As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread:

How do I become a more creative person?

PeasPeas Registered User regular
*stares blankly into the distance
No seriously that's pretty much the mode I switch into if I tried to create something (like a drawing)
So many hours wasted on generating generic garbage
Is there anything I can learn or read or get into the habit of doing to boost my creativity?


  • ReznikReznik Registered User regular
    Consume media that inspires you. I write better after I read books by authors I enjoy. But also, you can't wait for inspiration. Just do it. If you're going to draw, draw every day. Draw the things that you see around you. You might not be creating some super awesome piece of fantasy dragon art or whatever, but you're still improving your eye and your hand.

    Everyone produces a ton of 'generic garbage' in the process of making something good.

    Do... Re.... Mi... Ti... La...
    Do... Re... Mi... So... Fa.... Do... Re.... Do...
    Forget it...
  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    Well first question is: Why do you want to boost your creativity? What is your goal here? What is your purpose? Is it just to be more creative?

    There is no virtue in being creative for it's own sake. I realize that that is a bit counter to what society and blogs and pinterest tell us, but it's part of a tendency to confuse a specific useful trait for a generally useful trait. We like artists to be creative, this doesn't mean everybody needs to "be creative" to be good or fulfilled.

    Instead of generally trying to become more creative, pick a specific thing or skill you want to learn or do. Just figure out what X motivates you into doing that X. Do you want to draw realistic portraits? Do you want to draw cool anime-style pictures? Do you want to cook? Paint? Make macaroni pictures? Write? Sing? When you draw, do you sit down thinking "I sure do want to make a creative drawing right now" or do you go "I want to draw this specific thing right now."?

    Figure out your X, then just google "How to do X". If you manage to come up with an X which motivates you, I am sure we can also be of more help. Lots of people here are skilled at some thing, so it shouldn't be a problem to find like-minded folk.

  • VanguardVanguard A wretched country of duskRegistered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Julius hit on a lot of good points. Being aimlessly creative tends to lead to a lot of the same results, which is both frustrating and unsatisfying. I would develop a kind of project to focus you. This doesn't need to be like a commercially viable or socially sharable thing, but just something to help direct your attention a little.

    Is there currently something you would like to draw, but can't? This could be as broad as like realistic architecture or people or something more specific like John Blanche grimdark fantasy or whatever. You get my point.

    If that's too far down the path of answering this question, I would look to the advice Reznik gave you, but with a little bit of a tweak. Draw every day (or as often as you possibly can), but each time, create a different constraint for yourself. These could be as simple as: draw something from real life to "sketch something in 3 minutes without ever lifting your pen from the page". I'm sure there are websites with these kind of constraints that you can source for ideas, but the point is that you are working through a creative process.

    Some results will be better than others; some will produce work you like but was maybe not that fun to work on; others might have been really fun to work on but produced an end product you are not satisfied with; and still, others will be both fun to work on and produce work that you are proud of.

    After a month, review your work and pick the ones that you both liked working on the most and that, in your opinion, produced the best work. Then try to think of how you could turn that into a project of some sorts as per the above. That could be: I realized I really like dragons so I am going to research into the different types of dragons typically found in fantasy worlds and draw each variety (red, black, blue, etc). It could be that you really liked some human or animal figure you drew and want to sketch out the world they exist in. Etc.

    Once you've done that, devote your creative energy to working through that creative process daily (or as often as possible) in a way that services the end goal of the project. It's important to have a clear goal in mind both for the day to day work as well as the long term so that when you know that what success looks like, or if you need to step away from something when it's drifting away from your goals.

    Hold yourself to seeing out the end of the project. Even if you ultimately don't achieve what you wanted or lose interest in it, you need to finish so that you understand how to take something from its genesis through the completion. Some of the best advice I ever got was, "It doesn't need to be good the first time around, it just needs to be done." This is, in my opinion, good advice because it's very easy to abandon something the second you get frustrated or its not turning out what you want to be. It's a lot easier, in my experience, to identify what works or doesn't when you have finished a full draft.

    While the above advice is obviously all within the terms of drawing, it applies to other creative endeavors. The last piece of advice I have is try and find a consistent place or time that is conducive to you working. Artists have studios for this very reason; you creative a space for ritual (process) where you can get the work done.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Being creative isn't just drawing stuff. Creativity is a broader skill that involves things like finding or making connections between things. Creativity includes:

    Making a fort out of household objects
    Seeing shapes in clouds, leaves, etc.
    Using layers of socks as work gloves
    Using a broken piano as a raised flower bed
    Coding a tiny birthday adventure

    If you're specifically trying to learn how to draw something novel, make new connections between ideas. Take two or more ideas - possibly at random - and find a way to connect them.

