I have been struggling lately. It's hard to admit, and even harder to actually write down but it feels good to be honest and I think I'm not the only one. I'm talking, of course, about the seemingly herculean battle of creativity. The motivation to keep going. To keep pushing through the doubts, the endless rejections, the fear that what you put down on paper will not live up to the elusive perfection in your mind (am I just talking for myself on that one??) and, perhaps hardest of all, the brick wall. That brick wall. It comes at you from nowhere and then plants itself directly in your path that, up until then, had seemed blissfully clear. After banging your head on it for a while things can sometimes feel pretty hopeless. Am I right?
At the moment my brick wall is the fact that I seem to only be able to bring my illustrations up to a certain level of completion, then I get stuck and that's it. The images themselves look okay as they are and as I don't know what to do next I feel alright about leaving them, but they're missing the finishing touch; the thing that's going to get them noticed. They are unsatisfying. After a year of feeling that I've been improving and learning about, and understanding, the way I work, I've now reached a block in the road that seems unmovable and impossible to figure out. How do I take the next step? To make myself feel better and get a little inspiration I've been typing the names of illustrators I like into google and trawling through their pictures in the hope that I'll somehow soak in some of their pure awesomeness through osmosis. If some of you are reading this thinking, Merle, you are a GENIUS!! Why didn't I think of that before?!?! then let me warn you now and save you the time, that it rarely ever works! In fact, more often then not, I've come away feeling even worse about my own work then before. I have been told (although perhaps not in so many words) that pilfering ideas and storing them for later use is practically the art of an artist and I agree ("No man is an island" and all that) but if you've come to a dead end (I fear my metaphor-ising may be getting out of hand!) looking at the work of other artists who seem to have got it so right can be like eating that whole tub of ice cream in the freezer; it seems like a good idea at the beginning but by the time you've demolished the last spoonful you feel a teensy bit sick....and then possibly depressed after all the sugar burns out. The truth is, comparing your work with others is never going to help you feel better about your own (unless you're pretty darn sure you're the best artist out there and I'd like to think there are some of you who feel that way) and so should not be indulged in.
There doesn't seem to be a right answer to help solve such creative blocks (although there are clearly plenty of wrong ones!) and talks with family and friends often end up with me saying "that's not what I mean, no, that's not what I mean and that isn't what I mean either." I suppose, what I want them to say, what I want to say now, is: "It's okay." That's it. No golden thread to lead us out of the maze, no single sentence to sum it all up. Just the sure and uncomplicated knowledge that it will all be, no matter what "it" is, okay. We will all of us come across a wall or two (or three or four or.....) in our creativeness and it's okay. That's why I wrote this post. It's not meant to be depressing (really-truly-cross-my-heart-honestly not depressing!) or all poor mememe. It's for everyone who has felt the same. You are not alone (there's at least me here waving the creative block flag) and it's okay.