Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Creativity - Lost my style and no inspiration


Hi everyone,

I know the topic of creativity and lack therof has been discussed
here quite a few times in the past. I stayed up until 2am going
through the archives looking for and then looking over such
discussions. I hope no one will mind that I am starting another
thread as I somehow feel like I still haven’t seen any advice that is
new to me or my understanding.

I have been organising an exhibition for myself and 4 friends (all
working in different mediums) that will be held in November in an
established gallery (yes, we have to pay for the privelage). Anyway,
its been a couple of years since I finished studying and I have been
working away at small projects in my studio whilst working various
jobs to bring in an income. There have been no major projects, and no
real concept building that I have undertaken since I finished my
course at uni. At the end of last year I decided to apply to do this
exhibition because I thought it would give myself and my friends the
kickstart we needed to motivate us to all do some truly artistic work
again and have a reason to see it all the way through to the end.

I started by spending a lot of time organising the application and
communicating with everyone in the group. Finally the application
went in, was accepted and we signed a contract. Then I went back to
my studio at the beginning of this year and looked around - it was a
mess and I had really not put in enough effort over the last couple
of years to make the studio environment a productive place to work -
there was no storage space so things were piled up all over the floor
and there was a huge empty space where I had intended to put a
workbench and add a polisher, drill press etc. So, I figured it would
help my exhibition work go more smoothly if I added shelves and
cupboards, made this work bench, went out and bought polishing
equipment and other bits and pieces. The whole process of getting my
studio sorted out has been dragging on and taking a lot longer than I
had expected - I have been working full time in an office job at the
same time.

Anyway, the studio is just about sorted and I had a day off work
yesterday and spent it in my studio - I decided for once to leave
what wasn’t finished in there and get a start on my project for the
exhibition. I sat down with my sketch book and glued in photocopies,
made sketches, made notes etc… then got to the end of the day and
realised I had nothing - I had been pretending all along. I based all
my notes on the last exhibition I did at uni - I hadn’t been
discussing doing anything new. I actually knew I had nothing already
though - because I haven’t had any new ideas or creative urges in so
long. The only new ideas I’ve had this year have been so far departed
take them seriously.

My life has changed quite dramatically since I was last experiencing
truly creative urges - I am wondering if my creativity and my style
is lost forever. When I was last feeling creative I was single, had
few friends, often went out to gigs by myself and found those
occassions really turned on a flow of creativity. I was also playing
sport on a regular basis. I suppose I had more time to read too and
spent a lot of time in the uni library doing research. I spent a lot
of time on public transport and would often sit at train platforms
sketching people sitting across on different platforms and that
sort’ve thing. At uni I did have some older friends and times we
spent at the coffee shop were spent in animated conversation - we
often spoke about the work each of us was doing and those
conversations really seemed to help shape the work and direction.

Now, I have a partner… I am usually just more happy in general -
my partner being around makes me feel very secure and it is like
having a best friend by my side at all times. My partner is a
musician and is sympathetic to my art but I would say doesn’t really
understand the visual art process… so I don’t get a whole lot out
of conversations we have about my art. When I go out to gigs now I
have someone with me so my mind doesn’t just float away because it
keeps getting grounded in conversation. I no longer play sport as I
gave it up so I could put more time into my art - I had been
spreading myself too thin being in a relationship, working a full
time job, training and playing sport weekly and working in my
studio. I used to play soccer and felt really passionate about it - I
wouldn’t say that at any moment playing soccer I felt inspired in
something specific to my art… but it was exhilerating and I do
wonder if that is an important missing dimension now.

I have been working in a public service job and was enjoying the
people I was working with in my section. Then another section offered
a higher level job and I was pressured by my boss, by that sections
boss and the state manager to apply for the job so I applied and got
it though would have preferred to stay where I was. Last week I did a
sort of “handover” to the new person in my old job and I suppose will
now go into my new job. I already know that the section I will be
moving into has a lot of backstabbing going on where my old section
had none. I still haven’t been told any thing specific about the job
I will be moving into and know I will need to do a lot of reading to
get my general knowledge for the new section up to speed. So, I am
feeling like the job change is a real unwanted distraction and do
feel a little stressed about it. The other thing about this job in
general is that the whole time I’ve been working in the public
service (a little over a year now) I have been on short term
contracts all along so I don’t feel that I have the ability to plan
ahead. I worry that when my current contract ends it won’t get
renewed and then I will be needing to finalise exhibition
arrangements and look for a new job simultaneously.