    Macaroni wizard
    Banana skyscraper
    Abstract cheeseburger
    Cave man USB cord
    Time cube kitty
    Feather duster flamethrower
    Japanese jousting jammies

    Having a project or other external motive helps. Make bad webcomics or twisted fan art or birthday cards or the like. Something to drive toward helps a great deal.

  • WinkyWinky rRegistered User regular
    These suggestions are boring, my suggestion is to take acid.

    ...Alternatively, expose yourself to new things that you wouldn't normally. One of the most important sources of original creative work is bringing inspiration from many outside sources together. Say for example you want to draw a comic; don't just read comics. Watch films. Read books or articles. Go for a walk to a place you've never been before. Talk to new people. Just expose your mind to other things, things you wouldn't normally, and especially things you'd never associate with comics.

    Creativity is sparked by the synthesis of new concepts from existing ones. What will make your work unique will be how you bring together your own personal influences into a whole that is unique to you. Think about influences or experiences in your life that separate you from others, especially from others working in your medium. Say you love Impressionist painters, football, and William Gibson; imagine what a work that was an intersection of those things would be like. Find specific influences and individual artists who inspire you and investigate which elements of those things make you enjoy them, then think of ways to repurpose those elements in your own work.

    One of the most important things you can do is draw from your own life and individual experiences that you've had. That's not to say you need to make things realistic, rather, you will be most able to distill compelling elements from things you've directly experienced, and you will be most able to take some unique aspect of life not yet rendered in other art and incorporate it into something no one has ever made before. If you copy too heavily from other art, you're ultimately just making a representation of a representation, but if you pull inspiration from your own life then you can more honestly capture some of the beauty or horror or interest of the world around you.

  • l_gl_g Registered User regular
    If your concern is that everything you're making seems exactly like things you've already been exposed to, or even more infuriating, seems exactly like the most common elements of the things you've already been exposed to, then the question you should be asking yourself is "why is this what I choose to draw?"

    The most fully-formed and complete ideas that will float to the top of your head will tend to be the things that you are most familiar with. That's true for anybody in any field, whether they are artistic ones or technical ones, and it stands to reason that that's the case.

    If your objective is to create an image that has great novelty either in its subject matter or its execution, then realize that many things that will come across to you as novel may in fact just be something that you are incredibly unfamiliar with. If a person spent their whole life looking at nothing but architectural blueprints suddenly got shown an Impressionist painting, the sense of novelty would be tremendous! But Impressionism is literally over a century old! This doesn't mean that there's nothing new under the sun; rather, this means that the intuition about what is creative and novel can be misleading.

    Random association is an excellent source of novel combinations, because it will generally lead to combinations that you don't tend to think of. However, the non-sequitur nature of the exercise has a tendency to leave you feeling that it's just random (which it is) and not truly directed or the result of your own creativity. Usually, even the words you put into the random association are loaded towards what you already know and are thoroughly familiar with, leading to an even worse feeling!

    It is very possible to superbly execute something that is deeply familiar, and for the execution to possess novelty, not the subject matter.
    It is also very possible to roughly execute something is very novel, however you define novelty.

    Studying the history behind particular art or designed things can give you much deeper insight into both how things can be done, and what that is done about.
    Take a look at the iconic Buddhism statues made by Unkei and how there is the possibility of their influence descending from Hellenistic art. What is the history of the design of cars? Why do they look the way they look? What has come into and fallen out of fashion, and what was considered to be the future of their look at different times in history? How about robots? How about telephones? How about jackets? etc.

    Cole's Law: "Thinly sliced cabbage."
  • HikkinsHikkins Registered User regular
    There's some good advice here that I'm going to try not to echo too much. It's been said already, but reviewing your own work to see what you've liked best is crucial to improvement in any sort of creative endeavour. Learning to develop a strong critical sensibility is incredibly important.

    Here's something I haven't seen mentioned thus far: Embrace your inner weirdness. Indulge every single stupid idea that you have. Throw everything you have at the wall and see what sticks.

    I really don't have the words to fully explain how important this has been to expanding my own creative process, but one of the the key things this allowed me to do was to develop a sense of adventurousness that's crucial in any creative endeavour. Before I started doing this I'd often come up with ideas that I thought would turn out terribly and I'd disregard without putting any work into them, then I'd end up sticking with what was safe. It turns out that sometimes the ideas I thought were ridiculous actually worked out really well. And yes, sometimes they didn't, but that's okay, because I learned what didn't work for next time and gained something out of that too!

