The Art of TaniDaReal

How to stay motivated?

Everybody knows the feeling - sometimes all motivation seems to be gone, you can't come up with new ideas or suffer from an "art block". There are several ways that can help getting rid of the art block, and getting your motivation back. The following points are just suggestions.


The best way to stay motivated is to be inspired. There are so many sources of inspiration - this can be your favorite animal, a nice landscape or scenery, a TV show, movie or book, music or lyrics, artwork drawn by other people, animated characters or actors you like, funny situations, dreams, events (like Halloween or Holidays)... When something inspires me, possible picture ideas come to me almost from alone.

Art Block

Art Block... every artist experienced it at some point. No matter what you try, it feels like you can't draw anymore, everything you being just fails and all creativity seems blocked. Don't worry, this happens to other creative people as well, and it will go away again. You will have to find out what helps you best to get rid of it, so here are just a few suggestions:

  • Take a break - don't put too much pressure on yourself. Some things cannot be forced. Get some rest, treat yourself well with some nice things, and try again when you feel better.
  • Draw something for yourself - no pressure, no deadline, no requirements, just something for you that you personally enjoy. Maybe there was something you always wanted to draw? Now's the time!
  • Take a look at artwork you did before and that you liked. You ARE able to create great art, and it's nothing you suddenly lost.
  • Inspiration can be a cure for an art block. As mentioned above, look at things that inspire and give you motivation. Often that already brings back the "flow".
  • Variety / Challenges - maybe you're just stuck and don't feel challenged enough any more. Try something new! As listed above, some people regain motivation by taking new challenges, learning something new or improving.
  • Reconsider your goals - maybe you put too high demands on yourself. If you felt a lot of "failure" and disappointment recently, check your goals again, if they were actually reasonable (as explained above). Avoid disappointment and make smaller goals that you can achieve. This might bring you back to a more positive feeling.
  • Look at works in progress - it sometimes helps to look at works in progress (WIP), pictures that show step-by-step how an artist did a picture. It's not only highly interesting and educational, it also shows you the effort and time a picture takes. Especially if you have the feeling that you will 'never be able to do such a picture (again)' - yes, you can. Don't be impatient, don't rush it, take your time.

Set your own goals - be reasonable

It is always important to improve and to set personal goals. If you're not seeking challenges, you're not going to improve. However, choose your goals reasonably. Achieving a goal brings the nice feeling of success and motivation. Failing to reach a goal brings the opposite, frustration and disappointment. Don't choose goals that you don't have an influence on or that are too unrealistic to reach, because this will likely end in disappointment.

For example, don't make plans/resolutions like "I'll get 1000 followers this year" or "I will win a prize in this art show". No matter how hard you try, there are so many factors that you don't have an influence on, and it can easily happen that you won't reach these goals (although you didn't do anything wrong - you may still feel like you "failed"). Also, rather than planning to "draw every single day", plan something smaller, like doing at least one sketch per week, or to fill a sketch book over the year, or to work on human anatomy this year. Make reasonable goals (also several smaller ones) that you can actually achieve. Every success will add to your motivation, while every disappointment / feeling of "failure" will badly impact it.

Don't compare yourself

It is great to have goals and role models that you admire, that inspire you, that you want to learn from. It's great to admire styles, and the wish to "draw that level of art one day". However, don't compare yourself with other artists. There will always be better artists, drawing for a longer time, having more time to draw/improve... there are so many different factors.

Don't ask yourself - why does that artist get more favorites or watchers than me? Don't ask yourself what you're doing "wrong" when you compare yourself to others who are more popular. Ask yourself, what are your personal goals, where does your artwork maybe need improving, where do you want to take your art, what do you enjoy doing?

Especially beginner artists may sometimes think "I will never be able to draw like that artist". Never forget that everybody started small, and that most artists took a lot of pratice and time to get where they are now. Great art should always be a motivation and inspiration, rather than disappointment because you haven't reached a certain level yet.

