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Starting your creative journey

Levin Pfeufer, an artist and graphic designer, gave us some tips on kick starting a creative project.
Illustration showing a young person sketching, playing piano and organising photos next to an open fire, with snow outside
Illustration by Mendhi Bint-Ahad, commissioned for the Arts Emergency Christmas Card 2019.

The question of how to get into a creative space, cultivate ideas or produce complex artwork is often difficult. You can find some ways to kick start the process below.

  • Brainstorm (a lot). You can do this in writing, sketches, digital film, video, audio recording—all right on your phone. The key is to get more content than you will need, so fill up your sketchbooks and journals
  • Edit your ideas. Look through your notes to discover recurring themes. The things that speak the most to you could be topics to explore further. Refine and investigate.
  • Research. Read, look, expose your imagination to new ways of seeing and understanding the world. Do this by searching for inspiring artists online, at the library, walking the streets, in galleries and museums, attending performances (musical, poetry readings, lectures, debates, dance, etc). Everything can be a source of creative inspiration.
  • Share ideas. Find a group of people who are interested in similar topics as you. You can meet like minded people at school, in workshops, at social events or meet-up groups. Build a creative community where you challenge each other’s ideas and delivery. Critiques are essential.
  • Promote yourself. Get out there and share your ideas. Take your sketchbook with you everywhere you go. Talk about what you are thinking about. Never doubt your contribution. Create an online portfolio for free at Behance. Upload all of your artwork including sketches, rough drafts, work-in-progress and final pieces. You can take photos of your artwork with your phone and upload with the Behance App. Share a link to your portfolio with everyone.
  • Avoid self-doubt, distractions and procrastination. This is perhaps the most difficult thing and everyone struggles with it, but be patient with yourself. Keep returning back to what you want to achieve, no matter how distracted and side-tracked you may become. Your artistic voice and interest will always be there.
  • Set yourself a goal of a sketch a day. Or some other achievable output. The biggest recommendation is just to stick with it. Keep creating even if it’s not exactly as you would imagine. Keep in mind the journey is important, not the result.
  • Choose a theme. You could pick something that is happening in the news that you feel strongly about or something from your own personal experience. If you want to go further as an artist you will have to be ready to push and challenge yourself. Think of it as a process of discovery.
  • Most of all have fun and don’t be discouraged!