Creativity is a cycle. It is okay to feel burnt out, to suddenly feel like you don’t want to make art or that your creative juices have run out. Its a natural part about being an artist. Transitioning from college into a part or full time arts career is oftentimes a more difficult transition than many think. In addition to being under educated by the collegiate system for working and practicing as a professional, school is just plain draining. While a large number of student artists will continue on their art practice, some may fall off the radar due to creativity burnout. Without the coping mechanisms to deal with a creative setback, getting back on the horse looks more like trying to wrangle a wild stallion.
When some people feel burnt out, they take a few days, a few weeks, a few months or even a year or two off from working. Decide for yourself how long of a break you need but also consider why you need a break. Did you just finish a large commission, project, or body of work? Did you just finish an exhibition or graduate from school? Give yourself a time frame. If you need a month off, take that month. After that month, check in with yourself. Do you need more time, why or why not?
Talk to other artists! We’ve all been in this position! I recently came back from a 6 week residency. I’ve posted many blogs about the experience itself, tips for artists interested in residencies and all of the projects I completed while I was there. I updated all things art business, created the Bad Fortune Cookie installation, and began my new line of shoe design. I also managed to create somewhere around 50 paintings. Upon returning, I was a bit burnt out.
Instead of not doing anything, I focused on sending out gallery proposals and grants. When I’m feeling less creative, I tend to focus on the business aspects of art. Simple breaks could be leaving the studio to go for a walk, taking a weekend off and heading up north, or simply switching the creative medias you work in. Try taking a class in a new art form you are interested in taking. Sometimes change is all we need for recharging the batteries rather than actual time off. If your considering a residency, going on a residency will provide time and space to think about your art path, get into the groove of a new project or finish up a work you have toyed with for a while. Becoming more active in the arts community will provide you with a plethora of artists, opportunities, non-profits and galleries to get to know. When you feel less creative, meet people, attend openings and events, and see whats happening nearby. You just might get inspired or meet someone to collaborate with.
Feeling like you need an artistic life overhaul? Read The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. I also recommend borrowing, Reflections On The Artist’s Way on audio tape from your local library. Download it into your itunes or music system so you have a copy to listen to during future creative lulls. Cameron’s methods for finding your spiritual path to creativity is reflective and requires writing daily. I suggest working with the daily journals.
Looking for a bit more? How about a career coach? Spirit Out! Inc. http://spiritout.com. Amy Egenberger is a local artist coach located in St. Paul. She offers career guidance, resources, coaching and advice, and classes. One of her classes even teaches Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way.