Un-blockers: 7 Solutions to Creative Blocks

Here on the New York end dreary weather has put a damper on any hope of creative thinking. Which raises the point… everyone has their own slow period where not only is it difficult to think creatively if you’re an artist, but if you’re a writer it could mean that you have nothing that really inspires you to write or share. So what do you do? Writers block is an age-old problem, as is “artists” block. Here are a few approaches, both basic and somewhat unorthodox, that may help those creative blocks:

1.    Browse publications

Most people who create things keep a collection of publications that hold work they found to be impressive or inspiring. If you have these hanging around you should put these to use. Flip through them and see if there’s something you didn’t notice before, look everything over again and figure out why you like them or why you don’t anymore. Do a quick silent critique and take in what you see like a vacuum and it could help encourage a new direction in how you were thinking.


2.    People watch

While not an exciting activity, it’s something everyone does at some point whether they notice or not. With a sketch book or notebook and pen in hand, pick a cozy spot in a coffee shop, mall, or a park, a place with a good flow of human beings and simply observe: what do they look like when they talk? When they eat? When they walk? Picking up dog doo (or not picking it up)? Each location yields different personalities to capture in images and words. Notice trends, color combinations, naturally occurring textures or designs. Look at the way people behave in spaces or with spaces, and how they use objects in these spaces. What works? What doesn’t?

While it doesn’t have to be a pen that you take with you, the beauty of a pen instead of pencil and eraser is of course that you CAN’T erase. Your first impressions are important and erasing only makes you rethink your observations. If you have something better write it, sketch it, design it. It’ll build more content for your mind to work with and it’ll get the ideas flowing.


3.    Be a tourist

They have a bad rep but the most tourist-y of tourists know how to look at everything as if it’s new (unlike the depressing few who have that old philosophy “if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all). And sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do. So maybe you can’t travel and be an actual tourist exploring some new exciting culture. What you can do though is be a tourist in your own town. Pick up a camera and explore your neighborhood or city like you’ve never seen anything like it before. If you really want you could dress the part: fanny pack, visor, drugstore sunglasses, polo shirts with khakis… if you just want the basic equipment you could always go with a disposable camera but small point and shoots or video cameras work just fine. Capture everything: the corner bistro, your lunch, the fly drowning in your soda. While tourist-y tourists aren’t necessarily the most creative bunch of people, you will be, because it’s what you do. So by the end you’ll have moved beyond the picture of the town statue, and even beyond the plastic bag footage that is “American Beauty”–esque (because we’re better than that), into something useful or at the very least mentally freeing.

Another thing you should consider is visiting museums in your area as well in this mind set as well. Collect brochures and just have fun and take things in on a primarily visual level.


4.    Downtime with a box of crayons

Remember those good old days when you sat around as a kid with a giant box of crayons and a drawing pad and meticulously illustrated the greatest inventions the world has ever seen? Ahhh… I can smell the Crayola now. Whether it’s just the basic crayons or scented markers that you prefer, you should be thinking Alan Outten’s project with school children from the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition. Leave your desk or your usual workspace, especially if it’s mentally and emotionally limiting like a cubicle. Sit on the floor in the middle of the room or huddled in a corner (wherever seems more comfortable) and challenge yourself to come up with 10 great inventions to extract ideas from your own head. They don’t have to make sense, they don’t have to look beautiful. They just need to be on paper. Start with just illustrating, don’t forget all the wonderful colors and focus on the experience of creating in this way. The way the wax colors run across the paper, the smell of the lemon scented jumbo marker… (also an added benefit to using scented markers is you can draw by smell and not just color…I mean why have a black licorice smelling machine when you can have bubble gum?) and if you need notes add them later. Its great for out of the box thinking exercises and is a fun idea to get ideas flowing on a daily basis if you decide to create at least one every day.



5.    Cleaning

Similar to de-cluttering your mind, de-cluttering and organizing your workspace is a nice productive break that helps sort through mental blocks. Reorganize your desk space, your desk drawers, and if that isn’t enough branch out to other areas (depends on where you are I suppose, you can’t really reorganize your neighbors stuff if you’re in an office space, it might be inappropriate).