Okay, I know that was a lot to read through about me - thanks to
anyone who has made it this far. That is all background info - maybe
some of you will be able to relate to parts of it and identify points
that might be interrupting my creative process. I still get ideas
sometimes, mainly at staff meetings at work, but they just aren’t
like me… and mostly they are about solving technical problems…
once the problem is solved I can see that there is nothing special or
"me" about the design itself. My general life style is happier now
(with partner etc) but busier and more serious in nature and I would
have to take some pretty dramatic steps to go back to where I was
several years ago. I am really not sure if I am still an artist… I
just don’t seem to have it in me anymore. I just can’t summons that
creative drive that conquers all exhaustion, doubt, criticism etc…
I don’t seem to have it. I feel that it is something I can’t control.

Today I am going to a meeting about the exhibition (it is the ANZAC
day holiday) then I’m thinking about going to the museum and art
gallery and maybe going to the park to kick a soccer ball around. I
am hoping these things will trigger something… and of course, I
will continue trying to squeeze such things in where I can… But in
the meantime I guess I am looking for reassurance that this is not
the end for me and my creativity. It has been with me all through my
life - even as a very young child I dreamed of being an artist
because I loved to draw… it was never a challenge before - just
came to me. I am worried about letting the group down for this
exhibition and I am worried that I have lost the one thing that has
been with me throughout life as a positive driving force.

RR Jackson


Aaah, I can so identify with you and your dilemma. All I know is
that when I demanded my creativity present itself, it would not. I
noticed that my bursts of creativity would happen about the time I
had figured I would stop for the night and go to bed. I was too
tired then to fight it, to try to command it, and consequently, it
just flowed.

I think you may be on the right track about going to kick about the
soccer ball, smell some roses and sketch some casual passersby. If
your perceptions are blocked and sensations are stopped, sounds to
me like you need a refill!

From your screen name, it sounds as though your style may have been
quite avantgard. Are you still comfortable with that image? Why do
you feel you need to stay in a style that was comfortable for
university. You’ve moved past being a teen, shouldn’t your art move
on as well?

Just a few casual observations. I do truly hope your muse comes back
to you soon.

Warmest regards,



I no longer play sport as I gave it up so I could put more time
into my art - I had been spreading myself too thin being in a
relationship, working a full time job, training and playing sport
weekly and working in my studio. I used to play soccer and felt
really passionate about it - I wouldn't say that at any moment
playing soccer I felt inspired in something specific to my art....
but it was exhilerating and I do wonder if that is an important
missing dimension now. 

I think your sport may have played a more integral part in your
creative process than you realize. I have been struggling with on/off
depression for some years (after the birth of my 2nd son)… I am NOT
in any way implying that you are depressed…Anyway, medication,
outside interests, therapy…Nothing helped 100%. About 10 weeks ago
I started to run. A little at first as I was out of shape, but, being
a veteran, I can navigate thru the initial discomfort. I can’t say
that it happens all at once, but, after about 6 weeks, I started to
get “unstuck”. It’s really the best way to describe it. Things
(thoughts, hopes, goals, dreams)…everything starts to flow again. I
don’t mean for it to sound ethereal. There have actually been several
studies on running and depression. It has to do with the release of
hormones/chemicals in your brain. Whatever it is, I don’t really
care…It works. I am thinking, soccer involves a whole lot of
running. Maybe if you revisited some of the things you used to do, it
might help. I thought “If I run, I will have less than no time”.
Actually, the opposite happened. I can focus better, get more done
and feel better…all at the same time. I wasn’t going to write about
this (as it is a very personal thing for me), but what the heck. If
it helps you or anyone else on the list, then that’s cool.