    Just do whatever the hell excites you, and challenge yourself to try new ways of doing things. Developing a strong sense of self-critique is important to this process as you do need to be able to spot when you've gone wrong, when an idea hasn't panned out, or when it needs more work, but by doing this you should be expanding your creativity rather than constraining yourself before giving an idea the chance to flourish.

  • Background: I'm a concept artist for video games, so I have to be at least moderately creative in my work to remain employed. Therefore, here's my two cents, based on the necessity of taking a pragmatic approach to the subject.

    The #1 most important thing to know about creativity is this:

    Creativity is problem solving.

    That's it.

    When budding artists or writers or whoever complain about lacking creativity, 90% of their issue is in not defining the problems they are attempting to solve. They complain about not being creative as some mental or moral failing, or complain about a lack of inspiration, or that they just weren't born to do this, or whatever. They stare at a blank page and wonder how they're going to make something "CREATIVE!!" leap off that page, and get nowhere as a result. It never works, because this is not what the kind of people that this budding artist admires, who they think is so creative and freewheeling, does.

    The successful creative person generally does not waste much of their time with "how do I be more creative", as a general proposition. They define a problem and go about figuring out how to solve it- given a problem with defined parameters and with enough commitment and high enough standards to see the problem through, creativity occurs as a natural result of that process.

    There have been other suggestions brought up- exposing yourself to new things, looking at new art, random associations, traveling, observing, etc. And these are all right and correct things to do, but these are tools that can be used for solving creative problems- not something that will define problems by themselves, or are solutions by themselves.

    To give an example of how this works in practice, in my work whenever I start concepting an asset- maybe it's a character, or a building, or a vehicle- I start out by information gathering, badgering the designers and the art director and whoever else may be involved as to what this thing needs to be. Does it have to move, how big is it, what angle is it seen from, from how far away are you going to see it, what's the color of the ground it'll be placed against, what are other things like this, what style are we going for, who in fiction made this and what was their purpose for doing so, do other things need to go into or come out of this thing and if so what size or those things, etc., etc. etc. A lot of these things may be defined, some of them nobody ever thought to think about, some will have strong opinions about them, some people won't care one way or another.

    Having all this information at my disposal, usually I'll be able to thumbnail out an obvious solution to this problem- it might not be inspiring or great, but it's an adequate solution. Or maybe what I think is an obvious solution will turn out not to be, and I'll have to take another stab at it. Or I might have to take 10 more stabs at it- even getting something that seems simple and obvious to work well, can take as much (actually more, in fact) creative thinking as trying to something that's bonkers and off the wall.

    So I'll have my obvious solution- now it's time to do some other takes, using those creative tools- word association, reference, randomization. I never work without compiling a big 5000x5000 px sheet of references of Google Image Search- some of the reference may be literal to the prompt, some of it may be just for mood, or palette, or just something I saw recently that I thought was cool and am trying to figure out how I can use it. I might pull out a random word generator ( and see if that gets me anything- if I'm drawing a fantasy knight and I get the prompt of incorporating the phrase "police car" into it, I can derive a stance, attitude, and palette from that idea that I wouldn't have arrived at from knocking my brain against a wall saying, "HOW DO I MAKE A MORE CREATIVE LOOKING KNIGHT, ALL THESE PLATE ARMOR REFERENCES LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME". Or if I pull "ice cream"- well I might take that literally and make a knight eating ice cream, or with a waffle cone-texture to their armor or clothing, but I could also break that idea down more abstractly: what do I know about ice cream? Well, I know it's cold, and sweet. A cold-but-sweet knight is a character personality I can work with.

    If I'm drawing a total blank, usually I'll just close my eyes and scribble randomly for a few seconds- look at the resulting mess, and try to figure out convert this undefined wad of lines and angles into something that fits with the parameters I know about. I might like asymmetry, or a line might suggest a possible pose- abstract ideas I can build upon to create something concrete. (Went over this process more specifically in another thread here:

    And a lot of these ideas? No idea idea is good or bad on its own, but when I sit down to draw them out, a lot of them are gonna suck. So I'm going to say, "Well, THAT didn't work...what would be the EXACT OPPOSITE of what I just did?". Boom, another idea to draw, see if that works. Or, "how would [artist name here] attempt to do this?". Another thing to try.