6.    Jogging

Some people find this to be self-centering. It is similar to the cleaning effect and should be considered as a next step if you’ve found that you’ve reorganized everything you could possibly think of and it hasn’t gotten anywhere. Just you and your shoes hitting the asphalt can be a very zen-like experience if running is an activity you enjoy. If not, it can be torturous, in which case you could just take a walk, remembering to take in that fresh supply of oxygen, or even combine it with light creative activity: think running photography from “Yes Man”.



7.    Play with your food

Sometimes you just need a break that offers nourishment or a sugar rush. Playing with you food is something your parents probably told you not to do (mine didn’t) but desperate times call for desperate measures. Hey, you’re old enough to make decisions like this for yourself, right? So sculpt that ice cream or pile of mashed potatoes to your heart’s content. Create faces in your food, or space scenes, peel apart and dissect every single pea or kernel of corn. And, while this is probably a stretch, if you’re desperate enough to try this you probably need this kind of break anyway.



While these are just a few ideas, what really works will always be a subjective topic. Hopefully some of these help you, and sometimes the more ridiculous it is the better.

Have any other suggestions? Leave us a comment with what it is.

[Images via stock.xchng]

Free Glidden Paint Giveaway!


Interior Designers rejoice! Glidden has provided you and me with a dream come true: free paint. Just by signing up online with your address you’re eligible to receive a free quart of paint in any color you want. If you know a bunch of friends who don’t need paint, just send it to their address and pick it up. How often do painters and decorators get free paint?! If you want more details make sure to check out the original post on The Examiner.

The New Alice in Wonderland: Exciting News for Tim Burton Fans

Newly released images of an upcoming Tim Burton production (due out in 2010) of “Alice in Wonderland” offer an alluring peek through the looking glass. Pulling in such exciting and diverse talents as Johnny Depp (seemingly one of Burton’s favorites for his ability to carry through extreme personas), Helena Bonham Carter, and Anne Hathaway. The stunning images show these classic characters recreated as envisioned by Tim Burton… though such lively and dramatic visual interpretations of characters is nothing new for the director/producer, as exhibited in some of his past works like Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish, Beetlejuice, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Extreme colors and rich details in costume and makeup portrayed in the composition of the images prove that this Wonderland could be more realistic… and in that, could this possibly be more nightmarish, than the illustrations or animations before it?


Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter
Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter
Anne Hathaway as the White Queen



Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen



“Alice in Wonderland” has always been a bizarre story in a bizarre world on it’s own, and coming from the head of Tim Burton, it’s difficult to know anymore what exactly to expect. All I can say is any Tim Burton fan would be almost maniacally eager at this point about the film.

[Images via Huffington Post]

How to Market Your Indie Game With No Budget

zero-budget-indie-marketing-guideDespite what the title might suggest I do not have the answer. I have no made a game nor do I market them. Yet.

What I do have is a link to an article that explains what can be done. Most games live or die on their marketing. In fact I’d say all games do so, including the big budget AAA titles. Ever hear about Bionic Commando? No … exactly my point. If you did, did you know it came out weeks ago? No .. exactly my point. If you said yes to both questions then I say the reboot not the remake for Xbox Live and if that wasn’t what you were talking about then get out of here, you’re spoiling my point.

Quality can only get you so far. There is no point in making that bedroom masterpiece if no one knows it exists. Rodain “Nandrew” Joubert wirtes a splended 4 page article on how to do just that. Let people know it exists in a meaningful way. The biggest point being that Game Journalists are your friends and want to know about your game, because they have an awful lot of space to fill up. So send them copies for consideration, make deals for exclusive videos or screenshots. (*Hint*Hint*)

Anyway here’s the link: http://www.devmag.org.za/articles/78-ZERO-BUDGET-INDIE-MARKETING-GUIDE/1/

Object Factory: The Art of Industrial Ceramics


Somewhere between found art, Picasso, and industrial design is where Object Factory’s newest US based installation takes place.

