Unblocking Creativity: 8 Tips for Finding Artistic Inspiration

Lou Kavanaugh

Have you ever had that feeling that you need to create something? The motivation is there, the desire is there, but … what do you make? Nothing jumps to mind; you’re just left there with this urge to make something with no ideas for what it should be. 

Personally, I’ve started so many types and styles of crafts and mediums, and I often feel a vague interest in all of them. Yet, I’m never sure which one to choose or which idea to follow. I usually turn to a few places to help me form a more concrete idea of what I want to do and which medium I want to work with. The following are some places I look when I’m looking for inspiration or ideas of what to make:

Girl finds creative inspiration in library
  1. Your public Library!  There are many resources for free at your local library. Check out the non-fiction sections for books about your crafts and interests. Paper quilling, needlework, beeding, painting, just about any craft you can think of. There are books available for various age levels and skills too. I also enjoy the added bonus of going analog, as I can get lost in the options available online. There’s something about holding a real book that helps me feel inspired and ready to start my project.
  2. Library apps are also an excellent resource for finding accessible craft books to spark inspiration. Try Libby or Hoopla; you can make a free account with your library card and gain access to thousands of books right on your phone. This is a great option if you have a hard time making it to the physical library location or struggle to return books on time as the digital copies will auto return when the time is up.
  3. Check out your local craft and art stores. Sometimes going to a craft store and seeing the supplies and books and being in an environment of creativeness helps me get in the crafty headspace and stir up some ideas. For example, when I walk into Craft Theory, I’m greeted by a display of hand-dyed yarn! This simple thing can inspire me in a few ways depending on what I want to work on. Maybe I’ll buy a skein because I have an idea for a hat and the colors caught my attention. Maybe I’ll see the colorful skeins and be encouraged to give hand-dying a try myself. I love seeing and looking at materials to help inspire new ideas.
  4. Thrift stores can be another great place to look. That plain dish you see is waiting to be painted and turned into a planter; or maybe you’ll turn a plain wood frame into a colorful masterpiece to highlight your work. There are so many materials ready to be repurposed or upcycled in thrift stores. Not to mention, they’re another great option for finding craft books that you can own for a low cost. 
  5. Friends and other creatives are always a favorite of mine. Do you have friends that also craft? You can swap ideas and give each other help in various ways. I appreciate body doubling myself (this means doing a task alongside another person that helps with focusing and accountability). I crochet, but my friend knits, so we’ll find time together to work on our separate projects. It is nice to be with other creatives whether working on similar projects or not.
  6. If you don’t have creative friends readily available, you can search for groups or spaces that offer dedicated time and space to people wanting to craft in a community setting. These can often be found in small craft stores, cafes, and libraries. Craft Theory studio hosts a “Craft and Chat” time every Tuesday from 5pm to 7pm.  You can walk in with your current work in progress and mingle with other art minded people.
  7. Searching for inspiration online may seem obvious, but it’s great for a reason. We live during a time when most of us are carrying a computer right in our pocket! Head to your favorite search engine and type in key words related to your interest (such as “bulky yarn crochet patterns”) and see what pops up. You can also add the keyword “free” if you’re looking for more cost efficient ways to create.
  8. Social media can be a great tool for conceptualizing your art. Get inspired by what other people are creating. I love typing in things like “bookbinding” on Instagram or Pinterest to see what comes up. Using online communities helps me cook up ideas in my head. Make sure to be aware of plagiarism and always ask permission and give credit when using a direct pattern/idea/resource!
Multi-generational knitting group

There are so many places and ways to unblock creativity and find your artistic inspiration. I’m glad I was able to share some of my favorites with you, and would love to hear from you as well! Where do you look for inspiration and ideas?

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