Best of Luck
Kim Starbard


Dear RR,

Compartmentalize your life…at work you worry about art, in your
workshop you worry about your job, too much worry floating around.
It’s all mixed together into inaction everywhere. Set a specific time
each evening devoted only to art - maybe one hour. Sit in your
workshop and don’t clean or organize, just play with scrap metal,
move it around this way and that, solder something, hammer a
texture, construct something. Creativity is not some free-floating
thing swirling around you (or not), creativity is doing. Focus, not
on creating a masterpiece for a gallery, but on building something
that you like for yourself, anything. Promise yourself that no
outside distractions will interfere. Do not allow yourself to crowd
out creativity and it will be there for you.

Best of luck,


I find that the best way to recapture creativity is to step outside
of your routine. Go someplace new…a town you have never been
visited, observe people with whom you wouldn’t typically socialize,
etc., and enjoy it…don’t think about a project. Just enjoy the
sites and sounds.

Once you lose your focus, you’ll find ideas flowing back into you.
Don’t try too hard…your creativity will be stifled.


Hi Jackson

A very moving post and I feel for you.

This sort of thing happens to most of us from time to time and
really it is temporary unless you let it frighten you off entirely.
The bit about rearranging the workshop rather than working is

The only thing that works for me at such times is to work through
it. Visit the workshop and make something, anything. Make a chain. A
couple of hours soldering links and you will be gagging to do
something more interesting.

Its raining here in Palmy. Will this weekend never end?



You may be choking on your own expectations. Don’t try to meet them.
Sit down at the bench and instead try to make something that looks
embarrassingly bad. Can you make something that looks embarrassingly
bad? Give it your best shot.

You are likely to fail, and do something which is interesting,
different and not so embarrassingly bad after all. If you do, thank
Victor Frankl.



hi there…

i think what u are going through is artist block…well believe me
its not new to artist… every genius artist has went through
this phase… take it as a positive note… maybe something
wonderful is on its way…

i too am exhibiting my work first time in sep… and looking for
some new concepts…

well for u my advice is… just take a plunge… ready to be
insane… every big artist in the history went deep in their
work… infact so deep that they turned insane…

just relax and u will see inspiration coming…

good luck
aastha kala


Jaysus, what is this, therapy? I’ve been through this many times in
my life, my solutionis to give myself a break, look at old drawings,
work and new books. Not necessarily jewelry either, just at any
design that was interesting. New technique is good to play with, new
materials are good to try at this point. For a large show I had many
years ago I planned to show what I wanted people to see, I wanted to
take a new direction and used the show to do that. I found the more I
pushed the harder it was to “come up with something” that playing in
the work was more important to creativity than beating myself up for
not having any earth shattering,life altering and market grabbing
ideas. Sometimes just waiting for the inspiration to come is hard
for me. I have been trying to make a bracelet for an old client who
has much of my work and just left it alone and finaly worked it out.
Body, mind and spirit, all in balance make for a happy creative work
situation as well as life. Now the bookkeeping, that’s another

Sam Patania, Tucson


Hi, RR,

I can relate to many parts of what you wrote, as I’m sure many will.

While it is possible, I suppose, that you “no longer have it in
you”, I think that is probably not the case. I think you have
distanced yourself from your creative work, and lost touch with your
muse, your way of working. You can’t go back, so must find a way to
go forward. Like any other relationship, the one with your muse
takes work, and must be maintained. I believe that it will not work
to expect to jump straight into “doing art”-- you must train, just
as for soccer.

Start off with some drills-- make some easy pieces, things you’ve
made before, or simple new ideas. Don’t worry about your style. That
will take care of itself. Just get your hands on some materials.
Nothing stimulates creativity like creating.

Make things in series-- set yourself some parameters. For example,
decide to make at least 6 pins, each 1 1/2 inches square, that
incorporate a freeform turquoise cab and a texture. Then make them,
without belaboring the design too much-- few sketches, no concern
about masterpieces, just explore the parameters you have set. Make
10 or 12 if you can, each one different, then stick them
side-by-side on a board on your studio wall. Then set yourself
another exercise.