Object Factory: The Art of Industrial Ceramics is the first major U.S. museum exhibition to survey contemporary innovation in industrial ceramic production and the renaissance of ceramics in art and design today. The exhibition explores how artists and designers are reviving interest in ceramics through collaborations with industry that enhance and sometimes subvert the industrial process. Object Factory presents works created for leading manufacturers as well as artworks by independent artists and designers. Both non-functional and functional works are highlighted, as are important technological advances in ceramic material that allow for its use in electronic appliances, cutting implements, and other surprising products.

Object Factory has more than some 200 works by over fifty artists, designers, and industry manufacturers. This large collection features work by some of the greatest American, European, and Russian designers. The exhibit runs from May 6 to September 13th and it can be found at the Museum of Arts and Design

objectfactory-industrialceramics-frontBy train: A, B, C, D or No. 1 to Columbus Circle at 59th Street; N, R, Q or W to 57th Street and 7th Avenue F to 57th Street and 6th Avenue By bus: M5, M7, M10, M20, M30 and M104 to Columbus Circle at 59th Street or 57th Street and 8th Avenue

Museum Hours Tue. – Sun. 11:00 am to 6:00 pm Thurs. 11:00 am to 9:00 pm Closed Mon. and Major Holidays

SUMMER HOURS: Due to popular demand, the Museum will be open on Tuesdays from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm throughout the summer.

Yes Master: Igor-ian Personalities by Jake Waldron

3431386913_9d85c4fb9a3432200476_bf15271929These strange and rather lonely looking creatures are the creations of artist Jake Waldron. The mixed media sculptures are a fun addition to the world of art, each a embodying a personality and story that is more mystical than expected from contemporary sculpture. The different materials used by Waldron include resin, sculpey, upholstery foam, polyester batting, and oil paints, along with hand dyed and hand sewn fabrics.

What seems interesting in the aesthetic is the combination of elements from fantasy or horror in both film and animation, and visual styles that have appeared in the genres. Similar to a merge of Igor and Nightmare Before Christmas or other Tim Burton styles. The characters can easily be seen as being an element of their own adventures that are waiting to be told. With many of the pieces, the figures stand silent, or occasionally appear to have stopped in very slight movement creating a moment with the viewer that allows them to observe, wonder, and develop an idea of what this character is like.

More of Jake Waldron’s work and more information can be found on his website at http://jakewaldron.com/ and via his photostream on flickr.

[Sources: http://jakewaldron.com/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakewaldron/ ]

Fashion-able Exhibitions

Since the past several fashion photography exhibitions at The International Center for Photography in New York City, showing amazing collections by Edward Steichen and lost photographs of Martin Munkacsi as well as the more unconventional in “Weird Beauty”, the center has moved on to exhibiting the stunning works of Richard Avedon.

Veruschka, dress by Kimberly, New York, January 1967
An icon in the history of fashion photography, the works in this collection span his career of capturing cultural changes with the same vitality of the time, breaking the mold of what was a more reserved world of simply showing clothes. The Richard Avedon exhibition runs until September 6th [more information here], but while its appearance is an unusual occurrence in a formal exhibition setting, fashion seems to have spread beyond the ICP.


“The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion” at The Metropolitan Museum of art is also exploring fashion, offering a look at the changing silhouettes and beauty ideals in relation to the changing times and culture of the times as shown in fashion photography, videos, and the fashions on display. The exhibition is surprising for what is traditionally expected from The Met, and is definitely a must-see exhibition before it ends on August 9th for those interested in fashion as a whole. [More information about the exhibition at the met here.]

[Images via http://www.icp.org/site/c.dnJGKJNsFqG/b.5079531/k.9571/Avedon_Fashion.htm and http://www.metmuseum.org/special/se_event.asp?OccurrenceId={EB2C67EF-1CCB-4EB2-9329-A955A7EDFBC2}&HomePageLink=special_c3b]