Creative Burnout

I feel like a great person to speak about this because I’ve been in what I consider a creative block for the past 4 years. I was still making things for my college art classes during this time, and they weren’t bad pieces, but there was no passion behind what I was doing. Art became very methodical to me, it became a task rather than a hobby. I started thinking way too much about how I can profit off my art, how to make things other people want, and overall just feeling unhappy with my skills.

My middle school and high school sketchbooks were full of original characters, story building, and emotional expression. I spent the first part of COVID lockdown learning new skills and trying to keep my mind active, but as the isolation continued, I felt my creative drive slipping away. So I stopped creating. I stopped drawing, sewing, crocheting, even using coloring books. I just didn’t find the energy or willpower in me to keep doing it. I felt like if my skills weren’t good enough to monetize why even do it? This is of course not true, and creativity is one of the most important things we can hold on to.

I started college hoping the studio classes would keep me thinking and keep me creating, and they certainly did, but I was only thinking about my art in terms of improving some skill so I could market it. That’s not to say it’s wrong to want to sell your art; I mean who doesn’t, but that need for approval kept me from challenging myself to go further.

When your creative drive disappears, the one thing that really helps is to do something else. I started making a website because I was getting bored of digital illustrations, and now I have a new skill in web design that I didn’t have before. I’ve found myself drawing more just to have stuff to put on here, and I’m constantly thinking about what I can add. Web design has lead to me further studying HTML, CSS, and Java; eventually I’d like to study back-end coding as well. If web design and drawing seems too bleh, I have started animating as well. It’s so important to have multiple creative outlets. Focusing on one medium or tool for too long is what often leads me to vicious burnout.

And of course the hardest thing to overcome in creative burnout is the fear of not being good enough. This is a constant struggle. It is so difficult to not compare myself to other artists, but that fear is what stops me completely from creating. When I need inspiration, looking to other artists can be great, but comparing my outcome to theirs is what often causes me to stop completely.

Things to Remember

Just remember: there’s no rules to art.

My art is good because I say so.

I can try whatever I want and it’s okay if it doesn’t work out.

My message does not have to appeal to other people.

My story is my own.

These are the ideas I want to be driving my art going forward, not the fear or anxiety.