Pump Your Imagination

When artists create, they are “outputting.” But in order to output, you must first “input.” Many students come to me expressing the desire “to be more creative.” They feel frustrated by their inability to come up with an idea on demand. In my view, trying to create like this is like attempting to drive a car with no gas.

When I worked as a graphic designer, I always included a section called “Research” in my proposals, so that I would be compensated for time I spent pinpointing the visual problem with information-gathering sessions, visits to the library (this was long before the internet!), and combing through print sources. Only then was I able to build excitement about the project and make numerous sketches of possible solutions. Here are three ways to pump up your imagination!

1. PLAY The image above uses shapes created by Henri Matisse. Use a large piece of construction paper and cut out different shapes. Arrange them in different ways to unlock your mind. There are many other forms of playing. If it feels like a waste of is! And that's the point. Allow yourself time regularly for visual play.

2. EXPLORE Keeping a file of images that appeal to you, adding to it, and going back to look through them for inspiration helps stimulate your imagination. I used to keep voluminous hard copy files, but now there is Pinterest, an online source for cultivating creativity. I keep a folder for inspiration, one for color, and one for technique.

3. MUSE Name your muse! Is she art, music, adventure, poetry? Wander the halls of the nearest art museum, travel to somewhere new, (it doesn't have to be far!) take pictures, take a walk, listen to music. Add to your Pinterest files. Go to the library. Open your heart to your muse, and she will open your eyes!

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