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The moment I start thinking about designing a new jewellery collection, a part of my brain panics.“Nope!” it says. “You can't do that.” And Creative Block comes to visit.
I stare at a blank page in my sketchbook. I over-think. “What if I really can’t design anything?” “How can I be original?” “What materials should I work with?” I find myself wanting to see the whole finished collection in my mind before I even put pen to paper. Eventually, something distracts me and I shut my book with a mental note to come back to designing later. But how long “later” takes depends upon how I deal with this creative slump.
While there are plenty of ways to find inspiration—Pinterest, a trip to an art gallery, a new magazine—inspiration is not action. Feeling inspired is not always enough to break through a creative slump. You need to take action to deal with a creative slump. Different things work at different times, and I have created a list of actions that have worked for me.
9 actions to deal with a creative slump
- Don’t start with a blank page. Break the ice with a doodle. Sketch your coffee cup, draw the design of you balcony railing, try to draw a perfect circle. It’s easier to keep making marks once a mark has been made.
- Take away the expectation. Stop thinking big (“I need to design a whole collection that will sell”) and start thinking smaller: “If I were going to make myself a pair of earrings, what might they look like?”
- Make it a habit. You will have more success by picking up your sketchbook for a short period several times each week than for one long session per week. Keep pushing ideas that you have been previously drawing. Play with scale. Introduce texture. Bring in a new shape to complement or contrast the shapes in play.
- Take a shower. If you are trying to solve a problem or make a decision, have a shower. Something about running water and a few quiet moments often results in a string of ideas.
- Look back through old sketchbooks. Flip through your portfolio of finished work. Little kernels of ideas are most likely still waiting there for you. Looking at them now, you will bring new experiences to them and never know where they could end up.
- Make something different. Try a class in basket-making, pottery, macrame, watercolours, life drawing. Rip out pictures that speak to you in magazines and create a collage. Introduce a new material to your practice. Make something you don’t have to sell and it will help you design something you can sell.
- Fill your well.Listen to podcasts. Watch films. Read widely. It is all sun and rain for the seeds you are germinating.
- Step away.Know when to give yourself space from your work and relieve the pressure. There will be flows—creative highs and lows—and you are either on the way up or on the way down. Both are necessary for creation.
- You are not your work.I struggle with this, as designing and creating is so personal. If my work is no good I feel like I am no good. If my sales drop, I often wonder what I have done. Regardless of your work's reception, good or bad, you are not your work. Make that distinction and smash the creative block that comes from that fear!
Christina Lowry is a designer and jeweller who creates fine jewellery for creatives. Her work is featured in several Australian galleries, as well as in her online store. Christina fell in love with jewellery making while studying a Bachelor of Fine Art/Visual Art. Each piece is lovingly made by hand in her Brisbane workshop, incorporating precious metals and gemstones, and using traditional metalworking techniques. Christina can be found at christinalowrydesigns.com, and on Facebook and Instagram (@christinalowrydesigns).
All images photographed by Trudi Le Brese Photography for Christina Lowry Designs