You might be on a roll, but when that dry spell hits, it can hit hard - especially when your craft requires vivid, unique creativity and you’ve got bills to pay. Here are seven ways to beat artist’s block and get back to filling that sketchbook, flash sheet, and Instagram Feed with must-have Tattoo Art:
Take Your Sketchbook Everywhere
Whether it’s one sketchbook or several that you keep in different places, always have one onhand because you never know when your next idea will hit you, and it’s too easy to forget that great concept that you came up in the day-to-day hustle. Keep it next to your bed, take it with you to the bathroom, and bring it to your next doctor's appointment.
Draw and Write In It a Lot - Especially When You Don’t Feel Like It
Did you just wake up at 4am from a super weird dream where you’re being attacked by a snake? Pick up a pencil and draw the snake or write down what it looked like. Did you just see the makings of an intricate Geometric pattern burnt into your morning toast? Push the plate aside and put the finished pattern down on paper. It won’t always be convenient, but inspiration doesn’t wait for a good time to come around.
Create Something in a Different Art Form/Style
Sometimes cleansing the palate with an unfamiliar style or form will help to turn that lightbulb on over your head. If your specialty is Traditional Japanese, try drawing some New School art. Go back through your sketchbook and re-draw that colorful, Illustrative fox as a simpler Blackwork version. Put the sketchbook down and try sculpting an Octopus out of clay. You might be really stoked on the result.
Play a Drawing Game
Whether you’re alone or with some other tattooers in between appointments, there are all kinds of games out there that you can play to get over that creative slump. Brain Storm is the perfect game to play solo or with other artists. The concept is pretty simple: Shuffle the deck of cards, draw a card for each desired element in the drawing, roll the die for each card to get a specific subject, and start drawing.
Word Stacks is a DIY game that can hold you over while you’re waiting for Brain Storm to be delivered with your next order. Take 25 index cards and cut the stack into three pieces. On each card in the first stack, write an adjective. Write a noun on each of the cards in the second stack. Put a verb on every card in the third stack. Shuffle the stacks individually and draw one card from each. Place them next to each other and draw the subject that the cards make.
A really basic game is to just go back and forth with another artist and draw anything at all. It can be line-for-line or shape-for-shape. In the end, you’ll definitely have a fresh concept, and you’ll probably share a few laughs.
Finish it - Even if it Means Coming Back to it Later
This one won't help if you're drawing something up on-the-fly for a client, but if you've got some time to spare and that Rose with lace and pearls drawing isn’t coming together the way that you’d hoped, turn the page on it or stick it in a drawer and come back to it in a couple of weeks. When you revisit it, you’ll have some fresh eyes to work with, and you’ll be satisfied that you finished it, even if it wasn’t exactly what you envisioned.
Experiment On Fake Skin
If you’re looking to get weird in a less permanent way, try a new concept or placement on some fake skin. A Pound of Flesh offers hands, feet, arms, and a skull, which is the perfect, low-risk way to test out that new approach that you’ve kept in the back of your head.
Hit the Books
Whether it’s from our library of reference, flash, and artist collections, or from a classic work of literature like Moby Dick or Frankenstein, you’re pretty much guaranteed to clear that creative hurdle if you spend enough time looking in a book. It’s an endless source of inspiration, and Levar Burton will be proud of you for it*.
*Note: Levar Burton is in no way affiliated with Kingpin Tattoo Supply, but it would be