Aim for goals - but be careful with expectations

It's good to set yourself goals and to challenge yourself. However, be careful with expectations. Expectations have already given me a hard time many times in my life, because I imagined something in my head - and when it came differently (even though it wasn't even negative), I felt disappopinted, only because that "idea" in my head didn't happen the way I expected it. Try to be open. I know it's hard to say "don't expect", because sometimes it just happens anyways, but you can train it, be mindful of it.

Be kind to yourself - Love what you do

I think it's very important to be kind to yourself and love what you're doing, because it will show in your art. Think about how you could make somebody like your art, if you don't even do it yourself? Of course, I also draw pictures that I am not happy with. Upload them anyways (and deal with the feedback)? Or just go on and draw/sketch more, until you actually bring something on paper that you're happy with.

Or sometimes there are just days when you feel bad, grumpy, maybe in pain, or maybe without any reason. Unless you have to (because there's a deadline), be kind to yourself and grant yourself a break and try to make yourself feel better first before you force yourself to draw. Something that personally helped me a lot to feel more balanced and at peace with myself is meditation. Don't be mad at yourself when something doesn't work out. Accept it, listen to your body, your feelings, and use that mindfulness. Of course this will work differently for everybody, but for me, meditation definitely supported my creativity and positive attitude a lot.

The right place/ambiance

For me, drawing is not only a technical thing, but also a matter of feeling, so my work place is very important to me. When spending a lot of time drawing, take the time to make yourself comfortable. Make sure you have a good chair to sit on (to prevent health issues like back pain), find out what makes working even more enjoyable - inspiring artwork/references on your wall, equipment that is fun to work with, a nice cup of tea or coffee, plants, some music in the background... Find out what adds to your creativity.

Reward yourself

Everybody likes rewards, not only animals. So especially when you're working on a bigger or maybe difficult project, reward yourself with something nice after you finished it. This may be a nice dinner, your favorite snack, ice cream or a nice massage. Whatever you enjoy - knowing this will wait for you when you finish this project can increase motivation and will also help to regain the strength and power to go on again.

Variety - try new things

When you are always drawing the same things or style, this may end in a lack of motivation at some point, as it's hard to improve or artistically challenge your mind. There is such a variety of material to work with - dare to try something new. If you're a digital artist, try to work with real media or maybe sculpting. By trying something new, you will learn from that challenge. The same goes for the things that you draw of course, for example don't just always draw pinups - draw dynamic poses.

Check list for "Everything I draw sucks"

If you're having one of those phases when you feel like everything you draw sucks and no picture (or any creative work) turns out nice. Here are some questions you can ask yourself, some kind of check list:
  • What's your physical condition?
    Maybe you're feeling bad, sick, are in pain. Maybe not the drawing is the problem and your view on your art isn't neutral, but you should try to make yourself feel better first. This can start with simple things: have you had enough food / water / sleep / fresh air?

  • What's your emotional condition?
    Same like above, having emotional problems can cause this frustration, art block, feeling stuck. When I am feeling cranky, I am having a very hard time to draw.

    -> Is there a reason why you feel bad? If yes, try to get rid of the reason (e.g. a deadline you're trying to push away, a fight with someone, an uncomfortable work space,...).

    -> You can't find a reason why you feel bad (yes, there are those days), or it's something you can't change? Try to make yourself feel better by treating you well, spend time with people that make you feel good, take a break without being mad at yourself, or find balance through meditation for example.

  • If this is becoming a permanent state
    If this feeling lasts longer than usual, and no matter what you do (and actually feel ok physically and emotionally), try to find out what exactly frustrates you about your art. The anatomy? Something technical? The lack of ideas? Being too static / not dynamic enough? Boring backgrounds? Try to put a finger on what annoys you most, and then work on it. For example if you don't like the anatomy / bodies of your art, draw and practice many different poses, also dynamic ones, dare to draw outside your comfort area, and try to improve it. Once you're getting better, that bad feeling that nothing works out usually fades too.

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