It may not help to have the exibit looming, but on the other hand,
it may. Just get in the studio and make things for enough hours, and
everything else will take care of itself. Try not to worry about
what you need to make for your show for at least a month. If you
reawaken your muse by using your hands and your eyes to really make
things, not to clean, sketch or plan, the ideas will come in due

Good luck, and let us know how it is coming.



I can totally sympathize with what you are going through. The
creative drive for me was always associated with being unhappy and
lonely. When I met my husband, twelve years ago, I was no longer
lonely and unhappy, hence, a lot of the creativity that was
associated with melancholy left me. However, I wouldn’t willingly go
back to being lonely and unhappy for anything, not even for the most
invigorating inspiration! The “muse” is fickle. You cannot force
inspiration. Any attempt to make something happen usually has the
opposite effect. I have come to believe in the Taoist philosophy
that things are unfolding as they should. When you stop trying to
swim upstream, suddenly everything gets much easier. I mean, let’s
face it, everyday life does not leave us much opportunity to
daydream, and unless we happen to live in Monet’s garden, most of us
don’t see too much beauty. We get up, go to our dull jobs, schools,
lives, and unless you’re a jet setter, your days are pretty much the
same. So what is an artist to do? Unfortunately, only you can answer
that for yourself. It took me years to figure my creativity enigma
out, and when I did, it wasn’t the answer I was expecting. For me,
it’s about surrender. When I am not inspired, I don’t create. It’s
as simple as that. I also decided to make jewelry my very small
business/hobby because trying to make money with it was making me
sick, and I was begining to hate it which broke my heart. This
turned out to be the smartest move for me, because after giving up
the idea of trying to live off my designs, suddenly I WANTED to work
again, I was creative again. Every artist becomes blocked at some
point. The more you stress and try to unblock yourself, the worse
it gets. Go play soccer, deal with the pressures of your new job,
and eventually, of its own accord, your creativity will return. I
know this sounds like a cop-out, but it worked for me. Surrender to
the river, and…float for awhile!

Augest Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs


Hey RR,

Sorry to hear about this. Two possibilities come to mind:

  1. You’re about to become a success, by having this show, and you’re

  2. You’re being sucked dry by your day job.

  3. A little of both.

I doubt that you have lost all creativity for all time. It’s just
hard to be creative when you work full time. Hell, it’s hard to do
the dishes when you work full time.

Schedule one or more long weekends away, by yourself and/or with
your partner, somewhere in nature. Bring your sketchbook. Relax and

Schedule time in your studio and just make stuff. Have you seen the
T-shirt? Go to your studio and make art. Just make stuff. Even if you
think it’s not good to start with, you need that habit.

Did you ever hear the story of the Christian woman? She woke up one
day to do her morning prayers and found that she just didn’t feel
like praising the lord. But she did it anyway, and soon found that
she did feel like it.

In other words, fake it until you make it.


Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


Dear RR,

I think you have described what many of us have been through. Very
few people actually continue making art past University. I think
setting goals such as organizing exhibitions and entering
competitions is an excellent and common pursuit to commit to
producing some work. Its not easy. No one is demanding that you make
work - in fact circumstance seems to contrive to fill up all the time
in the day!

I am sure we all have stories of overcoming inertia and finding the
zone where creative ideas can flourish. Details aside, if you wish to
make things of your own invention you will need to be disciplined and
set specific time aside to both generate ideas and hone your craft.

In order to become better at what I do I strive for healthy
self-criticism - and I find that these observations ultimately lead
to a richer, more satisfying engagement with my work. In my
experience searching for inspiration has been a crab-like pursuit and
frankly, I focus more on creating conditions for inspiration to take
root - back to discipline.

In the beginning - don’t be too hard on yourself - make some work,
enjoy the process. As for your style - hope that it is developing.

Thank you for being so honest and candid.