    An important thing to note, all of these things- the ref, the random word and lines, your own mental free associations- none of them are good ideas or bad ideas, in and of themselves. It is 100% what you end up making with those things, that actually matters- which in turn means, it's important to commit to the core parameters of the problem you're trying to solve and not second guess thinking "this is dumb, I'm not going to do this". It's your set task to make it work! You've set yourself this specific problem to solve, now you have to go about solving it- that's where the creativity happens, that's where you develop it. Creativity is not about starting out by angels delivering holy inspiration in a gift basket to your front door- it's about struggling through problems. If you're looking to make something that other people look at and tell you is "creative", it means setting yourself very tough problems that nobody has thought to solve before, problems that other people tried to solve and gave up on before arriving at a good solution.

    Now you might be saying, this is all easy for me to say- because as noted, I'm usually starting from a point where much of the problem has been defined for me- but if you're working by yourself, nothing is defined for you. You end up doing nothing, because you could be doing anything- there's nothing keeping you committed to pursuing any one specific thing. Sure you could start from a purely random starting point, but as someone else mentioned, it's difficult to commit to because you won't necessarily have an emotional connection there. So how do you start to narrow things down to a single, concrete problem?

    Well, luckily, you certainly already have a starting point. I know this because you are asking this question in the first place- people don't ask how to be more creative if they don't want to make something, do something. Which means something, somewhere along the line, made you want to do that thing. Which tells me, there's stuff in this world that you like. Good, you can break down what you like about that thing, so you know to include those aspects in your work. You can dive into that stuff, figure out what makes it work, what makes it tick, do your research.

    And there's also stuff in this world that you don't like, because you're a human being.

    A lot of people get hung up just on the stuff that they like- they want to emulate it, because they love it so much. And what they end up making, is kind of a half-rate version of that thing that they like- and get frustrated at their lack of originality. Something that a lot of people don't get, is that what they DON'T like, can be an even better source of inspiration than what they do like.

    For example, I was listening to a podcast with some Pixar storyboard artists, and they mentioned something interesting. Even though their whole job is about laying the groundwork for making great films, they almost never watch great movies at work. This is because, watching a great movie, you get absorbed, you just take it in as an audience member, because the film is so effective at keeping your attention, and grabbing your emotions. You just end up watching the movie, instead of gleaning great ideas that they can use. So what they do instead, is watch a lot of bad movies. Because in a bad movie, a stupid decision on the part of the filmmakers immediately leaps out, and suggests to you any number of ideas that would make that character, that moment, that shot, that plot point, actually work. If forces you to analyze, again using creativity to figure out how to make this broken idea, work.

    This kind of thing, looking at your own frustrations, whether it be with novels or movies or TV shows or your own day to day life, is a great place to start to mine for ideas. They're not necessarily better or worse than randomly chosen ones, but they have the advantage of you having some emotional connection to them- a frustration, something you want to fix, something that you'll commit to rather than get distracted from.

    Speaking from my own experience, I made my first D&D character based on the problems I had with the mediocre film "Jack Reacher", and what I'd do to make that film more interesting- I made a second D&D character based on that first character being not good at combat, which was irritating, and because the DM kept saying every character idea I brought up was "super easy", so I wanted to come up with something that would stump him. Even though these are stupid petty origins, they ended up being characters I was really enthusiastic about because I had that small emotional connection, so I didn't second guess myself that much when fleshing out their backstories/costumes/personality, etc. Once I have the solid core idea (ie: for the first character it was, “This movie would be a lot more fun if Jack Reacher just had a reputation for being amazing at everything, but that reputation was undeserved and he was just conning everyone”, for the second, “How close can I get to making a character that’s basically a Power Ranger, in this grim medieval fantasy universe”).

    I wouldn't say the emotional connection is an absolute necessity (or I wouldn't be able to remain employed because I don't necessarily have a strong emotional connection when my employer says they need me to draw say, a bird feeder)- it's just another tool, another angle, to help you define a single specific problem to work with.

    So that's my big kinda philosophy spiel on the subject- adding to what others were talking about with free association and the like, when I was a kid I did a thing called Odyssey of the Mind (which is really pretentions sound I know), and the whole thing about it was to try to encourage creative problem solving. So if you want some practice of that kind, you might try going through these Spontaneous problems- they're designed to be timed group exercises as written, but it can probably be done on your own if need be. For most of them the idea is, a prompter states the problem (example: 'Here is an object, come up with as many uses for it as you can."), the group is given a minute to think, then 2-3 minutes to respond; 1 point for an ordinary response, 3 points for a particularly creative one.

    PeastynicLocal H JayDarkewolfeSmrtnikNightDragonSCREECH OF THE FARGIncenjucarTychoCelchuuuArmorocMagicToasterNorgothDirtmunchertapeslingerbombardier
  • PeasPeas Registered User regular
    Oh man I feel like I should print out all the advice in here and frame them on the walls
    You folks are awesome

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Do it!

Sign In or Register to comment.