It can be hard to feel like an artist when you know that you’ve got a sink full of dishes, laundry to be done, and a day job to conquer before you can actually tackle a project you care about. So I thought I’d share some ways to feel like an artist today, and hopefully they help you out.

10 Ways to Feel Like An Artist

Original photo by Peter Feghali
You’re mileage may vary here, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for your creative woes. But part of being an artist is trying stuff to see what sticks, so you owe it to yourself to give some of these ideas a try.

10 Ways to Feel Like an Artist

Admittedly, there are more than ten ways to feel like an artist. I even have this post about 13 ways to live like an artist if you need some more inspiration.

001: Go to a coffee shop.

I think I like the idea of this one more than I actually like going to coffee shops. But there’s just something that makes you feel like an artist when you can hear the espresso machine whirring. I love the clank of the cups, and sitting at a small table while I work. I will say that not every coffee shop patron is working on their magnum opus, so it can be a pretty distracting environment when people are chatting around you or screaming into their cell phones. But getting out of your daily setting and going to drink some coffee while you work is a great way to get those creative juices flowing.

002: Dress like one.

There is nothing quite so stifling as the everyday attire of the American professional. Does anyone feel like an artist in a pair of slacks and sensible kitten heels? The answer is no. While the dress code where I work is professional, I may or may not be taking some liberties with it. I do this for two reasons: 1.) to feel like an artist, and 2.) because dress codes are for squares. (I’ll tell that to my boss should I ever get reprimanded for wearing a jean jacket while I teach.) Even if you’re still not convinced, just remember, you’re supposed to dress for the job you want.

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003: Re-consume the art that lit you on fire.

Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of bands that I used to listen to when I was in high school. While this may seem regressive, I’m really enjoying the renewed energy I feel and the general desire I have to work on my novel. I’m also about to binge watch a bunch of movies that really mattered to me, as well as re-read a ton of John Irving. There’s nothing quite like putting yourself in the place you were when you decided what you wanted to do with your life.

004: Talk about art with friends.

I don’t know what happened, but sometime after turning 30, the conversations I’ve had with friends have mainly been about debt, how we have no idea what we’re doing, and how we’re pretty sure we’re fucked but we’re going to try to live a normal life anyway. These conversations aren’t bad, but they’re heavy. And it always reminds me that there was a time when I spent hours talking about song lyrics with my friends, or reading books out loud to each other (this is a nerdy one, but that’s who I am), or just contemplating the philosophies that our favorite artists believed in. So, next time the conversation turns to how hard it is to be an adult, try to steer it toward music or movies or books. Seriously. You’ll feel like an artist in no time.

005: Play with art that you don’t normally play with.

So, if you’ve been around her for a while, you know that I’m a writer. But one cannot simply write all day long. (Well, one can but it’s exhausting and honestly, I need a break every now and again.) Sometimes, I like to mess around with sketching and water colors. I never really talk about it because I’m not good at it, and it’s more of a release than anything else. But I do it so that I can create more than I can consume, and I feel like an artist because I’m using my down time for something that’s not mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. No offense, Insta. You just really mess with my brain chemistry.

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006: Create more than you consume.

Oh hey! Look at this. I mentioned this in the point right above it, but it’s something that should be screamed from rooftops. Consuming is a passive activity. And while there’s nothing wrong with consuming, we’re doing it a lot these days. If you’ve ever turned on the TV just so you could have some background noise to listen to while you scroll through your phone, then you know what I’m saying. Instead, take some time to make something. It doesn’t have to be art. You can make friendship bracelets, cookies, zen gardens, or flower arrangements. Just do something with your hands that isn’t that thumb-flipping motion of scrolling.

007: Chase that state of flow daily.

You know when you’re working on a project and you just get into the zone? You’re like one of those viking berserkers, but instead of fighting, you do art? I like to see how often I can get into that state. It’s not always easy. But I find that there are certain times of day that I’m more likely to find that state. And showing up consistently to find that state in your work is key. So find the times that work best for you and chase that state of flow daily. Nothing makes me feel like an artist the way that does.

008: Lean into ambiguity and hard questions.

We’re surrounded by a lot of black and white. Or numbers. Or objective assessments. And I understand why they exist at my day job. But I don’t want those floating around in my writing. So I lean into hard questions, you know, the ones that don’t have answers. I like things that are simultaneously good and evil. I like things that don’t have answers. I invite those into my life, because they make me think and they make my brain ready to create.

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009: Fall in love with a topic.

Fact: I love ghost stories that are closely tied to murder/cover-up conspiracies. They are the best. I love reading them. I love making them up. I love digging around for potential murder/cover-up conspiracies when I hear a ghost story. This is weird. I fully acknowledge it. But this sort of topic has kept my mind working, the gears turning, for years. Find something that drives your curiosity. It will definitely come out in your art, but it will also get you excited to work.

010: Do something creative every single stinkin’ day.

I never understood why all the bands I listened to growing up bemoaned the mundane. I like routines, but the older I get, the more I see how boring they can be. And while you can have my morning and night routines when you pry them from my cold dead hands, you best believe that you need to interject some creativity in there somewhere. Whether that’s taking some time for painting at the end of a stressful day, or plating up your dinner in a fancy manner, do something creative every day. Remind yourself you’re an artist. And by doing that, you’ll actually feel like an artist.

How Do You Feel Like an Artist?

What tricks to do you have up your sleeve to keep you creating? What do you do when you feel like a super boring grown up? How do you get into that state of flow? What other artistic pursuits do you do on the DL just for fun?

4 Responses

  1. “dress codes are for squares”

    Ya got that right! There’s a reason why I could never survive in corporate. Slacks and doing the whole “look professional” thing really mucks with my head. Granted there are some offices that allow you to be professional and still interject personality and creativty, but the ones I’ve dealt with are boring, boring, BORING. *YAWN*

    The best way for me to have a little fun and be creative is decorating my planner. I love the bright and fun colors I use. Even my workspace is filled with fun colors and pretty things. If it looks and feels drab and boring I want no part of it.

  2. I turned my attached garage into an art studio and hang all of my tchotchkes (fun and beautiful collectables). I drape things and have everything my more “traditional” partner wouldn’t like in the house. I have candles and paintings and everything I love around me when I go in there to create stuff. Yes!!!

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