Donna Hiebert Design


Dear RR,

You’re still you, so everything is still in there, don’t worry. I
think you need to let some art flow out of you without thinking
about whether it will be good enough for your exhibition. Going to
the museum and art gallery is an excellent idea. You could give
yourself an assignment, like in art school. Take 3 elements that you
find interesting in the work at the museum and re-work them, each in
a 10 minute 10 cm sketch, for example. We have ways that we can
stimulate ourselves even outside of the university, if we think about
it. Have fun! Just do some stuff for the sake of doing it, and don’t
worry about the result. It’s like exercise; it’s good for you.
Actually having your pencil or torch in your hand beats reading long
discussions over and over any day. Best wishes!

M’lou Brubaker
Minnesota, USA


Hello, I can commiserate on your feeling of fear. It can be
difficult to find creativity at times. Especially when one is over
run with the complications of life. Sometimes being creative seems
more of a hassle than it is worth. However, it is for so many of us
the driving force in our lives.

I do have a few questions that you might ask yourself. They may help
you regain a new sense of joy and creativity or not. First you might
ask yourself, just what was the root of you earlier ‘style’. What is
technical, or emotional? Many artist stick to a certain technique,
such as abstract expressionism or realism in painting, and they
never leave that style of technique of working. Other artist work
more directly from their gut and throw style out of the window every
time they get a new idea. You may be at a cross roads with that. If
this is the case go for it. Great art takes chances.

Some times jewelers, [are you a jeweler by the way?] get hung up on
ever expanding techniques as well. This can be a challenge to always
follow the next skill be it bead setting or engraving etc. Because
sometimes the skill is more abut skill than joy and beauty. If you
are a jeweler I suggest you ask yourself a simple question. Do you
like to make beautiful objects, do you like to make excessively
complex technical work or do you like to make the kind of work some
many folks on this site love to hate? You know, art school stuff that
often seems to be not jewelry.

If you like to make beautiful objects what does that mean? Are you
in love with the beauty of gems? Or ? If so, it shouldn’t be so hard.
You mentioned that you love to draw, that is not often a strong
focus in metal. Metal is a three dimensional media generally so you
are making me wonder about what you used to do. Is it the statement
in the work, or the relationship of the art to the one wearing the
work? Jewelry is meant to be worn or is it? If you don’t make metal
objects to be worn what do you do? If this all sounds like graduate
school jargon, well it is. I am not saying this to be curt or rude
but…what do you want to achieve by doing art?

Jewelers or metal smiths tend to want to make $ with their art. You
wrote that you have a job outside of the field. This could be your
greatest problem at the present time. If you don’t need to make $
then you may have dried up your creative well because you have no
need to succeed, and face it success is often what drives the ego to
express itself. I am not saying that you need to quite your job, only
ask yourself why you make art to begin with.

Everyone has dry spells so don’t worry too much. If you are happy
content and in love that can be quite a change from art school days.
But, art can be about love, happiness and beauty just as easily as
anger and discontentment. Hope I don’t sound like too much of an old
fart. I have been out of graduate school for over 20 years. I once
read that it takes about 10 years to get all of the art school crap
out of your system so hang in there.

Good luck


Hello RR,

I believe you will find compadres among the Orchid forum in that
everyone, sometime, experiences “creative block”, but that also
means they find a way past it. Some journal, do yoga, meditate,
exercise… it varies. Here are some practices that have stimulated
new ideas for me.

As I drift off to sleep at night, I visualize a technique or "watch"
a process unfold. This is particularly useful if I’m faced with a
problem to be solved. Many times the next time I go to the bench,
the solution is just there - so logical and simple it seems silly to
have worried about it.

Now everyone, don’t get your knickers in a bunch at this, but I’ll
try to imitate a piece I’ve seen and admired. The result is never an
exact copy - in the process of duplication, a new direction appears
and it’s stimulating to follow it.

In a similar fashion, simply set about making multiples of an item
as in mass-production. I find that after the second or third
duplication, the design changes and shifts - probably out of sheer
boredom :slight_smile:

It’s also good to do something unconventional - like mounting a
piece of tree branch, beach pebble, or pot shard. Turn the mundane
into beauty or excitement.

