor and, anyway, it will usually come once you've begun. You have to make art, not just think about it - what you actually do counts for more than what you plan on doing. It's really best to set aside a time – even if it is only 20 minutes – and work on your art in that time. You may not complete it, but you will have worked 20 minutes towards completion.

Be serious about your art

I'm not suggesting you grow a pompous attitude and demand universal veneration, just treat your art as serious work; if you are not serious about it, no one else will be. It will really help to spend some time considering your goals and mapping them out; once you know what you want and where you want to go, it is easier to plan how to get there. For instance, you can decide on doing a set number of artworks on a specific theme in a specific media, and then establish a daily routine for completing these.

Experiment and Play

Have you found yourself getting repetitive in your art? It's easier – and safer – to keep doing what one always has, and what has worked before, but it can also lead to monotony – and therefore the need to be motivated. If you want to grow as an artist, doing the same thing over and over again is not recommended. You need to leave the comfort zone and explore the things you don't usually do or which daunt you. Experimentation usually offers a new perspective on things, and that's often motivating enough. Work in different media and different techniques, don't worry about 'failing' (if you 'spoil' the artwork, it can be wiped off or reused), and be open to new ideas. Put on music to match your mood, or to change your mood. Rearrange your studio space.

Read a lot

Look up the books in your local library and bookshops, and on online stores. Read art blogs, magazine articles, and writings on any other topics that interest you. A habit of reading widely saves you from developing a tunnel vision. The more you know, the more ideas you have, and the more creative you can get. You can find out about other artists, how they work, what methods they use, what worked for them, how they handle their business, and so on. You get more informed about the world and how to navigate your way through it.

Update your skills and learn new ones

You will have to anyway if you want to keep afloat in a fast-changing environment. Besides it is invigorating and encouraging. Take life drawing classes. Try out a new software. Look up online tutorials. Research art history and art materials. Study the techniques of art masters, past and present. You should never stop learning actually, and, as already mentioned, there's no need to limit yourself to just the art field either. Broaden your scope.

Travel

This is usually a guaranteed way of expanding your horizons, and it doesn't even have to be a long, expensive trip to an exotic location. You can be an armchair traveler and navigate your way around the world with Google Maps. You can take short, local trips, or a turn around town. You can visit art museums and art shows, walk around your neighborhood, or even around your garden if it comes to it. Get out of the house and make a point of noticing the things around you – and draw or paint them. You might also start a collection of things that catch your fancy – shells, stones, drift wood, coins, stamps, postcards, etc – these are often helpful in kick-starting new ideas.

Socialize

Art is generally a solitary profession and it is best for your continued well-being to keep interacting – online and in person – with other people. Meeting other people, like reading, can shake off the mental cobwebs. Make sure, of course, to mix with positive people who are likely to encourage you and your art, and steer clear of the naysayers; it's a short life and you only have limited energy.

Remember you are only human

Be kind to yourself. You need to realize that you cannot please everyone and you cannot be good at everything. Don't let it stop you from trying new things though. Don't listen to anyone who tells you that you're too young, too old, too whatever. Go forth and be brave. Take one day at a time, and take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, and get sufficient rest.