I think it’s a good idea to put some vigorous exercise back into
your life, so get back onto the soccer field. The unease about your
new dayjob position will resolve itself in time and regardless of the
end result, it will add an experience to your life. Keep sketching.
Start a little wine and cheese group that meets once a week just for
fun. Most of all don’t be so hard on yourself.

Judy in Kansas, who is acting positively motherly and hopes you don’t
feel smothered!


I think this sums it up.

I can see that there is nothing special or “me” about the design

In reading your descriptive journey, what jumped out at me was that
you stopped doing so many things you previously liked doing. I don’t
suggest that you go back because I don’t know if that is the answer.
But it is clear that your life has changed. Every artist has writer’s
block at one time or another. You haven’t changed who you are - only
what your doing and not doing. Sometimes life stalls. You can only
keep scurring & worring (as you are) until the answer comes to you -
and it will.

I know this isn’t very uplifiting, but I believe most of us have
experienced something like this. As long as you remember that the
answer is within - not out there somewhere - you will find your focus
and creativity again. High passion can only be sustained for periods
of time - fortunately, they are periodic.

Good luck.


I have been doing Ann Arbor Summer Arts Festival for years as a
jeweler. After about year 27 I got fed up with trying to arrange my
personal life (babysitters for the kids…later on Mom care for my
aging mother) so I could do my art fair. I usually “create” at night
and I just haven’t been feeling “it” anymore. So in short, for the
last 3 years I haven’t made anything new…my brain still designs
things, but I have the messy workroom (usually trashed getting ready
for a show and after the last one still not totally picked up!) and
I am a mistress of procrastination and I sense that you have the
procrastination monkey on your back. So I have a couple of questions
for you:

Do you have to take this promotion?

Can you live with taking this promotion?

Can you recapture the things you used to do before? Or create new
things to do to inspire you?

I think, and I am not an expert or shrink, just a fellow artist,
(I’ve even had trouble with that title lately myself), perhaps you
had better schedule actual creative work time. You may not be
successful at first, but getting to the bench and just working with
metal or wax or whatever your medium is, sometimes inspires you.
Don’t wait for the muse to come to you, call her in by starting up
your creative self. Join a soccer club, indoors or out…its great
release…somehow you have let your muse go. We get comfortable
about our lives. We marry and think that we no longer have to pursue
someone or look good for them…the chase is over. Well it’s not!!!
We have to stay on our toes and kickstart our days and GO FOR IT! I
am very serious about the schedule part. If you were to go on a trip
and you didn’t take a road map…where would you go? Well you may
follow the road signs, but you have no Plan in place, you may even
drive in circles. So make a plan to create and have pieces done. You
cannot freefloat on this one. I hope this helps you. you can E me if
you care to.

MDJ Designs


Hi there…

I once got the best piece of advice from an undergrad Prof at MASS
ART… she was speaking of art, but I feel it pertains to our lives
as a whole.

'To put it simply, you need 4 things to create art:


You will never have all four… so you need to make due with what
you have… that is the struggle of being an artist.’

So… don’t worry… it happens to all of us. I have recently had a
surge of motivation and inspiration… of course that means I am
broke at the moment :slight_smile: But I just have to go with it! Take on a
little more debt… can’t go out for beers with the other jewelers
(well, being anti social also helps with the creative process
sometimes)… working more in wax than in metal… and just
constantly reminding myself that by working hard now will pay off in
the months to come!

So… my dime store psychology tells me that being content in your
personal life is just carrying thru… there’s none of that good old
artist angst in your life. So you just have to recall some of those
things you used to do that would trigger inspiration!

I wish you the best… and just know… you’re not alone!

cheers… t

tracey jenkins


Just wanted to add to what Judy wrote.

I believe you will find compadres among the Orchid forum in that
everyone, sometime, experiences "creative block", but that also
means they find a way past it. 

I refer to music as the art form. I Don’t think there ever has been
an artist in music that has gained his style and inspiration with
out the influence of a previous artist. Thus, with out copying we
stand on the shoulders of our heroes and mentors of the present and
past. Good luck with the inspiration!!

Stay cool fly low and avoid the radar lol.